The NSW Statewide Infant Screening – Hearing (SWISH) Program aims to identify babies born with significant hearing loss and introduce them to appropriate services as soon as possible. This fact sheet is prepared for parents to explain hearing checks and what they need to know since they have elected not to have their baby screened.

Last updated: 09 August 2017
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Your baby will be offered a series of health checks in the first few weeks of life. One of these looks for hearing loss. The hearing screen will be offered as soon as possible after birth and can take place in hospital before or after discharge, or at a local community location.

Parents may refuse to provide consent for their newborn’s hearing screening. This will be recorded in your child’s Personal Health Record (Blue Book). You will also be asked to sign a form confirming that when the screen was offered you declined.

If you choose not to have your baby screened, you should still be informed about the screen and its importance.

Why is the hearing screen offered?

About one to two babies out of every 1000 babies born will have a significant hearing loss.

It is important to find out as soon as possible how well your baby hears so that you and your baby can get the correct advice and support.

By the time children say their first word they have been listening to the way we talk for about a year.

If a baby is not hearing well during this time, their speech and language development may be affected.

If you want more information or you change your mind and want to have your baby screened, contact your local SWIS-H program coordinator as soon as possible.

What do I need to do as my baby grows older?

Hearing may not always remain the same over time. It is important to monitor your baby’s speech and language development as well as their responses to sound.

You can refer to the checklist overleaf to monitor your child’s progress.

If you are concerned about your child’s hearing or speech and language development in the future, please arrange to have your child’s hearing tested. Ask your family doctor for a referral to an appropriate service for your child’s hearing to be tested.​

For health advice, contact healthdirect Australia, 1800 022 222.

For further information, please refer Kids and families.​

Hearing checklist

Birth to 3 months

  • reacts to loud sounds
  • becomes quiet with familiar voices or sounds
  • makes cooing noises
  • responds to speech by looking at speaker’s face.

3-6 months

  • turns eyes or head toward sounds
  • starts to make speech-like sounds
  • laughs and makes noises to show how they are feeling.

6-9 months

  • babbles, ‘dada’ ‘ma-ma’ ‘baba’
  • shouts/vocalises to get attention
  • will often respond to ‘no’ and own name
  • responds to singing and music.

9-12 months

  • imitates speech sounds of others
  • understands simple words, eg ‘ball’, ‘dog’, ‘daddy’
  • turns head to soft sounds
  • speaks first words.

12-18

  • appears to understand some new words each week
  • follows simple spoken instructions, eg ‘get the ball’
  • points to people, body parts or toys when asked
  • continually learns new words to say although may be unclear.

18-24

  • has between 100-200 words that they use regularly
  • listens to simple stories or songs
  • combines two or more words in short phrases eg ‘more juice’.
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Page Updated: Wednesday 9 August 2017
Contact page owner: Maternity, Child and Family