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.

Hearing Aids

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.

A child wearing a hearing aid, with all of the parts labeled including earhook, receiver, microphones, childproof battery, earmold, and earmold tubing.

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.

Hearing Aid Orientation Checklist

Make sure that you and the audiologist are on the same page during your HAO. This checklist can help make sure you have the information and equipment you need to manage your child’s devices.

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Cochlear Implants

Wondering about children's hearing aids versus implants? Cochlear implants are hearing devices that provide brain access to sound through a surgical procedure. They're typically recommended when your child's brain cannot access all the sounds of speech with hearing aids. In the United States, children's cochlear implants aren't typically inserted before one year of age, although they can be recommended much younger. There are specific audiological and medical guidelines that your pediatric audiologist and physician will share with you if a cochlear implant is recommended.

A cochlear implant actually replaces a part of the inner ear, the cochlea, that's not working properly, and it works by sending electric signals to stimulate the auditory nerve, which carries information to the brain.

Meet the Cochlear Implant

Each manufacturer has their own implant design but basic components are the same. You'll work with your pediatric audiology team to select a manufacturer for your child's cochlear implant. A cochlear implant consists of two main parts:

  • One part is surgically implanted under the skin and in the inner ear (cochlea).
  • The second part, called the speech processor, is worn on the ear like a hearing aid and has a removable magnetic piece that can be connected to the side of the head.

The sound processor also includes microphones and battery. The processor communicates with the implanted devices through the transmitting coil. The coil is held in place by the external magnet. There's also a cable between the transmitting coil and processor.

A child wearing a cochlear implant, with all of the parts labeled including sound processor, microphones, childproof battery, external magnet, transmitting coil, cable, and retention device.

Getting Cochlear Implants

If cochlear implants are recommended for your baby, you'll go to a series of appointments at a cochlear implant center to determine if they qualify. You'll consult with a cochlear implant surgeon, an audiologist, and other professionals, like a speech-language pathologist or educator of the deaf and your early interventionist. There are several cochlear implant manufacturers available in the U.S. Your medical team will provide you with the information you need to make the best choice for your baby. Choosing the cochlear device that best fits your baby's needs is an important one because your baby will wear the cochlear implant throughout their life.

Additional Resources About Cochlear Implants

The American Cochlear Implant Alliance (ACIA) has additional resources about cochlear implants on their Parents page, including:
Learn more about ACIA on their website.

Companies with FDA-approved Cochlear Implants in the U.S.

Bone-Anchored Hearing Systems

Bone-anchored hearing systems may be recommended if your baby's ears have a conductive problem/hearing loss.

These devices are placed on the bone located just behind the ear, called the mastoid bone, and held in place with a headband. The sound travels through the mastoid bone to the auditory nerve and then to the brain, so that your baby can hear.

Bone-anchored hearing aids for children may be recommended for when your baby gets bigger. Bone-anchored hearing aids (BAHAs) consist of two parts, one that's surgically anchored to the bone behind the ear and another removable part that is the actual hearing aid. At that point, a headband is no longer needed, as the hearing aid is always attached right where it's supposed to be.

Remote Microphone Systems

In some cases, whether your baby uses hearing aids, cochlear implants, or bone-anchored technology, additional devices may be recommended. Children's remote microphone systems can help your child hear their best in any listening environment.

In general, remote microphone systems use radio, Bluetooth, or light waves to send sound directly to a receiver that's in the device your child is wearing. A person talking wears a wireless microphone so that their voice reaches your child directly. There are different kinds of remote microphone systems available and your audiologist can help you select what works best for your child.

Getting Started with Remote Microphones

A remote microphone (RM) can make a big difference in how much your child hears, especially at a distance or in a noisy environment.

By overcoming the communication barriers of noise and distance, remote microphones can increase both the quantity and quality of information that reaches your child’s brain — which then becomes their knowledge, skills, and understanding!

Learn more about RMs and how to use them.

Get the Infographic
Screenshot of a Remote Microphone infographic

Personal FM System

A personal FM system is a two-piece device. One part connects to your baby's hearing aid or cochlear implant. The second piece is a wireless microphone worn by you, which sends the sounds of your voice directly into your baby's hearing device and then to your baby's brain.

The FM device helps your baby hear even in noisy environments and when they're not close to you, which includes most of the places your baby will live and play.

Many families use the FM device for car travel, grocery shopping, restaurants, daycare and school settings, or anywhere that background noise and distance from the person talking would make listening more difficult for a new listener. This helps your baby's brain hear the full range of speech and language surrounding them.

Sound Field System

A sound field system, also called Classroom Audio Distribution System (CADS), is a device with a set of loudspeakers and a wireless microphone. This device is also used to help your child access spoken language in noisy environments.

The sound field system is typically used in a classroom setting and can benefit every child in the room. The wireless microphone is worn by the teacher and the sound is presented from loudspeakers anchored to a wall or a shelf. The teacher's voice is amplified throughout the room so that everyone hears clearly. There is often a wireless microphone that the teacher can pass from student to student so that your child has access to the classroom communication of their friends.

Assistive Listening Devices

Many other devices and accessories are available to connect to computers, smart phones, and TVs. There are also permanent systems, like inductive loop systems and infrared systems, that can be installed in commonly used environments, like your home. You'll need to talk with your audiologist or LSL professional to see what the manufacturer of your child's hearing device offers and/or recommends.

Learn More About Hearing Technology

Explore these exceptional hearing devices in more detail with the webinar, What's Possible with Hearing Technology Today. A pediatric audiologist and expert will walk you through hearing technologies, how they work, and what to do for their care.

Learn More

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