When a child is diagnosed with hearing loss, the most frequent recommendation is to utilize hearing aids. However, children are very curious and keeping hearing aids on their ears (and not in their mouths!) can often be challenging. Many parents struggle with keeping hearing aids on their children, so if you are a parent of a hearing-impaired child who likes to remove their hearing aids, remember you are not alone. As frustrating as it can be to continually replace hearing aids on a squirmy toddler’s ears, it is important to keep trying as consistent auditory input is crucial for language learning and development. Here are some tips that may be helpful for encouraging your child to wear their hearing aids.
1. Make listening fun! Sing songs, read their favorite book, experiment with different sounds around the house. Help your child associate their hearing aids with positive experiences. Point out all the interesting sounds they can hear when wearing their hearing aids.
2. Try a timer. It might just start with 30 seconds, but gradually you can increase the duration of time your child wears the hearing aids before being allowed to remove them.
3. Try rewards to keep your child motivated. Snacks, stickers, or inexpensive toys can be strong motivators for children. Try a calendar and place a sticker for each day your child wears their hearing aids for a pre-determined amount of time. At the end of the week take them for a special treat or adventure.
4. Decorate the hearing aids. This can help your child have fun with their hearing aids and take ownership of them. Most pediatric hearing aid care kits include fun stickers your child can use to decorate their hearing aids. There are also many options for hearing aid charms and stickers online. Some options are: Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms, Tubetastic Pimp, and Tube Riders.
5. Praise your child for hearing aid use. Try to focus on even small victories to keep your child motivated to use their hearing aids.
If you happen to have a child who is particularly resistant to the hearing aids, no matter what, there are also retention devices that can help prevent your child from removing the hearing aids.
1. Tie, clip, or pin the hearing aids onto your child’s clothing to ensure they are not lost if your child removes them. You can use string, floss, or an eyeglass cord and a safety pin for a DIY version. Commercially available options include: EarGear, Safe-N-Sound, and oto/critter clips.
2. Secure aids behind the ears with adhesive. The easiest option for this is to use double-sided wig/toupee tape.
3. Try headbands or hats to cover the devices and keep your child from removing them. There are many options available online, most of which were created by other parents looking for options to keep hearing aids on their children. Some options include pilot caps (available on Etsy) and headbands.
Karen Anderson has a thorough list of retention accessories with pros and cons of each, which can be found here.