Baby's First Year · Parenting

Speech, hearing & vision: The importance of early detection

Baby wearing a pink shirt, holding a large yellow flower.Speech, hearing and vision are important parts of your child’s development. Babies begin to explore the environment around them through the sights and sounds they are exposed to. Through exploration, a baby’s brain begins to make connections that helps them learn to communicate.

May is Speech, Hearing and Vision month.

But what happens if your baby has an undetected vision or hearing problem?

Did you know:

By 3 months
Most infants follow moving objects and are able to recognize objects and people they are familiar with

By 6 months
A baby looks at a face when talked to, begins to imitate facial expressions and sounds like ah, eh, buh

By 9 months
A baby is able to respond to their name, understand the word “no”, babbles and repeats sounds, and communicates by using sounds and gestures

By 12 months
A baby uses 3 or more single words to communicate, follows simple one-step directions, brings items to show you, gets your attention by using sounds, gestures or pointing while looking at your eyes

Research shows more than 80% of the information your child learns is presented visually and nearly 1 in 6 children have a vision problem. Without receiving a regular eye exam, vision problems are not diagnosed or treated. A child who is blind or has low vision is at risk for difficulties in all areas of development, including communication and language.

Similarly, undetected hearing loss can also be a cause of delayed language development.

In order to determine if a child has a hearing loss, the Ontario Infant Hearing Program want to:

  • screen babies before they are one month of age
  • diagnose a hearing loss before the baby is three months of age
  • ensure baby is receiving necessary intervention before they are six months of age.

Toronto completes approximately 38,000 hearing screens on babies annually and approximately 180 children are identified with a hearing impairment.

I encourage you to review our hearing checklist and the milestones listed from children birth to 5 years of age. If you answer no to any of the questions in your child’s age range, we recommend you speak to your doctor about a referral to have your child’s hearing tested by an audiologist.

Don’t Wait and See! We are here to help!

For more information:

As of April 1, 2022 the Preschool Speech and Language, Blind-Low Vision and Infant Hearing programs have moved from Toronto Public Health (Early Abilities) to Surrey Place. To register for services or learn more about the programs, please visit Surrey Place or call 416-925-5141.

Leave a Reply