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How do you choose a last name for your baby?

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Updated July 10, 2012

Newborn Baby Girl

You have a choice in last names for your baby.

Photo © iStockPhoto
Question: How do you choose a last name for your baby?
Answer: Choosing a last name for your baby may be simple for couples who share a last name, but other families have a different take on the process. You may need to give your baby's last name more thought if you fall into one of the following categories:

  • You have a different last name from the baby's father.
  • You or your partner already have a hyphenated name.

When trying to figure out which name last name to give your baby you will want to consider all of your options. For example, if you want to combine your last name with the last name of the baby's father, you could simply do a hyphenated last name. Baby Jenkins-Smith, for example. In choosing a hyphenated last name you may want to go back and forth and try different combinations, like Baby Smith-Jenkins. Sometimes you will have a strong opinion about which last name comes first, mom's or dad's.

In some families, where mom and dad have different last names, the baby may automatically be given the father's last name. Other families choose the last name based on various factors. One family I know, gave all the baby girls mom's last name, while baby boy's got the father's last name.

If you have one or more parents with a hyphenated last name you may have a bit more trouble. You technically could have multiple hyphens, like Jenkins-Smith-Blake, but that can get out of hand very quickly.

If you give birth in a hospital, you will see that the baby is usually given the mother's last name during the hospital stay. This is not what is normally reflected on the birth certificate, which you fill out. So if this happens, don't panic when you see the baby's name bracelets. It's only a temporary solution so that they can connect your baby with you.

Other factors that you may want to consider when choosing a last name for your baby:

  • How many last names will the family have?
  • Will the last name you've chosen potentially cause your baby strife in school because both parents don't have the same last name?
  • Will you or the baby's father have issues if the baby doesn't have the same last name?
  • Will your baby have trouble filling out forms with long, hyphenated last names?

Choosing baby's last name doesn't have to turn into a baby naming controversy, but having a discussion before hand can be very helpful.

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