Hearing Aids for Children

What do I need to know about hearing aids for my child?

To achieve the best results from a hearing aid, you and your child should meet with a certified audiologist to learn what to expect—that is, what a hearing aid can and cannot do, and how to operate it.

It is important to understand how hearing aids work and how to select, operate, and care for them. Properly working hearing aids and consistent use of hearing aids will help your child hear and develop good speech and language skills.

Audiology Information Series
More information on this topic can be found in our Audiology Information Series [PDF].

How do hearing aids work?

All behind-the-ear hearing aids have a microphone, amplifiers and processors, a volume control, a tone hook, an earmold, an on/off switch, and a battery compartment. Sound enters the microphone, is amplified and shaped by the processor, and is directed out the tone hook and through the earmold into your child’s ear. The earmold is specifically molded to the shape of your child’s ear. Earmolds need to be replaced fairly often as your child’s ear grows.

When can my child be fit with hearing aids?

Infants as young as 4 weeks can be fit with hearing aids and hearing assistive technology systems.

What kind of hearing aid is best for my child?

It is important to work with your audiologist and early intervention team to evaluate your child’s needs. Since very young children cannot adjust their own hearing aids, the hearing aid selected for infants must be easily manipulated and monitored by parents and caregivers.

As your child grows and develops and can respond to more sophisticated tests, hearing aids are adjusted accordingly. Therefore, hearing aids that can be easily adjusted for frequency response, amount of amplification, and maximum limits of amplification are desirable. These devices are typically digital hearing aids.

It is important to know that, as a child grows, the ear grows too. This means that earmolds will need to be remade on a regularly scheduled basis—more often when children are very young and less often as children get older and their ears grow more slowly.

In educational and home settings, children frequently connect their hearing aids to hearing assistive technology systems. Therefore, the hearing aid prescribed should have special features (telecoil and direct audio input capability) that will allow for this connection.

Several types of hearing aids are available; the appropriate type depends on your child's individual needs and skills. The behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid is the type of hearing aid most commonly recommended for infants and young children for a number of reasons, including:

  • It accommodates various earmold types.
  • The earmold detaches and can be easily remade as the child grows.
  • The earmold is easy to handle and can be easily cleaned.
  • Parents and caregivers can easily do a listening check and make adjustments.
  • It can accommodate a wide variety of hearing losses.
  • It can be made with direct audio input or a telecoil, so it can be used with other listening devices.
  • The earmolds are made of a soft material that is safer and more comfortable for tiny ears.

In-the-ear (ITE) styles are usually reserved for adults and older children.

Once you have selected a hearing aid, the audiologist will carefully set the hearing aid using the results of your child’s hearing tests. One of the best methods for fitting a hearing aid on a young child is called real ear measurement. Once the audiologist obtains a real ear to coupler difference (RECD), the hearing aid can be set and adjusted in the hearing aid test box. This results in more accurate hearing aid settings.

Are there any suggestions on how to keep hearing aids on my child?

It is very important that children with hearing loss use their hearing aids as much as possible. A child who has been wearing hearing aids consistently since infancy will probably wear them without resistance. Children who have not been consistent hearing aid wearers may be more of a challenge. 

Start by putting the hearing aids on your child while you are engaged in a fun activity and increase the amount of time until your child is wearing the hearing aids during all waking hours. Young children should learn that only an adult should put the hearing aids on and take the hearing aids off. Older children may be more interested in their hearing aids if they are able to provide input into the color of their earmold or hearing aid.

There are several ways to secure the hearing aids to your child’s ears. Some ideas include two-sided toupee tape, Huggie AidsTM, lightweight caps and headbands, fishing line and a safety pin, and hearing aid clips. Your audiologist will help you find the best method for your child.

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