Spotting the signs of hearing loss in a baby can be tricky. Babies can't talk yet, so they can't tell you when something is wrong. Instead, you need to look out for signs of your baby not responding to sounds in a normal way.
Normal Baby Responses to Sounds
Babies react strongly to nearby sounds, moving their eyes or head toward the source. They often become distressed or wake from sleep when a loud noise occurs. As they get older, babies may quieten and appear to listen to sounds such as voices or music. By eight months, babies usually begin to copy the sound of your voice and experiment with saying simple words like "dada" or "mama".
Testing Your Baby's Response to Sounds
If you don't notice your baby reacting to sounds in the environment, you can try shaking a rattle or playing music to try to provoke a response. Babies are often more interested in these complex sounds than in simple sounds like beeps. Note that babies can get bored of any sound if it is repeated too often, so don't assume your child has hearing loss if he or she stops responding to a particular source of noise.
Other Signs of Ear Problems
Some children with hearing loss experience pain in their ears. Babies can't tell you where they are feeling pain, but they may communicate their distress by crying for no obvious reason or pulling on their ears. See a doctor if you notice these signs of distress.
What to Do If You Suspect Your Baby Has a Hearing Problem
If you're worried about your baby's hearing, share your concerns with a doctor or nurse. These professionals can assess your baby and give you referral to an audiologist for hearing tests.
Treating Hearing Problems in Babies
Babies who have a hearing loss of at least 40 decibels (dB) in both ears benefit from hearing aids. Fitting these hearing aids before your baby reaches six months can help them to develop normal speech and language skills. The benefits for children with milder hearing loss are less certain. Your audiologist can advise you about the severity of your baby's hearing loss and advise you about the most appropriate treatment.
Helping a Baby With Hearing Problems
Finding out that your baby has a hearing problem can be upsetting. Instead of feeling depressed about the challenges your hearing-impaired child will face, help them develop normal language skills by talking to them as often as you can, keeping your face close to your baby and making eye contact to help them focus on your voice. If your child has hearing aids, use them as consistently as possible to help your child practice listening to and processing sounds.Share