Incorporating a family name into your baby's name

Posted on 09 January 2017

Baby names ... It's a topic that evokes a world of conversation, and a myriad of opinions! As one of the most important decisions you'll make in your child's life, it's a topic that (thankfully) many of us don't take lightly. 

In some cases, naming your baby is simply a case of choosing a name that both you and your partner adore, checking that it works with your surname, and signing the papers. 

However, sometimes, it's a little more complex. If it's a tradition to incorporate a family name into your bloodline, or you'd like to honour a special family member, naming your baby can become a challenge. How do you respectfully incorporate a family name? How do you avoid offending other family members? What happens if you don't love their name?

Here are our top tips for incorporating a family name into your baby's name, and loving it forever:

  1. Use a middle name (or two)
    Just because your father and father-in-law are John and Garry does not mean you need to forego your favourite Oscar. If you're set on incorporating a family name, use your family names as middle names. Wondering how to avoid offending someone by leaving them out? Use two middle names. It's rare for someone to be referred by their full name past their birth certificate, so giving your baby a longer name can be a good way to ensure everyone is honoured, and you can still give your bubba your favourite name. 
  2. Look further afield
    For a name to be meaningful, they don't need to come from your parents or your in-laws. Perhaps you have a favourite aunt, or a great grandfather who made a lasting impression on you. Work with their names so your child has a beautiful, meaningful namesake with history.
  3. Consider incorporating your maiden name
    If you're wondering how to incorporate your side of the family into your baby's name (particularly if your child will take their father's surname), consider adding your maiden name. In fact, it's customary in many cultures around the world for a baby to take on their mother's maiden name as their middle name. Not convinced on Olivia Smith Jones? Then consider two middle names - Olivia Sophie Smith Jones might be just the name you've been looking for. 
  4. Look at alternatives
    If you want to incorporate your grandfather Michael's name, but are not too sure on it as a name, then look for alternatives. Does Micky take your fancy more? Or Michelle if you're having a girl? Get creative and find a version of the name that feels right for you and your baby.
  5. Search beyond names
    Is there something your family was known for, or a place they came from, that might be just as meaningful (if not more) than their name? Perhaps it's using India if that's where your family originated from, or River if they spent a lot of time by the water. Stretch your creative muscles and you'll find a name you love!
  6. Use initials
    Still clutching at straws? Try using your family member's initials rather than their full name. Barry Neville can become Bodhi Noah, and you're sorted. 
  7. Remember this is your child, and your decision!
    Yes, it would be wonderful if we could give our children a name that would make everyone happy. However, it's not always possible. Remember, this is your child, your decision, and one you will need to live with for the rest of your life! So make a decision that feels right for you and your partner, that suits your baby, and makes you smile every time you look at their gorgeous little face. 

What are your children's names? Did you incorporate a family name? We'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

Beautiful image by Anya Maria.

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