Don't be Afraid of the Doctor

3 Signs of Hearing Problems in Infants

If your child has hearing problems, it is important to find out as soon as possible so you can get treatment to help them live a normal life. Hearing-impaired children benefit from being fitted with hearing aids by the age of six months, as the boost to hearing provided by these aids helps with speech and language development. If you suspect your child has hearing problems, it's important to act quickly to get them the assistance they need. Here are three signs of hearing problems to look out for in young children and babies.

1. Your Baby Doesn't React to Sounds

Babies with normal hearing typically startle when confronted with loud noises. Bangs and alarms may wake them from sleep or cause them to start crying. On the other hand, soft sounds like music or speech are often soothing to infants. Babies usually turn their heads toward the source of a sound. If your child doesn't have any of these reactions, you may want to book an appointment with an audiologist to get their hearing tested.

2. Your Child Shows Signs of an Ear Infection

Some ear problems, such as chronic ear infections, cause pain as well as hearing loss. If you notice your infant grabbing at their ears and crying as though in pain, it's possible that they have an ear infection that is affecting their hearing. You should also look out for discharge coming from the ears. ENT specialists can check babies for ear infections and determine whether the infection has had any permanent effect on their hearing.

3. Your Child is Slow to Talk

Between four and six months, babies usually begin to babble, putting consonants and vowels together to make simple words. It's common for kids to say "mama" or "dada" around this age. Between 18 months and two years, children start to string words together to form simple sentences, such as "want toy" or "carry me". If your child isn't talking by this age, it's possible that they aren't able to hear the words you say to them, which means they can't learn to speak themselves. If spending a lot of time reading or talking to your toddler doesn't encourage them to start forming their own words, it is a good idea to take them to an audiologist to check for a hearing test. Once hearing problems are diagnosed, an audiologist may be able to prescribe hearing aids or recommend other strategies to help your child learn to use language.