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Hearing develops early in fetal development and is fully functioning at birth. While children respond differently at different stages of growth and development, hearing problems may be suspected in children who are not responding to sounds or who are not developing their language skills appropriately. The following are some age-related guidelines that may help to decide if your child is experiencing hearing problems.
It is important to remember that not every child is the same, and children reach milestones at different ages. Talk with your child's healthcare provider if you are suspicious that your child is not hearing appropriately. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders and other experts list the following age-appropriate hearing milestones for babies and toddlers.
Birth to 3 months
Reacts to loud sounds with startle reflex
Is soothed and quieted by soft sounds
Turns head to you when you speak
Is awakened by loud voices and sounds
Smiles in response to certain voices when spoken to
Seems to know your voice and quiets down if crying
4 to 6 months
Looks or turns toward a new sound
Responds to "no" and changes in tone of voice
Imitates his or 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 or noise
7 to 12 months
Responds to his or her own name, telephone ringing, or someone's voice, even when not loud
Knows words for common things (such as, "cup" or "shoe") and sayings (such as, "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
Enjoys games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake
Imitates simple words and sounds; may use a few single words meaningfully
1 to 2 years
Follows 1-step commands when shown by a gesture
Uses words he or she has learned often
Uses 2 to 3 word sentences to talk about and ask for things
Says more words as each month passes
Points to some body parts when asked
Understands simple "yes-no" questions (such as, "Are you hungry?")
Understands simple phrases (such as, in the cup, or on the table)
Enjoys being read to
Understands "not now" and "no more"
Chooses things by size (such as, big or little)
Follows 2-step commands (such as, "Get your shoes and come here.")
Understands many action words (such as, run or jump)
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