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Carissa and Nick Taylor are expecting their second child towards the end of the year, and they have a daughter named Harper Joy – Harper’s middle name is a family name.

If Harper had been a boy, the name they had picked out was Jensen, so that seemed an obvious choice for a boy’s name. However, they seem to be gradually losing interest in Jensen, and are now thinking of Carson instead. The only thing that bothers Carissa is that she wonders if Carson is too close in sound to her own name. The middle name for a boy will be Carissa’s maiden name, Fero.

They are having real problems deciding on a girl name that will match Harper. They love Avery, but dislike the idea of Ava as the nickname, and Carissa is concerned that the name will always remind her of Avery the stationery company.

They also love Quinn, but when they try to match it with a feminine middle name, it sounds too much like Queen ____. For example, Quinn Mary = Queen Mary. If they go with a more unisex middle name, it sounds “too American” to them. The middle names they are likely to use for a girl are Grace, May or Poppy (family names).

The Taylors don’t have any problems with popular names, but nothing in the Top 100 happens to appeal to them – except Willow, which isn’t possible for them to use for personal reasons.

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Name for a Boy

I get the feeling that Jensen is slipping away from you – part of the reason is probably that you think of it as Harper’s-name-if-she-had-been-a-boy, so it’s now hard for you to get enthusiastic about it on a new baby.

To me, Carson and Carissa sound similar, but not too similar, but I think this is something you have to decide for yourself. It might be a good idea to have Nick call out “Carson!” and then call out “Carissa!” and see if you can easily tell which one is your name from a distance (say, out in the back yard).

There’s nothing like road-testing a name for a week, so start using the name Carson in sentences all the time and see if it feels right to you. Talk to each other about Carson – “Carson came top of his class in maths this term; I think that extra tutoring is really helping” or “Carson has this weird rash on his left ankle. If I take him to the doctor, will they think I’m over-reacting?”.

Talk to Carson as if he’s there and already been part of your family for years. Call him to dinner, tell him to take those muddy football boots outside, talk to him about the family holiday you’re planning, ask him what colour he’d like his room to be painted. Does Carson sound like a name you can imagine saying for a lifetime? Is it a name that feels like it fits into your family? Can you imagine saying, “These are my children, Harper and Carson”?

You asked whether Jensen or Carson was more popular: Jensen is #149 in Victoria, and Carson doesn’t chart at all in Australia, although it is a Top 100 name in the US. I see Jensen fairly often in birth notices, but I can only remember seeing Carson a couple of times – once as a girl’s middle name. If popularity is a factor for you, then Carson is definitely the less common name.

Name for a Girl

If you had asked me to pick a sister for Harper, with no other information given, my top two suggestions would have been Avery and Quinn, so I think you have two excellent choices there.

Avery

It never occurred to me until you wrote it that Ava could be a nickname for Avery. While it’s hard to control what nicknames people will bestow on your child, I do feel as if Ava is the type of nickname which is not likely to take off if the parents don’t approve of it and give it their blessing. If I knew a little girl called Avery, and her mum and dad always referred to her as Ava, then I might call her that too, but I’d never think of just deciding to call her Ava on my own – maybe because I’d figure that if they’d wanted the name Ava, they would have chosen it in the first place.

As far as the stationery company goes, how often do you come across Avery? Do you have to use their products every day at work, or is it more that you’ll sometimes buy a box of labels for your Christmas cards? If you love the name Avery, I really don’t think you’ll be reminded of the stationery company once your baby girl arrives – Avery will be your daughter, and that will be it. Stationery isn’t a horrible association, and buying from Avery might even give you a bit of a buzz – seeing her name on a box of labels will probably be a thrill for a little girl named Avery anyway.

While Avery Grace or Avery May sounds nice, I think your own middle name would be lovely with Avery – Avery Elizabeth. If you were willing to share it, I think that one’s a winner.

Quinn

I see what you mean about the middle name issue with Quinn, which does make it slightly trickier for a girl’s name. I see girls named Quinn quite often in birth announcements, and what I’ve noticed is that they tend to be paired with a fairly modern or slightly gender-ambiguous middle name. Some from the blog are Quinn Eden, Quinn Gracyn, Quinn Cedar, and Quinn Brielle. I don’t think these sound “too American” – they just sound modern.

I don’t think Quinn sounds awful with any of the middle names on your list, but I wonder whether you might prefer it with a nature name eg Quinn Aspen, Quinn Autumn, Quinn Maple, Quinn Meadow, Quinn Saffron, Quinn Winter? To me, that solves the problem of Quinn + Girl Name, but at the same time, nearly everyone would recognise Quinn Meadow as a female name. It also fits in with Harper, who has a vocabulary word as her middle name.

If your heart is set on a family name, I like Quinn Poppy best, as it’s a nature name. You might also want to separate the names with another middle name, such as Quinn Winter Poppy.

Other Unisex Names for Girls

  • Arden
  • Ariel
  • Aubrey
  • Emerson
  • Fallon
  • Frankie
  • Marley
  • Morgan
  • Peyton
  • Remy

These names are all unisex, but more common on girls (like Avery), or fairly equally given to boys and girls (like Quinn). The one which appeals to me most is Arden, but I admit that might make a boy named Carson seem less usable down the track.

Well I hope that’s given you some food for thought. You’re still quite a way from your due date, so feel free to write in again as more ideas come to you!

NAME UPDATE: The baby was a boy, and his name is Jensen!

(Picture shows a vintage card with a female harpist)

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