Tips to Prepare for Your Baby’s Hearing Evaluation
May 15, 2018
Learn why early hearing loss diagnosis is so important, and read tips to help you prepare for your baby’s hearing evaluations or tests, including ideas for items to bring and what to expect!
Chances are, you hadn’t thought much about a newborn hearing screening until now. Of all the things on your mind for delivery and the early days of a baby’s life, hearing loss is rarely on a new parent’s radar. Despite the fact that it’s actually the single most common birth anomaly. So first — if all of this is new to you — take a deep breath. You’re not alone.
Why Was Our Baby Referred for A Hearing Evaluation?
Your baby has been scheduled for a hearing evaluation because they received a “refer” or fail result on their newborn hearing screening. The hearing screening discovered that there could be a hearing loss that is preventing important foundational speech and sound information from reaching your baby’s brain. Because your baby’s brain depends on having full auditory access to learn speech and language, it’s important to know the status of their hearing as soon as possible.
What Will We Learn from the Hearing Evaluation?
The purpose of the follow-up hearing evaluation is to complete more precise tests, including an auditory brainstem response (ABR) and otoacoustic emissions (OAE), to see if there is a doorway problem and if so, to determine the specific nature and extent of your baby’s hearing loss.
Why is Early Diagnosis So Important?
You need to know right away if your baby’s brain is receiving complete speech sound information because even a slight doorway blockage (hearing loss) can interfere with their listening and language brain development. The good news is that current research shows that babies who are identified and fit with hearing technology early are able to develop age-appropriate speech and language.
Here are some tips to help you prepare for the hearing evaluation or tests, including ideas for items to bring and what to expect!
HOW TO PREPARE FOR THE TEST
- Know that the hearing tests won’t cause your baby discomfort.
- Arrange care for other children at home, so you can focus on your baby during the entire test session.
- Bring another adult family member or friend with you to help listen to information and to support you if a doorway problem (hearing loss) is confirmed.
- Be on time for the test session.
- Busy clinics mean that you and your baby may need to wait in the waiting room for the hearing test, so bring a snack for yourself. You may get hungry and thirsty, especially if you’re nursing.
- Bring a sweater for yourself and an extra blanket for the baby. (Clinics can get chilly.)
- Bring something to take notes on, like a notepad or your smartphone.
- Try to schedule the test when your baby will most likely want to nap. Tests often require that your baby is sleeping.
- If your baby is sick on the day of the test, it’s best to reschedule when your baby is better. But don’t delay the hearing test any longer than necessary, as your baby’s auditory brain development is at stake.
- You may be asked to help in the hearing test session by observing your baby’s behavior to sounds that are presented in a sound-treated room.
- You will be asked information about your family history. You might want to think about it and ask family members if any relative, on either the mother’s and father’s side of the family, had a childhood hearing loss or any other childhood issues or medical problems.
- You will be asked about your pregnancy and birth history. Were there any problems? Did you or your baby take or need medications, and what were those medications? You may want to bring medical reports with you if you have them.
- You will be asked if you’ve observed your baby responding to sound or your voice. For example, does your baby wake up to sounds? Does your baby become quiet when you talk to them? Does your baby start or stop sucking when they hear your voice?
- You may receive information about your baby’s hearing right away after the test session, or you may have to wait a few days for the hearing test results.
WHAT TO DO NEXT
- If you find out that your baby has a hearing loss that interferes with complete auditory information getting to their brain, be sure to schedule a follow-up appointment to confirm the diagnosis. It’s best to do this before you leave the clinic.
- Once the hearing loss is confirmed, schedule a hearing aid evaluation right away. Your baby’s brain needs to be stimulated with sounds like your voice, so they’ll need to be fitted with appropriate hearing devices as soon as possible.
- Be sure to get the audiologist’s business card, so you can call them later if you have questions. Don’t hesitate to call – it’s very common to think of new questions after you leave the appointment.
If your child is diagnosed with hearing loss, act quickly and know that Hearing First is a resource to give you more information about how to grow your baby’s auditory brain to learn to listen, talk, sing and read. You can also find support from other families of children with hearing loss on the Listening and Spoken Language (LSL) journey in our Family Support Community.
You’re not alone!