Vision, Hearing, and Speech Overview

Vision, hearing, and speech are an important part of your child's life. When a baby is born, their eyesight is immature. The baby later develops the ability to focus. Hearing appears early as a baby develops in the mother’s uterus. Hearing is needed for correct speech and language development. Watching your child's ability to see, hear, and speak is an important part of your growing child’s health.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Optometric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have advised the following vision screening stages:

  • Newborn. All newborns are examined in the nursery for eye infections and other eye disorders, such as glaucoma.

  • Age 6 months. Infant visual screenings should be done during well-baby visits, particularly checking for how the eyes work together.

  • Age 3 to 4 years. Formal visual acuity tests and the complete eye exam should be done.

  • Age 5 years and older. Annual visual screening tests and eye exams should be done.

Children develop speech, language, and hearing skills at different ages. But hearing loss can lead to delays in your child's ability to make sounds, learn to speak, and communicate. The AAP advises hearing screening for all newborns before they leave the hospital. Talk with your child's healthcare provider if you're concerned about your child's hearing or speech, or if you notice any of the following:

  • No response to sound at any age

  • Baby doesn't move or jump when a loud sound is made

  • No babbling by the time the baby is 9 months old

  • No words spoken by age 18 to 24 months

  • Doesn't follow simple commands by age 2

  • Poor voice quality at any age

Online Medical Reviewer: Chris Haupert MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Tara Novick BSN MSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Whitney Seltman MD
Date Last Reviewed: 2/1/2023
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