Children hearing problems

Symptoms of possible hearing loss in infants and toddlers

Last week, I posted about WHEN you should bring your pre-school child for a hearing assessment (see previous post). So what about Infants?

Let’s assume that your child has received and passed her/his neonatal hearing screening in hospital. (If your child has not undergone such a hearing screening, it is recommended that you schedule a thorough hearing evaluation). Hearing is very important, especially in the young child. Children learn to communicate by imitating the sounds they hear. If they have a hearing loss, even mild undetected and untreated, it may lead to a delay in speech and language development.

All infants and toddlers can be given a thorough hearing evaluation. Observe your child’s development from infancy on. The following age appropriate behavior guidelines for infants and toddlers were obtained from the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. If you suspect a problem, do not delay in getting your child’s hearing tested. It’s never too early to ask.

Does your baby:

Birth to 4 months:

  1. Awaken or stir at loud sounds?
  2. Startle at loud noises?
  3. Calm at the sound of a familiar voice?
  4. Respond to your voice (smiles or coos)?

4 to 9 months:

  1. Turn eyes toward source of familiar sounds?
  2. Smile when spoken to?
  3. Notice rattles and other sound-making toys?
  4. Cry differently for different needs?
  5. Make babbling sounds?
  6. Seem to understand simple word/hand motions such as “bye-bye” with a wave?

9 to 15 months:

  1. Babble a lot of different sounds?
  2. Respond to his/her name?
  3. Respond to changes in your tone of voice?
  4. Say “ma-ma” or “da-da”?
  5. Understand simple requests?
  6. Repeat some sounds you make?
  7. Use his/her voice to attract attention?

15-24 months:

  1. Point to familiar objects when they are named?
  2. Listen to stories, songs and rhymes?
  3. Follow simple commands?
  4. Use several different words?
  5. Point to body parts when asked?
  6. Name common objects?
  7. Put two or more words together?

You should see most of the behaviours listed above at approximately the age ranges shown. If you do not, it is recommended that you schedule a hearing evaluation for your child.

Compiled by: Liesel van der Merwe

Palo Alto Medical Foundation: www.pamf.org/hearinghealth/facts/children.html