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Your Child's Hearing Development Checklist
(Silence Isn't Always Golden)

Infants and young children with hearing problems can have difficulty developing speech and language.

Some babies are born with hearing problems. Other children are born with normal hearing and begin to have hearing problems as they grow older.

You can help your child's doctor to decide if your child's hearing needs to be tested. Hearing problems can be temporary or permanent. Hearing problems can happen because of ear infections, injuries, or diseases.

If your child doesn't hear well or speak clearly, take action.

Read the hearing checklist. Find your child's age. Check yes or no for every item. After you complete the checklist, show it to your child's doctor. Ask the doctor questions. Talk about the items checked no. If you think your child has trouble hearing, tell the doctor right away.

Your baby's hearing checklist:

Birth to 3 Months

Reacts to loud sounds.
Is soothed by your voice.
Turns head to you when you speak.
Is awakened by loud voices and sounds.
Smiles when spoken to.
Seems to know your voice and quiets down if crying.

3 to 6 Months

Looks upward or turns toward a new sound.
Responds to "no" and changes in tone of voice.
Imitates his/her own voice.
Enjoys rattles and other toys that make sounds.
Begins to repeat sounds (such as ooh, aah, and ba-ba).
Becomes scared by a loud voice.

6 to 10 Months

Responds to his/her own name, telephone ringing, someone's voice, even when not loud.
Knows words for common things (cup, shoe) and sayings ("bye-bye").
Makes babbling sounds, even when alone.
Starts to respond to requests such as "come here."
Looks at things or pictures when someone talks about them.

10 to 15 Months

Plays with own voice, enjoying the sound and feel of it.
Points to or looks at familiar objects or people when asked to do so.
Imitates simple words and sounds; may use a few single words meaningfully.
Enjoys games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake.

15 to 18 Months

Follows simple directions, such as "give me the ball."
Uses words he/she has learned often.
Uses 2-3 word sentences to talk about and ask for things.
Knows 10 to 20 words.

18 to 24 Months

Understands simple "yes-no" questions (Are you hungry?).
Understands simple phrases ("in the cup," "on the table").
Enjoys being read to.
Points to pictures when asked.

24 to 36 Months

Understands "not now" and "no more."
Chooses things by size (big, little).
Follows simple directions such as "get your shoes" and "drink your milk."
Understands many action words (run, jump).

Talk to your doctor

Talk to your doctor if you think your child has a hearing problem.

Do others in the family, including brothers or sisters, have a hearing problem?
The child's mother had medical problems in pregnancy or delivery (serious illness or injury, drugs or medications).
The baby was born early (premature). Weight at birth:_______.
The baby had physical problems at birth.
The child rubs or pulls on ear(s) often.
The child had scarlet fever.
The child had meningitis.
The child had _____ ear infections in the past year.
The child has colds, allergies, and ear infections, once a month_____ more often_____.

Some words the doctor may use:

audiogram: a chart that shows how well a person can hear.

audiologist: a person who tests and measures hearing.

earache: pain in the ears caused by infections or growths.

otitis media: infection of the middle ear.

otolaryngologist: a doctor who treats diseases and problems of the ear, nose, and throat.

otologist: a doctor who treats diseases of the ear.

pediatrician: a doctor who takes care of infants and children and who treats their diseases.

speech/language pathologist: a person who helps people improve speech, language, and voice.








    Also available in Spanish and Vietnamese (PDF; get Adobe Reader)

    NIH Pub. No. 95-4040

    For more information, contact the NIDCD Information Clearinghouse.


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    National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Celebrating 20 years of research: 1988 to 2008