As if the thought of choosing a name for your future baby wasn’t overwhelming enough already, it’s time to realize that you really have to pick two. And while there are a few ways that picking a first name is different than picking a middle name, they don’t seem to make the task any easier. You’ve got to choose names that flow together, names that your kid won’t be embarrassed to hear, and names that you can stand the rest of your life. Harder than it sounds, right?

There are a few guidelines to choosing the perfect first name and a great middle name, but not all of them can or should be intertwined. You may hope that your child goes by their middle name, the fact is that no one uses it unless they’re told to do so. Your child will always be referred to by their first name when it comes to strangers, the government, and other formalities. A middle name, however, is often your chance to try out a unique spelling or something totally creative without sacrificing an excellent first name. It can still be hard to choose, but these seven differences between picking a middle name and a first name can help you break down some of your own barriers and find the two perfect monikers for your sweet babe.

1. Picking A First Name Is Way Harder

Unless your child is going to go by their middle name, picking a first name can be incredibly overwhelming. You’re trying to pick a name based on a personality of a little person you don’t know yet, and you want to absolutely love it. It can be difficult to find one that goes through all the stages of life and just feels right. Middle names seem to be much easier, especially if they’re never used.

2. You and Your Partner Should Both Agree On A First Name

You may be able to swing choosing a middle name that your partner’s not in love with, or maybe you can get on board with giving your baby “Samurai” as a middle name. But the first name? You both have to agree on it and love it.

3. You Can Get More Creative With A Middle Name

Being creative with a first name is cool, but it can be hard when you want one that’s easy to pronounce, spell, and that won’t get old as your child grows. The middle name is a great place to get a little more creative and choose something that you wouldn’t be comfortable using as a middle name.

4. You Can Also Get More Traditional With A Middle Name

In the same vein, you can get more traditional and classic with a middle name. Love the name Elizabeth, but worried there’s too many? Use it as a middle name. Middle names are also perfect for all of those old-fashioned, family monikers your grandma wants you to use, but you aren’t sold on.

5. Middle Names Don’t Need Nicknames

Let’s face it, first names need to have a nickname, even if it’s one you totally make up. Middle names don’t have to fill that criteria, so you can have a little more freedom.

6. First Names Are Used All The Time

No matter if you intend for your child to use their middle name or not, first names are always going to be used. It will be the name people call them by, it will go on their diplomas, their credit cards, and anything else important. People don’t call someone by their middle name unless they’re told to do so.

7. First Names Can Flow With Siblings’ Names

If you have children named George and Mary, naming your next child Rainbow isn’t going to flow very well. First names need to go together, but they don’t have to be matchy-matchy. Middle names can be on totally different ends of the spectrum, but those first names should go well together.

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