Baby uses their 8 senses every single day!

Many senses continue to develop and change even after we are born. Here we’ll learn more about the hearing (auditory) sense, and how you can help baby develop their sense of hearing.

What is the hearing sense and how do we use it?


The hearing sense allows us to recognize, and locate different sounds. In babies, they will notice toys that make sound and turn their head towards noises. In children, they are able to recognize sounds and respond to questions. As adults, we are constantly using our hearing. With music, work meetings, television, or anything else, we use our hearing to navigate the world.

Before baby comes home from the hospital, they will receive a hearing test (also called a hearing screening). This test helps to see if baby is having any issues with their hearing prior to coming home. If baby is found to have an issue with their hearing, intervening early can help their communication and social-emotional development. Learn more!

How can you help baby use their hearing sense? Check out these games, which help with the hearing sense.

Remember: safety first!

Always supervise baby while playing any of these games.

0-3 Months

  • Rattle Up & Down: Move and groove with a rattle – up and down. While they won’t be able to shake it on their own yet, their reflexes will allow them to grasp the handle and enjoy the sounds as you help shake it.
  • Tap, Tap, Tap: With baby on their back, sing a song. While singing, tap the bottom of their feet in time with the song. Baby will love hearing your voice and the tapping gives them a new sound experience.
  • Parent Talkathon: Talking to baby is important! Use a slow, higher than normal pitch, almost a melodic voice to help get and keep baby’s attention. Babies prefer the sound of Moms’ and Dads’ voices. Your baby might even copy your tongue and mouth movements.
  • Mobile Songs: If your baby’s mobile plays music, sing along with the songs. Hold their hand or rock them while you sing. Play similar music for him at other times of the day, all around the house.
  • Tummy Carry & Chat: Hold baby close to you in a tummy-down carry. Slide one hand under the tummy and between their legs when carrying baby tummy-down. Chat while you go: “Up!” (lift them slightly); “Down!” (bring them back down); “And All Around!” (Move them left to right.)
  • Express Yourself: Baby carefully watches your expressions and will be using more of their own by this age. Use a variety of facial expressions.

4-6 Months

  • Break Out the Board Books: Baby loves the sound of your voice while you read and the colors and shapes in books. Mix it up by reading in different locations or during Tummy Time. “Reading” can also be describing pictures without following the written words.
  • Chatter Box: Talk to baby often to let them hear the sounds and rhythms of speech. Describe your actions throughout the day as you dress, feed, and bathe baby. Listen as baby responds to you.
  • Household Hub-Bub: Use household items like squeeze toys or newspapers to make different noises for baby. Repeat sounds at different volumes and in different orders to keep them interested. Then give them the items and help them make sounds.
  • Copy-Cat Chit-Chat: Encourage baby to make noise by responding as if in conversation. Repeat sounds they make and add new words. Baby will learn the give and take of communication and may begin to babble sounds from words they’ve heard you say.
  • Yakety Yak: Encourage two-way communication. When baby coos or babbles be sure to respond and take turns “talking.”

7-9 Months

  • Name Game: Point to the different parts of your face and name them for baby. Point to your nose and say “mommy’s nose.” Continue to do this with other facial features and see how baby reacts.
  • Phone Talk: Play with a pretend phone; talk into phone as you would a regular call, then offer it to baby to do the same.
  • Story Time: Describe your actions throughout the day as you dress, feed, and bathe baby.
  • Moo and Baa: Use animal sounds when playing or reading to baby. Point out a picture of an animal then make the sound that animals make: “A cow goes moo,” “A sheep goes baa”.

10-12 Months

  • First Interview: Ask baby questions and encourage response with words, baby sounds, cooing, or babbling. Record the conversation and play it back for baby to hear.
  • Squeaky Toy Fun: Help baby squeeze a squeaky toy to hear the sound. Next, cover it with a blanket and squeak it again. See how they react to hearing the sound this time and help them pull off the blanket.
  • Shapes, Sizes, and More: Name textures, shapes, and sizes to help baby attach words to objects and experiences. Say things like “look at this big red ball” or “this stuffed animal is really soft.” 
  • Old MacDonald: Sing songs with repetitive language like “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.” 
  • Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes: Sing “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” while acting out the motions with baby. Baby may not be able to fully participate, but it’s a good practice standing alone!

13-18 Months

  • Simple Directions: Baby is learning at a fast pace. Instead of using babble or baby words, speak simply to baby. They should understand simple directions like “Roll the ball” or “No, don’t touch that.”
  • Shapes and Spaces: Use a shape sorter to talk baby about how to push shapes “in” the holes and dump them “out” of the container. Baby learns best by interacting with you and hearing the words you speak.
  • Jam Session: Let baby make music by tapping a wooden spoon and cardboard box. They will love hearing sounds they make. Try tapping a simple rhythm and have baby copy you.
  • Bucket Baby: This is a great age for encouraging baby to practice the meaning of “in” and “out.” Try asking them to put toys in a bucket and then take them out again.
  • Baby See, Baby Do: Sit across from baby, facing them. Say: “Do what I do!” Make a funny face, stick out your tongue. Clap when they copy you. Use other parts of your body as well – hands, arms – encouraging them to do what you do.
  • Identify Body Parts: Play with your toddler by naming different body parts and pointing to them. You can name the body part first and have your toddler point to it or you can point to a body part and have them name it.

19-24 Months

  • Bubble Wrap: Give your toddler bubble wrap and let them pop all the bubbles. Have them try popping them with only their index finger and thumb.
  • Freeze Dance: Have a dance party with your little one. Tell them once the music stops, they have to freeze in place! When it starts, they can dance again.
  • Do This Dance: Turn on some music and get dancing! As you dance, give your toddler instructions related to their body parts, such as “shake your arm” or “touch your head”.
  • Shadow Show: Turn the lights off and grab a flashlight (or two!). Show your child how they can cast a shadow using their hands or body in front of the flashlight. Challenge them to tell a story using shadows!
  • Warmer, Colder: Hide an item and have your child search for it. As they get closer, tell them they are warmer; as they get farther, tell them they are colder.

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