Smiling mother holding baby

Do Newborns Know Their Mother?

There is an excellent mind in your house, and — no disrespect to you or your spouse — it belongs to the family member wearing the one-piece and sucking on her toes. Babies have long had a reputation as little sponges, soaking up information from the world around them. But that’s only part of the story. Researchers are discovering that your little one possesses a formidable skill set and, in some cases, can pull off astonishing feats. Check out My Baby Nursery for all your baby product needs.

From the moment your baby arrives, you spend the first year and beyond getting to know them. You learn what makes them laugh when they are hungry, their different cries sound like, and more. At the same time, your infant is doing just what you are! Your baby is learning to recognise you through their senses. At birth, they start to recognise your voices, faces and smells to figure out who is taking care of them.

Babies Recognise 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 family members, which is why babies recognise 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 undoubtedly amongst the first few people that a newborn baby gets familiarised with.

Since the maternal voice is audible in utero, an infant recognises their mother’s voice from the third trimester. The voice that they hear is muffled and low, and they can also hear their mother’s heartbeat. Soon after birth, studies have shown that a baby will recognise their mother’s voice and expend great efforts to listen to her voice better than unfamiliar female voices. This suggests that prenatal experiences influence a baby’s ability to recognise their mother’s voice. With continued exposure, your infant will become more familiar with the sound of other agents. They will start to recognise and form a preference for their father’s voice, as well as other family and friends.

As new parents, you may worry that your infant does not yet recognise you, or you will not be able to tell when they do. Remember that each baby is different, and they will develop preferences at their own unique pace. Also, it may take time for you as well to learn your baby’s signals and habits. During these few months and beyond, they will be constantly exposed to your faces and voices, allowing them to learn all about you! Take this time to bond with your new baby!

While your baby’s birth may be the first time you lay eyes on one another, those nine months together still count for something. Studies have found that newborn babies can identify and recognise their mothers using a few key senses.


Newborns recognise their mother’s voices at birth; in fact, a baby can recognise his mother’s voice even before he is born. According to the Journal of Psychological Science in 2003, researchers recorded pregnant women reciting poetry and played them to babies in utero. When a baby listened to a recording of his mother’s voice, his heart rate increased, whereas a baby’s heart rate would become slower when listening to a recording of another woman’s voice. The researchers theorise that the babies heart rates increased because they were excited to hear their mothers’ voices. So go ahead and talk and sing to your baby before and after birth. He knows it’s you.


Newborns do not necessarily recognise their mothers through touch alone, but it is vital to the bonding process. Babies thrive and develop more quickly with communication and contact. Experts state that skin to skin contact between mother and infant helps calm babies and improves sleep, thereby facilitating brain development. Your body is made to comfort your infant — a new mother’s chest is about two degrees warmer than the rest of her body, creating the perfect place for her newborn to snuggle. Later on, your body temperature will regulate itself according to your infant’s needs.


Your newborn baby’s sense of smell is already very developed, and she relies on it more than less-developed senses, such as vision. Newborn babies can identify the scent of their mother’s amniotic fluid three days after birth. They are immediately drawn to the smell of breast milk. If left on a mother’s chest immediately after birth, the newborn will follow the scent of the milk and root around until she latches on to the nurse. Your baby will prefer your natural scent to anything else, so don’t worry about perfume or scented lotions. Some pediatricians recommend wearing a t-shirt and putting it under your baby’s fitted crib sheet to help her sleep at night. Make sure to lay the shirt flat, and never put it on top of the fitted sheet.


Your newborn will not recognise you by sight because this will be his first glimpse of your face. Newborns can only see to a distance of about 12 inches. This is the perfect distance between his eyes and your face when he is cradled in your arms. Hold him often and let him learn the contours of your face; it will soon become familiar to him. The most expensive mobile or baby toy cannot come close to delighting him like the simple joy of gazing into each other’s eyes.

When do Do Babies start to Recognise Their Fathers?

Baby Tips and Advice

There are no studies that analyse when babies start to recognise their fathers. However, it is believed that babies do respond and acknowledge 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 recognise both their parents’ faces.

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 recognise a mother’s face early in life than other people and things, which usually takes longer. A baby can recognise her parents’ faces reasonably 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 than distant relatives who often visit.

What About Looks When It Comes to Recognising 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.

What Can a Baby Do?

Your baby can: Sense Emotions

Infants are sensitive to emotion. By the time newborns are just a few months old, they recognise the difference between a happy expression and a sad one. Around her first birthday, a child can even sense how other people feel. In a recent study, researchers placed two closed boxes in front of 14-month-old subjects. The kids watched as an adult peered into one package and displayed pleasure, then peeked into another and seemed disgusted. Then she offered the babies a choice between the two boxes. Most chose the “happy” box.

What’s so surprising: 

Your child isn’t just aware of your feelings; she actively cares about them. In a recent study, researchers had 18-month-olds watch as they dropped a clothespin and tried to retrieve it, then threw it down firmly as if they didn’t want it. When the object slipped out of the adult’s hand, the babies would crawl to retrieve it, an early sign of empathy.

Tap her talent: 

Display your feelings. Whether you’re gently patting the dog or enthusiastically greeting a neighbour, your child is watching. What you say to babies is less important than how you say it. But don’t expect to fool your child by saying “Yum” as you put strained spinach to your lips: babies can often tell when you’re faking it.


At birth, a baby can identify you by smell and imitate facial expressions. Stick out your tongue, and she’ll do the same! By three months, she understands your role in her life as a mother.

Your baby can: Talk With His Hands

Infants are eager to learn sign language before they begin to speak. And the benefits are enormous: Signing enables a baby to tell you what he’s seeing and hearing — a plane overhead, a dog barking outside.

What’s so surprising: The process of learning to sign creates pathways in the brain that help your child pick up any language more easily later in life. Plus, babies who use sign language before speaking learn to talk earlier, score higher on intelligence tests, develop a more extensive vocabulary, and display more self-confidence than their non-signing peers.

Tap his talent: 

Give your child’s communication skills a head start by introducing signing as soon as he’s born. Start with these five basics: “eat,” “drink,” “wet,” “sleep,” and “more.” Use them whenever you say the corresponding word out loud, then slowly expand his vocabulary over time.


By nine months, Baby can predict the emphasis of words and phrases in his language. At one year, the baby figures out what to do with objects by watching other people use them (a good time to start having him practice more complicated signing!)

Your baby can: Master Math have a basic sense of subtraction. A study performed at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev had 6-to-9-month-olds watch a puppet show with two characters. Researchers then removed one puppet and closed the curtain; when it reopened, the same puppet remained. Then they repeated the experiment and changed the ending: two instruments appeared when the curtain reopened. The babies’ prolonged stares indicated they understood that two minus one doesn’t equal two.

What’s so surprising: 

Babies also seem capable of solving problems using scientific logic. In a 2008 the University of British Columbia study, 8-month-olds were shown two boxes: One had lots of red balls and a few white ones; the other had primarily white balls and only a few reds. Researchers pulled five balls from each box (one red and four white in each case), showed them to the kids, and then let them peek into the boxes. The result: The children started longer at the TV, mainly containing red balls, recognising that the primarily white balls that came out of it were a statistical mismatch. That’s very sophisticated reasoning for a baby. Online baby product directory at My Baby Nursery.

Tap her talent:

Research shows that your child can learn about math and science best through daily exploration. Provide toys that encourage creativity, like building blocks, boxes with lids, or bowls; try discovery games, such as hiding and revealing an object, and promote your baby to observe.


By two months, Baby understands that his actions impact the world around him. She cries, and you appear. By 18 months, he sees others have contrasting preferences. (“Grandma likes asparagus, even though I don’t.”)

Your baby can: Speak French

Your infant possesses the innate ability to learn a second language. That’s excellent news: Studies show that being multilingual encourages flexible thinking, enhances memory, and boosts a child’s concentration.

What’s so surprising:

Traditionally, experts have suggested waiting until age 3 to introduce a second language. But a 2009 study conducted at Italy’s International School for Advanced Studies showed that bilingual babies have vocabularies in each language (about 50 words at 18 months) that are comparable to those of babies who are learning only one.

Tap his talent:

If you or your spouse speaks a second language, use it around your child regularly. Experts believe a baby needs to be exposed to a speech at least 30 per cent of the time to pick it up. Even if, see whether a caregiver, a close friend or a relative can work on French or Spanish with him. Don’t waste your money on a foreign-language disc, though. The best way for your child to learn a second language is by hearing people around him use it.


At six months, Baby will make sounds intending to show his pleasure or displeasure.

Your baby can: Recognise Faces

Baby Smiling

Within a week after birth, your infant already recognises your face, useful since she depends on you for everything. And before long, she’ll be a face-recognition expert. Research performed at The University of Sheffield in England showed that 6-month-olds are far more gifted than adults at picking out individual faces among a group of people. 

What’s so surprising:

A child’s ability to pinpoint facial features typically starts to wane around nine months. But some experts believe it doesn’t have to. Continued exposure to faces from diverse ethnic groups may extend the ability into adulthood.

Tap her talent: 

If your social circle doesn’t provide broad enough exposure, try flipping through books or cutting out images of varied cultures from catalogues and magazines. Helping maintain this skill will encourage your baby to become more accepting of other ethnicities as she grows.

Milestone: Your baby will develop theories to make sense of the world at 15 months. For example: “If Mommy brings in flowers from the garden but not grass, she must prefer the flowers.”

Your baby can: Respond to Music

Your baby was born to boogie. A study published in Science revealed that 3-month-olds could distinguish between one type of rhythm and another. And recent research shows that babies respond to the rhythm of music by moving their arms and body.

What’s so surprising:

Moms instinctively rock infants to the beat while singing a song. Scientists think this is a crucial way babies learn about rhythm.

Tap his talent:

Expose your child to a wide range of musical genres if you’re listening to a CD, sing-along and look into his eyes. A child responds to music most when he’s sharing the experience. Use rhythm to help him learn other things, too: You can make up your lyrics or melody for teaching body parts.


Baby can recognise your voice for around 1 to 3 weeks.

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 inevitable that babies recognise people much quicker than they realise places – this happens because their vision is still developing. By 3-4 months of age, a baby recognises the parents, and the image keeps improving with each passing month. If you notice that your baby does not identify people and places by four 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 earliest for timely medical intervention. My Baby Nursery is your one-stop baby product store.

If you are first-time parents, you may desperately want to know when your baby will be able to recognise 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!

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