Nearly three of every 1.000 babies are born with some form of hearing loss. In most cases, hearing issues aren’t discovered in children until they are at least 2 years old.

The first two years of a child’s life are hugely important in physical development as well as in forming emotional, learning and communication skills. Because of this, babies with moderate to severe hearing loss often experience major developmental setbacks.

What Are Speech-Language Milestones?

Children all learn and develop differently, so it can be difficult to determine whether a baby’s communication abilities are progressing at a normal, healthy rate. Despite huge variations in the process of early childhood development, infants typically follow some universal patterns of speech and hearing growth. Using these patterns, pediatricians can evaluate a child’s development through a set of guidelines called speech-language milestones.

These communication guidelines aren’t just useful for doctors; they’re a helpful tool for parents as well. A basic understanding of speech-language milestones will allow you to assess whether your child’s language development is normal or irregular. Irregular communicational development doesn’t always indicate an auditory impairment; however, any child who shows signs of slow development should get a hearing assessment as soon as possible.

Communication Guidelines for Infants and Toddlers

Some of the most important hearing milestones for infants and toddlers are listed below. Normally developing children should be able to perform the tasks described by the end of the milestone’s specified age range.

• Age 0-1. Infants should respond to loud, familiar or surprising sounds (e.g. music, dog barking, their name, etc.) through actions like movement, eye contact and speech.

• Age 1-2. During this year, children gain an understanding of the names of familiar objects as well as basic commands. By 24 months, children can typically understand and perform commands with two parts (e.g. touch your ear and wiggle your toes).

• Age 2-3. During this year, children develop the skill to differentiate between words like “over” and “under.” They also can follow more complicated commands and identify some numbers and colors. Unresponsiveness is common for this age; however, children with normal hearing should still react to loud sounds and give some response when their name is spoken.

• Age 3-4. At this age, children recognize and respond when their name is called from another room and display a solid understanding of basic language. Your child should also be able to hear TV, movies, games and music at the same volume as adults with normal hearing.

If your child is behind on any of these language development benchmarks, it’s imperative to schedule a hearing test. Untreated hearing loss can result in major developmental, behavioral and communication setbacks for young children.

If you’re concerned your child may have a hearing loss, schedule a screening with Central Florida Hearing Services at 863-386-9111 today.