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How Do You Test a Child's Hearing?


Children of any age can have their hearing tested. If there is any concern at all, regarding a child’s ability to hear, they should be referred for a hearing evaluation. Depending on the age of the child, the audiologist will request that the child arrive asleep or awake for their appointment.

  • Non-invasive and FUN hearing testing for all ages.
  • Behavioral Observation Audiometry (BOA)
  • Visual Reinforcement Audiometry (VRA)
  • Conditioned Play Audiometry (CPA)

More complex ways of testing:

  • Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE’s)
  • Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)

Testing for pediatric hearing loss varies depending on the age of the child. The following is a summary of age-appropriate testing:

Newborns and Small Infants

Generally, newborns and small infants are tested while they are in a relaxed, sleepy state.  The testing is done without the need for the infant to actively participate.  At this age a hearing screening initially is conducted with either the use of Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE’s) or an automated auditory brainstem response screener.  Both screening tools report either “PASS” or “REFER”.  A “REFER” indicates that further testing is required, NOT that the child cannot hear.

In some instances, the audiologist might recommend that an auditory brainstem response evaluation (ABR) be conducted.  Above the age of 3 months, this is usually done in the hospital with a sedative, which your primary care physician would order.  This test is done with the use of electrodes on the head, headphones, and a computer which allows the audiologist to record responses from the auditory nerve, which links the ear to the brain. 

Infants and Toddlers 

Beginning at age 6-9 months, testing is conducted with the child responding to sounds heard in the sound booth with either speakers, or sometimes headphones.  The child is conditioned to respond with light-up toys.  This is called “Visual Reinforcement Audiometry” and is a very reliable technique.


Around 30 months of age, many children can begin to participate in “Conditioned Play Audiometry”.  With this technique, the audiologist teaches the child how to play a game every time a sound is heard.


School Age Children

Children ages 5 years and older can typically participate in a more traditional hearing testing style, where they can raise their hand each time they hear a sound.

Every child is treated and assessed as an individual and the audiologist will work with the child to find the best way to determine if there is a hearing loss.


Adventist Paulson Pediatric Rehab
222 E. Ogden Avenue
Hinsdale, IL 60521