Is My Child's Hearing Okay?

Many parents worry about their child's hearing. The otoacoustic emissions test (OAE), which measures hearing at the inner-ear level, is now done on most newborns; if your infant hasn't been tested, your doctor can arrange it. Even perfect hearing can be affected by frequent ear infections or exposure to loud noises, through, so talk to your doctor if you're concerned. And for reassurance, note these hearing-development guidelines from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:

Birth to 3 Months

  • startles or jumps at sudden loud sounds
  • Stirs, awakens or cries when someone talks or makes noise
  • Recognizes your voice and seems to listen
  • Makes oooh and aaah sounds

3 to 6 Months

  • Your baby turns toward interesting sounds
  • Usually awakens when someone makes a noise
  • Beings to repeat sounds like baba

6 to 12 Months

  • Your baby understands no, bye-bye and his or her own name
  • Begins to imitate speech sounds or babble
  • Enjoys toys that make noise

12 to 18 Months
  • Your baby says first real, recognizable words, like Mama or Dada
  • Can point to familiar objects when named

18 to 24 Months

  • Your baby understands simple yes or no questions such as "Are you hungry?"
  • Understands simple phrases such as "go to the park"
  • Understands action words such as "climb" or "run"

For more information, please read Testing Your Child's Hearing.

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