In Holland, babies hearing is generally checked by a nurse that arrives at your house, usually at a very inconvenient time (I mean, when isn’t during that first week at home with a newborn???) with a sound machine. All of my kids tested positive for good hearing so I’m not sure what would have happened if that hadn’t been the case. She was in and out in 15 minutes and that was the end of it.
However my youngest daughter Julia did have trouble hearing sometime around her 2nd birthday, though it may have been earlier. I just added up her “not talking much” and “hard to understand” to being #4 and communicating in other ways. The specialist checked her ears and saw some red (I’m sure he used a more medical term which I can’t for the life of me remember at the moment) which he said could be causing a change in hearing. He said that he would re-check after the summer as ears often cleared up after a good old fashion dose of heat. And they did. Her speech improved but she’s left with a number of sounds that she just can’t pronounce very well. The old habits are hard to get rid of. She is bilingual, English and Dutch and I can tell you that there are some seriously strange sounds one has to learn to speak the Dutch language! Still - she’s getting there with the help of a speech therapist.
The funny thing is that she speaks perfect French…
Here is the answer from my book:
Newborns can hear pretty well though the middle part of their ears are still full of fluid. Their ears are still in an immature stage. Because they heard your voice in the womb, they are apt to respond to you more than others. They also respond better to high pitch, clear and loud voices which is why we tend to automatically speak loudly and clearly when talking to our baby. In many countries babies have their hearing checked before leaving the hospital. Double check that this was done in the first weeks as a delay in recognizing and treating hearing problems (even delayed by a few months) can lead to speech delays.