No, you don't. It's perfectly fine to give your baby a first name only. Middle names certainly aren't a legal requirement--just a personal preference.
Most parents in the U.S. do give their babies a middle name (often Marie or Rose for girls, Michael or James for boys) but others do not.
Here are four scenarios, for example, in which a parent might not want to give his or her baby a middle name:
- You've settled on a first name you love. But every middle name you've attempted to wedge in between the first name and the surname has felt like...too much. If you've already achieved perfection with two names, why complicate things by adding a third?
- None of the names you like work well in the middle spot. Other names sound good there, but these aren't names you particularly care for. If none of the middles you've come up with as viable options really excite you, why settle for something that's just so-so?
- The first name you've chosen is a long, classic name (like Elizabeth or Alexander) that can be shortened a multitude of ways. Many people like middles that add versatility to a name, but if you've found a first name covers that angle already, a middle might not seem so necessary.
- You want your baby's name to be a bit different, but not stand out in an obvious way. Bucking the middle name trend is certainly one way to achieve this.
But if you don't want to abandon the "middle" tradition altogether, you could try one of these alternatives:
- Multiple middles (e.g. John Ronald Reuel Tolkien), which work well if you're having trouble choosing just one middle. Remember, the more middles, the more complex the name will be--and complexity can be cumbersome!
- A single letter (e.g. Harry S Truman), which works well if you want something in the middle, but something extremely simple.