How Hearing Problems Affect Baby Language Development
In the baby's first year, you might suspect a hearing loss if your child does not react or startle to loud noises like a door slamming, an alarm or a telephone or does not turn in response to being called by name or when given a verbal command.
However, these symptoms only indicate a fairly severe hearing loss. You also need to be vigilant about milder degrees of hearing impairment—these could have a devastating effect on baby language development. For this reason, almost every state has adopted procedures for testing the hearing of all babies soon after birth (universal newborn hearing screening).
I also encourage parents to talk with their physician if they have any concerns about their child's hearing. Some children might pass their newborn screen but have a form of hearing loss that only develops later. Milder degrees of hearing loss, even if only at the higher ranges of frequency (pitch), can interfere with a child's perception of words, especially the consonants such as S and T. If your child starts babbling but then does not progress to combining sounds in a consonant-vowel-consonant sequence (e.g., "da-da," "ba-ba," "ga-ga") by 10 to 12 months, this also can be a sign of hearing loss.