Tips & Tricks For Parents

Help Your Child To Understand The Meaning Of Different Sounds

Once your child receives their CI, they will be introduced to a wonderful world full of different sounds. You will need to help your child understand what the context or meaning of these sounds are.

Your child may understand that mommy says “ouch” when she hurts herself, and says “wowwww” when she likes something. When your child first receives their hearing device, they will begin to be aware of when they can hear sounds or not. Then, they will start to understand the differences between sounds, and how different sounds have different meanings.

Your child may start recognizing or imitating different sounds. They may begin understanding words or phrases which differ in length, pitch, loudness or rhythm. For example, your child may tell the difference in sound made from:

  • a ball versus a banana,
  • mommy’s angry voice versus her happy voice,
  • daddy saying buh-bye versus mommy saying buh-bye.


Here are five tips to help your child link meaning to the sounds they hear.

1: Utilize every opportunity to talk to your child during daily routines. This gives your child repeated exposure to meaningful words and phrases in the same activities every day.

2: Talk to your child in an interesting, sing song voice which has changes in rhythm and pitch. Use natural facial expressions,  real objects, and toys to ensure listening activities are meaningful for your child.

3: Encourage your child to take turns in the interaction. Look expectantly at them to show them it’s their turn to talk, and encourage them to copy the sounds or words.

4: Use Acoustic Highlighting to emphasis important words or sounds in your speech.

5: Provide Choices during daily activities to encourage your child to use vocalisation to show you what they want. For example: “Do you want orange juice or milk” when you ask your child to choose their breakfast.


Here are two great activities you can do to help your child understand the meanings of different sounds.

1: Making lemonade

While you are making lemonade, use simple and repetitive words and acoustic highlighting to emphasise important words. Use a range of actions words (e.g. cut, squeeze, push), naming and location words (e.g. in, on, under) to build your child’s vocabulary.

  • “Let’s squeeeeeeeeeeze the lemon into the bowl”
  • “Let’s cut some more lemon on the plate. Cut, cut, cut”


2: Sing rhymes to your child

Introduce rhymes and songs with different rhythms with different toys or props. For example with the song “Old MacDonald”, sing the names of the animals and use their sounds, and THEN show and play with the associated animal toy with your child.

  • “Old Mc Donald had a farm, ee aa ee aa ooooo”. Encourage your child to sing or hum along with you!


Remember, the opportunity for your child to link the sounds they hear to objects or actions may be short-lived. Children need lots of repetition to learn. Talk to your child as much as possible using important key words!

Happy Listening!


Like this post on early listening activities? Help your child recognize and associate voices in this post.


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