Hearing begins to develop while babies are still in the womb. In fact, when you talk and sing to your baby in the womb, they will become familiar with those songs and stories, and they will recognize your voice when they are born. These familiar songs, stories and voices will bring comfort to your baby and help build positive parent-child attachment.

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.

  • Has your baby had their hearing screened?
    • If you live in Toronto and your baby did not have their hearing screened at birth, please contact Surrey Place.
  • 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


  • 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 react to the sound of your voice by three months
  • Does not turn head to look towards sounds by four to six months
  • Needs to sit very close to a sound source