While I spent the first semester of sixth grade playing dodgeball, my friends were learning about the perils of smoking and how to use a condom in health class. A few weeks into the semester, friend spotted my monogrammed notebook and shouted, “Why would you put that on a notebook? You’re gross!” It took me a semester to learn that she was disgusted by my initials because they shared the acronym for sexually transmitted disease (STD). It was then that I decided that if I ever had a child, I’d implement some tips for choosing a middle name for my baby so she could avoid embarrassing initials.

Now, you can skip the embarrassment by opting out of a middle name all together. But a second moniker can give a classic name some pizzaz or serve as a tribute to a beloved friend or family member. Plus, how else are you supposed to let your kid know they are in trouble if they don’t have a great middle name? Because of my own middle name drama, I’ve compiled nine tips on how to choose a great middle name for your baby and not a single one says “Give them initials they will loathe forever.” Because I’m not a monster like my mother.

1. Look At The Initials

Check out the initials, no matter what middle name you love. If it spells out A.S.S. or S.O.B. or even S.A.D., you might want to pick something else. On the other hand, you can choose a middle name based off of an awesome set of initials like R.A.D. or M.O.O.

2. Say It Out Loud

It may look nice on paper, but make sure you say the full name out loud to really get a feel for how it all flows and sounds together. Yell it once or twice so you know how it feels when your kid brings the car home without gas in it again.

3. Remember That It Hardly Gets Used

If the first name you’ve chosen only goes well with your last name because you’ve got a great middle, you may want to rethink all of your choices. Middle names are hardly ever used, so while Harry Donald Head sounds pretty good, Harry Head is still the name your kid’s going to get called most often.

4. Honor A Loved One

Having a hard time choosing? Use this as a way to pay tribute to your family. Use your maiden name, a grandmother’s last name, or your favorite uncle’s first name as inspiration. This is especially helpful if you want to honor your great Aunt Gertrude, but aren’t ready to saddle your kid with that first name.

5. Go With A Personality Trait

Another fun way to choose a middle name is by choosing one that represents a personality trait. Joy, Merry, or even something less traditional like Brave or Rowdy can be a fun way to incorporate some personality into your baby’s name.

6. Get Unique

If you chose a traditional name as your kid’s first name, the middle name is your chance to get creative. Pick something off the radar that you weren’t willing to use as a first moniker.

7. Remember That Your Kid May Use It

You can get unique, but keep in mind that your kid may want to use that middle name some day. Maybe it’ll be on their business cards or maybe they’ll choose to go by their middle name instead of their first name. Either way, picking something like “Wait for It” a la Marshall and Lily from How I Met Your Mother may not be a wise choice.

8. Use Your Second Choice First Name

If you had trouble deciding between two names, use your second favorite as a middle name. There’s no guarantee you’ll have more children, so why let a favorite name go to waste?

9. Pick Something Meaningful

Was the baby conceived in Paris? Did you and your partner spend the whole first date talking about Harry Potter? Choosing a meaningful middle name off of your shared interests, hobbies, or special places is sweet and endearing.

Images: peasap/Flickr; Giphy (9)