Unlike Baby’s vision, which takes some time to develop once he is born, his hearing is almost fully developed after birth.
How your newborns hearing may develop the first month
Newborns can hear well, but not perfectly because their inner ears are often filled with fluid and are generally underdeveloped. This is why Baby responds so well to exaggerated and high-pitched sounds, and may startle at other unfamiliar sounds. Baby was probably born with the ability to distinguish his mother’s voice and respond to it above all others because of his time in the womb. Other voices that are familiar from his time in the womb may also ring a bell for him early on, including sounds like music that he heard often before he was born. Sounds that are new to him at birth may take a little longer to become familiar, but the more your family talks and sings to him, the better he will know the sound of your voices, so make sure to communicate with him early and often.
Chances are that Baby’s hearing was tested at birth, as most states mandate newborn hearing screenings — if not, have it tested within the next 2 months. The two types of newborn screenings are automated auditory brainstem response, and otoacoustic emissions. Both are very quick and painless, and monitor how Baby‘s ears and brain respond to clicking sounds. You should talk to the doctor if you have any questions about when and how to test Baby‘s hearing.
Early identification of hearing loss
Identifying hearing loss early is important because babies learn so much, both about how to speak, and about the world around him from sound. Some newborn hearing tests can miss smaller hearing loss, so pay attention to Baby’s development and how things seem to be progressing, and not just the tests. If he does not respond to loud sounds or react to your voice, talk to the doctor. Many factors can influence hearing problems, including genetics, infections, trauma, and damaging noise levels. As Baby ages, have his hearing checked regularly by the doctor.
- “Can your baby hear?” American Academy of Pediatrics. American Academy of Pediatrics, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Web.
- “The necessity of early intervention in hearing.” ENT net. American Academy of Otolaryngology, 2016. Web.
- “Parents.” Hear and Now. National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management. Web.
- “Your Baby’s Hearing and Communicative Development Checklist.” National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. National Institutes of Health, March 6 2017. Web.