After nine months of listening to your voice in the womb, your baby will be delighted to hear it loud and clear once she’s born. The familiar sound is reassuring to her and will become even more so as she learns that you’re the one who feeds, changes, and comforts her. Within weeks you’ll notice your bubba begin to turn her head in the direction of a voice or sound that interests her. She’ll also quickly learn to distinguish a familiar voice from a stranger’s.
At between four and seven months, she’ll begin to enjoy certain sounds, for example, hearing the dog bark or listening to a sibling sing her a song. She’s also more likely to startle (or cry) from a loud sound. Around the same time, she’ll learn to distinguish moods in your voice, and can tell when you’re angry, calm, or happy.
What if my baby has a hearing problem?
If, by seven months, your baby isn’t babbling (trying to imitate your voice in some way by using repetitive consonant sounds, like ba-ba-ba, ma-ma-ma) mention it to your health visitor or GP. Three out of every 1,000 babies are born with some hearing loss, so it’s best to get her checked out.
While all babies are routinely screened for hearing loss before they leave the hospital, things can be missed or develop later on. In some cases, hearing loss is temporary and due to an ear infection or build-up of wax. In other instances, it’s caused by nerve damage, which is permanent. Hearing impairment can severely hinder language development, so it’s important that it’s diagnosed as early as possible.