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Coming up with a name for one baby is hard enough. Coming up with names for twins, or multiples of three or more, creates a whole new level of difficulty, stress, and possibly anxiety.
When you need to name twins, it involves more than simply coming up with a baby name, times two. There are several considerations that are unique to naming multiples.
Since the twins are likely to be together for much of their early life, their names need to work well with each other, as well as with their shared surname. There are a number of ways that the names may not complement each other. These could include factors such as language of the name, style, period, and even just the “sound” of the paired names. For example, the following pairs do not play well together, for obvious reasons:
- Caroline and Ehud
- Noah and Brianna
- Isabella and Wayne
- Sophia and Lachlan
Possibly as a way to avoid the situations noted above, or possibly because it seems the traditional thing to do, parents of twins often turn to similar sounding names, or pairs with a common theme. A glance at the most recent data from the U. S. Social Security Administration, showing the most popular pairs of twin names, reveals the extent of this trend. The top ten twin name sets for a recent year include:
- Jacob and Joshua
- Matthew and Michael
- Madison and Mason
- Ethan and Evan
- Faith and Hope
There are several pitfalls associated with this style of naming for twins.
First, and most important, experts in the field of multiple births would be quick to point out that twins need to feel unique, not like part of a package. It is difficult enough to help twins experience their unique identity, without compounding the problem by giving them matching names. Whether the matching is in the initials, such as “J” above, or in the sound, such as Madison and Mason, or in some other cute fashion, such as Faith and Hope, the likelihood is greater that other people will mix up the twins, making it harder to establish their own personalities.
Second, cute name pairs are almost certain to become a target on the schoolyard. No parent wants their children to be the object of teasing. However, with paired names like “Taylor” and “Tyler”, for example, it may well happen.
Third, a very important fact to remember is that similar sounding names, or similar initials, can easily be mixed up. Where can this happen? With medical records, school records, applications, and so forth. Such mixups, should they occur in the case of medical or pharmacy records, have the potential to be very dangerous. For this reason, even the initials should be different. Jacob and Joshua Smith are both J. Smith in many situations, and there is simply no reason to invite that kind of problem.
So what are parents to do in this situation? Admittedly, it is more difficult than naming one child. But if the suggestions noted above are followed, the major stumbling blocks will likely be avoided. Parents can look for names that complement each other in style, sound, and origin, without falling into the “Mary and Maria” trap. There are thousands of names that work well together, while at the same time maintaining the individuality of each child. Here are just a few suggestions to get you started!
- Caleb and Joshua
- Hailey and Morgan
- David and Katherine
- Olivia and Emma
- Annie and Jacob
Neil Street is co-publisher of Baby Names Garden, a leading resource helping parents and others find names they love.
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