When Do Babies Recognize Their Name?

From the turn of baby’s head to a preschooler’s wobbly scrawl, here’s what you need to know about when kids respond to, say and write their name.

Before baby’s arrival, you probably spent countless hours scouring baby name lists, mulling over the options with your partner and maybe even polling friends and family. You might have Googled your top name pick and practiced writing it, saying it, maybe even yelling it. Now that baby is here, his name is constantly on your lips—so it’s natural to wonder: When do babies recognize their name? From responding to his name to learning to say and spell it, here’s a timeline of what to expect as he moves from the baby stage to preschool.

The Baby Stage: Responding to Their Name

Can’t wait to call baby by name and see her respond? “At the 9-month well visit we expect babies to turn their heads briefly when their name is called,” says Julie Capiola, MD, a pediatrician at Premier Pediatrics in New York City. But Capiola emphasizes that “all development is on a continuum,” and some babies may respond to their name a little earlier or a little later. “What’s important is that their overall social development is progressing, and that they’re doing things like responding to what you say and do, and making their own noises to try and get your attention,” she says.

So what can you do to help baby recognize his name? It’s all about repetition: Calling your child by his name over and over again provides the reinforcement babies need to learn.