Signs of Hearing Loss for Babies and Children

September 2, 2013 Chantel Hazlewood

Early identification and intervention of childhood hearing loss is linked to improved outcomes in communication and learning. Most newborns receive a hearing screening before being discharged from the hospital. However, some children may experience hearing loss sometime after that initial screening. Childhood hearing loss can be caused by a number of factors including family history, health problems at birth, syndromes, persistent middle ear fluid, chronic ear infections, and exposure to loud noise or head trauma. Children with normal hearing typically demonstrate similar listening and vocalization behaviors. If your child does not display these behaviors, it may be a sign of possible hearing loss or other problems.

Does your baby…


Birth – 3 months

  • Wake or startle in response to a sudden noise?
  • Seem to be soothed by your voice?

4-6 months

  • Move his/her eyes and begin to turn his/her head toward sounds and your voice?
  • Babble using a wide range of sounds?
  • Like toys which make rattling and other noises?

6 months – 1 year

  • Turn around to find sources of sound outside of his/her field of vision?
  • Understand familiar words like “no”, “milk”, “cup”?
  • Jabber and babble using different speech sounds and volume level?
  • Have 1-2 words around his/her first birthday?

1-2  years

  • Point to body parts or pictures in a book when asked?
  • Follow simple directions and understand simple questions without any visual cues or support by touch?
  • Use some 1-2 word questions and phrases such as “Where’s kitty?” or “More milk.”?

2-3  years

  • Follow 2 step requests, such as “Get your shoes and bring them to Mommy”?
  • Use 2-3 words to talk about and ask for things?
  • Use speech that is understood by familiar listeners most of the time?

School age

  • Ask for information to be repeated or frequently say "what?"
  • Turn his/her ear toward the speaker or the sound source or seem to have an ear preference for listening on the phone?
  • Understand and listen to the television at the same volume level as the rest of the family?
  • Behave appropriately at school?

What should I do if I have concerns about my child's hearing?

Do not hesitate to discuss any hearing concerns with your child’s pediatrician or to schedule a hearing test with an audiologist. No one is too young for a hearing test!

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