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Hearing Health for Toddlers


toddler playing with toy keyboard and microphone



One of the best ways to protect your toddler's hearing is by breastfeeding. Breastfed toddlers have fewer ear infections, which can affect hearing.

Here's some more advice to keep your toddler’s hearing healthy.

Your toddler starts to learn speech and language from the moment he is born. Hearing plays a key role in how he learns language and speech skills. 

  • Keep your child away from second hand smoke. It increasese the risk of ear infections.
  • Avoid putting your toddler to bed with a bottle, this can cause of ear infections.
  • Use only a light towel when cleaning your toddler's ears. Avoid using cotton swabs or putting anything in the ear canal.
  • Check the volume of TV, music or toys. If you have to raise your voice to be heard above it, the noise level is too high. 
  • Provide ear protection like earmuffs if your toddler must be around loud sounds, such as loud music or fireworks. Do not use earplugs, they can be a choking hazard.

Hearing Warning Signs

If your child has hearing problems, the sooner they're found and treated the better - preferably by six months of age. See your doctor or public health nurse, or call HealthLink BC (8-1-1) if your toddler has any of the following conditions, which can lead to hearing problems:

  • Ear discharge (runny ear)
  • Earache (pain in the ear)
  • Foul odour from the ear canal
  • Reddened skin around the ear
  • Wax completely blocking the ear canal
  • An object in the ear canal

The following signs may indicate that your toddler already has a hearing problem. If your toddler shows any of these signs, speak to your doctor:

  • Talks in a very loud or soft voice.
  • Seems to have difficulty responding when called from across the room, even when he is being called about something interesting. 
  • Shifts her body so that the same ear is always turned toward the sound.
  • Has diffculty understanding what has been said (after 36 months)

Genes and Hearing Loss: Children can inherit hearing loss. If any of your toddler's relatives had hearing loss at an early age, tell your healthcare provider. Also, be sure to have your toddler’s hearing tested.

Resources & Links:
Screening for Hearing Problems
Ministry of Health: Early Childhood Hearing Screening Program

Last Updated: August 11, 2013