Hearing aids are vital in developing your baby’s ability to listen and speak. Ideally, your baby should wear hearing aids all the time when they are awake. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible during the early months of life.
For practical reasons, your baby might only use the hearing aids for certain times of the day when they are very small. It’s important to increase the use of hearing aids as your baby develops.
The aim is for your baby to wear the hearing aids for all their waking hours, as soon as possible.
In these very early stages, it may be difficult to tell whether your baby is hearing with the aids. Don’t be discouraged. Young babies can’t do much to show you they are hearing. Find out more about how to tell if your baby is hearing in ‘Signs of hearing in babies.'
It’s important to check your baby’s hearing aids daily. Your baby can’t tell or show you much about what they hear, so you can only know if the hearing aids are working by checking them. This is a routine you need to continue until your child is old enough to tell you if something is wrong with the aids.
Your audiologist will show you how to check the hearing aids. Most people need to be shown a few times before they feel confident. Your audiologist will be happy to review the procedure with you as often you like.
The hearing aid may produce a whistling sound when your baby is lying down or leaning. This is called acoustic feedback and is a common problem for newborns. It happens because the ears are small and soft and your baby spends a lot of time with their ear pressed against a surface, such as when sleeping or feeding.
You can reduce feedback by using a lubricant. Your audiologist can recommend a lubricant suitable for hearing aids. Young babies may need new earmoulds every few weeks to reduce the feedback.
Try to use the hearing aids as much as you can, in ways that still allow you to enjoy spending time with your baby. It helps if you can make wearing the hearing aids part of your baby’s routine.
If you can only use the hearing aids for certain times of the day:
A bouncinette can be helpful. Your baby’s head and neck are supported and you can face your baby directly with a clear view of your face. If you use a bouncinette, a netting fabric cover is a good idea because the netting reduces the risk of whistling from the hearing aids.
Alternatively, you could sit upright on a chair or the floor with your baby lying in your lap. Place your baby’s head on your knees and legs on your chest. You can get good eye contact and it is a good position for playing ‘Peek-a-boo’ or ‘This little piggy went to market’!
Hearing aids are usually removed for sleeping, mainly for comfort. It will not harm your baby to wear the hearing aids while sleeping, although it might be a bit uncomfortable.
The bedding behind your baby’s head may cause the hearing aid to whistle. This may be annoying for you. Your baby may or may not hear the whistle, depending on the degree of hearing loss. In any case, the sounds heard will be affected by the feedback.
Feeding is a special time with your baby. Most babies are cuddled close while they feed so whistling from one or both hearing aids can be a problem.
Cuddling is important, both for you and your baby. You may be able to find a way to cuddle your baby that does not cause the aids to whistle. Otherwise, turn off one or both hearing aids at this time. If you can only leave one hearing aid turned on, this is still helpful.
Remember to turn the aids back on after feeding if your baby is still awake.
The hearing aids should not get wet so you need to take them out when your baby has a bath.
At times, it’s impractical for your baby to wear hearing aids. Your baby may not want to wear them when tired, for example. There are a few ways you can help make it easier for your baby to hear.
At about six months of age, babies start gaining more control of their hands and begin to explore the world around them. Just as many babies find it interesting to pull off their shoes and socks, some babies love to pull off their hearing aids. Some babies also put them in their mouths.
Replace the hearing aid if your baby pulls it off. Try to stay calm. If your baby keeps pulling the aid off, or if replacing it develops into a struggle, put the hearing aid away for 15 minutes and try again later. This will help avoid a situation where your baby gets your attention by pulling the hearing aids off.
Here are a few ideas for preventing your baby from pulling the hearing aids off.
Check with your audiologist that your baby’s aids have (or can be fitted) with a tamper resistant battery compartment so your baby cannot accidentally swallow a battery. Make sure you use this feature while your baby is young.
Try to avoid your baby chewing on the earmould, in case it is accidentally swallowed.
Feel free to discuss any questions or concerns you have with our audiologists. They will be happy to help you.
14-Nov-2015 7:59 PM (AEST)