Choosing a name for your new baby is one of the most exciting parts of pregnancy. Parents-to-be enjoy poring through baby name websites, books, and family names.
When your baby finally arrives, it’s fun to surprise your family and friends with the unique name you and your partner picked out. As your baby goes through their first few months of life, you might be wondering when my baby will recognize their name?
This article will share when you can expect your child to turn when you call out their name, when your baby will be able to say their name, and tips for teaching them to do so.
When Do Babies Recognize Their Name?
Between 5 and 7 months, babies begin to recognize that when you say their name, you are referring to them. Your baby will start turning their head when you call their name.
If you tell your child, ”Good morning Jane,” Jane will know you are talking to him. If you call out from the other side of the room ”Hey David!”, David will turn his head in your direction.
This reaction happens because your baby is starting to connect that certain sounds represent people and things.
First, They’ll Recognize Your Voice
Your baby can already distinguish your voice from others from hearing it constantly in the womb. At even just a few weeks old, your baby might turn when you call for them.
However, this is not because they already know their name, but because they already recognize your voice.
Recognizing Tone and Emotion
Babies at this age can also identify your tone of voice. If you speak in a high, happy voice, your baby will know you are happy.
If you speak angrily, they will recognize you are upset and may even become upset too.
While newborns cannot tell exactly what words you are saying, they do pick up on the emotions that you relay when you speak.
How Do I Teach My Baby to Recognize Their Name?
The following tips are ways to help your baby hit the developmental milestone of recognizing their name. You can start these practices immediately after birth.
However, you can expect your baby to recognize their name around 5 to 7 months.
1. Repetition With Emphasis
Use your baby’s name repeatedly in sentences when speaking to them. Emphasize the name when you say it.
For example, when getting ready for bed, try saying, ”It’s sleepy time, Annie! Annie, here is your special stuffed bunny.”
When they hear their name frequently, they are more likely to identify that the sounds you keep repeating are related to themselves.
You can use repetition if there are other meaningful words you want your baby to learn, such as Mama, Dada, no, or eat.
2. Use Kind, Gentle Tones
Your baby is soaking up the world around them all the time. They build their understanding of the world from how their needs are met.
Speaking in a gentle voice creates an attachment between you and your baby and helps them feel secure.
3. Avoid Using Pet Names
Using cutesy pet names can be tempting. Your adorable baby IS such a “little smooshy bug.” However, using pet names frequently instead of saying your baby’s name takes the meaning away from their name.
Your child may be slower to recognize their name if it is constantly being replaced with pet names in their early life.
4. Use Their Name in Sentences
Another way to help your baby recognize their name sooner and to help them build their first language is to use their name in complete sentences.
Even though your baby will not be responding to your words, they will be taking in much of the information they hear.
Include varied sentence structures and rich, descriptive language. The more words they hear, the bigger their vocabularies will be later.
5. Have Family and Friends Use Their Name Frequently When Talking to Your Baby
These practices don’t need to end with you and your partner. Don’t be afraid to explain to your family and friends that you are helping your baby recognize their name.
You can ask them to participate by using your baby’s name frequently in sentences when speaking to them. Ask them to resist using pet names too.
6. Practice Name-Calling
When your child is a few months old, you can practice speaking their name at home. In a quiet setting, call out your child’s name in a clear voice. Keep these sessions short.
You can even use a reward if they acknowledge their name. For example: Walk to the other side of the room as your baby. Call out their name. If they turn towards you, respond, or crawl towards you at the sound of their name, provide praise and perhaps even give a small snack.
7. Narrate Your Surroundings
Even though your baby will not respond with words, narrate what is happening to your baby. For example, on a walk, say, ”Jamie, look at those white clouds in the blue sky!”
Not only will this help your baby begin to recognize their name, but also help build their vocabulary and language skills when they start speaking.
Research shows that the language children hear in their first three years of life correlates to their vocabulary they have at age four.
Use lots of descriptive words and name objects they can see. They will start identifying that the sounds they hear represent the things they see.
Keep it Conversational
Another way to build social development is to pause in the conversation to give your baby a chance to ”respond”. In the first year of life, your baby won’t respond with a sentence, of course, but it will give them a chance to learn the back and forth of conversation.
They might coo, gurgle, or move their body to reply. You will have fun having a nonsense conversation with your baby, and your baby will benefit and learn essential skills from these social interactions.
8. Build Connections Through Language
To build overall language skills, model making connections, and comparisons for your child. For example, instead of saying ”That horse is tall”, say ”Look at this tall brown horse.
It is much taller than that pink pig”. This small change will build more proficient speakers who will process language quickly and build larger vocabularies.
In their first years of life, babies are taking in everything they see and hear around them.
Read to Your Baby Daily
Another way to support your child’s first language is to read to them often. While reading a picture book, point to the pictures and describe them.
Point out objects that your child may recognize to help build connections. For example, you can say, ”Look at this picture of the black kitty play with the red balloon!”
When Will My Baby Say Their Name?
Babies usually will be able to say their name by 24 months. If you have been using the name frequently in conversation and follow the other tips above, your baby will be more likely to start saying it earlier.
Early language development involves listening, comprehending, and speaking. In the months leading up to speaking words, your baby will begin to babble with vowels and consonants. They are attempting to imitate the sounds they hear.
Speaking Their First Word
Your baby will probably speak their first word between 10 and 14 months of age. This moment is an exciting milestone for you and your child! Expect their speech not to be perfect right away. Some consonants and vowels are tougher than others to pronounce. Your child also may drop the ending sound of a word. For example, they might say ”ba” for ball, which is entirely normal.
Adding New Words and Two Word Sentences
Between 12 and 24 months, your child will add many new words to their vocabulary. These new words may include objects and people that are most familiar to them, such as “milk,” “Grandpa,” or “no.”
Your baby will have about 100 words in their vocabulary by two years!
At two years old, your toddler will also start making simple two-word sentences, such as ”Doggy eat” or the infamous “Mommy no.”
Meeting Developmental Mile Stones
Remember that every child is on a different timeline, and these developmental milestones will be slightly different for all. Some babies are more social than others, too.
If you are concerned that your baby is not making expected developments, contact your pediatrician. There are many reasons why your child’s language is not developing, both less serious and more concerning.
The following instances are causes for concern:
- Baby isn’t responding to the sound of their name by 10 months
- Baby does not laugh along when others laugh by 12 months
- Baby doesn’t follow or understand simple, single-step directions by 12 months
- Baby is not saying words by 15 months
- Baby’s speech and language suddenly stops or regresses
Regardless of when or how your child starts communicating, it is a special time in baby development. It is especially exciting when you understand your baby, and your baby understands you!
Enjoy watching your baby absorb everything, and have fun chatting and laughing with your little one.