Every minute that they’re awake awake, babies take in the sights, sounds, smells, and feel of the world around them. Although it may take a while to grasp what all this information means, your baby can still find joy and comfort in the familiar faces, voices, and sensations of everyday life.

What Can My Baby Hear?

Your baby has been hearing sounds since way back in the womb. Mother’s heartbeat, the gurgles of her digestive system, and even the sounds of her voice and the voices of other family members are part of a baby’s world before birth. Once your baby is born, the sounds of the outside world come in loud and clear.

Your baby loves to hear your voice, so talk, babble, sing, and coo away. Take special advantage of your baby’s own “talking” to have a “conversation.” If you hear your baby make a sound, repeat it and wait for him or her to make another. You are teaching your baby valuable lessons about tone, pacing, and taking turns when talking to someone else.

Every minute that they're awake awake, babies take in the sights, sounds, smells, and feel of the world around them.
CREDIT: JELLE BIERMANS / HUISENTUINCOMFORT

Babies this age seem to respond best to a higher-pitched voice, which is why most people naturally raise the pitch of their voices and exaggerate their speech when talking to a baby. This is fine — studies have shown that “baby talk” doesn’t delay speech development. In fact, responding to your baby encourages speech. Feel free to mix in some regular adult words and tone with the baby talk. It may seem early, but you’re setting the stage for your baby’s first words.

Besides voices, your baby will probably enjoy listening to music (play a variety of styles) and may be fascinated by the routine sounds of life as well. Keep your baby nearby as you rattle pans while making dinner, and let him or her sit in a baby seat within earshot of older siblings laughing and playing. Baby rattles and musical mobiles are other good ways to stimulate your baby’s hearing.

Your baby probably had a hearing screening before being released from the hospital (most states require this). If not, or if your baby was born at home or at a birthing center, it’s important to have a hearing screening as soon as possible. Most children who are born with a hearing loss can be diagnosed through a hearing screening.

Baby’s hearing: understanding the development

The baby is able to hear sounds while still in the womb. Around the 21st week of gestation the entire neurophysiological auditory structure is already formed and he recognizes his mother’s voice. But before that, in the 13th week, he already receives sound vibrations through his skin and in the 17th week he can already perceive sounds produced by the mother’s body – and some stronger external noises. Although they are born with good hearing, babies’ hearing matures only after the first month of life and they learn over time to understand and interact with the sounds that surround them.

Hearing is very important for a baby’s development because it stimulates language learning and is also very important for the child’s cognitive development. For this reason, the earlier a problem is diagnosed, the greater the possibilities of treatment and the more effective the stimulus therapies for the development of speech and other activities related to this sense.

Hearing development

As soon as they are born, babies already recognise their parents’ voices and pay attention to the sounds around them, especially the high-pitched ones. They are therefore frightened by sudden, loud noises. But their neurological system is not yet fully developed so they actively interact with these stimuli.

At three months, your baby already responds to the sound of your voice by looking directly at you and tries to talk by emitting other sounds. He also turns his head and eyes searching for the source of the noise that caught his attention.

At five months, your baby can identify the sound of his own name and responds when called, including paying more attention when you talk to someone about him. From six months to one year, he already articulates simple syllables such as “mama” and “papa” and tries to reproduce the words he hears.

The beginning of speech happens between one and two years of age when the child is already able to articulate simple words and interact verbally. But each one has its own time for development and learning.

Signs that the baby does not hear well

Some baby behaviours may indicate early signs of a hearing problem. When baby is not interested in toys that make noise or moves them too noisily, he may be having difficulty hearing them. Although he does not pay attention all the time to the sounds in his environment, if the baby is not frightened by loud and sudden noises, this may also be a sign that he is not hearing properly.

Also observe if when he wakes up crying he calms down when he hears your voice or if he needs to see your voice to calm down. From four months on, be attentive if he answers when called and if he looks for your voice or the origin of sounds, such as the telephone ringing.

If you suspect that your child is not hearing well, talk to the paediatrician. If necessary, he/she can suggest an appointment with an otorhinolaryngologist for more detailed examinations.

How to stimulate baby’s hearing

A Baby’s hearing can and should be stimulated from the first months of life. Use toys and objects that make noises to attract his attention and stimulate his curiosity about sounds. Sing, tell stories and read stories in different tones. This helps the baby to identify and learn the cadence of language and differentiate between emotions, as well as stimulating the learning of new words.

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Rchsd.org. 2021. Your Baby’s Hearing, Vision, and Other Senses: 2 Months. [online] Available at: <https://www.rchsd.org/health-articles/your-babys-hearing-vision-and-other-senses-2-months/> [Accessed 18 August 2021].

Kidshealth.org. 2021. Your Baby’s Hearing, Vision, and Other Senses: 1 Month (for Parents) – Nemours Kidshealth. [online] Available at: <https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/sense13m.html> [Accessed 18 August 2021].

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At what age do infants respond to sound? - Parents Room & Child Development Articles | A Matter Of Style

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