Hearing, Vision, and Dental Care
Good hearing is very important for normal speech, language, and social development. Even mild or temporary hearing loss may result in delays in these areas of development. Special equipment is being used to screen hearing in babies soon after birth. Newborn hearing screening may be offered in hospitals, or through public health offices. All babies born in British Columbia are eligible for newborn hearing screening. For more information about this screening, visit the Provincial Health Services Authority website.
The most common cause of hearing problems in very young children is ear infection (otitis media). Signs may include:
- hand or fist to the ear
- mild hearing loss
If you think your baby is having ear or hearing problems contact your health care provider immediately.
From birth, babies can distinguish light and dark, shapes, and patterns. When they are quiet and alert, babies can focus on objects 18 to 45 cm away for brief periods of time. Babies prefer to look at faces rather than objects, especially their mother’s eyes.
It is not uncommon for your baby’s eyes to “wander” or cross independently at times. This is normal in the first three months until your baby develops proper eye co‑ordination. Constant eye wandering should not be ignored.
Some important points about your baby’s vision:
- Children with a family history of a lazy or crossed eye are at a higher risk of having an eye problem.
- Early treatment of turned eye or decreased vision is very important for sight.
- If you have any concerns about your baby’s vision, contact your health care provider.
Tooth decay is an infectious disease caused by bacteria in the mouth. Babies are not born with the bacteria that cause decay. These germs can be passed from parent to baby through saliva if sharing spoons, tasting food or licking the baby’s soother. If either parent has tooth decay, see your dentist. Good dental care can help to prevent passing bacteria onto your baby.
How can I care for my baby’s mouth?
You should start to clean your baby’s mouth each day soon after birth. Wipe all around your baby’s gums with a clean wet cloth held over your finger. Most babies get their first tooth between 6‑9 months. Once teeth appear, lift the lip so you can see along the gum line when cleaning. Brush your baby’s teeth twice a day at morning and bedtime. For information about teething and brushing your baby’s teeth, click here.