Deciding a name for your baby is fun. But watching your baby respond to their name is perhaps one of the most memorable moments of parenting. Parents are eager to know when their little one would respond to their name, considering that babies develop sound recognition in the first couple of months of their lives (1).
Your baby has been listening to you speak and perhaps even understanding a bit of it right from their early months. However, your baby’s response to their name comes a little later.
Read on to learn about the age when a baby achieves this milestone, how they recognize their name, and ways to help them recognize their name better.
At What Age Do Babies Know Their Names?
Babies usually begin to know and respond to their names by the age of six months (2). Each baby is different, and some may achieve the milestone later. However, most babies respond to their names by the age of nine months. If your nine-month-old does not respond to their name when called repeatedly, consult a pediatrician (3).
Babies learn to react to sounds before they respond to their names. They turn their heads towards a sound as early as the age of three months (4). You may have observed that your baby seems to respond to their name even before the age of six months. The reaction is likely to your voice than their name. Nevertheless, you must call your baby by their name from an early age to reinforce the sound of their name.
How Do Babies Recognize Their Names?
Babies go through a continuum of milestones before they start to recognize their names. For instance, a baby recognizes some sounds, such as their mother’s voice, by the end of their first month (5). Receptive language among babies develops earlier than expressive language (6). Hence, babies might be familiar with the sound of their names long before they realize that the sound refers to them. Affectionate, frequent repetition of their name could help them develop the ability better.
How To Help A Baby Recognize Their Name?
Here are some easy tips to help your baby recognize their name (7).
- Start calling them by their name from an early age.
- Speak the names of different objects and familiar people around them. This helps familiarize them with words better.
- Avoid calling them by their pet names, as this may confuse them.
- Facilitate a conversation with them regularly by using their name frequently.
- Try calling their name when they are looking away or when they are preoccupied.
- Say their name in an isolated setting first.
- Once your baby responds to their name in a distraction-free environment, you can try calling them in a social setting or a place with more ambient sounds.
- Increase the distractions consequently and check your baby’s response to their name from time to time.
- Check your baby’s response to their name when they hear it over the phone.
- Encourage family members and caregivers to call the baby by the same name.
- Ask a family member to video call and say the baby’s name.
- Play hide and seek with the baby; ask your partner to hide behind an object or even his hands (peek-a-boo) and loudly call out the baby’s name.
- Once your baby grows older and responds to their name better, you can string sentences or basic instructions with the baby’s name in them.
Each baby is unique and attains a developmental milestone at their own pace. Therefore, do not panic if your baby does not recognize their name at the age of six months. Give them some additional months to develop the skill. In the meantime, use the baby’s name liberally while playing and conversing.
If your baby does not respond to their name by the age of nine months or has trouble correlating words with objects, do not hesitate to speak to a pediatrician or a pediatric speech specialist.
2. Important Milestones: Your Baby By Six Months; CDC
3. Important Milestones: Your Baby By Nine Months; CDC
4. Important Milestones: Your Baby By Two Months; CDC
5. Developmental Milestones for Baby; March of Dimes
6. Speech and Language Milestones, Birth to 1; Year C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital
7. Activities to Encourage Speech and Language Development; American Speech-Language-Hearing Association