Hearing is one of the five senses, and as such is critical to the normal, healthy functioning of a child. Babies should begin recognizing voices and sounds within a few months of their birth. When parents speak to them, they should use cooing sounds to reply.
If the child has a hearing problem, it can be difficult to detect within the first few weeks and months of their birth. However, any hearing loss which is present must be treated as soon as possible, as it can interfere with the child’s speaking and language development skills. This in turn can have a negative impact on their education and career later in life.
There are a number of communication tests parents can use to determine whether their baby is suffering from hearing loss. These tests will require parents to become familiar with the ways in which a baby who has healthy hearing will respond to sound. If your child is not responding in this way, this could potentially be a sign of hearing loss, and their hearing should be examined by an audiologist.
How babies with healthy hearing respond to sound
Newborns should jump or become startled when they detect a sudden, loud sound in their environment. They may also turn their head to determine where the sound is coming from. Parents can test this by dropping a pot or pan on the floor in the same room where the child is located, and then watch their reaction. If the child responds by jumping or turning their head, this means they heard it. This shouldn’t be done too much or too close to the child or it may upset them. Below is a timeline for how sound develops in healthy children:
- After 2 months, babies should be able to detect different sounds and ranges
- After 4 months, the baby should recognize the voices of its parents
- After 5 months, they should giggle or vocalize consonants and vowels
- From 8 to 9 months, they should begin to associate words with gestures
- From 11 to 12 months, they should know simple words like “daddy” or “milk”
Signs of hearing loss in babies
If a child seems unresponsive to sounds in their environment, even sharp, loud sounds such as pot hitting to the floor, this is a warning sign that they may suffer from hearing loss. Other signs of hearing problems in young children include:
- Asking things to be repeated to them
- Having to look left or right to detect a sound
- Teachers report they speak less than other children
- Unable to say phrases or words properly
- Displays poor performance in school
Children who suffer from hearing problems will also display many behavioral issues. They may appear frustrated, sad, or withdrawn. If they are struggling to hear what is being said around them, they will become exhausted, and may lash out due to the frustration of not being able to hear properly. Dr. Samadi at ENT for Children specializes in assisting children who have hearing difficulties and parents with questions should contact us for consultation.