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Hearing Loss in Children – Signs to look for

Updated: Feb 21

Hearing loss for children is a significant concern that can impact their development, language, communication, and social interactions. Early identification and intervention are crucial for ensuring children with hearing loss reach their full potential. In this blog post, we'll explore the signs of hearing loss in children, the importance of early screening, and the various treatment options available.

Paediatric Hearing Test
Paediatric Hearing Test

What are the red flags for hearing loss in children?

Do you suspect that your child may have signs of hearing loss? To spot the potential red flags for hearing loss in children, it's important to know how their hearing should develop at each age.


1 year old

When your child turns one, they should be at a stage where they are now able to:

  • Respond to their name

  • Respond to common words such as “no!”, “bye bye”

  • Know the names of familiar things and objects, e.g. teddy, car

  • Take turns in conversations with adults by babbling, e.g. “mumma mumma”

  • Show you objects to get your attention

  • Start using some single words

  • Enjoy repetitive games with others, eg. ‘peek a boo’

  • Enjoy listening to songs and nursery rhymes

  • Use their words and gestures to be social, to ask and to show


2 years old

When your child reaches the age of two, they should be able to:

  • Understand instructions containing two key words, e.g. “give your cup to dad

  • Listen to a simple story

  • Use over 50 single words

  • Start combining words, e.g. “go car”, “more drink”

  • Ask simple questions, e.g. “what that?”, “where ball?”

  • Join in with songs and nursery rhymes with actions

  • Be understood by familiar adults most of the time


3 years old

At this age, your child should now be walking around and starting to express themselves through words. If your child has hearing loss, it may be an indication is they cannot:

  • Make small sentences

  • Understand instructions containing three key words, e.g. “get the spoon and the big cup

  • Use a vocabulary of several hundred words, including describing words, such as ‘fast’ and ‘small’

  • Play imaginative games, e.g. pretending a block is a phone

  • Talk about things that are not present

  • Take an interest in other children’s play and sometimes join in

  • Take an interest in playing with words, e.g. rhyming words

  • Recognize a few letters

  • Be understood by unfamiliar adults most of the time, e.g. the librarian or relatives they don’t see often.


What to do if my child is having trouble hearing?

At Family Hearing Centre, we offer different hearing tests for children. For infants and toddlers of age 6 months to 2 years and 11 months, we offer a Visual Reinforcement Audiometry (VRA) Hearing Assessment, which is performed by two audiologists, taking 45 minutes.

The appointment comprises of:

  • Otoscopy – A look inside your child's ear canal to assess the health of the canal and ear drum. 

  • Immittance Audiometry – A small plug will be placed into your child's ear and a change in pressure will be felt. This measures how well the eardrum is moving and the health of the middle ear space. Acoustic reflex testing will be performed if there are no contra-indications - a series of loud sounds will be presented in the ears and the response measured.

  • Visual Reinforcement Audiometry – Headphones or insert earphones will be used if tolerated by your child, alternatively, sounds will be presented through the sound-field speakers. Your child will be taught to respond to the sounds by use of videos and/or puppets and once they reliably demonstrate a clear response to the sound that they have heard, we will begin assessing their hearing. 

  • Monitored Live Voice (MLV) – We will speak to your child through the speakers at different volumes. This measures your child's speech detection ability. 

  • Distortion Product Otoacoustic Emissions – A special device plays sounds into your child's ear and records responses automatically generated by the hair cells inside the cochlea. This is an objective measure of inner ear health which does not require a response from your child. 

​ PLEASE NOTE: To book this hearing test for your child, please phone our audiology clinic. This appointment type is not available for online bookings.

Family Hearing Centre - Dedicated to helping children with hearing loss thrive

Our audiology clinic consists of a team of passionate people who love what we do and care about hearing health. Our vision is to ensure children and adults have access to good hearing services in Auckland to achieve their full potential in life.



Chatu Nelumdeniya and Leanne Ma are our senior audiologists at Family Hearing Centre. They are experienced audiologists who are registered full members of the New Zealand Audiological Society (MNZAS). Since graduating from the University of Auckland, they have both worked in a large audiology company in several clinics around Auckland. They have worked extensively with adults, children, and in specialised areas of audiological testing. They both have experience as clinic managers and supervisors. As independent audiologists, they aim to provide the best quality of care for every person and every family, ensuring that our clinical decisions and recommendations are best for you.

What they have come to realise is that there is a real lack of hearing providers in Auckland providing services specifically for hearing loss in children outside public hospitals. There are often long waitlists to be seen and they wanted to provide Auckland parents with an alternative option. Our audiology clinic is well experienced in PLAY Audiometry for 3 - 4 year olds and Visual Reinforcement Audiometry (VRA) for children as young as 6 months old.

If you suspect your child has hearing loss, contact us on 09 217 6944 or book your child’s appointment by emailing us or filling out our enquiry form on our website. At Family Hearing Centre, we're eager to be your go-to destination for all your audiology needs. With a diverse range of audiology services, we're here to provide comprehensive and personalised care for your unique hearing requirements.


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