Baby Milestone: Reacting to Sounds

A baby can hear sounds and noises from the time they’re in the mother’s womb.All the sound information they gather in turn helps them in brain development and also plays a vital role in developing skills like sitting, rolling, standing and walking.

Even though a child’s ears are well developed at birth, it takes around six months for them to completely understand the different types of sounds. This is because the part of the brain responsible for sound interpretation is still in its developmental stage and the fluid present in the baby’s ears take a few months to clear up.

Stages of Hearing Development

  • Newborn – The baby will pay very minute attention to familiar sounds and voices, especially high- pitched ones
  • Three Months – The baby’s hearing is now more receptive because their temporal lobe (the part of the brain helping in hearing) will be more active. They may directly look at the person speaking. However, they may look away in between sentences and lose concentration as they might get overstimulated from longer sentences and noises
  • Five to Seven Months – Babies around this age will start to recognize voices and sources of sound. They will also try to copy the person speaking. It is around this time that they will start to respond to their name being called
  • Twelve Months –This is where the babies start reacting to more sophisticated sounds, like a song and may even try to sing along

Parents’ Role in Reaching The Milestone

Parents play very important roles in the baby’s development of hearing. Here are some activities that will help enhance the baby’s hearing and understanding:

  • Singing Nursery Rhymes: Any soothing music is stimulating to the baby. When different kinds of music are played, it helps the baby develop their preferences as they grow, and they start reacting to some sounds and music more than others
  • Reading to the Baby: This helps in a lot of ways and develops an early understanding of various words and language. Reading will, in turn, pay a vital role in developing their oral skills
  • Using Different Sounds: Make them hear different sounds like wind chimes, bells, telephone, etc. to help them understand different sources of sound
  • Voice Modulation: Modulating voices and speaking in different pitches and accents to the baby will help them understand moods and will help them learn how to react to different situations

How to check for hearing problems in babies

A newborn baby is offered a hearing test. The tests might be inconclusive at times due to factors like a cold or ear infection, temporary blockage in the ears due to fluid or simply because of background noises which might unsettle the baby. In such cases, follow-up tests and investigations are done.

Causes of Hearing Problems

Though it is very rare for a baby to have hearing problems, some of the following factors may affect their hearing development:

  • The baby was born prematurely or ill
  • The mother had pregnancy complications like Toxoplasmosis, Rubella or Family history of hearing problems


Even if the child passes initial tests, concerned parents who have a doubt can still do a follow-up with the doctor for further tests. The sooner the babies are diagnosed, the better is it for treatment. It has been proven in latest researches that identifying babies who have hearing problems and fitting them with hearing aids before they’re six months old significantly helps in improving their speech and language development.