Your Newborn's Hearing
A baby's hearing is one of his or her most important senses. Hearing is vital for learning language, which is the main avenue of human communication.
A baby's body, although seemingly so very fragile, is actually quite complex and highly developed. The ears gather sounds from the environment and these move through to the inner ear. The sounds then cause the ear drum to vibrate, which are processed by the inner ear into electrical impulses, and these signals are sent to the brain via the auditory nerve. The brain converts these messages into meaningful information—sound.
Amazingly, even an unborn baby is capable of hearing. Although the sound is muffled (mainly from the volume of amniotic fluid), studies have shown that even as a newborn, babies can recognize familiar sounds, from their days in the womb. This is most likely the reason that many babies are settled by being held close to their mother's chest and listening to the rhythmic, soothing, sound of her heartbeat.
A newborn baby is also capable of recognizing the sound of his or her mothers voice. A newborn baby when presented with the familiar sound of the mother's voice, and that of a stranger, has been shown to distinguish between the two voices, and prefer that of his or her mother.
A newborn baby will startle and cry if exposed to a sudden and loud noise. By the age of three months, when a baby hears a loud noise, in addition to startling, he or she may also blink rapidly in response.
At the age of four months, your baby may be able to turn his or her head in the approximate direction of a sound. This is more noticeable with the sound of the main caregiver's voice.
When a baby is five or six months old, he or she is starting to refine his or her sense of hearing. The baby will have been learning to pinpoint the location of the sound, and will turn towards it with greater accuracy.
When the baby reaches seven months of age, he or she is able to recognize and discriminate between a range of familiar sounds, and begin to associate them with meaning. For example, the noise produced by banging a spoon against a bowl, may signal to the baby that it is mealtime.
Check out this page full of information about babies!