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When Do Babies Recognize Their Name?

when do babies recognize their name

When do babies recognize their name? Learn when and how to help your baby develop critical receptive language skills from day one!

From the moment your little one is born, they begin hearing their name. You may wonder when do babies recognize their name and when your little one will know their name and respond to it. 

Babies begin hearing language from birth and their brains are already developing and processing language. Sorting through the words they hear and assigning meaning to them is a major early developmental milestone.

When your baby recognizes their own name, it is an indicator that they have reached a very important part of their linguistic development, known as receptive language.

What Is Receptive Language?

Right from birth, your baby starts developing receptive language skills. Expressive language skills develop later when your baby says their first word and learns how to use language to communicate with others. 

Receptive language refers to the understanding and recognition of words that have meaning. Receptive language skills are necessary for a baby to recognize their name, and are required for your little one to develop their expressive language skills later and to learn to speak.

So When Do Babies Recognize Their Name? 

You might be surprised to learn that most babies can recognize their name at 6 months old and by the time they are 9 months old will respond to their name being called. 

This exciting milestone is a major development of their receptive language and the building block for all other linguistic developments. It happens over time, with other, smaller milestones along the way. 

Download the Kinedu app for FREE to track your baby’s milestones and progress!

Although every baby will reach their milestones at different times, the path to your baby learning their name often follows this timeline:

  • Birth to 3 Months: Linguistic development starts on day one! Your baby will turn their head towards the sounds or voices that they hear and will understand that their crying is a means of communication. They will make guttural vowel sounds and gestures with their arms. They will also learn to recognize the voices of their caregivers. 
  • 3 to 6 months: Your little one will begin to respond to voices and conversations by turning their head towards the sounds. They begin to recognize their name as well as changes in tone of voice. Your baby will start making consonant sounds, babbling, and imitating conversation.  
  • 6 to 9 months: By this time, your baby will respond to their name. You might notice this with a turn of the head when someone says their name out loud. Their receptive language skills have also developed to understand simple words that you may use in their every day care, like “bottle” or “book.”
  • 9 to 12 months: By the end of their first year, most babies can understand and recognize who “Mommy” and “Daddy” are and refer to. At this age, babies use gestures like pointing, reaching and waving, to express themselves. They may also start saying their first words at this time.

Watching your baby develop their linguistic skills and begin to recognize their name and interact and communicate with you is an exciting thing. There are so many milestones to watch out for and to encourage!  


To track all your baby’s milestones and progress, be sure to download the Kinedu app

How Can I Help My Baby Learn Their Name?

The most important thing you can do to help your baby recognize their name and reach their linguistic milestones is by talking to your baby as often as possible. Using their name repetitively when talking to them can help them learn their name and begin to recognize its meaning. 

Language is developed over time, and the more exposure your baby has to everyday language, tonal changes, and social conversation patterns, the more your little one can strengthen their linguistic skills. Even before your little one is able to communicate or understand words, they are soaking up all of the sounds and language they hear in their environment. 

Here are some ways to you can help your baby with their language development:

  1. Narrate activities: Even though your little one may not understand everything you are saying, they are still learning. Take any daily task, for example bath time, and narrate the whole experience for them. Use their name as often as possible. For example, say things like “Now I am going to wash John’s toes. Does that tickle? Can you feel the water on your toes?” You can also name and identify their body parts during bath time or when changing diapers or clothes. Explain each task and describe what you are doing. 
  2. Read to your baby: Reading books to your little one is a vital part of developing language. However, you can read anything to your little one. You can even read the newspaper during breakfast time, or directions to a new baby item you are putting together. Point to pictures. Pause and ask your baby what they think about something. The more exposure to language and language structure, the better!
  3. Sing songs: Whether it is a popular child’s nursery rhyme, your favorite song, or a made up song about an everyday task, music is a powerful way to introduce language to your little one and to engage them in understanding words. 

There are so many fun and exciting ways to incorporate speech and language into your baby’s day. For even more ideas on how you can help your baby learn their name and reach their milestones, download the Kinedu app to access over 1,800 video-based activities that support your baby’s development.

What If My Baby Doesn’t Recognize Their Name?

It’s common to worry about your baby and to wonder if they are developing their skills at a normal rate. While it is important to remember that all babies will reach their milestones at different times, there are some indicators of when you should talk to your pediatrician about a potential language delay. 

Not all of these indicators mean that there is a problem, but they should be evaluated with your pediatrician. 

You should call your doctor if by 9 months your baby is not:

  • Recognizing their name
  • Responding to their name
  • Babbling 
  • Using consonant and vowel sounds

You should notify your pediatrician is by 12 months your little one isn’t:

  • Saying single words like “mama” or “dada”
  • Pointing to objects they want and making sounds
  • Babbling with tonal shifts that imitate conversation

Addressing your concerns with your pediatrician can help you provide early intervention if needed and help you find the necessary support to improve your child’s language development. 

If you are looking for more ways to help your baby learn and grow, download Kinedu to watch classes about language development and other topics for parents and to get individual guidance from early childhood experts.

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