How to Pick a Middle Name You & Your Child Will Love

Updated February 17, 2021
couple with toddler girl

If you are expecting a baby, you are probably spending lots of time thinking about choosing a middle name. Some people already know what they want for their baby's first name, but struggle to pick a middle name. Follow this great advice to help you find the perfect name for you.

How to Pick a Middle Name

The name you give your child is a lifelong gift. A child's name is a source of power, identity, and confidence. As a parent, you are responsible for choosing your child's name. This consists of picking both a first and middle name. Once you pick out the first name, the hardest part is coming up with a great name to go with it. There are many factors you can consider when choosing a middle name, such as meaning, symbolism, or sentiments.

Start by asking yourself if you have any family traditions you would like to follow. Some common family name traditions include:

  • Every child's middle name starts with the same letter
  • The children's middle names go in alphabetical order
  • Every child has the same middle name
  • Each child carries the name of their grandparent

If this is the case, the task of choosing a meaningful middle name just got a little easier. If not, here are some ideas that may help you in your name quest.

How to Pick a Middle Name

Consider How the Full Name Flows

When looking for a name, you want something that flows. Practice saying the potential full name (first, middle and last) a few times and see how it sounds aloud.

Rhythm Patterns

It often helps to have a mix of syllable combinations, though if the consonant sounds flow, you can get away with a rhythm pattern.

  • All one syllable: Jay Lynn Smith
  • All double syllables: Alex William Parker
  • Don't forget triple: Samantha Rosemary Robinson
  • A combination: Alex Jay Smith, Jay William Parker, Michael Thomas Smith


You can also have fun playing with consonant sounds for an alliterative name:

  • Peter Parker Petrow
  • Abigail Ann Anderson

Use a Middle Name Matcher

Visit different websites that are geared towards the selection of pairing with the first name you have selected with pre-selected middle names. Just fill in the first name, select the gender, and click "get baby middle names."

Avoid Choppy Combinations

Be careful not to come up with a name that sounds silly or choppy when said aloud. Say the name a few times and get a feel for it. You can run the name possibility by a friend but be prepared for their honest reactions.

newborn baby's face

Naming After a Loved One

It is common in many religions and cultures to name your child after someone you love or after someone important to you. Depending on the culture, this person may be either alive or deceased. In most cases, the name does not have to be exact, so if you wanted to honor your Grandma Matilda, you don't have to name your child Hope Matilda.

  • Look at the first initial. Some alternatives to Matilda could be Mary, Marie, Matty, or Tilly.
  • Use a name that reminds you of Matilda: Tilda, Linda, Ada, Tam.
  • Look at your grandma's full name and see if you can find an alternative. If her full name was Matilda Ann Rosen, you could use Ann or Rosen, so your child would be Hope Rosen Parker.

Keeping a Maiden Name Alive

Married folk may want to bring back their maiden name in the form of a middle name for their child. Often, maiden names make great middle names and give a nod to both sides of the family, moms with the middle name and dads with the last name. Check out these combinations for inspiration:

  • Oliver Anderson Fuller
  • Hailey Banks Smithson
  • Christopher Kennedy Kline
  • Hunter Hudson Langley

Try Two!

Why not? When it comes to giving middle names, the rules are very bendable. There is no reason that your child can't have two middle names! If you want to include a nod to your father and your father-in-law in your son's name, go for it. You may have to shorten names or choose one of the father's middle names to make things "flow your way," but it can be done.

  • Lincoln David James Arrington
  • Cade Matthew Michael Thompson
  • Harrison Daniel Thomas Ruley
  • Stella Mary Louise Cunningham
  • Hannah Carey Lynne Cummings

Personality and Name Meaning

If you don't have a tradition or loved one to fall back on, you may want to look at the meaning of the name. Many parents will choose a biblical middle name to represent their child. Others look at the meaning.

For example:

  • Aaron: Biblical name meaning Enlightened and Messenger
  • Ethan: Strong and firm
  • Samantha: Told by God, Listener
  • Todd: Fox
  • Hannah: Hebrew name meaning Gracious

You can pick a name reflecting traits you want your child to have, or wait until the baby is born and see what names just seem to fit.

young mother holding infant

Brainstorm Name Ideas

With so many options, you may find it productive to simply brainstorm a list of potential middle names from which to choose. Consider a wide variety of options, from popular baby names to ones that are more exotic, unusual, or unique.

An Alternate Name

In some cultures, your child's middle name may be an alternative he can use if he visits a different country or culture. Many cultures will give their child a native name and an American name, like Jose Michael. If you are set on a particular name but don't think your child will like it, give him a middle name he can use in its place, for example, Howard Timothy.

Think About the Initials

When choosing a middle name, keep your child's full initials in mind.

Consider Nickname Potential

Many kids decide to use their first and middle initials as their name. For example:

  • Tommy Jo = TJ
  • Patty Jean = PJ
  • Mark Tyler = MT
  • Andrew Jason= AJ

Avoid Unfortunate Acronyms

Also, test the initials for your child's name so he won't get teased and can use monograms:

  • Brad Andrew Dixon = BAD
  • John Ryan King = JRK (jerk)

Some other examples of initials to avoid are:

  • Frank Ulysses King
  • Andrew Simon Smith
  • Steven Edward Xygar
Smiling Baby Daughter

Stick With Common Middle Names

There is nothing wrong with choosing a common middle name for your child. If some more creative middle name methods feel too out of the box for your style, go for something casual and common.

Common Middle Names for Girls

These middle names have proven timeless and popular over the years and rank as some of the most commonly used middle names for girls.

  • Mary
  • Marie
  • Lynn
  • Jean
  • Michelle
  • Nicole

Common Middle Names for Boys

If you are aiming for a middle name that falls in line with many others, turn to these options. These middle names for males are some of the most commonly chosen monikers.

  • William
  • James
  • Matthew
  • Michael
  • John

Choose Wisely

There are plenty of great middle name options for girls and boys alike, as well as gender-neutral names. No matter what you decide on for your baby's middle name, make sure it is something you love. After all, your child will have the name for the rest of his or her life.

How to Pick a Middle Name You & Your Child Will Love