When Do Babies Learn Their Name?

When Do Babies Learn Their Name?

That moment when your little babe finally responds to their name is certainly a milestone in your baby’s development. 🥹

(And a milestone for you as a mama, too!)

Whether it’s a gurgle, a smile, a point, a head turn, or one of those infectious baby laughs, there’s no doubt about it — they recognize their name.

But, at what age should this happen?

And are there any tips or ways to teach baby their name?

Let’s dive into the DL on when babies learn their name. 👇

In this article: 📝

  • At what age should a baby respond to their name?
  • How to tell if my baby responds to their name
  • How do I teach my baby to recognize their name?
  • How long do you have to name a baby?
  • When to seek help

At what age should a baby respond to their name?

So, there’s no definitive age where each baby will learn their name.

Some may take longer than others, while some may pick it up more quickly.

But, generally, it’s thought that a baby responds to their name between the 4 and 9 months mark.

While 4 months is probably the earliest you’d see recognition, in between 7 - 9 months is where babies are generally thought to consistently recognize their name. [1]

But, before this developmental stage, some experts think babies can pick up the intonation of their name, before the syllables. [2]

The intonation refers to the rhythm of the word you’re pronouncing.

For example, with the name Atlas, it may be said in an up and down (or, down and up) rhythm — At-las.

And some say that babies can pick up on this rhythm, and over time, start to associate that particular rhythm paired with those syllables to themselves.

🔍 Read More: Top Baby Names of 2023 (Inspo For 2024 👀)


How to tell if my baby responds to their name

So, how can you tell if baby is starting to recognize their own name?

  • 👀 Looking at you: Your little babe may look right at you when you say their name. And, as they grow, they will even start to turn their head to look at you when they hear their name.
  • 💬 Vocalizes: Your baby might make a sound, such as a gurgle, or a laugh, or any form of vocal recognition when their name is said.
  • 👶 Physical cues: And, of course, if your little babe is giving you a big gappy-toothed smile, pointing, or turning their head towards you when they hear their name, that’s a good indication they’re starting to recognize it.

How often should my baby respond to their name?

It all depends on their age, and how progressed their development is.

The older they are, the more likely they will respond to their name.

And, just because they’ve responded once certainly doesn’t mean they’ll do it again right away.

One day, your baby may be allllllll here for their name. 🥹

You get smiles, laughs, points — the works.

But then, BAM…

The next day, their Lego blocks, storybooks, or something as fascinating as a coathanger are just so much more interesting. 🫠

But, fear not, mama — just because they’re not as responsive one day, doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten.

They’re just spending their time getting used to all senses and dynamics of their new environment.

And learning their name is just one component of many that they’re striving to learn about that day. 🎓

Of course, if your baby is older and doesn’t respond at all, or stops responding for a long period of time, it’s worth reaching out to your pediatrician to make sure everything’s okay with baby’s development. 👩‍⚕️


How do I teach my baby to recognize their name?

So, apart from saying their name on repeat (which can be exhausting 🥲), what tips can you try to teach your baby their name?

  • 🫡 Attention

So, first off, it’s important to use the baby’s name to get their attention.

If they hear the noise, the rhythm, the syllables, they’ll gradually start to learn, “Oh… that’s directed towards me!”.

And, then, they’ll start to attach that label to themselves.

  • 🎲 Games

A great way to entertain your baby while also teaching them their name is through the power of games.

For example, a classic case of “My turn, your turn”, interchanging “your” for their name, and prompting them to complete the action of the game.

They’ll begin to learn that the “your” (name) part relates directly to them, and hopefully start applying that knowledge to other situations in life.

  • 📸 Using photographs

Grab the photo album, grab your little babe, and get pointing.

The classic, “Look — it’s you, [name]!”, will come into play a lot here.

But, by seeing their face paired up with the rhythm of their name, they’re likely to make the association that their name is, in fact, theirs.

You could also use this strategy to get them to learn others’ names, too, like siblings, grandparents, or even mama or dada.

  • 🔄 Repetition

Repeating is key here, mama. 🔑

The more you say their name, and in a variety of different settings, the more they’ll label themselves in that way, and start responding.

Try the same intonation initially so they can recognize the rhythm, but once they’ve got the hang of that, trying different ways of pronouncing their name can then teach them to hear the syllables, too.

  • 😌 Keep distractions to a minimum

Sometimes, sensory overload might be at play for babies. 😵‍💫

If they’re too overstimulated with the music playing from the speaker, the squeaky noise coming from their toy, or other babbling babies in the room, they’re likely going to miss hearing their name.

When trying to teach it to them, switch off the TV, or speaker, and try and reduce distractions as much as you can to make sure they have the capacity to hear you, and process the name you’re saying to them.

  • 🎵 Changing your tone

Some experts say that changing your tone of voice when you’re calling your baby might be a good learning strategy. [3]

For example, you could try a whispery voice, a sing-song voice, a loud excited voice… whatever voice you like.

(Maybe not creepy or scary though, obviously 😅).

You never know, this change of tone might grab your baby’s attention better than your normal talking voice.

🔍 Read More: Your Ultimate Essentials Baby Checklist 👶


How long do you have to name a baby?

Of course, the earlier you name your baby and start saying their name, the earlier they’ll learn it.

So, it’s not exactly a race against the clock with a newborn (as they’re not likely to show any/many signs of responding to their name until at least 4 months old), but you don’t want to leave it too late, either.

But, the designated period you have to name your child largely depends on which country you live in.

For example, in the UK, you must register the birth of your child within 42 days of them being born which, naturally, requires a name. [4]

But, the US is slightly less clear…

Different states have different laws on when you should name your baby, so it depends on which state you live in.

Some states have no naming laws at all, while others do — so take a moment to familiarize yourself with the laws in your area.

When to seek help

Sometimes, babies don’t always learn their name before the 9 month mark, and this can be concerning for new parents.

So, the best thing to do would be to contact your baby’s pediatrician if you have any worries around this. 👩‍⚕️

They will likely conduct a hearing test primarily, to check if the baby’s hearing is okay.

They’ll also probably schedule an evaluation with Early Intervention Services, which assesses whether you’d qualify for free therapy with a speech and language therapist.

There could be a few reasons why your baby isn’t responding to their name — some studies suggest this could be an early sign of autism, while others point to hearing difficulties or language disorders. [5]

Whatever the case though, you’re not alone — you have a whole Community of women who’ve been through it all. 🥜


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