With today's technology, babies as young as a few weeks old can get the devices needed for their hearing loss. Your pediatric audiologist will recommend what makes sense for your child based on their level of hearing loss and unique needs.
There's different types of hearing technology available to help children who are deaf or hard of hearing — hearing aids for children, cochlear implants, bone-anchored hearing systems, and remote microphone technology. Every hearing device needs routine care and maintenance. You'll need to understand how to use batteries, cables, and other parts of your baby's hearing devices. Your LSL professional team will help teach you about care and maintenance.
For device-specific care, manufacturers often have many informational resources, like troubleshooting guides, instructional videos, and customer service departments that can answer questions about equipment. There are also ways you can maximize your child's technology to achieve the best possible LSL outcomes.
Typically, the first devices for babies with hearing loss will be hearing aids, which can even be fit on newborns. They amplify the sounds, making them louder, and are customized for your baby. For many infants and young children, hearing aids can provide the brain access they need to hear all of the sounds of speech, which leads to listening and spoken language skills, reading, school success, and more.
Children's hearing aids are typically recommended for a sensorineural hearing loss and in some cases a conductive hearing loss in order to deliver auditory information to your child's brain. Even for those with severe to profound hearing loss, hearing aids still offer access to some sounds of speech. If your audiology team informs you that hearing aids may not be enough for your baby, it's important to continue using them leading up to cochlear implantation.
Hearing Aid Earmolds
An important part of hearing aids are the earmolds, which send the sound from the devices into your baby's ear. They're connected to tubing that rests the hearing aid over their ears. Earmolds are designed to fit your baby's unique ear shape and it's critical that they fit well.
The process of having earmolds made is painless and easy. Here's how it works:
- The audiologist uses a soft substance to make an impression of your baby's ear. This impression is sent to a special lab to be made into an earmold. Some audiologists may be able to make the earmold right in their office.
- After attaching the new earmold to the device, the audiologist will create settings or programs on the hearing aids that are specific to your baby's hearing loss.
- Your baby grows rapidly in their first year of life, and their ears do too. It's not unusual for new impressions to be taken and earmolds fitted six or more times in the first year.
- The quality and fit of the earmolds are critical for your baby's brain to access the best sound through the hearing aids.
Hearing Aid Care
When your baby is fitted with hearing aids, your pediatric audiologist will provide a hearing aid orientation (HAO). This demonstration will give you information about the parts and pieces of your child's hearing aids, how they work, and how to use and care for them.