If you think about it, your baby’s name is their very first gift from you! And because you most likely spent a lot of time considering this gift, you’re probably wondering when your child will begin to recognize their own name.
Your infant naturally responds to the sound of your voice. In fact, a baby’s hearing develops around 24 weeks in the womb, which allows them to learn the sound of their mother’s voice and even recognize her native language. When you talk to your baby, smile at them, or use their name, they typically react with a turn, a smile, eye contact, or some form of movement. This reaction may make you think they’re responding to their own name, but while these responses are meaningful and a healthy sign of development, your baby is simply reacting to stimuli. Even though you might say their name a million times a day, they don’t yet know the significance of this special word.
When Babies Recognize Their Name
Even though babies don’t instantly learn their own names, we do invite you to celebrate the smiles, coos, looks, and tiny kicks they give when they hear you say it! These types of interactions are incredibly important and essential to their development. Between age 5-7 months, they begin to detect that sounds match with certain objects or activities, and this includes their own name. Around this time, babies typically turn or look towards someone who calls their name. Of course, name recognition will happen sooner with some babies and later with others. If your baby isn’t responding to their name or other cues by age 9 months, or showing inconsistent patterns in their communication, it’s a good idea to reach out to your pediatrician for guidance.
How to Help Your Baby Learn Their Name
To help your little one learn to recognize their name, repetition is key. As with learning almost any skill, the more it’s practiced and repeated, the easier it is to learn. Don’t hesitate to use their name as you do any activity together. For instance, “Does Logan need a diaper change? I think Logan needs one! How do you feel about a clean diaper, Logan?” It may sound silly, but it is effective! It also helps to avoid using nicknames during the first few months of life. Of course, you don’t have to stop yourself from saying how much you love your little “snuggle muffin.” These expressions of love certainly won’t hurt! But saying their name often and with warm and affectionate tones helps them to associate their name with love and safety, and understand that this unique word refers to them.
Learning their name is your child’s first step towards independence and discovering their identity, and a very special milestone to celebrate.