In our section «Ask an expert a question», reader Jane asks:
«Our daughter is now almost 5 months old. I call her by name, she turns her head, looks at me. And my husband is sure that my daughter just reacts to my voice, and not to her name. Tell me, who is right? At what age does a child begin to respond to his name?»
— There are no certain strict norms here, but most modern children usually at the age of about 4 months already recognize their name and begin to react to it.
During the same period, the so-called revival complex is becoming more pronounced in children: in response to their mother’s voice, they actively move their arms and legs, smile, babble. The child is already able to pronounce sounds similar to «p», «b», «m», as well as vowels «o», «a».
If the baby has not yet begun to react to his name at this age, do not rush to panic. The dates given are average values, and deviations are acceptable within fairly large limits. We can wait a couple more months and see if the situation has changed.
In addition, the development of a child’s speech abilities is one of the many components of his development. Other parameters need to be evaluated as well. The «diaries of child development» are best suited for this: it is easy to find such tables on the Web, where the timing of the formation of most of the most important physiological and mental systems of the baby is marked.
If you doubt whether your child is developing correctly, see if there are any delays in other skills. For example, in 4 months, in addition to the lack of reaction to your name, the following signs should alert you:
the child does not grab or hold objects in his hand;
does not roll over on the stomach from the back;
lying on his stomach, does not rise on his hands.
when pulling the child by the hands, when he is lying on his back, his head leans back;
the baby does not rely on the toes when supported in an upright position;
does not react to other people, does not show emotions: does not smile, does not get angry, does not laugh, is not surprised. He doesn’t enjoy being played with.
In this case, it is premature to talk about any diagnoses, but it is better to start finding out the cause of developmental delays with a visit to a pediatric neurologist. He will check all the basic reflexes, evaluate the work of the analyzer systems and, if necessary, refer them to another specialized specialist.
How to understand that a child really responds to his name?
Children first learn to catch the intonation, and only after they understand what it is about. Therefore, the child can react to any word he hears. It will be possible to determine more precisely only when you see clear signs of differentiation of the reaction:
try to talk to someone next to the child and during the conversation say the baby’s name, separating it with a small pause from other words: so it will be possible to determine whether the child reacts to his name.
If the baby reacts to other words and sounds, but does not respond to the name, perhaps he just does not understand this word yet. It is necessary to properly introduce the child to his name. To do this, starting from the age of three months, tell the baby about his name in a playful way. Show toys, name objects, then touch the baby and say his name.