When Do Babies Recognize Their Parents & Other Familiar People?

When Do Babies Recognise Their Mother, Father & Other Familiar People?

Your bundle of joy is finally in your arms – you’re probably wondering whether or not your little one recognizes you! Well, the fact of the matter is that babies are naturally drawn towards faces, and they prefer to observe human faces over other things. They are attracted by your face when they see you blinking your eyes or talking. So, the question is, “Can infants recognize faces?”

To know the answer, you need to read this article. In this article, we have discussed when babies recognize their parents and other familiar people.

Babies Recognize Their Mom First

A newborn baby feels more comfortable around the mother because not only is the mother’s scent and voice familiar, but the baby also sees more of her all through the day. In most cases, a baby gets to be with the mother a lot more than other members of the family, which is why babies recognize their mothers first. By the time a baby turns three months old and can distinguish between various faces, she may become wary of strangers and unknown faces. So, the question remains – do babies know their mother at birth? Well, that is still debatable, but a mother is certainly amongst the first few people that a newborn baby gets familiarised with.

When Do Babies Start to Recognize Their Fathers?

There are no studies that analyse when babies start to recognize their fathers. However, it is believed that babies do respond and recognize their father’s voice from the womb. For this very reason, many doctors highly recommended that the would-be-dads talk to their babies when in the womb. Babies are born with blurry vision, and by the time they are a few weeks old (in most cases by the time babies turn two) they are most likely to recognize both their parents’ faces.

When Do Babies Start to Recognize Their Fathers?

How Long Can Baby Remember Someone?  

A baby cannot remember a person forever; they can only recognize familiar faces or the ones they see regularly. Even the regular faces your baby sees, they can only remember them for only a week.

Determining When a Baby Begins to Identify People

While there is no concrete evidence that helps parents understand when their baby can begin identifying people, some research signifies that a baby can recognize a mother’s face early in life as compared to other people and things, which usually takes longer. A baby can recognize her parents’ faces fairly early, but it takes a couple of months or a year to get familiar with other family members and close friends. The baby may familiarise herself with family members she sees regularly quicker as compared to distant relatives who do not visit often.

1) Birth

The baby recognizes the mother through smell. They cannot recognize faces at this age but know that the mother is someone special and like to look at them.

2) 2 to 4 Month

At this stage, babies recognize their mother or caregiver. By the end of four months, they recognize familiar people and objects.

3) 6 Month

At six months, babies can recognize their parents and people they see regularly.

4) 9 Month

At this stage, babies can recognize their favourite toys and get social and mingle with family members and neighbours as well.

5) 15 To 18 Month

At this stage, the infant is well aware of their identity and can recognize themselves in the mirror.

What About Looks When It Comes to Recognizing People?

Just the way adults find good-looking people more attractive, babies also find beautiful people more appealing. You may find your baby staring or looking longer at faces that she may find more attractive than others. This is because babies are also fascinated by certain kinds of faces.

In a study conducted in 2017, researchers found that babies are capable of having preferences of faces they like to see even before they are born – these preferences are present right from the womb! In the study, 39 fetuses at 34 weeks gestation were observed – 2 visual stimuli representing face shapes were projected on the mother’s womb, out of which one was inverted. The movement of the head of the foetus was observed using high-quality 4-D sound. It was observed that the foetus moved its head to track the projection of the face shape, but did not do so for the inverted one. This proved that the foetus did not move its head to recognize a pattern, but to the shape it found appealing!

Effects of Unfamiliar Faces

You may experience that your baby is happy and playful in your or your family’s company, but behaves erratically in front of strangers. This is because your baby feels comfortable and cosy with familiar faces and is wary of unfamiliar faces. Unfamiliar faces or strangers may make your baby inquisitive and apprehensive, making her behave strangely. This does not necessarily mean she is anxious or scared, but unfamiliar faces may make your baby uncomfortable.

Things to Remember

Babies are born with the innate quality of bonding with people. Though there is no scientific evidence to prove that, it is certain that babies recognize people much quicker than they recognize places – this happens because their vision is still developing. By 3-4 months of age, a baby recognizes the parents, and the vision keeps improving with each passing month. If you notice that your baby is not recognising people and places by 4 months of age, you may want to mention it to your paediatrician. It is better to bring any susceptible vision problems to your doctor’s notice at the earliest, for timely medical intervention.

Activities That Will Help Your Baby to Identify Faces

Here are some activities that you can use to make your little one recogzises familiar faces.

  • Make your child stand in front of the mirror and observe themselves.
  • Show a photo album to your child and tell them the name of people and their relationship with them.
  • Gazing into your newborn’s eyes and let them see your face up close, from about 8 to 12 inches away.
  • Peek-a-boo game helps your little one to see your face again and again, instilling it in their memory.
  • Randomly ask your baby, “Where is mumma?” and point to yourself to tell them you are their mother.


1. Why Does a Baby Ignore When I Call Out His/Her Name?

A baby can take their own time to recognize their name, your voice, and your face. So, if your baby is ignoring you, it is just that they might need some more time to understand it is them you are addressing.

2. Why Does My Baby Cry When He Sees a Certain Person?

Babies have the power to create connections with certain faces. If a particular face scares them or makes them feel anxious, they will start crying when they see it.

3. How Can I Know If My Baby Recognizes Me?

If a baby recognizes your face, they will be calm around you, and will try to communicate and play with you.

If you are first-time parents, you may desperately want to know when your baby will be able to recognize you. The best thing that you can do as a parent is to have patience – by the time she is a few months old, you will see your bundle of joy smiling at you!

Also read:

Why Does Your Baby Stare at Your Hands?
Reasons On Why Your Baby Keeps Staring?
When Do Infants Make Eye Contact & How Parents Can Help Them?

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