Choosing Baby's Last Name Isn't Easy Anymore: 20 Moms on Their Decision

mom and dad with their newbornNew and expectant moms are constantly fielding questions about what baby name they've picked out, and pretty much 99.9 percent of the time, it's assumed that the inquiry is about the kid's first name -- not the last name. That's obviously going to be the father's, right? Not necessarily! More and more, parents are choosing to give their children the mother's maiden name, a hyphenated name, or even a blended name (in addition to going the traditional route and using dad's, of course).

Research done over a decade ago, published in The Social Science Journal, found that while about 90 percent of women with an unconventional married name still gave their kids their husband's last name, sticking to a cohesive family name seemed to be declining in importance -- for a variety of reasons.

Here, moms explain which route they chose to go with their little one's surname and why.


Kept it traditional

"I didn’t change my name when I got married for a few reasons. Because I’m a writer and because it was my identity, but because I also happen to think that it’s an antiquated tradition that we must adopt our husband’s name and become someone different than we were before. If you want to, fabulous. I just didn’t. That said, I didn’t want to give my daughter (or future kids) a hard-to-pronounce hyphenate of a last name that would make them sound like a law firm. And I wasn’t that attached to them having my last name, so we’ll give all of them my husband’s last name. For everything from school to doctor’s appointments to just not being too precious, I thought it was just easier. So far, it’s worked out fine, but my daughter is just a toddler, so she can’t ask questions yet." -Carrie

"My kids have their dad's last name. Just because, to me, that was what you do. That's carrying on their name." -April

"Gave both the boys their dad's last name. Felt fine about it, mostly because I hate hyphenated names, and because my husband is an only child and his parents passed away not long before we got married. It was nice to surround my husband with a "new family" that carries his name. Also, gave our youngest my last name as his middle name, as a way to give a nod to not only me, my dad, and my brother, but to my grandfather on up the family line." -Sheri

"We decided to give our daughter my maiden name as her middle name and my husband's last name. This way, my last name is continued, and if our daughter decides to hyphenate, should she decide to marry, both of our last names will be continued." -Jennifer

"The decision was easy for us. His last name is Hawkins; my maiden name is Woodall. We chose the one closer to the front of the alphabet. I should add that while tradition played a large role in it, personal feelings also did. My husband is adopted, and his children are his first biological relatives. It was important to me to add to that bond by them sharing his last name." -Angela

"I gave my daughter my husband's last name just because that seems to be the default for people who don't think about it much. Only after I gave birth, I really regretted not giving her my last name, since I'd done so much of the 'work' (being pregnant, giving birth, etc). If I could go back in time, I'd probably try to give her my last name." -Judy

"My husband and I came up with a list of first, middle, and last names (using his/mine) that we liked. Our daughter's last name really came down to the first and middle names we chose for her. They sounded better with his last name so that's what she got. Had we picked one of the first and middle names that flowed off the tongue better with my last name, we would have gone that way." -Suzanne

Got two for the price of one and hyphenated

"My kids are all hyphenated. When our first was born, my husband was actually surprised that I didn't just give her my name. I feel VERY strongly about keeping my own name for myself, but since the kids are part of both of us, they get both of our names." -Hope

"We hyphenated the last name, because we could not agree. We do not see ourselves getting married anytime soon." -Anonymous

"My daughter got my last name, because her father wasn't around. Then, once her father came into her life, he was trying to force me to change her name to his which I completely disagreed to for various reasons. He finally agreed to having her last name hyphenated with my last name coming first. [But] she doesn't even go by his last name at all." -Payton

Went with mom's last name

"I took my wife's last name when we got married, and our daughter shares that last name. It felt natural to us that as a family we all share the same last name." -Kris

"I chose to give my daughter my name for a multitude of reasons. Mostly, with the future of my relationship with her dad uncertain, I wanted her to share my family name. It's much easier to change it to his later if we were to get married. Some people gave me flack for bucking tradition, but it's also tradition to be married or get married once baby is in the picture. Some people were worried it meant I was denying the father paternity, but his name is still legally listed on her birth certificate. Plus, I like my last name. And I wanted her to feel like she belonged to a group. We have a big family with my last name, and on her dad's side, there is no one with that name other than her dad." -Susan

"Went with my own last name. Husband hates his!" -Anonymous

"My first child was given my last name. Her father didn't bother to stick around through the pregnancy, so why should she be stuck with his last name?" -Jennifer

"I kept my name when I married, and we gave my son my last name when he was born. I'm the point person for school, sports, etc., so it seemed easier for us to share a last name. To me, the tradition of giving a child the father's last name seems archaic and ego-centric." -Barbara

"I gave my son my name, but only because I didn't know his awesome grandparents at the time I was pregnant. My son's father has a completely different name than his father. Had I known the grandparents, I might have given my son their name, but with what I knew then I stand by my choice." -Nycolle

Went with something out of left field

"The baby has a double-barrelled name but with no hyphen. My name and my husband's name. We are married, but I kept my name and never use my husband's name. I will correct people if they use Mrs. X." -Anonymous

"Neither my husband nor I changed our names after we were married. We agreed that if we were to have children, any girls would take my last name, and any boys would have his. That is what we have done - two girls with my name, and one boy with his. My girls did not realize that our naming method was unusual until fairly recently (they are 7 and 9)." -Kass

"I don't intend on staying with my baby's father, and in fact, didn't even want to put him on the birth certificate, because I know he'll fight me on custody. I was going to give the baby his last name just because it means more to him than to me, but at this point, I'm actually thinking of just picking something (a family name probably) or going with my mother's maiden name." -Anonymous

"We opened a phone book and chose a name we liked." -Anonymous

More from The Stir: I Seriously Regret Taking My Husband’s Last Name


How did you decide what your child(ren)'s last name would be?

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