Children and hearing aids


When can a child be fit with hearing aids?

Infants as early as 4 weeks old can be fit with amplification such as hearing aids and assistive devices.

Why is early identification and early intervention for hearing loss so important?

Hearing is critical for the development of speech, language, and learning. The earlier that hearing loss occurs in the child’s life, the more serious the effect on the child’s development. Similarly, the earlier the hearing loss is identified and intervention begun, the less serious the long-term effects will be.

Recent research indicates that children identified with hearing loss who receive services before they are 6 months old develop language (spoken or signed) on par with children who can hear well.

What is early intervention?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that ensures free and appropriate early intervention programs for children who have hearing loss. This includes children from birth to age 3 and throughout the school years (ages 3-21). Early intervention services for infants and toddlers are family-centered and involve the services of several different professions. The goals include:

  • Helping with the child’s language development so that important milestones can be achieved on schedule;
  • enhancing the family’s understanding of the child’s needs and building family support in parenting the child with hearing loss; and
  • monitoring the child’s progress and helping to make decisions for intervention and education each step of the way as the child develops.

What kinds of hearing aids are best for children?

It is important to work with your audiologist to evaluate the child’s needs. Since young children cannot adjust their own hearing aids, the hearing aid selected must be easily checked and adjusted by parents and caregivers.

As a child grows and develops and can respond to more sophisticated tests, hearing aids will be adjusted. Therefore, hearing aids that can be easily adjusted for frequency response, amount of amplification, and maximum limits of amplification are desirable.

You should also remember that as a child grows, the ear grows too. This means the child will need frequent and regularly scheduled earmold changes.

Finally, in school and home settings, children will often connect their hearing aids to listening systems. So, the hearing aid prescribed should have the special features (telecoil and direct audio input capability) that will allow such a connection.

Child with hearing aid

The behind-the-ear hearing aid is the type most commonly used with children. Why?

  • It accommodates various earmold types.
  • The earmold detaches and can be easily remade as the child grows.
  • The earmold can be easily cleaned.
  • It is easy to handle.
  • Controls are visible and easily checked and adjusted by parents.
  • Parents and caregivers can easily do a listening check.
  • It has a wide variety of gains (increases in sound volume) and frequency responses.
  • It can accommodate a wide variety of hearing losses.
  • It can be made with direct audio input so it can be used with other listening devices.
  • It can be made with a telecoil.
  • It is relatively sturdy.

What is the school district's responsibility when it comes to a student's hearing aid?

If a student is eligible for services under IDEA, then schools are responsible for ensuring that hearing aids worn in school are functioning properly.

Must school districts provide assistive technology such as assistive listening systems?

If a student is eligible for services under IDEA, assistive technology must be provided if the student needs that service. Students with hearing loss can benefit greatly from, and are frequently provided, assistive listening devices (such as FM systems) in their schools. Schools must also assure that people using assistive technology (including teachers) are properly trained.

If you have questions about hearing aids for your child, call Rehabilitation Services at 595-3621. If you are inside the hospital, dial 3621. If you are outside the Memphis area, call toll-free 1-866-2ST-JUDE (1-866-278-5833), extension 3621.

Adapted from materials from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

ATTENTION: If you speak another language, assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

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