Since 1965, the Masters Family Speech and Hearing Center at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin has helped infants, children and adolescents and their families with a wide range of speech, language, hearing, feeding and swallowing problems.

Children with normal hearing generally demonstrate a number of common behaviors. If your child is not displaying these behaviors, it may be a sign of a possible hearing loss or other condition. Parents are encouraged to discuss any concerns with a pediatrician and consider requesting your child's hearing be evaluated by an audiologist. The common behaviors by age are listed below. 

Birth to 3 months

  • Startles or cries at loud noises 
  • Awakens at a loud sound 
  • Quiets to the sound of a familiar voice 
  • Smiles in response to voice 
  • Soothed by quiet soft sounds 

3 to 6 months

  • Looks toward a sound or speaker 
  • Smiles when spoken to 
  • Enjoys rattles and other toys that make sounds 
  • Becomes scared by a loud voice or noise 
  • Responds to "no" and changes in tone of voice 

6 to 9 months 

  • Responds to his or her name, a ringing telephone or someone's voice, even when it's not loud 
  • Listens to people talking 
  • Responds to "no" and changes in tone of voice 
  • Babbles and makes many different sounds 
  • Looks at things or pictures when someone talks about them 

9 to 12 months 

  • Turns or looks when his or her name is called 
  • Listens to people talking 
  • Responds to simple requests, such as "give me" and "come here"
  • Understands "bye-bye" 

12 to 18 months

  • Points to objects or familiar people by name 
  • Enjoys games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake 
  • Imitates and says two to three word sentences 
  • Knows 10 to 20 words 
  • Points to body parts when asked

School-aged child

Uncommon behaviors of school-aged children with potential hearing loss include:

  • Asks for information to be repeated or frequently says "what?"
  • Turns ear toward the speaker or the sound source
  • Has a history of chronic ear infections
  • Turns the volume up on the TV or radio
  • Teachers may report the child is misbehaving or having trouble hearing