Infant to toddler
(0-3 years)

Your child's first 3 years are full of discovery and incredible growth. He or she learns to stand, walk and, not least, talk. If your child suffers from hearing loss, their ability to develop speech depends on the correct care from the very beginning.

From an extension of you to becoming self-reliant

During this phase children transition from viewing themselves as an extension of you as a parent to developing a specific concept of self. In the beginning, everything is about: “Can I trust my environment and are my basic needs being met?”, but later they become curious and more independent.

A child’s brain needs sound stimulation from day one to learn to distinguish sounds and recognise speech. With normal hearing they start by recognising the voice of their parents and siblings at home. Being able to hear the voices of the parents is not only relevant to speech development, but also important for the child’s feeling of security and comfort in an overwhelming new world, in which healthy development is dependent upon being able to build trust and feel that their basic needs are being met. Children also pick up a lot of important information through hearing, which stimulates them intellectually and socially: is my mother praising me? Is she asking a question? Is she reproving what I’m doing right now?

Sound stimulation and language

The foundation of speech is being laid very early in life. Even when children have not yet learned to speak, they are constantly listening. During this phase it is important that the child enjoys adequate exposure to sounds and speech.

Within the first 5 months, they learn to distinguish the different sounds in a speech stream into separate units (phonetic discrimination) and they begin to babble. At the end of the babbling phase the child will experiment more with how he/she uses different words. Starting with single words through two-word combinations, and then sentences, before knowing more than a thousand words at the age of 3. If the child has hearing loss, there is a risk that they will fall behind in terms of language development, which is why it is so important to focus on adequate sound and speech exposure.

Learn more about why hearing is important

Small talk with big impact

As your child spends most of their early years at home, they rely heavily on your constant sound stimulation. No subject is too big or too small – just talk.

The more you talk with your child, the more you will influence your child’s future success in speaking, reading and writing. It may simply be telling them what you’re doing or commenting on what you can both see. 

Also learn 3 basic communication habits

Get chatty

Use motherese/parentese: elongated vowels, high-pitched, exaggerated facial expressions and short, simple sentences.

Mix it up and expand/rework

Use different words and grammar. If your child says something, expand or rework the grammar on that. Use intonation to highlight the added words.

Make music

Sing songs, recite rhymes, play singing games and make music and noise together using instruments or whatever is available.

Read books

Dialogic reading, where your child is actively involved in the book you read together. Read the same book multiple times.

Involve your body language and signs

Use signing or simple signs with words. Remember to use your body language as well.

Use objects

Use objects to spark conversations. Point out objects and name them.

  • Empower your child 

    Your toddler can start putting the hearing aid in the drying case at night, bringing the hearing aids to you and using their own voice to check them.

  • Infant standing against a vacuum cleaner

    Sound exposure

    Give them access to toys with noise or musical instruments, alerting devices and, when they are ready, the TV.

  • Use clear communication

    Learn the 3 basic rules for clear communication and teach siblings, grandparents and friends to use them too.

A good start in life

The earlier the child receives hearing aids, the better. With today’s technology it is possible to be fitted with hearing aids within the first weeks or months after birth. Oticon hearing aids with BrainHearing technology help children to make sense of the world around them.

The hearing aids amplify the speech signal as close to the original as possible and provide the child’s brain with as much relevant sound as possible in order to link sound to meaning. Although hearing loss happens in the ears, the real effect is in the brain. It is the brain that makes sense of sound, so the brain must be stimulated to develop.

Hearing aids with BrainHearing™ technology - supporting your child's learning:
• Ensures your child has clearer and more consistent amplification
• Provides your child access to more of the important details in speech sounds to better support language development
• Supports your child’s brain in making sense of sound in order to get the most out of their hearing

Parents should ensure the child is receiving sound, not by asking, but by knowing. Oticon’s hearing aids for children have LED lights signalling that the hearing aid's battery is working properly.

Oticon Opn Play™ hearing aids for children

Remember: It is important that your child wears the hearing aids all day long – which can be difficult as the child becomes more self-reliant and may try to take off their hearing aids, or lose them while playing. Talk to your hearing care professional about getting an Oticon Safe-Line retainer or other measures to keep the hearing aids on your child.

Two pre-school aged girls laughing

Next phase:
Pre-schooler (3-6)

As children with hearing loss grow, they face a range of challenges at different stages of their lives, from infancy through the school years and beyond. Children learn and progress differently over time and the needs of your child must be assessed continuously. Every new concept of self and skill set results in new behaviour. Look out for the signs, so you can provide support!

Taking the first steps towards socialising and transitioning to more challenging listening environments require good hearing support. During this phase, your child will also need to develop language complexity and richness in order to be ready for school.

Read more

  • Why children’s hearing is important

    Your child uses their hearing to learn to talk, read and write, and not least, to develop social skills.

  • Raising a child with hearing loss

    How to balance your role of protecting and empowering your child so they can enjoy all that life has to offer.

  • Schoolchild (6-12)

    A classroom is a challenging listening environment. Learn about solutions and how to support your child.

  • Oticon hearing aids for children

    Explore our hearing aid solutions for children with mild to moderate and severe to profound hearing loss.