What are the Milestones of Auditory Development in a Child

You say you won’t be competitive, you’ll let your children reach milestones at their own pace. What you do is panic the minute they don’t hit a particular milestone, or when Mrs Perfect’s child does it before yours.

Calm down, don’t panic and remember that children really do hit milestones as and when they are ready. It is, however, useful to have a rough idea of when a child is likely to reach a milestone. Hearing milestones are many.

From birth to three months your baby will employ the startle reflex. Arms and legs akimbo, baby will react to sudden and loud noises with what can sometimes seem a huge reaction (it’s completely normal). Baby will recognise your voice and will be soothed by gentle speech. Turning their head toward a sound is also normal.

Between three and six months, baby will often look towards a new sound, and will show fear at new or sudden noises. Responding to tone of voice and attempting to imitate their vocalizations is normal. Music may sooth babies at this age and they will know the difference between familiar and strange voices.

From six to ten months baby will begin to understand spoken words, often responding with babble. They will also develop the ability to play vocal games, and will respond to requests, such as ‘Where is Daddy’ or ‘Come to me’.

At one year a child will develop verbal responses to questions and speech, although these are likely to be little more than babble. Imitation of sounds becomes more sophisticated, and tey will show pleasure when hearing a variety of sounds and speech. Rhymes and songs will illicit strong responses. Children also show understanding and recognition of sounds which are beyond their immediate surroundings or coming from another location.

At eighteen months a child will be copying and repeating words. They will also be able to understand and indicate certain words, such as nose, cup, toy. Responses to instructions will be better, and understanding will be noticeably improved. A child will also recognise their name and respond to more complex sentences such as ‘Bring me a cup and the juice.’

By two years old a child will like to listen to stories, and will be interested in television programmes aimed at their age range. They will respond to questions with a yes or no answer by shaking or nodding their head. They will be able to understand complex sentences such as ‘Where is the ball? Bring it to me. Throw the ball and bring it back.’ They will also know what ‘in’, ‘on’ ‘over’ ‘out’ and similar words mean. They should have an understanding of roughly 300 words.

At three, a child will understand and have favourite stories. They will be able to understand unrelated tasks and respond to instructions or questions with simple, one or two word answers. Song melodies will be understood and tones of music will also begin to attract them. They should be able to copy a 5-7 syllable sentence.

Four-year-olds can listen to, and understand more complex and longer stories. They will understand almost everything said to them in and out of the home. Comprehension of questions will be greater and responses such as three or four actions will be possible. At this age a child should be able to imitate a twelve syllable sentence. They should understand up to 2500 words.

Age five, a child will be understanding anything up to 13,000 words. They will be capable of repeating a 14 syllable sentence, understand concepts such as heavy/light, soft/hard, and be able to respond to very complex sentences.

For more detailed information on hearing milestones in children up to age 6 follow this link.

It is very important to remember that statistics such as these are guidelines. Children really do learn at their own pace. However, if you are in any doubt about the hearing milestones you child should be reaching, talk to your health visitor or doctor and get a professional opinion to put your mind at rest