Signs of hearing loss in babies and toddlers

Your child should undergo newborn hearing screening in the first few weeks of life. This is the most important way to spot a hearing impairment early. However, some children may pass the newborn hearing screening test but experience hearing loss that gets progressively worse, so it’s also important to be alert for warning signs. Here’s a rough guide to how your child’s hearing and speech should develop:

Speech Development Guide

by age group

first_few_months

First few months

  • Startles in response to a sudden loud sound such as a handclap or a door slamming
  • Responds to sounds, music or voices
  • Is soothed by soft sounds or familiar voices

By six months:

  • Tries to imitate sounds
  • Turns quickly or directly toward a soft noise or ‘sh’

By 9 to 12 months:

  • Begins to babble or responds by babbling when others speak to them
  • Varies their pitch when babbling
By one year

By one year:

  • Startles in response to a sudden loud sound such as a handclap or a door slamming
  • Responds to sounds, music or voices
  • Is soothed by soft sounds or familiar voices
By 18 months

By 18 months:

  • Makes speech-like sounds with conversational-type rhythm when playing
  • Uses six to 20 recognisable words and tries to join in nursery rhymes and songs
two years

By two years:

  • Uses 50 or more recognisable words appropriately
  • Puts two or more words together to make simple sentences such as ‘more milk’
  • Joins in nursery rhymes and songs
three years

By three years:

  • Has a large vocabulary intelligible to everyone[1]

If you’re concerned about your child’s hearing, consult your GP or health visitor. You can also find out more about tests for babies.

Connect with a HearPeers mentor

to hear how they experienced their baby’s hearing loss.