While 97 percent of all babies are screened for hearing loss before they’re even a month old, hearing issues are still a real concern to parents. My first baby had his hearing tested before even leaving the hospital and barely passed, so when he seemed to catch verbal skills slower than my first child, and what he did say wasn’t very clear, I began to seriously worry he may have hearing loss. Always taking a knowledge-is-more-powerful-than-fear stance, I choose to educate myself on what causes hearing loss in infants and how to identify possible signs of a problem.
What are some signs a baby may not be able to hear well or at all?
– Your baby does not react to loud sounds. While most infants react a little differently based on their own little personality quirks, you should see some kind of reaction to loud sound even if just a wince.
– Your baby can’t be woken by sound alone.
– Your baby does not look for you when you speak to him/her from outside his/her line of vision by 3 months. Also, by 4 to 6 months of age, your baby does not search for the source of sounds at all.
– Your baby shows a serious sign of language delay such as an inability to say even single simple words like ma-ma or da-da by 1 year of age. (Read more on identifying language delays here.)
– Your baby seems entirely unaware of certain sounds.
Once speech develops (likely closer to toddler years) you may also notice:
– Your child speaks poorly, unclearly or has pronunciation issues.
– Your child has difficulty controlling the volume of their voice in relation to other people’s or to the situation (such as a child that is always talking too loudly or quietly.)
– Your child regularly turns up music, televisions, games and other controllable sounds to a volume that seems loud to you.
– Your child has issues following even simple directions or often asks you to repeat yourself in some way.
What causes hearing loss in babies?
The vast majority of hearing issues discovered in infants are due to a genetic predisposition for hearing loss or conditions that cause hearing loss. Others can develop hearing problems from trauma or infection before, during or after birth or from being born premature. Finally, in a surprising 25 percent of babies with hearing problems, no identifiable cause is found.
What should I do if I think my baby has hearing loss?
Whether your baby has been screened before or not, if you suspect hearing loss, or your child exhibits several of the signs above, you should make an appointment with your pediatrician for a screening. When caught early, many hearing issues can be improved or even cured to prevent language and developmental delays. What sorts of tests will be performed and what sort of treatment options are available to you and your child will vary on your baby’s age and specific case. In my case, and I’m sure many other worrywart parents, it turned out my second child was just a slower verbal learner than his brother and his hearing was fine, but I’m still glad I ruled out the possibility of a problem.
You may also enjoy:
An Example of Typical Baby Babble at 4 Months Old (video)
Tips to Improve Your Baby’s Vocabulary