When Can Baby Hear – Newborn Hearing Development

A mother talking to her baby

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The development of your baby’s ability to hear can be extremely important, this is because hearing is one of the senses that help your baby communicate. Your baby begins to listen to sounds and mimic them, thus, developing their ability to speak. They also listen to the sound of a parent for comfort. Hearing is actually one of the cornerstones of a baby’s development, this doesn’t mean that your baby won’t grow if they can’t hear but it does mean they grow faster if they can.

How will your Baby React to Sound?

A mother talking to her baby

The first sense that your baby develops is hearing. In fact, it is a known fact that babies develop their hearing ability even before being born, this is one of the reasons a lot of parents play music or talk to their baby when they’re still in the womb. Your baby’s ability to react to sound has been developing for months before their birth and can be fully developed as early as a month after they are born. Even though their hearing is fully developed within the first month, your baby may only start to respond to sounds much later. You can also expect them to react to sounds in different ways, for instance, humming to your child while putting them to sleep can stop them from crying, the same can be said about when you have conversations with them.

How to Know if your Baby is Clearly Hearing or Not?

The process to understand if your baby is hearing clearly or not is done through a screening process, this screening is actually done when you’re baby is still in the hospital right after the delivery. If you are unsure of whether your baby can hear clearly or not, talk to your doctor, they will share the results of your baby’s auditory screening and if needed run another screening to ensure they can hear correctly.

When do Babies Start Hearing after Birth?

One of the most difficult questions to answer is when can your baby hear sounds for the first time, this is because the development of your child’s hearing, as mentioned is developed within the womb, the exact time they begin to hear is hard to estimate as it is case specific but you will notice if that they can hear sounds as they will kick in your belly more consistently when they hear a familiar sound, the voice of your partner can cause a reaction for instance. After birth, your baby’s hearing develops at an extremely rapid pace and will fully be developed between 4-7 weeks.

Baby Hearing Development

Monitoring your baby’s hearing development can be important for the first year after birth, here is a rough timeline of what you can expect in their hearing development.

  • 0-2 months – Your baby’s hearing has fully developed, they may not respond to the sounds but through screenings done by your doctor, you can monitor her growth. This is around when they can clearly hear high-pitched sounds.
  • 3 months – This is approximately when you can expect your baby to have some form of reaction to sounds, this is usually in the form of sound mimicking, you can expect them to gurgle or coo in response to your voice or other sounds. This is their way of trying to develop speech patterns as well.
  • 6 months – This hearing milestone is when your baby will be more responsive to the subtler sounds, they may try mimicking sounds that aren’t familiar.
  • 12 months – The final milestone for hearing, your baby can now recognize and respond to the most subtle or understated sounds. Expect them to even recognize their favourite songs or cartoon voices at this stage.

Things you can Do to Develop your Newborn’s Hearing

There are always methods to help you develop your newborn baby’s hearing, here are a few tips to help you do that:

  • Have your baby around conversations, ask your partner to converse with them constantly and you should do the same as well.
  • Play calm, relaxing music, preferably instrumental, smooth jazz is known to help develop acoustic senses, calm your child down and develop their hearing, western classical music is also commonly known to have a similar effect.
  • Your partner and you should constantly sing to them or read to them, a newborn relaxes when they hear the voice of their parents.
  • When your baby is old enough, get them toys that are musical.
  • Observe your baby and emphasize on any sound that they are attracted to. If they hear an aeroplane in the sky, look at them and acknowledge that you heard it too.

How can you Tell Whether the Sound is Too Loud for your Infant?

This can be tricky to begin with, it takes a baby approximately 3 months to be able to react to sounds, during the first 3 months, it is recommended that you keep loud sounds at bay as much as possible. After the 3rd month, your baby will react to sounds that are too loud by crying, as they grow their response to sounds that are too loud can be more and more unique. Some children after the age of six months can cry, some may get startled and become very quiet. If they can move, some children may try moving away from the loud noises.

Factors Affecting Infant’s Hearing

There are many factors that can affect your baby’s hearing, here are some:

  • Constant Exposure to Loud Noises
  • Lack of Oxygen During Birth
  • Premature Delivery
  • Genetic Disorders
  • Exposure to Infections Like Rubella During Pregnancy
  • Blunt Force Trauma to the Head
  • Ear Infections
  • Damage to the Eardrums Caused By Q-Tips or Earbuds
  • Exposure to Fireworks
  • High Fevers

In the situation your child is exposed to these factors, it may impair their hearing either temporarily or permanently.

Hearing Screening Test for Infants

It is now the norm for most hospitals to run routine screenings for hearing soon after the birth of your baby, once you have recovered to some extent from the delivery, you can consult your doctor to know the result of your baby’s auditory screening. If they haven’t yet done it, ensure they do before you leave the hospital. After getting home, using the guidelines provided above, you can run a baby hearing test at home by monitoring their reactions to sounds at regular intervals and comparing them to the hearing development milestone mentioned earlier.

When to Worry about your Newborn’s Hearing?

A general rule of thumb for your baby’s hearing is to understand that they have already begun hearing after birth. If your baby fails their screening at the hospital or is struggling to reach their hearing development milestones, you may need to seek medical advice.

Babies have a fully developed auditory system within 1-2 months after birth. With the tips mentioned above, you can sharpen their hearing and derive the most from it.

Also Read : Newborn Growth & Development