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Why Does My Baby Ignore Me When I Call His Name?

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Why does my baby ignore me when I call his name?

One of the first inquiries families of young children make when trying to determine whether specific missed milestones are cause for concern is, according to the majority of Fort Myers speech-language pathologists: “What happens if my child doesn’t answer when I call his name?”

It’s impossible to provide a general response because every child develops at a pace that is entirely unique to them. (The actual diagnosis is also carried out by doctors, who are typically specialists.) However, a veteran speech-language pathologist will likely concur with the following: By the time they turn one, if your child is not responding to his name, it may be a sign of a developmental delay that needs to be addressed. You should let your child’s primary care physician know about the issue and talk about whether it justifies referring your child for a more thorough examination by specialists.

Responding to one’s name is an essential component of effective communication. It wouldn’t be the first time he couldn’t tear himself away from a compelling show or a moment of intense fun to focus on “selective hearing,” either. A consistent and obvious problem would be this one, at least to you.

Why Is It So Important For Babies To React To Their Name?

Being able to respond to their name is a crucial skill because it serves as the basis for many others.  When I don’t see my students responding to their names, I notice delays in these other areas as well because I teach early childhood special education.

  • Attention
  • Comprehension (understanding) of language
  • Expressive language (gestures, signs, sounds, and words)
  • Social interactions with adults and kids
  • Self-regulation and safety 

As you can see, this particular skill has a significant influence on growth!  We’ll examine each of these abilities and how your child’s failure to acknowledge your call affects them.

Is It Typical For My Baby To Ignore Me?

Yes, it is typical for infants and toddlers to occasionally ignore a parent. As a newborn, your baby quickly learns to recognize your face, and by the time he’s 6 to 8 weeks old will flash that gummy smile when you smile at him, says pediatrician Tanya Remer Altmann, editor of The Wonder Years: Helping Your Baby and Young Child Successfully Negotiate the Major Developmental Milestones. But don’t count on him to pull off these tricks on a regular basis.

“By two to three months, social interaction should be present, but Altmann cautions that it won’t last all day. “It’s normal for your baby to get bored with socializing and request some downtime and privacy at some point during the day.”

It’s crucial to give your baby some downtime if he shows signs of having had enough. Don’t take it personally; other parents occasionally experience the same thing with their child.

However, if your child never smiles or avoids making eye contact, tell his doctor right away. (Your baby should smile back at you by the time he is two to three months old, respond to his name by the time he is seven to nine months, and begin to babble and point to things that are out of his reach by the time he is twelve to fourteen months.)

Autism might be a concern if you’re concerned about how your child interacts with others. Parents may notice developmental delays earlier, but autism is typically not diagnosed until a child is 15 to 18 months old.


What Could Be Indicated By A Child’s Failure To React To Name?

This skill typically develops between 7 and 9 months old. Many pediatricians independently take note if a child doesn’t seem to have mastered this skill by the time they go in for their one-year well-child checkup. They may flag the child for closer observation or simply refer the child for a developmental delay and possibly an autism screening. This is especially true if there are additional issues (lack of or abrupt regression in communication, inability or difficulty making eye contact, failure to point to objects or make a significant effort to make a request other than crying, repetitive behavior, etc.).).

Researchers at the U.C. One of the most reliable early indicators of autism spectrum disorder and other developmental delays, according to the Davis M.I.N.D. Institute and ASHA, is a child’s inability to consistently respond to their name by the time they turn one.

This in NO way implies that your child has autism or any other disorder. But if it does, believe us when we say: You won’t regret beginning intensive early intervention therapy (speech, occupational, ABA, and possibly ABA), creating a network of local supporters, and navigating some red tape. What a significant difference this can have for a child’s long-term success, as our Fort Myers speech-language pathologists have seen firsthand.

Failure to respond to one’s name could also be a sign of a receptive language disorder, which affects the capacity to comprehend language spoken by others, if autism is ruled out or isn’t obvious right away. Trouble with receptive language can occasionally be a sign of autism, but it can also occur on its own. Receptive language disorders can take many different forms. One illustration would be receptive aphasia, also known as Wernicke’s syndrome, which occurs when a child (or adult) with average or even above-average intelligence has trouble conceptualizing language. Another possibility is mixed expressive-receptive language disorder, which affects children’s ability to communicate effectively using the appropriate grammar, word recall, and sentence structure in addition to difficulty understanding spoken language. They are unable to comprehend or effectively use language, not that they are unable to produce the proper speech sounds (which would be a phonological disorder).

Your doctor will want to rule out a hearing impairment before you do any of that, though. If your child’s hearing is within the normal range, you can start the journey of numerous tests designed to establish (to the extent a standardized test is capable) your child’s developmental age vs. actual age, their speech and language skills, cognitive development and behaviors.

My Baby Ignores When I Call Him: What To Do?

When their child doesn’t respond to his name, many parents become concerned. Children with severe social impairments, such as autistic children, frequently fail to acknowledge their names when called. Adults find it challenging to call children’s attention or get them to stop what they’re doing as a result. They find it challenging to interact socially with their peers because they might not be aware that someone else is speaking to them.

Just because a child doesn’t respond to his name doesn’t necessarily mean he has autism, so keep that in mind. Before making the diagnosis of autism, a number of symptoms must be present. This can be challenging for kids without autism as well, especially if they have significant cognitive or communication delays. You can help your child respond to his name more often by taking these steps.

Respond In Isolated Setting

Teaching your child to respond to his name when there aren’t many distractions is the first thing we need to do. You must go to a location where your child won’t be distracted for this. The location of this might be the kitchen island or a space devoid of many toys or entertaining activities.

Take your child somewhere quiet and sit down with them. Make sure you have something to give your kid as a reward, like a favorite food or toy, or if they like it, a hug and a tickle. Say your child’s name when he is looking away from you. Reward him with your choice if he glances in your direction. Say his name again louder and create some sort of commotion by tapping the table or waving if he doesn’t turn to face you. Once he turns to face you, keep doing this. Give him the reward you’ve decided on. Make sure to explain your motivation for rewarding him each time. “You heard your name, good looking,” you may say.”. Continue doing this, making sure to first call his name and only use waving or tapping as a last resort if he doesn’t answer.

Continue doing this until, in this quiet environment (with few distractions), your child will look at you when you call his name about 80% of the time. You will then be prepared to proceed to the following step. As he might quickly grow weary of looking at you every time he hears his name, shorter, more frequent sessions are recommended for practicing this skill.

Respond In A Structured Setting

We want to gradually introduce more distractions to your child now that he can answer his name when there are none around to see how he responds.

The following time you’re prepared to practice this skill, sit down with your child somewhere with more distractions than the previous time. Alternatively, head to the living room, where a TV is located, or his room, where there are more toys. Repeat the previous step’s exercise, saying his name and rewarding him if he looks at you. Say his name louder and create a commotion to get his attention if he doesn’t look at you after you say it the first time. Reward him when he finally turns to face you. He might find this more challenging now that there are more distractions. Each time you try this, make sure to give him some time to play. When you call his name, you should make sure that he is focused on something else so that he can practice breaking his concentration on what he is doing rather than just looking at you after his attention has been drawn to you.

Continue doing this until you get 80% of the time that your child will look at you when you call his name. You shouldn’t have to wave and make a scene to get your child’s attention when you’re prepared to move on. Just calling him by name should get a response from him.

Respond In An Unstructured Setting

We want your child to be able to respond to his name whenever he hears it once he has mastered responding to you when he’s seated to work on it.

Wait until your child is occupied, perhaps playing with a toy or reading a book. As you say your child’s name, get close enough to him. Wait a second to see if he gives you a look. If he does, reward him just as you did in the previous steps. Make sure to acknowledge his good looks so he understands why he is being rewarded. If he doesn’t look at you, keep getting louder and more annoying until he does. Go ahead and thank him for his interest. If you can’t control how loud and annoying you make it, keep doing it until you can. In time, we want him to respond to his name alone, without your having to grab his attention first. Remember that we don’t expect perfection from anyone, and that even kids without language disorders don’t always respond when their name is called. Call his name from a distance that gets progressively further as your child becomes more adept at it. In time, your child ought to be capable of responding even if his name is called from another room. However, for this one, you’ll have to turn up the volume.


Once your child is responding to his name most of the time, keep doing this in a variety of situations and with a variety of people. Don’t expect perfection from your child, either. Even kids who have no trouble with social skills occasionally don’t respond to their own name, especially if they are very focused on something else.

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