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Middle Names For Baby: Ideas and Inspiration For Choosing the Perfect One
Updated on
July 2, 2024

Middle Names For Baby: Ideas and Inspiration For Choosing the Perfect One

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Middle Names For Baby: Ideas and Inspiration For Choosing the Perfect One.

Choosing names for babies is a big job, especially when it comes to first names. But middle names are where parents can have a bit more fun—there’s less pressure to “grow into” a middle name.  Whether you want to honor a loved one or a special place, or just love the sound of a name,  Jessie Paquette—a baby name consultant and founder of Dream Baby Names on TikTok—says there are so many directions parents can go in when choosing a middle name. I sat down to chat with Jessie about middle name trends, how parents can approach choosing a middle name and how to pick something that compliments baby's first name. I also combed through middle names on our very own Babylist Babes list for current trends and inspo. 

Does your baby need a middle name?

Let’s start here—in the U.S. you actually don’t have to give your baby a middle name. While there are laws about what middle names you can't have, nothing says a child legally needs a middle name, so you could skip it if you wanted to. But for many American parents, choosing a middle name is second nature, and an opportunity to bring some uniqueness into your baby’s name. Although it’s not super common here in the United States, multiple middle names are also a thing.

How to choose a middle name

Since most people go by their first names (and middle names are often not required on official forms) middle names are where your creativity can shine. While there’s a lot more pressure to choose the “right” first name, unique middle names are low-risk. Paquette says we all love "a little bit out-there names, and I think people are using the middle name to do that." You may also want to consider the potential monogram of first, middle and last initial. You may discover that it spells something you didn't intend, or on the other hand, you may love how it looks and sounds.

There are no hard and fast rules for middle names, but we’re breaking down a few naming conventions (with examples!) to help you choose the perfect middle name for your baby. 

Legacy Middle Names

Middle names are a special way to honor someone in your life without outright naming your baby after them. “I think middle names for a lot of people mean something. And so that's always my first question,” Jessie says when explaining her process for helping choose middle names for clients. A few ways she says parents can incorporate a legacy name into their child’s middle name include:

  • Using a loved one’s first name or last name

  • Using the last name or maiden name of the parent who didn’t give baby their last name

  • Using one of the parent’s middle names

Aesthetic Middle Names

Some middle names just look and sound good. Aesthetic middle names roll off the tongue easily and elevate the vibes of the first name. Jessie advises parents to pay attention to mixing the number of syllables so the names flow nicely: “You don't want to have a one syllable first name, one syllable middle and one syllable last because it can get a little choppy. Or you don't want a 50 syllable middle name if you already have super long first and last names.” 

Jessie also recommends matching the energy of the first name. If baby’s first name is earthy and “super feminine”, she wants you to consider whether you want to continue that. She also notes middle names are a great spot for gender-neutral picks. James is the perfect example, which has risen in popularity among middle names for baby girls. Here are a few middle names that stood out in our Babylist Babes list:

  • Mae

  • Rae

  • Marie

  • James

  • Allen

  • John

  • Jo

  • June

  • Kate

Nature-Inspired Middle Names

Nature-inspired names are super popular for both first and middle names. Jessie says she’s noticing the name Wilder increasing in popularity as a middle name for girls—and that appears to be true for Babylist users as well. Here are some earthy names we spotted on the Babylist Babes names list recently that’ll pair well with a ton of first names.

  • Sage

  • Dove

  • Rose

  • Jade

  • Moon

  • Slate

  • Bloom

  • Sol

  • Forrest

  • Blue

  • Wilder

  • Wren

  • Hayes

  • Orion

  • Fox

  • Autumn

  • Rio

Vintage Middle Names

These names give timeless, vintage, distinguished vibes. Depending on location and demographic, they might be even considered traditional or classic, and you’ll notice a few are also popular first name picks.

  • Alexander

  • Thomas

  • William

  • Beth

  • Louise

  • Elizabeth

  • Anne

  • Claire

  • Jean

  • Grace

  • Charles

  • Eleanor

  • Pearl

  • Francis

  • Michael

  • Joseph

Recently Retro Middle Names

Some of the middle names on the Babylist Babes list were popular first names when my mom was naming me (I’m a 31-year-old Millennial for reference) yet parents are still loving them. Since naming trends change with time, things are bound to come back in popularity at some point. “We're going to start moving into territory of ‘Jessicas’ in the middle name and, things like that and like Sarah,” says Jessie (whose full name is Jessica). Here are some more names that give off that “Jessica-vibe” that we saw on our list:

  • Nicole

  • Christine 

  • Jordan

  • Lynn

  • Samantha

  • Taylor

  • Emma

  • Sara

Popular Baby Names as a Middle Name

Is there a name that you’ve absolutely fallen in love with but are worried it’s too trendy? Jessie says to use it as a middle name. “I'm seeing people using some of the top names in the middle spot, because they like it and just didn't want [their baby] to be Amelia M or Amelia S.” Here are some of the most popular Babylist Babes names that would work well as middle names too:

  • Jack

  • Charlotte

  • Lucy

  • Eloise

  • Grace

  • Sloane

  • Quinn

Edgy Middle Names 

If a name feels too unique to commit to naming your baby as their first name, don’t throw it out just yet. Jessie says “an edgy pick that maybe didn’t pass the test for first [name],” can make a really cool and unique middle name. She also says she frequently hears from parents who love a particularly unique name and decide to use it as a middle name (paired with a “safer” first name choice) so their child can choose which to use when they’re older. Here are some unique names we spotted on the Babylist Babes list. 

  • Nightstarr 

  • Apollo

  • Emerald

  • Ocean

  • Dove

Expert Source

Jessie Paquette, baby name consultant and creative behind the Dream Baby Names on TikTok


Briana Engelbrecht

Assistant Editor

Briana Engelbrecht is Babylist’s Assistant Editor, where she brings her passion for early childhood development and the perinatal period, plus experience as a mom of two to Babylist articles and guides. A former preschool teacher, she loves children’s picture books, cats, plants and making things.

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