At MD Moms, we care not only about protecting your baby’s precious skin, but also their growth and development. Protecting your child’s hearing is extremely important for the foundation of their growth. If your baby experiences hearing loss, it can affect their speech development and lead to learning struggles later in life.

About 12.5 percent of people ranging from 6 to 19 years of age have some level of noise-induced hearing loss, which can lead to significant hearing problems later on in life. Aside from noise, there are other risks of hearing loss, including genetics, prematurity, low birth weight, jaundice and delivery problems.

Here are some tips on how to protect your child’s hearing:

  • Make sure your baby has a hearing screening: All states have laws that require some form of hearing screening, but standards vary. Some states only require that parents be informed they can get a screening. If your hospital doesn’t perform hearing screenings, schedule one within a month of your baby’s birth.
  • Do an at-home test: A good way to check your baby’s hearing at home is by having one parent catch the baby’s attention with a toy, while the other stands about a foot behind and whispers the baby’s name. If your baby turns toward the whisper, it’s a good sign. This works for babies 6 months and older.
  • Teach children to keep toys away from their ears: Many toys that make noise can be harmful if held up to the ear, which many babies are prone to do. For example, LeapFrog toys can have a higher level of decibels than a vacuum cleaner! Make sure they are using toys at a safe distance from their ears and turn off the sound function when you aren’t able to monitor them closely.
  • Use ear protection: People who are exposed over long periods of time to noise levels at 85 decibels or higher are at a much greater risk for hearing loss, especially children. To put this into perspective, a mobile device at its highest volume is about 105 decibels and an infant can perceive a sound as 20 decibels louder than an older child or an adult. Get a good pair of earmuffs for your child when you know you’ll be in a loud environment.
  • Know the warning signs: There are different warning signs for every child at different stages of their growth. One of the most common signs is not responding to a loud sound that they can’t see. Learn the warning signs and see your doctor ASAP if you suspect your baby is having trouble hearing.