Tips for Families of Babies Waiting for a Hearing Implant
Has your baby just been diagnosed with hearing loss? Are you considering a cochlear implant for your baby? Or are you waiting for your baby or child to receive a cochlear implant?
Here, Natalie Teakle, a Speech and Language Therapist who specializes in hearing rehabilitation, shares a couple of tips for you to support your baby’s communication and brain development right away.
We are so fortunate now to have remarkable, modern hearing technology that allows sound to be gently restored to children with almost all types of hearing loss. If cochlear implants were recommended and are the path you have chosen for your baby, you may face a wait until surgery day. This could be due to your baby’s age or weight, funding, or a hospital waiting list.
This waiting time can be frustrating, as it may feel as if you can’t start helping your baby learn. But actually, there are many things you can do with your baby during this waiting time to support their early communication, brain development and get them ready for sound.
Tips for Families Who Have a Baby Newly Diagnosed With Hearing Loss
1. Find a Support Network
Reach out to local health services, early intervention centers, and parent groups recommended by your health professional. Meet up with other parents of children with hearing loss. Many families describe the support and information they receive from these services and from other parents as being incredibly valuable to them.
If you are unsure of the services available in your area, please contact your local health specialist or one of our MED-EL representatives. You can also reach out to one of our HearPeers Mentors, or connect with other parents on our HearPeers Forum.
2. Move Closer to Your Baby
Stay close and be face-to-face while talking, playing, and singing to your baby to provide the best auditory and visual cues. Moving closer to your baby provides a stronger and clearer auditory signal. Increasing the volume of one’s voice deteriorates the auditory information, so it is better to move closer than to increase the volume of your voice.
3. Talk, Talk, and Talk!
Talking with your baby has significant benefits, even if they can’t hear you well yet. Your baby may pick up cues from the rhythm and pitch of your voice, and they will see your facial expressions and actions—all important for brain development, early communication development, parent-child bonding, as well as later language and literacy development.
Speak about what your baby is looking at, doing, or possibly thinking about. Talk about what you are doing, seeing, and thinking. Keep talking to your baby. Add animal sounds, action words, and funny sounds such as Uh-oh! All children with hearing loss need abundant language models to learn from and eventually copy. Your baby will need you to talk, talk, talk from the moment of their cochlear implant activation, but it’s enormously helpful for you to start now!
4. Use Songs and Rhymes
Sing simple children’s songs and rhymes to your baby. Singing stimulates multiple areas of the brain. Some of the acoustic information and rhythm of singing and songs may be accessible to your baby while they are waiting for CI(s). Add movement such as swaying, rocking, bouncing, or hand motions as you sing to and hold your baby. Add simple, repetitive songs as you go about your daily routines and in play.
Frequently Asked Questions About Hearing Loss and Cochlear Implants
How Does Hearing Work?
Knowing how typical hearing works can help you better understand your baby’s hearing loss. There’s more information and videos about how hearing works here. Some parents and caregivers find it helpful to have this information written down not only to share with extended family, but also to review later.
What Is a Cochlear Implant and How Does It Work?
Cochlear implants (CI) help hundreds of thousands of people around the world hear every day. A CI system works by replicating the sense of hearing. Find more information about cochlear implants, audio processors, and how they work here.
What Is the Difference Between a Cochlear Implant System and a Hearing Aid?
Hearing aids simply amplify sound, whereas cochlear implants stimulate the auditory nerve. Hearing aids are suitable for people with mild-to-profound hearing loss. Cochlear implants, however, help people diagnosed with a more significant sensorineural hearing loss gain access to all of the sounds of spoken language. Depending on the type and degree of hearing loss, hearing aids may not provide enough amplification for a child to develop listening and spoken language.
Has your baby been diagnosed with hearing loss? Get in touch with your local MED-EL team for more information and support in your area.
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