Hearing and Your Child

Hearing is essential for speech and language development, particularly in infancy and early childhood. Even a slight hearing loss can delay your child’s developing speech, language and later education. Fortunately, nearly all newborns have their hearing screened at birth in the United States.

If your child was not screened at birth or did not pass the newborn hearing screening, make sure to follow up with another hearing screening several weeks later either with the hospital or your pediatrician. Most babies pass the second screening.   

The first year of your child’s life is a miracle of exploration and growth! As she/he grows, your  child should begin to respond to sound in increasingly complex ways.

Birth to 3 months: 
_______ Startles to sudden loud sounds.    ______ Responds to mother’s voice 
_______ Awakens to loud sounds              ______ Responds to musi

3 to 6 months
_______ Looks towards a new sound.        ______ Babbles to other’s speech, or repeats sounds
_______ Responds to name                      ______ Listens, Smiles at speaker

6-9 months:
______ Responds to own name                 
______ Recognizes some words for common objects
______ Beginning  to imitate syllables
______ Babbles with pitch and inflection  

9-12 Months
______ Listens to conversations, “talks back”
______ Uses gestures like “Bye-Bye”, “Peek –a-Boo”
______ Responds to “No or simple commands.


Hearing problems can begin later than infancy as well. 

Middle ear infections and fluid behind the ear drum are common causes of hearing loss in early childhood. If your child has had frequent ear infections or one ear infection that lasts several months, ask to have your child’s hearing checked.

It's time to ask for a hearing test if you notice that:  your child's speech is hard to understand; your child wants the TV volume up too loud; says he/she can't hear you; he/she doesn't listen until you raise your voice or is unusually sensitive to loud sounds. Your child’s hearing should also be tested if your child's teacher tells you that he/she doesn't listen in class, daydreams, doesn't follow directions or is lost in his own world. Sometimes classroom behavior problems can be the result of hearing problems.