Hearing tests are predominantly seen as the reserve of older people, particularly those older than 60. However, issues with hearing are found across all ages, including young children.

For parents, this news is particularly concerning. In most cases, older people can identify and communicate any issues they experience with their hearing, which means they can seek a hearing test for themselves. Children, however, are not necessarily able to communicate or even notice that they are experiencing a problem. As a result, parents are usually the first to notice that hearing problems may be present. In an effort to assist parents, below, we have collected together a list of signs to be aware of in relation to their child’s hearing capabilities.

Your child does not respond specifically to your voice

By the age of three months, most babies will be noticeably more responsive when they hear your voice or that of your partner. If your baby is over the age of six months and still does not seem to recognize individual voices distinctly, it’s worth mentioning to your pediatrician, who will often recommend a hearing test as a result.

Your child does not “follow” sound

Babies over the age of six months will usually be able to “follow” sound; for example, if your family dog were to bark, your child would turn their head to the dog, recognizing the source of the sound. If your child is older than six months and is not quite following sound as you would usually expect, it’s worth considering a hearing test for further guidance.

Your child does not seek to imitate sounds

Babies over the age of 12 months may not necessarily be able to speak, though they may be able to imitate some sounds and babble or giggle. In fact, full speech doesn’t develop for another year or so. Most children around this age will imitate sounds they can hear, however. For example, if you say “hello” in a cheerful tone, a child may not be able to echo the word, but they will respond with a shout, laugh or babble of their own. If your child does not imitate sounds in this way, a hearing test may be useful in seeking to ascertain the cause.

Your child does not respond to TV shows/movies unless the sound is particularly high

If you find that you need to significantly increase the volume in order for a TV show or movie to catch or keep your child’s attention, this may be a sign of hearing issues. While preferring a high volume is not necessarily an issue in and of itself, it may be beneficial to investigate further.

Your older child appears inattentive

If older children appear to be inattentive, or fail to respond to basic instructions, a hearing test could be worth considering. This is particularly true if your child tends to respond well in quiet environments, such as your own home, but then appears inattentive when in busier, noisier spaces, such as playgrounds or shopping malls.

If you notice any of the signs listed above, it is best to contact an audiologist for further advice and if necessary schedule a hearing test in the near future.