Hearing problems are not always noticeable in very young children. However, it is vital to identify hearing impairments as early as possible to support your child's development. Research shows that babies with significant hearing loss in each ear find it easier to develop language and speech skills if they start using hearing aids before they are six months old. To ensure your child gets the support they need to hear clearly, look out for these three common signs of hearing problems in babies.
1. Not Reacting to Loud Noises
Babies usually startle easily. Loud noises such as alarms, bangs, crashes, shouts and screams often trigger crying. If your baby seems unperturbed by loud noises, they might simply have a very laidback personality, but it is worth taking them to a hearing specialist to check for a hearing problem.
2. Ignoring Attempts to Soothe
Pleasant sounds, such as soft music or a parent's calm voice, should soothe most babies. Talking gently to a baby that is fussing is a good way to get their attention and help them to calm down. However, babies with hearing problems might not be able to hear these soft, soothing sounds. If your child routinely ignores your attempts to soothe them by talking or singing and has no reaction to gentle music, consider getting their hearing tested.
3. No Attempt at Talking
Babies learn by copying their parents and caregivers. Most children who regularly hear speech around them start making their own babbling noises between the ages of four and six months. You might hear them say simple words, such as "dada" or "mama." Later, at around 18 months or two years of age, kids typically begin combining words to express simple desires, such as "pick up" or "hug mama."
Children who have undiagnosed hearing problems do not make as much progress with speech and language development as their unaffected peers. Of course, every child develops at their own rate, but if your baby is very slow to start talking, it is worth having a doctor check their hearing.
If a hearing test reveals that your baby has hearing problems, try not to worry. Hearing aids can help many hearing-impaired children make progress with learning to speak and understand language. By ensuring your hearing-impaired child uses hearing aids consistently, you can give them the support that they need in order to catch up with their peers.