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Using hearing aids with babies over 6 months

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Hearing aids are vital in developing your baby’s ability to listen and speak. It takes a while for some babies to get used to their hearing aids, but with encouragement and perseverance they will become a normal part of your baby’s life.

The aim is for your baby to wear the hearing aids for all their waking hours, as soon as possible.

Signs of hearing become more obvious as your baby gets older. At about six months of age, babies usually have some head control and will be learning to sit up. At this age, you might notice your baby’s head turn towards some sounds. Over the next few months your baby will start to show increased interest in a wider range of sounds than when they were younger.

Your audiologist will be able to tell you the types of sounds your baby can hear with the hearing aids.

Checking the hearing aids daily

Your baby can’t tell you if the hearing aids are working so you will need to check them every day. This is a routine you need to continue until your child is old enough to tell you immediately if something is wrong with the aids.

Your audiologist will show you how to do a daily check of 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 as you need.

Day-to-day use of the hearing aids

As your baby spends more of the day awake, try to increase use of the hearing aids until they are worn for all waking hours.

You may need to spend five minutes playing games with your baby after you first put on the hearing aids. There will be less need for this distraction as your baby becomes familiar with the aids. The hearing aids will become a normal part of life just like clothes, shoes, hats and all the other things that babies get used to.

When babies gain more control of their head and neck, the problem of acoustic feedback (whistling) usually lessens. But, your baby’s ears will still be soft and grow quickly, so you may need to continue getting new earmoulds frequently. Using a lubricant can help reduce feedback. Your audiologist will be able to recommend a lubricant that is suitable for use with hearing aids.

Learning about sounds and voices

You will have more opportunities to help your baby learn about speech and other sounds as the hearing aids are worn more often. Here are some tips for helping the development of your baby’s listening skills.

  • Talk and sing: Spend time every day verbally interacting. Position yourself about one metre from your baby’s hearing aids
  • Describe your actions: As you go about your daily activities, talk to your baby about what you are doing
  • Exaggerate your voice: Try to overstress the normal variations of pitch as you speak. Many people do this naturally when they talk to babies
  • Use music: If you are listening to music, let your baby see you sing along. You might like to pick your baby up and dance together every now and then.
  • Play games: Try to play games that involve sound
  • Pair sounds with actions: Join interesting sounds with fun activities. For example, make aeroplane sounds while you fly your baby around the room or say ‘hop-hop-hop’ as you step your fingers up your baby’s leg and tickle their tummy. And, don’t forget the traditional baby games like ‘peek-a-boo’
  • Copy your baby: Repeat any sound your baby makes. See if you can have a conversation, making sounds to each other in turn
  • Use rewards: When your baby responds to a sound, give a reward such as a smile, clap or cuddle. At this age, babies can learn very quickly how to get your attention. If your baby finds your reaction fun, they are more likely to respond to the sounds again
  • Don’t rely on external stimulation: Noisy toys can be lots of fun, but babies are generally more interested in human voices. Don’t rely on toys, TV or radio to provide lots of stimulation for your baby. Some TV, radio and music is fine, but interaction with you is much more interesting
  • Reduce background noise: When you spend special time with your baby (talking, singing or playing games), try to reduce background noise so your baby can hear you as clearly as possible. Turn off the TV or radio
  • Let your baby explore your mouth: Many babies at this age start to put their hands into your mouth as they explore your face. This can be a good chance for your baby to feel your mouth and tongue moving as you speak.
When your baby sleeps

Hearing aids are usually removed for sleeping, mainly for comfort. It will not harm your baby to wear them while asleep, but it might be uncomfortable.

Bedding behind your baby’s head will probably cause the hearing aids to feed back.
This may be annoying for you. Depending on the degree of hearing loss, your baby may or may not hear the whistle, but the sound heard will be affected by the feedback.

  • If your baby dozes off with the aids on, you can either leave them in and turn them off or take them out
  • If you are trying to settle your baby to sleep, you may want to turn the hearing aids off and/or take them out beforehand.
Feeding your baby

Feeding is a special time between you and your baby. At this age, many babies sit in high chairs for meals. Feeding your baby is an ideal opportunity to talk about what you’re doing and introduce your baby to important phrases and words. Describe your baby’s food. Ask your baby if they want ‘More?’ and of course, talk to your baby about the food being ‘All gone!’

Baby’s bath time

The hearing aids should not get wet. Take them off before bathing your baby.

When your baby is not wearing the hearing aids

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.

  • Amplify your voice: Speak in a raised voice, but don’t shout. Shouting makes your speech less clear. Instead, speak up as though you are talking to someone on the other side of the room
  • Keep your baby nearby: Your voice will be louder and it will be easier to hear and see you if you are close. Even if your baby cannot hear you, being able to see you will make your baby feel secure
  • Cuddle your baby: This is a good time to hold and cuddle your baby as you talk, because feedback won’t be a problem. Some people suggest holding your baby snuggled up under your chin or cheek, enabling the vibrations from your voice to be felt.
If your baby pulls the hearing aids off

At this 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.

Helpful hints for keeping the hearing aids on your baby

Here are a few ideas for preventing your baby from pulling the hearing aids off.

  • Aviator caps: Some parents use little cotton ‘aviator caps’ which come down over the baby’s ears and tie under the chin. Providing the cap is made of thin fabric (like a t-shirt) the single layer of cotton over the hearing aid microphones makes very little difference to the sound reaching the hearing aid microphones. Soft baby headbands are an alternative, but be careful not to cover the hearing aid microphone with thick fabric.
  • Huggies: Some parents use ‘Huggies’ which are available from your Hearing Australia centre. A ‘Huggy’ is a clear rubber ring with two bands to hold the hearing aid. The ring is fitted over your baby’s ear to hold the hearing aid behind the ear. Your audiologist can show you how these work.
  • Double-sided tape: You can get tape made for use on skin that will hold the hearing aid firmly against your baby’s head. Your hearing centre can supply you with this tape.
  • Clips: Your audiologist can give you a clip with cords that attach to the hearing aids. This stops the hearing aids from being lost and can make it harder for your baby to get the hearing aids into their mouth.
Keeping your baby safe

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.

Information provided by Hearing Australia. Reproduced with permission.


Last updated: 6th Apr, 2024




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