Testing Your Infant’s Hearing

We at REM stress the importance of early intervention quite a bit. That’s because the earlier a hearing problem is addressed, the greater the chance a child’s hearing and comprehension will develop naturally.

Put another way: “Your baby’s ability to hear is in large part the foundation of his ability to learn.”

The good news is that nowadays, many newborns will have their hearing tested before leaving the hospital. Hearing screenings shortly after birth are the standard of care in hospitals nationwide. These initial screenings will catch any major problems and provide a good baseline for future tests. The bad news is, they might not catch everything.

According to ASHA:

“Passing a screening does not mean that a child has normal hearing across the frequency range. Because minimal and frequency-specific hearing losses are not targeted by newborn hearing screening programs, newborns with these losses may pass a hearing screen. Because these losses have the potential to interfere with the speech and psychoeducational development of children…hearing, speech, and language milestones should receive ongoing surveillance and monitoring throughout childhood.”

It is then up to the parent to monitor their child’s hearing development, especially during the first three years of life. This is an important safeguard against late onset hearing loss. Not only might the initial tests fail to catch everything, but an infant with normal hearing at birth can lose hearing as they grow older.

Signs to look out for:

If your newborn to 3 month old is struggling with hearing loss, he or she might not respond or startle to sudden, loud sounds, be soothed by soft sounds, or become quiet (starting around the age of 2 months) among familiar voices.

4 to 8 months: seems to hear some sounds but not others, pays more attention to vibrating noises than spoken ones, and doesn’t try to imitate sounds.

9 to 12 months: doesn’t respond to name, doesn’t seem to understand or respond to single, commonly used household words.

Babycenter.com has a more complete list.

If you suspect your child has a hearing loss, schedule an appointment with your physician or an audiologist immediately.