When you know the status of your baby's hearing first, you can ensure their brain is accessing all the sounds it needs to grow.

Hearing is so essential to your baby's brain development that in most states, a newborn hearing screening (NHS) happens before your baby even leaves the hospital. This screening lets you know as soon as possible if your newborn potentially has hearing loss, which is more common than you might think. Addressing hearing loss right away is critical.

The NHS is safe, quick, and painless. It includes one or two gentle tests that can be conducted in your hospital room or infant nursery while your baby is asleep. They'll either pass or fail. If they pass, it means there are likely no signs of hearing loss at this time. If your baby fails, they'll need a hearing evaluation, which is more in-depth testing.

What the Screening Looks Like

This video from Boys Town National Research Hospital shows what happens during a newborn hearing screening so you know what to expect for your baby.

When the Results Are In

You should receive the results from your baby's hearing screening before you leave the hospital. If your baby doesn't pass, you'll be given information about how to follow up. Depending on the state where you live, that information may cover a second screening or direct you toward a comprehensive hearing evaluation. Make sure you schedule this as soon as possible. If an infant hearing screening wasn't done or you didn't give birth in a hospital, reach out to your pediatrician to get one scheduled within your baby's first month.

Little Brains Grow Based on What They Hear

Your baby's sense of hearing is one of the most powerful tools they have to understand the world around them. As you and other caregivers interact with your baby, new brain connections grow when they hear you talk, sing, and read to them. Hearing is the building block for learning and those sounds help them learn to listen and understand speech.

Act Quickly

After a failed hearing screening, take action right away and schedule a follow-up appointment for your baby.

Your next steps are important for your baby's development. Schedule a re-screening with a pediatric audiologist as soon as possible, preferably within the first month after birth. Don't wait. Birth to age three is the most important time to develop listening and speaking skills. If your baby needs hearing devices such as hearing aids, you don't want to waste any time. Make sure they can hear you so they don't miss a single moment of you singing, reading aloud, or saying "I love you."

Find an Audiologist

American Academy of Audiology (AAA) | View Directory
American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) | View Directory 
EHDI Pediatric Audiology Links to Services (EHDI PALS) | View Directory