Most parents monitor their child’s progress against common growth milestones, like height and weight. Another important criteria to consider is how well your child can hear.
Most children start listening to the world around them as soon as they are born. But about 3 or 4 out of every 1,000 children born in the U.S. are hard-of-hearing or deaf at birth, and more will lose their hearing as older children. Because children learn by imitation, hearing loss can cause delays in speech and language development. So it’s important to determine how well your child can hear by the time he or she is one month old.
There are a number of factors that can make your child more likely to have some degree of hearing loss. If your family has members who lost hearing early in life, your child may be more prone to do the same. Risk factors for mom include drinking alcoholic beverages, or having German measles, a viral infection, or the flu while pregnant.
There are also signs you can look for in your child’s behavior that may make you question how well he or she can hear.
Newborn (birth to 6 months)
• Does not startle or react in any way to unexpected loud sounds
• Does not wake up after a loud noise
• Does not freely imitate sounds
• Cannot be soothed just by talking to him or her
• Does not turn his or her head in the direction of your voice
• Does not point to familiar people when asked
• Does not babble, or has stopped babbling
• Does not understand simple phrases just by listening, such as “wave bye-bye” by the age of 12 months.
Infants (3 months to 2 years)
• Does not accurately turn in the direction of a soft voice on the first call
• Is not alert or aware of sounds in the environment
• Does not respond to sounds, or does not know where sounds are coming from
• Does not begin to imitate sounds and use simple words
• Does not use speech or does not sound like other children of a similar age
• Does not listen to TV at a normal volume
• Does not show consistent growth in understanding and using words