Children don’t often know if they are having difficulty hearing, and it is not always possible to tell if your child can hear all sounds just by watching what they do.

Developmental milestones are helpful to monitor how your child’s hearing is developing as they grow. You can use this list to help you decide if you need to talk to a health care professional about your child’s hearing. The only way to know if your child has a permanent hearing loss is by having their hearing tested.

  • Has your baby had their hearing screened?
  • Awaken, startle or cry to loud sounds
  • Begin to make vowel sounds like ah, eh, uh
  • Smile when spoken to
  • Seem to recognize your voice and quiet down if crying
  • Respond to changes in your tone of voice
  • Turn their head towards a sound, for example the doorbell
  • Notice toys that make sounds
  • Begin to make consonant sounds like m, k, g, p, and b, gaa, baa
  • Imitate and combine sounds like baba, dada
  • Recognize words for common items, including family member names
  • Respond to requests (“Come here”)
  • Turn or look up when you call their name
  • At 12 months, babies say their first word
  • Understand differences in meaning (“go-stop”)
  • Continue to notice sounds (telephone ringing)
  • Follow two step directions (get the ball and put it on the table)
  • Understand most of what is said at home/school
  • Listen to a story and answer questions about it
  • Others think your child hears well (teacher, babysitter, grandparent)

Talk to your health care professional immediately if you notice any of the following:

Signs of Possible Ear Infection

Examples:

  • Fluid draining from the ear
  • Tugging or pulling at the ear
  • Difficulty responding to sounds
  • General signs of infection (example: fever, increased crying or fussiness)

Signs of a Possible Hearing Loss

Your child:

  • Does not respond to loud sounds (example: startle)
  • Does not turn head to look towards sounds by four to six months
  • Does not react to the sound of your voice by three months
  • Needs to sit very close to a sound source