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New parents often check to be sure their baby has 10 fingers and toes. But what about vision and hearing?How can you be sure your baby's senses are developing? Here are some things to keep in mind.
Babies can distinguish light and dark, and shapes and patterns, from birth. When they're quiet and alert, babies can also focus on objects from 18 to 45 centimetres away for brief periods of time. Babies prefer to look at faces rather than objects, especially their mother's eyes. (You're probably spending a lot of time gazing into your baby's eyes!)
It's not uncommon for babies' eyes to "wander" or cross independently at times. It"s normal in the first three months until your baby develops proper eye coordination, but by 6 months of age, your child's eyes should appear "straight" and work together. Babies and children with symptoms like "wandering eye" or crossed eyes should be seen by an eye doctor (optometrist or ophthalmologist), and all young children should have their vision screened.
Some important points about your baby's vision:
- Children with a family history of a lazy or crossed eye are at a higher risk of having an eye problem.
- Early treatment of turned eye or decreased vision is very important for sight
- If you have any concerns about your baby’s vision, contact your healthcare provider.
Special equipment is used to screen hearing in babies soon after birth. Good hearing is very important for normal speech, language and social development. Even mild or temporary hearing loss may cause delays in these key areas of development.
Newborn hearing screening may be offered in hospitals, or through public health offices. All babies born in B.C. are eligible for screening as part of the BC Early Hearing Program. For more information about this screening, visit the Provincial Health Services Authority website.
Signs of Ear Infection
The most common cause of hearing problems in very young children is ear infection (otitis media). Signs may include:
- hand or fist to the ear
- mild hearing loss
If you think your baby is having ear or hearing problems contact your healthcare provider immediately.
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