Your Baby’s Hearing…What You Need to Know

Good hearing is never more important than in the first two years of life.

  • Babies learn to speak because they hear. In addition to learning about words, children learn so much about the world they live in because they hear. Even a “mild” hearing loss can interfere with incidental learning.
  • About 6 of every 1000 babies have a significant hearing loss at birth. Early identification of hearing loss has a huge positive impact on educational outcomes and general quality of life for these children.
  • Ninety percent of children with hearing loss are born to normal hearing parents, and less than 50% have risk factors for hearing loss (certain illnesses, medicines, or problems during pregnancy and delivery, etc.).
  • Some risk factors are associated with later-onset hearing loss. Even if they pass the newborn screening, these babies should have a hearing check at least once by 24-30 months of age.
  • Temporary hearing loss from recurrent ear infections or fluid in the middle ear is much more common than permanent hearing loss, especially in the early years. It’s important to have your baby’s hearing checked whenever you suspect problems.
  • Annual hearing screenings are encouraged for all children during the preschool years. Testing through Central Rivers AEA is provided at no cost to the parent.

Parents and childcare providers are in the best position to observe signs of hearing loss in babies.

An infant with normal hearing should be able to do the following:

  • Around two months of age:
    • Startles to loud sound
    • Quiets to familiar voices
    • Makes vowel sounds like “ohh”
  • Around four months of age:
    • Looks for sound sources
    • Starts babbling
    • Makes squeals and chuckles
  • Around six months of age
    • Turns head toward loud sounds
    • Begins to imitate speech sound
    • Babbles sounds like “ba-ba”
  • Around nine months of age
    • Imitates speech sounds of others
    • Understands “no-no” and “bye-bye”
    • Turns head toward soft sounds
  • Around 12 months of age
    • Correctly uses “ma-ma” and “da-da”
    • Gives toy when asked
    • Responds to singing or music

For more information on newborn hearing screening and follow-up services in Iowa visit Iowa’s Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Program.


Sound Foundations for Reading


Listening and Learning in Today’s Classrooms

  • Supporting Success for Children with Hearing Loss is the website of Karen L. Anderson, Ph.D., a nationally prominent audiologist who specializes in pediatric and educational audiology. She provides a wide array of resources related to childhood hearing loss for parents, teachers and other professionals.
  • Quiet Classrooms has great information on about the impact of classroom acoustics and background noise on listening and learning. Your students can find links to help with projects related to the impact of noise pollution on health or solving noise problems in schools.

Ten Reasons to Suspect Auditory Disability

  1. Doesn’t Respond when spoken to
  2. Frequently says “huh” or “what”
  3. Difficulty paying attention
  4. Frequently requests repetitions
  5. Gives inappropriate answers to simple questions
  6. Limited or no participation in class discussions
  7. Overly dependent on visual cues
  8. Frequent speech misarticulations
  9. Poor spoken and written language
  10. Poor reading skills

From Cheryl Deconde Johnson (as consultant to the CO Dept. of Education), Children with Auditory Impairments in Inclusive Settings.


Transition to Adult Life