Your Baby's Hearing and Communicative Development Checklist

On this page:

  • Talk to your doctor
  • Where can I find additional information about hearing development?

Some babies are born with hearing problems. Other children are born with normal hearing and begin to have hearing problems as they grow older.

It’s important to know what to expect as your baby grows, because hearing problems can delay the development of voice, speech, and language skills. The checklist below presents the average age by which most babies accomplish a variety of early speech and language skills. Typically, a child may not accomplish all the items in an age category until he or she reaches the upper age in the age range.

Find your child’s age range in the checklist. Check “yes” or “no” for each item. After you complete the checklist, if any of the items are checked “no,” show it to your child’s doctor. Tell the doctor if you think your child has trouble hearing.

A 4- to 6-month-old baby with normal hearing development will follow sounds with his or her eyes.


Talk to your doctor

If you think your child may have a hearing problem, here are some things that your doctor might ask you about:

  • Do others in the family, including brothers or sisters, have a hearing problem?
  • Did the child’s mother have medical problems in pregnancy or delivery (experienced a serious illness or injury or needed drugs or medications)?
  • Was the child born early?
  • How much did the child weigh at birth?
  • Did the child have physical problems at birth?
  • Does the child rub or pull on his or her ear(s) often?
  • Has the child ever had scarlet fever?
  • Has the child ever had meningitis?
  • How many ear infections has the child had in the past year?
  • How often does the child have colds, allergic symptoms, or ear infections?

Some words the doctor may use are:

  • Audiogram: a chart that shows how well you can hear.
  • Audiologist: a person who tests and measures hearing.
  • Earache: pain deep inside the ear.
  • Otitis media: middle ear infection.
  • Otolaryngologist: a doctor who treats diseases and problems of the ear, nose, and throat.
  • Otologist: a doctor who treats diseases of the ear.
  • Pediatrician: a doctor who takes care of infants and children and who treats their diseases.
  • Speech-language pathologist: a health professional trained to evaluate and treat people with speech or language disorders.

What are voice, speech, and language?

Voice, speech, and language are the tools we use to communicate with each other.

Voice is the sound we make as air from our lungs is pushed between vocal folds in our larynx, causing them to vibrate.

Speech is talking, which is one way to express language. It involves the precisely coordinated muscle actions of the tongue, lips, jaw, and vocal tract to produce the recognizable sounds that make up language.

Language is a set of shared rules that allow people to express their ideas in a meaningful way. Language may be expressed verbally or by writing, signing, or making other gestures, such as eye blinking or mouth movements.

Where can I find additional information about hearing development?

The NIDCD provides information on the normal and disordered processes of hearing, balance, taste, smell, voice, speech, and language.

Use the following keywords to help you search for organizations that can answer questions and provide information on speech and language development:

  • Audiologist
  • Early identification of hearing loss in children
  • Speech-language pathologists

NIDCD Information
Toll-free voice: (800) 241-1044
Toll-free TTY: (800) 241-1055