Approximately three of every 1,000 babies are born with hearing loss. Fortunately, with newborn hearing screenings as common practice in the U.S., most cases of infant hearing loss are caught by age three months and treated by age six months. The most common treatment for infant hearing loss is hearing aids.
What Style of Hearing Aids Can Babies Wear?
Infants and children under age 14 are almost always fit with behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids. These devices are available in smaller sizes to fit the anatomy of a child’s ear without falling out of place. BTEs hook over the top of the ear with a tube that connects to the earmold, which sits in the ear canal. Earmolds can be replaced easily and for a reasonable price as the child grows.
What Is the Hearing Aid Fitting Process Like?
The hearing aid fitting process for infants and children is very much like the fitting process for adults. It consists of three steps: ear impressions, fitting and follow-up.
The audiologist takes impressions of the infant’s ear in order to ensure a proper fit for the earmolds. First, they will place a cotton or foam dam deep in the ear canal, then will fill the canal with the impression material. It takes a few minutes to set, so the parent will help hold the baby and keep their hands away from their ears.
Earmolds come in an array of colors, and many parents choose different colors for each earmold to easily identify right from left. New ear impressions will need to be made periodically as the child grows.
It takes about two weeks for the audiologist to receive the custom earmolds.
The audiologist will first check the physical fit of the earmolds to make sure they are comfortable and won’t fall out.
They will then program the hearing aids to the specifications indicated on the child’s audiogram before the devices are turned on. Watch as Georgia Addison hears her parents for the first time after her audiologist activates her hearing devices:
The audiologist may run some verification tests to make sure soft sounds are loud enough and loud sounds don’t cause fear or discomfort.
Finally, the audiologist will work with the parent to show them how to insert and remove devices, connect and disconnect the earmold, turn the devices on and off and perform routine care.
The journey isn’t over after you leave the audiologist’s office. Return for follow-up visits to make sure they physical fit and programming devices still fits your child’s needs. Hearing changes over time, so subsequent hearing tests and reprogramming are necessary to ensure your child receives the most benefit.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Nevada Ear + Sinus Institute today.