How to know if your baby is hearing properly

When you have a new baby, many new moms have a lot of questions about what is normal and healthy for babies. Since babies can’t talk, you are left wondering what your baby needs and if he or she is developing properly.

That’s why taking your baby to all of their well-child check-ups with their pediatrician is so important.

Jade Elliott spoke with Dr. Jenna Whitman, a pediatrician with Intermountain Healthcare  about how going to those check-ups can help you get your questions answered and help you learn about the screenings and immunizations offered at those appointments and how they will help you keep your baby and your household healthy, which is so important during the COVID-19 pandemic and also as we approach cold, flu and respiratory season.

How pediatricians are keeping children and parents safe from viruses when they come in for a well-check

Medical providers for children around the state of Utah have largely adopted practices suggested by the American Academy of Pediatrics that minimize risk of COVID-19 exposure and allow for the delivery of services to newborns and young children.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, these strategies include ways to separate children who are sick from children who come for well-child checkups such as:

• Scheduling well visits in the morning and sick visits in the afternoon.

• Separating patients spatially, such as by placing patients with sick visits in different areas of the clinic or another location from patients with well visits.

Many clinics are using other innovative strategies as well, such as check-ins from cars and expedited rooming, avoiding waiting rooms altogether. Ask your provider about the precautions they’re taking.

Well-check visits are just as important for healthy children as for sick children

At each check up your child’s doctor will cover many things including:

• Immunizations. Your child will receive immunizations recommended by your doctor and according to a suggested schedule for babies and children to help prevent common childhood diseases.

• Flu shots are recommended annually for healthy children over age six months. With all the uncertainties surrounding the current COVID pandemic, keeping children healthy by getting their flu shots has never been more important. Many parents focus on getting the immunizations required for day care or school. But, don’t forget to come back after school starts for a flu shot. Typically, they’re available by October.

• Tips for nutrition, child safety and how to keep your child healthy.

• Tracking growth and development. You can discuss your child’s physical growth and also if they’re reaching developmental milestones. You’ll also go over what social behaviors and learning to expect at every age.

• New health concerns. Your child’s check up is an excellent time to bring up any new concerns you may have about how your child.

Regular visits help create strong, trustworthy life-long relationships among pediatrician, parent and child.

How to Know if Your Baby is Hearing Properly

In the U.S. hearing screenings are typically done at the hospital after a baby is born, before they go home. 1 to 3 of every 1,000 babies born in the U.S. have hearing levels outside the typical range.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends hearing screenings for all newborns. The goal is for all babies to have a newborn hearing screening by one month of age, ideally before they go home from the hospital; identified by 3 months of age and enrolled in early intervention or treatment, if identified as deaf or hard of hearing, by the age of 6 months.

Your child’s pediatrician will decide if they need any further tests of their hearing. If you have concerns about how your child is hearing or responding to your voice, please bring up these concerns with your doctor.

What to watch for at home to check hearing

Even the youngest infants should respond to your voice. You can watch how your baby responds to sounds and your voice. At birth babies should move their eyes in response to sound. As they get older they will start to turn their heads in response to their audio cues. Your child’s speech development is also related to their hearing. Your pediatrician will follow this development as your baby learns new words and begins forming sentences and can refer you to a speech therapist if needed.

Signs of hearing loss

Talk to your pediatrician if you notice your baby

• Doesn’t startle at loud noises by one month old or turn toward sounds by 3-4 months.

• Doesn’t notice you until he sees you.

• Concentrates on vibrating noises more than other types of sounds.

• Doesn’t seem to enjoy being read to.

• Is slow to begin talking, hard to understand, or doesn’t say single words such as “dada” or “mama” by 12 to 15 months of age.

• Doesn’t always respond when called, especially from another room.

• Seems to hear some sounds but not others.

• Has trouble holding his or her head steady or is slow to sit or walk unsupported.

If your pediatrician thinks your child needs additional hearing screenings, they can refer you to hearing specialists that see children or the audiology services available through Primary Children’s Hospital. For more information click here.

The Baby Your Baby program provides many resources for all pregnant women and new moms in Utah. There is also expert advice from the Utah Department of Health and Intermountain Healthcare that air each week on KUTV 2News.