Developmental Milestones for Hearing in Babies


I’m Dr. Leah light with the Brainchild Institute in South Florida. Today I’d like to discuss developmental milestones in hearing for babies and young children.

People often talk about motor milestones in babies; for example – At what age did your child roll over? At what age did your child first sit up? First crawl? First stand?  What age did your child start talking? Etc.

But in addition to these important infant developmental milestones there are actually auditory milestones that we should be looking for as well and in particular, sound localization is very important in early development.

The sound localization reflex is when babies about six months of age are starting to be able to sit up and at this very young age they should clearly be starting to localize or locate on a horizontal plane for sound. For example, when the baby hears a sound they should normally turn and look to the side to see where the sound is coming from. This response has to do with maturation of certain parts of the brainstem, the lower part of the brain.

So if your baby is six months of age and not turning around and looking left and right for sounds, either loud or even softer sounds or  respond to your voice at the side by six months of age it should raise a little red flag for you.

Another milestone that we child developmental specialists would like to see at that age is something called canonical babbling. Canonical babbling is when a baby babbles – saying the same syllable over and over like ‘ba-ba-ba-ba-ba’. By five to six months of age babies should start making this these kind of sounds. If not, that is another red flag that may mean your baby may need some assistance.

Sound localization and canonical babbling by six months of age are very important to look out for. If you don’t see it, your baby could be at risk for auditory and language processing problems later on.

If you have any questions or concerns – never wait to get your baby’s hearing tested –

because the first six months of life are actually the very most important time for a baby’s auditory development.