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Your baby will hit many milestones in the first year, including recognizing their own name.

This milestone in language development usually comes sometime between 4 and 9 months. But not all babies, even siblings, will reach this milestone at the same time.

Here’s more about how you can help your child learn their name, as well as when you should contact your pediatrician if you have any concerns about possible developmental delays.

You may have noticed that your baby looks at you when you speak. Babies do this early on, even before they’re capable of knowing their names.

So, how exactly can you tell if your child recognizes their name? Well, it’s tough. And you can’t necessarily know for sure.

First, consider your baby’s age. While some babies are able to recognize their names as early as 4 to 6 months, most should reach this point consistently by 7 to 9 months.

Second, take note of consistency. Your little one should turn to look at you or vocalize (make noises) when you say their name.

So, pay attention to your baby’s body language and any sounds they make. If your baby consistently turns toward you, vocalizes in some way, or shows some other sign of recognition, your child probably knows their name.

You can help your child learn their name in a few ways. Don’t fret if these methods don’t work right away. Again, all babies reach milestones at different times. Your baby is moving at their own pace.

Strategies include:

  • Try repetition. When you’re interacting with your child, use their name frequently. Say things like “Charlotte, would you like your bottle?” or “It’s time to change your diaper, Sammy!” Regular use of your baby’s name in conversation may help it click over time.
  • Eliminate distractions. Perhaps there’s just a lot going on and your baby isn’t tuned in. Try moving to a quiet room. Give your baby a toy to play with and watch for a while. Then, see if your baby responds when you say their name.
  • Change your tone. Pediatric speech-language pathologist Laura Mize suggests changing your tone of voice when you call your baby. Try a singsong voice or an excited whisper of their name to see if that gets your baby’s attention better than your standard speaking voice.
  • Use photos. Consider making a photo book or just looking through photographs with your baby. Point to the people you see and say their names. Do the same when you come to a photo of your child. You can say things like “Look at Elizabeth’s beautiful blue eyes!” or “That is a nice hat that Marco is wearing!”

Over the course of baby’s first year, they’ll likely recognize their name before they will be able to say it. This is because understanding speech and talking are different skills that evolve over unique time lines.

While your baby may recognize their name as early as 4 to 6 months, saying their name and the names of others may take until somewhere between 18 months and 24 months.

Your baby saying their full name at your request is a milestone they’ll likely reach between 2 and 3 years old.

Keep in mind that some names are easier to say than others. For example, Bob or Ann may be easier on the tongue than Xavier or Gwendolyn. If your child’s name has multiple syllables, consider creating a short nickname to use until your child’s speech sounds are better developed.

It’s a good idea to contact your baby’s pediatrician if your little one doesn’t consistently respond to their name by the time their first birthday rolls around.

Your child’s doctor may suggest you have your little one’s hearing checked or that you schedule an evaluation with Early Intervention Services to see if you qualify for free therapy with a speech-language pathologist.

Researchers of a 2017 study suggested that not reaching this milestone by 12 months may be an early marker of autism, social communication issues, or other developmental delays. It could also stem from hearing difficulties or a type of language disorder.

Communicating with your child is one of the best parts of being a new parent. It’s incredibly exciting to see your little one’s eyes light up when you say their name.

If your baby hasn’t reached this milestone yet, take a deep breath. They’ll move at their own pace in developing their language skills.

However, don’t hesitate to contact your child’s pediatrician if you have concerns about your baby’s development. The doctor can answer any questions you have about speech and language development, as well as point you to any support and services you need.