Very young infants spend a lot of time asleep and they will not be wearing their hearing instruments during these periods. However, as your baby grows, so does the amount of awake time where the use of hearing instruments is crucial. The initial natural reaction is quite understandably one of surprise, accompanied by a desire to remove them but as long as the hearing aids are set up appropriately with the right amount of volume and loudness then a majority of babies do not want to remove their hearing aids.
As the baby begins to associate sound with meaning, then the impulse to remove the hearing aids should decrease.In fact, the baby may sometimes cry when they are removed as they want to hear what is going on all around them!
You can start off by establishing the hearing aids as a part of the daily routine, inserting them in the morning until bedtime from day one so the child has access to speech and language at all times. All parents talk to their children during the day – saying hello, talking about all the things that are being done (freshening up, getting dressed etc.). Putting the hearing instruments in at the beginning of this and not at the end, allows parent and child to establish a routine that is key in enabling the child to pick up the parent's voice. Wearing the instruments during such tender moments also can bring a positive connotation to the instruments for both parties.
If your child starts to pull the hearing aids out a lot, one answer to the problem is to check the hearing aids settings (e.g. Is the hearing aid working or turned on?, Is there wax or moisture blocking the tubing?). If your child still continues to pull them out, then discuss with the audiologist about checking the hearing aids. As long as the hearing aids are appropriately set, the child should enjoy wearing their hearing aids as it connects then to the world.
Older toddlers and preschoolers may want to have colored earmolds and hearing aids. Many different earmold color choices and patterns are available. Letting your child choose his or her own colors can help him or her be part of the process. A feeling of ownership and responsibility for their hearing aids is a goal for older children. Children often try many different earmold colors and patterns over time; neon colors, stripes and even glitter are available. Many hearing aid manufacturers have a range of case colors to choose from. Some have colored or patterned stickers that can be used to decorate the hearing aid case.
Several manufacturers have special books for children. Information about hearing loss is given at a child's level. Special hearing aid care kits for children give parents all the tools they need to take care of their child's hearing aids. Books, stickers and toys are often included with these special kits.
If your child repeatedly rejects the amplification, you can ask your audiologist to check the following:
- Hearing status
- Earmold fit and condition
- Seating of the tone hook and hearing instrument on the ear (e.g. does the instrument have a pediatric-sized earhook and/or sit snugly behind the ear)
- Hearing instrument function and settings
- Presence of wax in the ear canal
In a few cases, babies may develop an ear infection. If you suspect this, call your baby's physician or audiologist for advice. If your baby is unwell or over-tired, simply remove the instruments temporarily. It can be extremely motivating to keep a record of the hours of hearing instrument use on a calendar. This encourages you towards the goal of full-time use. Some parents also add notes on new sounds their baby reacts to, or sounds their baby makes, to give a fuller picture and to track progress. Battery use can be recorded on the calendar as well.
During periods when the instruments are not in use, they should be stored well away from curious brothers and sisters and family pets.
When removed for brief time periods, the hearing instruments should be switched off to reduce battery drain. Also check when you obtain the hearing instruments that they have tamperproof battery compartments so that curious fingers cannot remove the batteries