Baby Hearing Development After Birth – Timelines And What to Expect

6 min read

Written by Tarasha Chandra

Tarasha Chandra

Baby Hearing Development

The birth of a baby is no less than a miracle. But with the birth of the baby, it is also important to make sure that the sense organs are functioning properly. Even though a baby is very small, almost like a small grain, it develops the ears as close to the second month of conception. The ears are like small skin folds on the sides of the head. It is only after the eighth week that the embryo becomes a fetus. A lot of importance is given to the hearing of the baby as a lot of babies have well-developed ears but still, they cannot hear at birth. So, the question is, when does baby hearing development after birth happen?

The hearing ability of the baby develops with time and after a few years they can even gauge the sound range. This is also the time when the parents should watch out for age-related or hearing milestones. If the milestones are not met, they should detect the underlying hearing problem.

In This Article

When do Babies Start Hearing After Birth?

As per studies, babies start reacting to sounds by the time they are three months old. It can take up to 6 months for the baby to hear and identify or understand different ranges of sounds.

Babies start developing the ability to hear in the womb itself, and at around 35 weeks the formation of the ears takes place. The fetus starts reacting to sounds as early as the sixth or seventh gestational month, but proper baby hearing development only takes place once the baby is born. The hearing of the baby continues to develop as they grow, which is important for learning. It is important that the baby undergoes a hearing screening and proper check-ups to catch any issues early so that proper diagnosis and treatment can be done. 

Baby Hearing Development After Birth – Milestones

Milestone of Baby Hearing Development

Every parent would want to know the important milestones pertaining to the hearing development of babies. This will help them ensure that their little one is on the right track and any issues are caught at the right time.

We list the important milestones for a baby’s hearing development after birth:

Birth to Three Months (0 to 3 Months)

  • The baby will get a shock when he hears a loud sound
  • It calms down or smiles when they listen to a familiar voice.
  • The baby stops sucking when being fed if a sound is made.
  • The baby will make a different sound each time they need something different.

Four to Six Months (3 to 6 Months)

  • The baby will move the eyes in the direction of the sound.
  • It will start observing the toys that produce a sound.
  • The baby will start paying attention to music and tunes.
  • Your little one starts imitating sounds like baa, aah, mum etc., also known as babbling.
  • This is a good time to start reading books or singing songs to your little one.
  • The baby may even recognize their name and respond well to it.

Seven to Nine Months (6 to 9 Months)

  • The baby turns its head and looks at the source of the sound.
  • It starts to look at the object when prompted.
  • The baby may get scared at loud sounds.
  • It starts responding to words like no, want more, yes, come, go, bye.
  • The baby also starts understanding words and follows simple requests of bye-bye, hi, kiss etc.

[Read : Why Should Babies Listen To Lullaby Songs?]

Ten to Twelve Months (9 to 12 Months)

  • The baby starts identifying words for common things as well as people. For eg, juice, cup, daddy or juice, mummy, etc.
  • Your little one starts responding to words like no, want more, yes, come, go, bye.
  • Listens to songs and stories but for a brief time.
  • Some babies also sing or hum and even start giving toys when asked.

How to Know if Your Baby is Hearing Clearly?

baby getting hearing test

As long as your baby is meeting all the milestones mentioned above, there is nothing to worry about. Having said that, these milestones can vary slightly from baby to baby, and this should not be a cause for concern.

It is important to get hearing tests done after the birth of the baby to check the hearing abilities. However, only when the baby is old, can the hearing ability be gauged. If the pediatrician detects a problem with the hearing ability of the baby, then more tests must be done at later stages of life.

It is important to remember that babies do not react to the sounds of a doorbell or a telephone when they are sound asleep.

When Should You Not Worry About Your Newborn’s Hearing?

When the baby is awake, they show reactions to some loud sounds. Yet there are few signs that are shown by the baby that need the attention of the parent and they are

  • Not getting responsive to loud sounds.
  • Showing no reactions even after they turn six months old.
  • To turn at a known face but not when they hear but when they see.
  • Being alert to only a few sounds and not all.

All the symptoms, however, do not always indicate a hearing problem. At times, the babies can even show a temporary diminished hearing during ear infections or an episode of cold and cough. They do not even react if they are too engrossed in playing with an adult or a sibling. Therefore, one should not panic. When in doubt, always consult a doctor before arriving at a conclusion.

What Factors May Affect Your Infant’s Hearing?

Baby Hearing Development After Birth

Babies can use their ears to take in a lot of information related to the world in which they are. Hearing ability also helps the infant to learn new words and languages and promotes the development of the brain.

There are many factors that can affect the hearing of a newborn. Some of them are:

  • Genetics
  • Viral infection in the mother during pregnancy.
  • Premature birth or babies with low birth weight.
  • Birth defects can even result in hearing loss.
  • Ear infections after the birth of a baby result in temporary hearing loss.
  • Very rarely, ear infections result in damage to the nerves of the internal parts of the ear.

A few other conditions that result in hearing loss are

  • Jaundice
  • Head injuries
  • Earwax or the presence of fluid behind the eardrum.
  • Low Apgar score (score for the newborn after birth).
  • Antibiotics like kanamycin etc.
  • Prolonged mechanical ventilation.
  • Objects like crayons, toys or food get stuck in the ear canals.
  • If surrounded by machines that produce loud sounds.

A baby’s hearing development starts at the fetal stage and continues post-birth. As your baby’s hearing development continues, you will find them responding to various stimuli. In cases where you are worried that your baby is not responding enough, you can also check with a pediatrician to make sure there are no problems.

[Read : Know All About The Apgar Score In Newborns]


1. Are Baby’s Ears More Sensitive Than Adults?

Yes, babies are more sensitive to sounds than adults are. The brain of the baby is not able to differentiate the sound and identify the source of different types of sounds.

2. What is Too Loud For The Baby’s Ears?

120 decibels are the pain threshold that a human ear can withhold, and any continuous noise at 85 decibels can lead to deafness. As the babies are more sensitive, loud sounds of aircraft, factories, trains, pistols etc. cannot be tolerated by them.

3. Are Babies Able to Hear Right After Birth?

The babies start hearing after birth and possess the ability to listen as well as respond to sounds till a certain extent and then proceed to hear in a more advanced manner.

Tarasha Chandra,PGDPM

She loves to dance, listen to music, cook, and read in her free time. She is transparent, intuitive, quick-witted, and loves to spend time with her near and dear ones. She believes in taking each day as it comes.Read more.

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