Hearing aids play an important role in your child’s language and speech development. Wearing the device whenever they’re awake will help your child become more aware of the world around them and engage in conversation.
It’s important to be aware hearing aids contain several small parts that pose a hazard for young children. It's especially important to be careful if your child is under the age of five or has any learning or behavioural problems.
To minimise risk, here's a few things to consider when your child is using their hearing aid.
Hearing aids are not toys
It’s important your child knows a hearing aid is not something to fiddle or play with. When your child isn’t wearing their hearing aids, keep them in a boxes - out of sight and out of reach. If your child removes the hearing aid at any time, place it back on their ear immediately or keep it out of reach until you can secure it back on the ears safely. If you’re out and about, there's secure child-resistant pouches available for storing hearing aids.
Most hearing aids are powered by small button batteries. If you suspect your child has swallowed or inserted a battery:
- Contact the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26
- You will be directed to the nearest hospital or emergency service that can assist you
- Do not let the person eat or drink until medical professionals can determine if a battery is present
- Do not induce vomiting
Batteries are accessible from the battery packaging and can be easily opened if left unattended. Ensure you store in a child-proof container.
- Tamper-proof battery compartments: Some hearing aids have a tamper-proof battery compartment reducing the risk of children removing the battery. We recommend children up to the age of five, and older children who have regular contact with young children, use hearing aids fitted with tamper-proof features.
- Battery door lock: Hearing aid batteries are small. Use the battery door lock to stop your child from accidentally removing the battery from the aid.
Important things to remember about batteries
WARNING: Keep batteries in a safe and secure location out of reach of children.
- Swallowing may lead to serious injury in as little as 2 hours or death.
- Examine devices to ensure the battery compartment is secured. If the compartment is not secure, do not use and bring in to your Hearing Centre for checking.
- Children like to copy, so do not change batteries near them.
- Dispose of batteries appropriately – ensure that they cannot be accessed by children, and keep away from flames.
- Do not attempt to recharge batteries unless you have been given rechargeable-only batteries.
- Special battery safety measures are required for hearing aids fitted to children under 5 years of age, and battery safety features can be requested for aided children with young siblings or adults at risk of incorrect use.
- Please ensure that you follow the audiologist’s safety recommendations at all times.
If you experience an incident related to battery safety please report this to Hearing Australia.
An ear mould can pose a choking risk if your child accidentally swallows it. Ensure the ear mould tubing is pushed tightly onto the ear hook and the material is firmly attached to the tubing.
Due to general wear and tear the ear mould tubing may split or harden, causing it to become detached from the hearing aid. It can be easily replaced or repaired by a hearing centre technician.
Hearing aid retention
To minimise the risk of choking, use products designed to keep the hearing aid in place. Infants and toddlers with bone conduction hearing aids are usually fitted with a soft headband that limits their access. We can help you fit your child with a headband.
Here's how to use hearing aid retention products safely:
- Hearing aid ear hook: Hooks can be a choking hazard. Check to ensure the hook is firmly attached to the hearing aid. If it’s loose, screw it back onto the aid to ensure it fits tightly. If the hook is still loose after you’ve tried to tighten it, take the aid to your Hearing Australia centre to replace the hook.
- Junior clips: The hearing aid slips through the plastic loop while the clip is attached to the child’s clothing. We recommend attaching the clip to the back of the child’s shirt or collar and shortening the cords, to ensure aids can't be placed in the mouth if your child pulls them off the ear.
- “Aviator” style caps: If you're using a cap to hold your baby’s hearing aids in place, ask your audiologist to check the hat doesn't make a major difference to the signal picked up by the hearing aid.
- Double-sided sticky tape is another way to help hold your child’s hearing aids in place.
Bone conduction hearing aids
- Cables: Some bone conduction aids have a cable connecting the hearing aid to the vibrator. Regularly check to make sure the cable is not loose. If the cable is loose, replace it with a new one or take the aid to your Hearing Australia centre for a new cable to be fitted.
- Vibrator: The vibrator could be swallowed if disconnected from the hearing aid. Check regularly to make sure the connections are tight. If the cable is loose in the connection, replace it with a new one.
- Sound processors worn on a soft band: These hearing aids are small and are a choking hazard if removed from the headband and swallowed. Check the hearing aid is securely attached to the headband and keep it out of sight and out of reach of children if not being used.
Encouraging safety independence for older children (5-8 years)
As children develop, we want to encourage them to care for their own hearing aid and to treat their hearing aid and batteries responsibly to avoid danger to others.
- Teach young children to hand their hearing aid to a responsible adult if they remove it
- Teach older children to put their hearing aid in a box out of reach of other younger children, after removing it
- Maintenance tasks, such as washing and drying the earmold, should only be undertaken under adult supervision
- Batteries should only be changed under adult supervision
- If there's people who are at risk of swallowing batteries (infants, toddlers, or older family members with special needs), we recommend using a hearing aid with a tamper-proof battery compartment, even when the hearing aid user is independent.
Your audiologist will provide advice and equipment to help make sure the hearing aids are safe as possible. A daily check of the hearing aid parts is also highly recommended.