When Will My Baby Recognize Their Name?

Choosing your baby’s name is an exciting process. Many parents dream of naming their baby-to-be long before they’re born, while others wait until they see their new bundle of joy before choosing. 

No matter the case, once you’ve decided on a name, it’s exciting the first time your baby recognizes and responds to their name! So when can you expect this momentous milestone to occur, and what can you do to help it occur?

This article provides all the info you need to understand this significant language milestone, when and if you should be concerned, and tips to help your baby learn their name!

When Do Babies Recognize Their Name?

There is a broad time range of when you can expect your baby to learn their name. For example, some babies will recognize and respond as early s five months, while others may take as long as nine months. 

Receptive language skills begin at birth, so the more you talk to your baby, the quicker they pick up language, including their name. 

Seemingly out of the blue, your baby will turn at the sound of their name one day! As they learn and process the sounds that make up their home language, connections in their brain will click, and they will understand that their name is a word with a specific meaning. 

Around three to six months, most babies will respond to the sound of your voice, variations in tone, and most likely their name.

Between six and nine months, your baby should recognize and respond to their name and a few other familiar words. 

Signs Your Baby Recognizes Their Name

There are a handful of ways you can tell if your baby recognizes their name:

  • They turn their head when their name is called to see where the sound is from
  • They pause what they are doing when their name is spoken 
  • They smile at you or begin babbling in response to hearing their name

When To Speak with the Doctor

All babies develop on a continuum, so if your baby is slightly behind on recognizing their name, it doesn’t necessarily mean there is cause for concern. However, a discussion with the pediatrician is warranted in a few instances. 

  • Your baby doesn’t respond or isn’t startled by sudden loud noises.
  • Your baby doesn’t turn toward sounds by six months.
  • Your baby doesn’t respond to sounds by nine months.
  • Your baby doesn’t laugh by six months.
  • Your baby isn’t babbling by seven to nine months.
  • Your baby isn’t responding to their name by nine months.
  • Your baby isn’t waving, pointing, or gesturing by twelve months.

Additionally, if your baby has hit one or more of these milestones and then regresses or stops their behaviors, you should mention it to their doctor. 

How to Help Your Baby Learn Their Name

It may sound obvious, but the best way to help your baby learn their name is to use it regularly! The more language your child is exposed to, the more they will learn. So, in addition to using their name, read, sing, talk, and engage them in verbal and non-verbal communication. 

The more sounds they hear, the better they will be able to differentiate different sounds and words. 

Avoid using nicknames when your baby is young for consistency’s sake, and ask babysitters and family members to do the same. For example, if your son is Jospeh but so is his dad, you may decide to call him Joey or Jay, etc. However, if they never hear their real name, they may not realize their name is Joseph. Nicknames can also confuse younger siblings about the baby’s real name.

Some parents also use nicknames like bean, bunny, peanut, pumpkin, etc. Again, these are OK terms of endearment, but make sure you don’t replace their name with a nickname. 

Don’t worry about what you say to your baby or feel silly talking or reading aloud; all language exposure is positive. You can even read the want-ads or the weather report if you’re unsure what to say!

You can narrate your day and what you’re doing and use descriptive words. For example, “Mommy is folding the laundry. Here is your blue shirt, and this shirt has a lion on it,” or “Daddy is cooking dinner, the stove is very hot, and I will cook these orange carrots.” 

It may feel funny to use such lengthy sentences, but the more words you use, the more language your child will hear. There is no such thing as too many words for a baby. However, when speaking or reading to your baby, keep your tone happy, warm, and gentle; save harsh or loud tones for dangerous situations. 

When reading with your child, point to pictures as you name and discuss them. This helps your child put a “face to the name” and recognize everyday items. 

No matter what name you give your little one, the more you use their name and speak with them, the faster they will begin to recognize and respond to their moniker and realize the unique sounds that make up their name!

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