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Sometimes you easily choose the perfect baby name, but then get stuck on the middle name. This is especially the case if you don’t have any particular middle name ideas in mind, and feel that almost anything would do. If anything will do, that’s an awful lot of names to consider! Here’s a quick run through your major options:

Reuse and Recycle

If you made a list of baby names, after you’ve made your choice, you could choose one of the other names you loved but now can’t use as the middle name. This only works if you had different-sounding names on your list: if you were deciding between Kayla and Kaylee, or Tom and John, this option is probably not for you.

Genealogy

If you’re passionate about your family history, you may want to use names and surnames from generations ago, or the town/region that your ancestors came from.

Family and Friends

This is one of the most common middle name choices – using the name of someone important in your life as your child’s middle name. For beloved relatives who passed on before your child was born, it’s a lovely way to give your son or daughter a connection to them. You can also use your own name (including a mother’s maiden name) as a child’s middle name.

Cultural Heritage

If you identify with a particular culture, you may want a name that reflects that. You may not want to call your child Dmitrios or Sumi as their first name, but in the middle might be the perfect way to let them know their roots while still blending in.

Heroes

Is there someone you admire or who has been an inspiration in your life? Their name or surname could make a meaningful middle name. Be aware that if it’s someone very famous, your child may not necessarily welcome being identified with this person for life, so think carefully. Your hero may not be a person – one of my friends is a practitioner of Raja Yoga, and her son’s middle name is Raja.

Personal Associations

Recently we saw Brandi welcome her twin girls. One of her daughters has a middle name which means “blackberry” in Spanish, as this fruit has a very special meaning to Brandi and her husband. I think something like this is a great choice, because it’s a beautiful name story to share, and is private enough that other people won’t be able guess at what’s behind it.

Good Old Standards

These are those oft-used middle names, such as Anne, Elizabeth, Grace, Jane, Marie, May or Rose for girls, or Charles, James, John or Michael for boys. Although it’s fashionable to bag these out as “filler” names, let’s face it, they get used so much because they work so well. If you have absolutely no idea what middle name to use, these can be very useful, although they probably work best if they are also a family name or have some personal meaning to you. They’re also good for toning down an unusual first name.

Cool New Middles

There’s a new generation of “filler” names, often nature names like Bay, Bee, Frost, Lark, Plum, Snow, Star, Winter, Wren or virtue names like Love, Pax, True, and so on. Just as handy as the old standards, in that they go with a wide range of names, and many can be used for both genders. As with the old standards, I think these work best if they have some personal meaning to you.

Daring and Unusual

You might be too timid or commonsensical to use an unusual name for your child, but deep down you really love the idea of using something out of the ordinary – like Angel, Awesome, Cinderella, Danger, Hummingbird, Loveday, Magic, Miracle, Neo, Pirate, Sparkle, Tulip,or Rainbow. I feel that when it comes to the middle name position, almost anything goes, and you can really set your imagination free. These would be great for jazzing up a common or highly popular first name – there are many girls called Ava Rose, but not so many called Ava Sunshine.

Initialise It

If you have thought and thought until your brain hurts, and absolutely NO middle name comes to mind, you can always just use an initial, or two initials. Another solution is to spell the initials out, such as Fabian Cee Tee. Think about it carefully though – nobody wants to be named Jessie Pee or Jayden BJ. Make sure it doesn’t end up being an unwanted acronym, like BC or TV, and you may also want to check it’s not being used by a rapper, if only to avoid being asked, “Did you name him after the rapper?”.

Let Someone Help

Still stuck? Ask someone else to choose the name for you. Maybe your mum, or your pastor, or the baby’s older sibling, or put up a poll on Facebook. Everyone, even total strangers, will be flattered to be asked for their opinion. If they pick something awful, you’re not obligated to go with it, but it could get awkward if you reject their suggestion, so choose your helper carefully.

No Middle Name

Not an option. Okay, technically it is an option, since there is no legal obligation to provide one. But come on. Try harder.

NOTE: This isn’t a guide to choosing the perfect middle name, it’s just to get a middle name on the birth certificate, for parents who’ve been so busy choosing a name that the thought of choosing a second name is too overwhelming.