So, are you “All Ears” when it comes to your child’s hearing? Well, you can’t start too soon! And in fact, that’s why all newborns have hearing checked in the first few days of life. If the baby doesn’t pass the screening, it is recommended to have another screening or a more formal evaluation. We know that if we catch hearing loss early, with intervention we can improve the chances for more normal speech and language development. Great hearing information is found at the National Institute of Deafness website, at www.nidcd.nih.gov. They have information for all ages and a hearing and communicative development checklist for kids.
What should your baby be doing in relation to hearing during the first year?
By 3 months of age baby should be reacting to loud noises, calm down or smile when spoken to, recognize your voice, and have different cries for different needs.
By 6 months, baby should be responding to a change in the tone of your voice, pay attention to music, babble, start to use speech-like noises, and laugh.
By 12 months, baby should be turning to sounds, listening when spoken to, have one or two other words besides “mama” or “dada”, enjoying social play, like peek-a-boo or pat-a-cake, babble to get and keep your attention, and communicate using gestures.
If you have any questions about any of those abilities, have Baby’s hearing checked again.
Consider having Baby’s hearing checked routinely if:
- There is family history for any hearing difficulties, especially in younger family members.
- The mother had pregnancy difficulties.
- The child was premature, or has had meningitis or other very serious infections.
- The child has had several ear infections.
- The thought has crossed your mind.
Are your kids getting an “earful” at your house? What about NIHL, or “Noise-Induced Hearing Loss”? Unknowingly, we can let more and more noise creep into our everyday lives, and it can cause hearing loss! A great web site sponsored by the National Institute of Deafness is called “It’s a Noisy Planet.” If you google “noisy planet” you’ll find lots of information to help you avoid “NIHL”!
So, how loud is too loud?
Here are a few basic rules; It is too noisy, (and thus can cause hearing loss) if:
- You have to raise your voice to be understood by someone standing nearby.
- The noise hurts your ears.
- You develop a buzzing or ringing sound in your ears, even temporarily.
- It takes several hours to get normal hearing back after loud noise exposure.
What to do? If you or your children are around noises at this level, take protective action!
To avoid NIHL for you and your child:
- Turn down the sound.
- Avoid the noise (walk away).
- Block the noise (wear earplugs or earmuffs).
What about your house? Some people get so used to house noise they don’t realize that it can be harmful.
Here are some tips for house noise:
- Avoid competing noises in the same area (you don’t need the TV and a boom box in the same room).
- Set the noise maker (TV, video game, music) to the lowest volume that can be heard clearly.
- Muffle the noise of chores, like close the door between appliances that are in use and the family room.
- Buy quiet toys.
- Look at noise levels on appliances before purchase.
- Soft furnishings, including area rugs, curtains and wall coverings will absorb sound.
Be sure the “earful” your family gets, isn’t too loud! Give that kid a hug.