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Guide to Perfect Baby Middle Name

Updated on December 11, 2019
Premina Parker profile image

Premina Parker, is a parenting advisor. She is the author, most recently, parenting blog called Genbabycarrier. Her work has helped Time

For some, baby’s middle name is an afterthought, thrown in as a compromise or decided upon last-minute. But if you’ve found this site, you’re probably among those who values the middle name as much as the first name. After all, isn’t the whole greater than the sum of its parts? Now, there’s some heady baby name thinking for you!

There’s certainly nothing wrong with giving your baby an old standby middle name such as Marie, Ann or Lynn. But should middle names just be “filler,” bridging the gap between the more-important and more prominent first and last names? If you have a cherished sister named Ann, or if you simply love that name (it does have a nice ring to it) by all means, go with that for a middle name. But, given the fact that you have a limited number of opportunities to name children, you might as well go all-out and pick something with a lot of thought and feeling behind it.

It’s easy to say that it’s no big deal; that people don’t use their middle names every day. But what about people in certain professions, such as doctors and lawyers? They almost always use their initials daily. And lawmakers’ middle names are generally well known, from John Fitzgerald Kennedy to George Herbert Walker Bush. (In fact, if you fancy your child a future world leader, be especially sure to pick a combo with cool initials that roll off the tongue like JFK. Lyndon Baines Johnson loved the LBJ name so much his kids got those initials, too.) At some point in life, your middle name comes up, and it makes an impression one way or another.

Of course, makes sure the middle name “goes with” the first name. All three (or more) names should flow well together. Say the name aloud many times, especially if you’re keeping it to yourselves until the baby’s birth. Saying the whole name should be easy. What usually doesn’t work is having one name end with the same sound as the next, such as: Iris Savannah Harris.

One tried-and-true practice is to alternate a formal name with one that’s more light-hearted.

When it comes to rhythm, you may find that a long middle name goes well with a short first name, and vice versa: Sam Mackenzie, Elizabeth Rose and so on. A long first name and a long middle name can end up being a mouthful for a child, especially if your surname is lengthy as well. And the same goes for the staccato effect of three short names: Jack Ray Jones. Not my personal favorite, anyway. It usually works best to vary the syllables or intentionally match them. For example, my complete name, before I married, unintentionally fell into dactyl rhythm (as I learned while studying Shakespeare in high school). My first, middle and last names had three syllables and in each case the stress fell on the first syllable. Now, I’m not saying your baby’s name has to be a poem, but do consider how the names work together as a unit.

Finally, try the “yell it out the back door” test. Pretend you’re calling your now-gradeschool-aged child in from playing. “Parker Lewis Stevenson get in here right this minute!” Does it roll off the tongue? Then go with it!

© 2019 Premina Parker


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