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Hearing

How Do I Know if My Child Can Hear Me?

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You can get a good idea of how well your child can hear by watching how they respond to your voice and othe​​r sounds.

See the chart below for some hearing milestones that most children will go through.

Age Range
Hearing Milestones (For most children)
​0 and​ 3 months
  • recognize their parents’ voices and quiet down when you talk to them
  • stir or wake up when sleeping quietly and someone talks or there’s a sudden noise
  • respond to sound by startling, blinking, crying, quieting, or with a change in breathing
​4 and 6 months
  • recognize familiar voices and quiet down when you talk to them
  • babble for attention and use vocal play (making sounds for fun)
  • turn their head toward voices and interesting sounds
  • enjoy musical toys or toys that make noise
  • stir or wake up when sleeping quietly and someone talks or there’s a sudden noise
​7 and 12 months
  • enjoy musical or noise-making toys
  • understand “no” and “bye-bye”
  • imitate speech sounds
  • turn towards nearby sounds
  • make 4 or more speech sounds
  • make gestures to help communicate
​12 and 18 months
  • sometimes startle when there’s a sudden loud noise
  • turn towards nearby sounds
  • follow simple directions (e.g., “Go get your coat.”)
  • use single words (they may not clearly pronounce the words, but they know what they mean)
​18 to 24 months
  • follow simple instructions (e.g., “Go get your book.”)
  • use their own name
  • say about 40 to 50 words but understood many more
  • may combine words into short 2 word phrases
  • point to body parts when asked
​By 24 months
  • use at least 50 words consistently and can use them in simple sentences
  • can speak well enough so that adults who don’t know them can understand at least half of what they’re saying
  • are able to sit and listen to story books
​Over 24 months
  • can speak well enough so that adults who don’t know them can understand at least half of what they’re saying. They will continue to get better so that by 4 years of age adults will be able to understand almost everything they say
  • are alert to sounds in their environment
  • respond to someone talking, even if they can’t see them (it’s easier for them when there are no distractions)
  • respond to voices on the telephone
  • keep learning new words and can use them to communicate


There are many things you can do to encourage your child’s speech and language development.

  • Talk to your baby while doing your daily activities (e.g., dressing, bathing, feeding, playing).
  • Use your baby’s name and be consistent with the name you use.
  • Respond to the sounds your child makes.
  • Sing to your baby as you play or snuggle for quiet time.
  • Talk to your baby during daily activities and name the objects they touch.
  • Read colourful books together and talk about the pictures.
  • Sing songs and nursery rhymes.
  • Make fun sounds to see if they will imitate you.
  • Listen to your baby. Make eye contact and respond to the sounds they make.
  • Play games with your baby such as “pat-a-cake” and “peek-a-boo”.

As your child gets older, speak simply and clearly about what you’re doing during your daily activities. Listen and respond to what your child’s saying. Read to your child every day.

Your older child may have some hearing loss if they:

  • intently watch the face of the person speaking
  • say “What?” or “Huh?” a lot
  • have trouble understanding speech in group activities
  • have trouble hearing the television, radio, or music when others find it easy to hear

Additional Information

If your child is having problems with their speech and language development, it could mean they have a hearing problem. If you have any concerns about your child’s responses to sound or their speech and language development, talk to your family doctor and ask for your child to be assessed by an audiologist and/or a speech-language pathologist.​​​​​​​

Where to go get help

For more information about how speech-language pathologists and audiologists can help, contact:

  • Your doctor, public health nurse, or other health provider
  • Your local health centre

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