After reading through endless books and websites and hearing dozens of recommendations from friends and family, you've finally got a few baby names you like. The problem? You just can't decide. It can be agonizing to try to choose, particularly if you end up with two names that both have significant meanings for you.
If you're stuck, we've got a recommendation: Try a combo. This technique allows you to keep what you love about both names without having to get rid of one; plus, you end up with something totally unique. There are a few techniques you can use to combine names, and each method has its perks. Try them out and see what you come up with — it just might be the perfect name.
Baby name-combining technique No. 1: Hyphenate
One of the simplest ways of combining baby names is to link them with a hyphen. This allows both names to retain their individual meaning while creating a new moniker that will be unique to your child.
How to use this: This technique is great if both parents have separate ideas of what the child's name should be. List the names in whatever order sounds most natural; Robyn and Ava can become Robyn-Ava, while John and David become John-David. The key to successfully combining two names this way? Use short names, folks. Browse our lists of one-syllable names and two-syllable names for inspiration.
Baby name-combining technique No. 2: Portmanteau names
Looking for a unique baby name? Take two and make a new one. Start with a couple of names you like, and consider how you can piece them together to form a special new combo name.
How to use this: Techniques can include dropping portions of each name, interweaving the names or rearranging them. For instance, Audrey and Melissa could become Aulissa or Melrey. Samantha and Isabella could become Anthabella or even Samisa. You just have to be committed to creativity.
Baby name-combining technique No. 3: Using prefixes
One big ongoing trend for combining names is to take a relatively simple or common name and add a prefix to it. This gives the name a more personalized feel.
How to use this: First, choose the name you want to start with. Then, try it with a few prefixes — such as De-, Ke-, La-, Le- or Ra-. For instance, Anne could become Deanne or Luca could become Keluca. Be sure to keep the name that you start with short though. Longer names could get too long and lose the interest ("Ralexander" is maybe a mouthful).
Baby name-combining technique No. 4: Combining parent names
Want to imbue your child's name with a sense of family history? Combine parent names for a name that means everything. This concept is similar to technique No. 2.
How to use this: Use Mom's and Dad's first or last names to create an all-new name. You can also use a combo of grandparent names or godparent names, and feel free to mix and match syllables. For instance, Silvia and Paul could become Saul or Pavia. Danielle and Jessica could become Danica or Jessielle... the possibilities are endless.
A version of this article was originally published in September 2011.