Menu

Baby’s last name: How do mamas decide?

A record number of American women are keeping their maiden names when they marry. Whose last name do their babies get?

Baby’s last name: How do mamas decide?

A record number of American women are keeping their maiden names when they marry, The New York Times reports.


And unlike in earlier generations, when some women chose to keep their maiden names for “political” reasons, a Times study indicates that women today are more likely to keep their names when they marry out for professional reasons, or to retain a sense of their own identity. It’s all about the SEO, baby.

The study finds:

“Roughly 20 percent of women married in recent years have kept their names. . . An additional 10 percent or so chose a third option, such as hyphenating their name or legally changing it while continuing to use their birth name professionally.”

FEATURED VIDEO

Fascinating stuff. “Women with an advanced degree were five to 10 times more likely to keep their names. Asian and Hispanic women were more likely to as well,” the Times found. There is also research to suggest that the older a woman is when she marries, the more likely it is that she keeps her name.

The majority of married American women still do change their last name when they marry, citing tradition, a desire to feel like a single family unit, or even (occasionally!) when a woman is not particularly fond of her maiden name. But the rise in women keeping maiden names suggests that for many brides, that decision is increasingly a conscious choice, and one not necessarily made in immediate deference to convention.

Consider some of the more widely used options for modern spouses. We’ll call the lovely couple Amy Smith and Chris Winston:

Woman takes man’s name Amy Winston and Chris WinstonMan takes woman’s name Amy Smith and Chris Smith
Couple creates new hybrid last name together Amy and Chris WinstonsmithCouple hyphenates new last name together Amy Smith-Winston
and Chris Smith-Winston

Woman uses hyphenated version of name while man keeps name Amy Smith-Winston and Chris WinstonWoman uses maiden name as middle name Amy Smith Winston and Chris WinstonWoman takes man’s name privately but uses maiden name in professional life Amy Smith/ Amy Winston and Chris Winston

The dilemmas do not necessarily end when the couple is married; choosing a last name for your children can also evoke similar discussions. Should a baby girl get mom’s last name? Should a baby boy take a hyphenated one? What happens when a couple isn’t married? When did this all get so complicated?

Let’s take Amy and Chris again. They’ve had a baby! In fact, they’ve had two. So, what are the commonly used naming conventions for their children? Most women give their children their male partner’s last name. What are their other options?:

Children take father’s last name Grace and Charlie Winston

Children take mother’s maiden name (more common if Amy and Chris had never married) Grace and Charlie Smith

Children have hyphenated last names Grace and Charlie Smith-Winston

Children have blended last name Grace and Charlie Winstonsmith

Children (or just daughter) has mother’s maiden name as middle name Grace Smith Winston and Charlie Winston

Sure, it’s complicated. But modern American families seem to feel more free than ever to craft an identity that works for them.

How did you decide whose last name to take marriage and for baby?

In This Article

    14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    With fall in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in outside-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden doll stroller

    Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

    $120

    Detective set

    Plan Toys detective set

    This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

    $40

    Sand play set

    Plan Toys sand set

    Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

    $30

    Water play set

    Plan Toys water play set

    Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

    $100

    Mini golf set

    Plan Toys mini golf set

    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

    $40

    Vintage scooter balance bike

    Janod retro scooter balance bike

    Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

    $121

    Wooden rocking pegasus

    plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

    Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

    $100

    Croquet set

    Plan Toys croquet set

    The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

    $45

    Wooden digital camera

    fathers factory wooden digital camera

    Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

    $179

    Wooden bulldozer toy

    plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

    $100

    Pull-along hippo

    janod toys pull along hippo toy

    There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

    $33

    Baby forest fox ride-on

    janod toys baby fox ride on

    Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

    $88

    Balance board

    Plan Toys balance board

    Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

    $75

    Meadow ring toss game

    Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

    $30

    We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

    Shop

    The one thing your family needs to practice gratitude

    And a tradition you'll want to keep for years.

    Gracious Gobbler

    I think I can speak for well, basically everyone on planet earth when I say things have been a bit stressful lately. Juggling virtual school, work and the weight of worry about all the things, it's increasingly difficult to take even a moment to be grateful and positive these days. It's far easier to fall into a grump cycle, nagging my kids for all the things they didn't do (after being asked nine times), snapping at their bickering and never really acknowledging the good stuff.

    But the truth is, gratitude and appreciation is the kind of medicine we need now more than ever—and not just because the season is upon us. For one thing, practicing gratitude is a scientifically proven way to boost our happiness, health and relationships. More importantly, we need to ensure we're cultivating it in our children even when things are challenging. Especially when things are challenging.

    I'm ready to crank the thankfulness up a few dozen notches and reboot our family's gratitude game so we can usher out 2020 on a fresh note. So, I've called in some reinforcements.

    Enter: the Gracious Gobbler.

    Keep reading Show less
    Shop

    The important safety tip parents need to know about sleep + car seats

    Why you might want to plan for more pit stops on your next road trip.

    When we become parents we don't just have to learn how to take care of a baby, we also have to learn how, when and why to use all the different kinds of baby gear.

    Keep reading Show less
    News