My Baby Ignores Me When I Call His Name: Reasons & Solutions!

Written by Daisy
Last updated:
Reviewed by Margaret

My baby ignores me when I call his name, what could this be? This will definitely be one of the biggest and most challenging feats of being a parent. But why do babies ignore our calls?

Response as early as a few months is imperative, especially if you want to assert command and authority. So, in this article, we’ll go over the possible reasons why your baby doesn’t respond when called! We’ll also talk about what to do about it, and when the best time to consult a health professional is!

The website’s general material is given for informative purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. This article has been reviewed by the necessary medical and healthcare professionals we work with.For emergencies, contact your local physician or certified healthcare provider RIGHT AWAY!

When Should Your Baby Start Responding To Their Name?

This will depend on the developmental milestones of your baby. Some babies are able to recognize their names in 4 to 6 months, while some develop it a bit later or at around 7 to 9 months.

Don’t worry, though, because not being responsive in these early stages doesn’t mean anything serious, yet. Just try practicing with them and getting them familiar with their names – also nicknames, too! They’ll sense that connection and they can piece them together!

A Baby’s Developmental Milestones

From newborns to toddlers, there’ll be evident milestones in their development in all aspects of being human. There will be physical, mental, emotional, and psychological changes throughout the years. Take note, their social and communication skills are not alien to this. Understanding the milestone of the baby’s development will help us aware of the abnormal early signs in time and make early intervention program.

First Few Months

The first few months of observing your baby is the most crucial – and it’s also the hardest and most difficult. This would be the time they’ll learn to make eye contact, recognize familiar faces, and also start cooing and babbling for communication.Therefore, baby respond to you is not obvious.

This also is the time that our babies learn the fundamentals of human behavior, such as grasping, handling, and touching objects. This is the hint that they’re starting to develop eye-hand coordination.

Six to Nine Months

Fast-forward to a few months, and you’ll notice your little munchkin starting to have menial interactions. Our babies would often start to become more interested in social interaction at this point in time.

They could start playing peek-a-boo, copying facial expressions, and they might even start responding to their own name! Yes, by this time, calling them regularly would have built up their knowledge of recognizing their names.

NOTE: The ability to respond to their name often appears between 7 and 9 months, although again, this might vary.

Nine to 12 Months

And finally, the last straw would be from nine to 12 months or one year of your little angel. This is the time period where they’ll learn and have basic understanding of specific words, commands, and even expressions.

In addition to that, this is the time when they’ll learn gestures, too. By this time, your baby should already know his or her name – that when you call them, they will respond or acknowledge.

Healthline says that the time for a baby to recognize their names will vary. Again, not all babies are the same! Some would have it between 4 to 6 months, while some would develop this in the later months.

             While some infants may identify their names as early as 4 to 6 months, most children should be able to do so reliably by 7 to 9 months.” If at this stage, your baby ignores you, you need to pay attention.

My Baby Ignores Me When I Call His Name – 5 Possible Reasons Why!

Fret not, because we are about to address a couple of the main reasons why your baby isn’t responding well when you call them by their first names! And as much as we want to make it easy for all of you, it’s not something that can be ruled out in a singularity.

Reason #1: Lack of Understanding

The first reason would be the lack of understanding. As we all know, our babies aren’t born with their names – you gave it to them. For typically developing babies, they need time to learn and understand. Now, over time, they’ll need to understand that their name is connected to them as a person.

Karen Gill, M.D., Pediatrician and Editor, says that helping or assisting your baby recognize their names is a great foundation to help them.

             You can try repeating it over and over again and eliminate distractions when you do. Moreover, mix your tone up a little bit so they know the difference, and you can also inculcate the use of media like photos and videos for it.”

Reason #2: Hearing Problems or Issues

Another probable reason would be quite more evident, and that is the child showing signs of hearing problems and/or issues. So it is hard for the child respond to their name calling.

Experts in the area say that a newborn may occasionally appear unresponsive when called due to hearing issues. Without a freshly-baked turkey, it’s like attempting to host a Thanksgiving dinner; things simply won’t work out like how they should!  

You know, newborns rely on their hearing to connect with the world around them, much like a bee uses its buzz to find its way.

Mary L. Gavin, M.D., Pediatrician and Senior Medical Editor at Nemours said that parents should watch out! They should observe especially for signs of hearing loss even after they pass newborn screening.

By around three months, babies should recognize their parents’ voice and be calmed by it. Then, at around six months, they should be able to mimic sounds. By the time they turn a year old, they should be capable of making babbling sounds or even saying basic words like Mama, hi, or da-da.”

Reason #3: Distractions

Distractions can also be the cause of why babies ignore it when they hear their names. If adults can get distracted, what more for your little angel? They’re still yet to grasp reality and control whatever they’ll feel!

Babies have this innate sense of curiosity and are easily distracted by their environment. Due to their focus on watching or investigating other stimuli in their environment, your baby may ignore you when you call their name. It’s like when they’re playing with something and you call them out – they might just notice or recognize you the first time.

They could be permanently fixed on an object, entranced by an unfamiliar voice, or mesmerized by activity nearby. It is difficult for children to change their attention fast due to their increasing sensory and cognitive capacities.

Reason #4: Developmental Delay

Besides all the things your child will eventually learn how to control, factors we should never disregard are baby’s developmental delay. As we keep on saying, not all babies are born the same or progress equally – this actually talks about other aspects of their development such as motor skills, critical thinking, social and communication skills, and others, too.

One reason why a newborn may reject or not respond to their name being called might, in reality, be due to delayed social or communication abilities. A baby’s capacity to respond to their name and take part in social interactions might be affected by developmental delay in these areas.

For instance, a newborn who struggles with social interaction or has deficits in expressive language development could find it challenging to know their name or comprehend the importance of responding to it.

Kinedu says that if this behavior from your little munchkin continues, seek assistance or evaluation from a speech-language pathologist or a pediatrician to help find out the issues.

             They can be in a position to spot any underlying problems and offer extra tips for assisting your kid in mastering this expertise and improve the child’s ability. In order to rule out any developmental delay or disorders, they could also suggest a formal assessment.”

Reason #5: Other Factors

And, of course, let’s not disregard other factors that may be involved in all this. I mean, as humans, babies have tempers and moods – this can actually be an underlying factor, too!

Some infants may be more introverted by nature or have a lower threshold for sensory stimulation, which makes them less receptive to hearing their names called.

I had a similar experience before and all I did was practice with my baby regularly. We’d switch scenarios, I’ll do it with other people, I’ll do it outside, and so on. Eventually, he learned it and he now responds in a standard manner!

Additionally, a baby’s state of mind at a given time might influence how attentive and responsive they are. A baby may be less likely to respond to their name if they are hungry, weary, or unhappy. I mean, think about it – if you were in your baby’s shoes and you’re not feeling very comfortable, would you be doing the same thing?

These are the top five possible reasons why your baby ignores you whenever you try calling his or her name out. Mind you, these are taken from research and from medical professionals – none of which we claim 100% accurate.

Signs of Potential Developmental Delays or Autism

A quick note on this, not all developmental delays are tagged and labeled as autism – they’re simply delays in the development of a baby.

If we are talking about ASD or autism spectrum disorders, the common characteristics and signs include:

  • Delayed Motor Skills

  • Delayed Cognitive Skills

  • Hyperactivity

  • Impulsiveness and Inattention

  • Delayed Language Skills

  • Does Not Keep Eye Contact

  • No Facial Expressions (Happy, Sad, Angry, Surprised By 9 Months)

  • No New Gestures (Wave Goodbye, Hello, Clap By 12 Months)

  • Does Not Notice When Other People/Babies Are Hurt or Upset (By 24 Months)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the CDC says that not all of these should be exhibited by the baby. In fact, some of them can just be independent delays, but it’ll be best to visit your local child’s pediatrician or specialist for screening and diagnosis.

Do You Need to Consult a Healthcare Professional?

As a parent, I’m sure that you’ll be able to notice a few things when they’re already in their 6th month and they’re showing no signs of improvement. By this time, if you feel like you need more than just observation, consult with a developmental specialist or a child’s pediatrician.

Should parents be persistently worried about their child’s social interactions, communication abilities, or developmental milestones, having a professional evaluate their child would be the best and most accurate way to go.

As per the CDC, brief tests using screening tools may not be formal diagnoses. However, they can help in identifying whether the baby is on the right track for development or if they need to have a closer look.

             The specialist may observe the child, administer a formal test to the youngster, interview the parents or other caregivers, or request that they complete questionnaires. The outcomes of this formal assessment show your child’s development and areas for improvement, and they may help determine if they meet the requirements for a developmental diagnosis.”

What to Do When Your Baby Ignores You When You Call His/Her Name?

Before we go deep into consultations, there are a few things that doctors and specialists trust us, parents, on when it comes to helping and assisting our babies. In fact, these might just be the boost that our babies need for them to hone their social skills.

Speech and Language Kids recommend following this 3-step process:

Response With Few Distractions

Have your baby be in an area with “limited” or “menial” distraction. Try to get baby’s attention. Wait for your child to look away, and then say their name. If they look at you, reward him with something – it can be a special treat, a toy, or their favorite foot.

What we did was kiss them and tickle them!

Response in a Structured Setting

After they naturally respond in that type of environment, the next step would be in a structured setting. Usually, this will be the living room where distractions are far more, like the TV, other people in the house, more toys, windows seeing through the outside, etc.

Follow the same process until they look at you when you do it 70% of the time.

Response in an Unstructured Setting

Last but most definitely not least would be testing their response in a setting that’s not planned for or prepared. In fact, it’ll be best to make them busy – let them play with a toy, let them watch something on the TV.

Then, stand close to them and then call their name out. When they stop what they’re doing and look at you, they’re responding. Reward them for it.

Do this regularly and you’ll have no problems with how you want your baby to respond!

FAQs

If you still have a few things you need help with that may have been left unanswered, we’ve prepared a few of the most asked questions for you!

Is It Normal For Babies To Ignore You When You Call Their Name?

Yes, in fact, their response to whenever you call their name will actually depend on their maturity. Trying to call them between 0 to three months would really result in you not getting any response. However, if they’re older than six months and they still show no signs of imitating others, responding, or even other normal baby behavior, then it can be aligned to early intervention.

Toddler Selectively Responds To Name

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association or ASHA says that children who continuously fail to respond to their names (around their first birthday) is one of the earlier indicators of autism or other delays in development. If you find your baby completely ignore you, you should seek for the child’s pediatrician’s help.

Final Verdict

Forcing your baby to react, respond, or even acknowledge when you call them might not be the solution you’re looking for. You see, not all babies develop in the same way – some of them develop faster, while some slower.

The next time you say, my baby ignores me when I call his name, you can always go back to this guide to find the answers you’re looking for! 

Photo of author
Daisy Martinez, a Certified Financial Planner and mother of two, blends finance expertise from Ohio State and Anderson School of Management with hands-on parenting insights. Founder of "mamallove.com" and "cashsavvytips.com", she's passionate about guiding parents in financial and parenting realms.

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