Ear care for newborns
A common concern parents have with a new infant is "Oh my goodness, is my baby deaf?" Why didn’t he turn towards that loud crash? Take a deep breath – there might be several explanations.
Babies won’t turn toward a sound for another three months or so, but they should startle now. They most likely did a hearing test in the hospital, but if you’re concerned, clap behind your baby's head and watch the reaction. If your little one doesn’t startle, still don’t panic. Babies tend to ignore sounds sometimes – good preparation for their teenage years when they swear they didn’t hear you say to take out the rubbish. Try again later, and if you're still worried, call your doctor. It’s also possible that some sounds – like the dog barking – are familiar from the womb, so they don’t elicit a response.
Check that your doctor did test your baby’s hearing and ask for the results. Babies deemed higher-risk for deafness are those born premature, had complications during delivery, were exposed to drugs in the womb, or come from families with a history of hearing impairment.
Be aware of how loud your stereo or television is playing, as long exposure to blaring music or sound isn’t good for tiny ears (or any ears, for that matter). Babies and small children are at higher risk for temporary or permanent hearing damage, so if you have to yell over the sound, it’s time to turn it down.
Caring for your baby's ears
Never stick anything inside of your baby’s ears, including cotton buds. Simply wash the outside with a washcloth or swab. The ear itself is self-cleaning, so tell your doctor if there’s a large amount of wax buildup. Using a cotton bud can push the wax down further and cause more problems.
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This article was written for Kidspot, New Zealand's leading pregnancy and parenting resource.