After nine months of anticipation and planning, your bundle of joy has finally made their way into the world. Over the next year, you will watch your child grow and become the independent person that they are. An important aspect of your child's development throughout this first year will be their hearing. Below is an overview of your child's hearing milestones by age and signs you should watch out for that might indicate hearing loss.
When it comes to newborns, it can be particularly difficult to determine whether hearing loss is present or not. This is why hearing exams are performed after birth, but even then, the test may not catch the hearing loss, or it may worsen after the test has been performed.
The main symptom that parents of newborns should watch for is failure to startle when a loud noise occurs nearby. If your newborn doesn't startle, that doesn't mean that hearing loss is present, but it does mean that you should keep an eye on them as they age and look for further symptoms, such as the ones mentioned below.
At three months of age, your baby has really begun to blossom into an interactive and fun little being. At this time, your baby will begin to smile and track objects, and can even begin mimicking facial expressions and noises.
At this stage in your child's hearing development, it's not unusual that they don't look towards voices or seem to hear you calling them. Your baby's senses are coming together and they may be overwhelmed by everything going on around them, so if they don't look towards your voice or keep attention on you when you're talking to them, it doesn't necessarily mean that they can't hear.
At this point in your child's development, it has become much easier for them to differentiate noises and determine where they're coming from. This means your child will focus on sources of noise.
It's much easier at this age for parents to determine whether their child is struggling to hear. If you notice that your child only favors certain pitches (high-pitched voices and toys) or doesn't respond appropriately to being called or startled, it's time to request a hearing evaluation from your child's pediatrician.
By nine months of age, your child's comprehension should have taken off. Not only can your child differentiate voices and babble different sounds, but now they can even associate certain actions with certain sounds, such as waving when someone says "hi" or "bye."
Your child should also begin to have "conversations" with you – your child will babble enthusiastically in response to being talked to and may even seem to wait until you've stopped talking to begin their babbling. At this stage, if your child doesn't look towards voices or seem enthused with loud toys, such as rattles or sound pads, this may indicate a hearing difference and warrants further investigation by a pediatric audiologist.
All children develop at different rates, but there are certain things your newly-turned one-year old should be doing.
At this age, your child's babbles will start to become coherent sounds. Your child may have already begun to use certain sounds for certain things, such as saying "mama" to get his mother's attention. Simple instructions, such as "sit down" or "come here, please" should be easily understood (though, not always followed). Even if your child seems to hear you and hearing loss isn't suspected, your child's pediatrician may refer them to a hearing specialist if the above milestones aren't being met. Your child may be a late bloomer, or they may be compensating for their hearing loss which can make it appear as if their hearing is fine.
To learn more about hearing loss and which milestones your child should be meeting at every stage of development, consult with your child's pediatrician or a company like The Hearing Clinic.