Thursday, February 29, 2024

Fetal Development Timeline: When do Ears and Hearing Develop for a Baby?

The picture is quite familiar. A pregnant woman is sitting on a chair, her spouse’s ear is on the tummy. Then, the man will talk to the baby inside the tummy. Or it can also be a mother, sitting on a chair, an earphone is placed over her stomach as the music plays. Some may be wondering. Can the baby really hear those sounds? When do ears and hearing develop for a baby? 

Hearing development

The embryo might be too small yet but as early as the 6th week, the cells inside the baby’s developing head are starting to develop that will eventually be her brain, eyes, nose, and ears. Three weeks after indents on the sides of your baby’s neck start to appear. It will later move up, 

curled up to be your baby’s little ears.

Read also: 6 Weeks Pregnant

Can baby hear at the 16th week? The inner ear will connect with neurons in the brain to make the processing of sounds possible. So, at week 16, the baby is already capable of detecting some limited noises. This can be sounds that a mother doesn’t even notice like the gurgle of the stomach and the whooshing in and out of air. By the 6th month of pregnancy, the baby can already make a response to voices and noises by turning their heads. The 5th and the 6th month is said to be the most important developmental stage in the baby’s hearing.

Read also: 16 Weeks Pregnant

What does the baby hear?

Since the baby is surrounded by amniotic fluid, plus the layers of the mommy’s tummy, even the ears are fully developed, she only hears the muffled sound inside the uterus. That is because sounds can travel best through open spaces.

But she can already start hearing sounds inside the mommy’s body like the heartbeat or the noises of the digestive system and the blood flow.

When can a baby hear dad or mom in the womb? As the baby grows inside the womb, its hearing also develops and she started hearing sounds and noises. Research shows that it was the mother’s voice that is the clearest to the baby. That is, of course, the sound reverberates in the mother’s body, amplifying it. Studies reveal that a fetal heartbeat rate increases when she hears her mother speaks. It means that the baby became more alert when she hears her mother speaks. This is why it is always suggested for pregnant mothers to make conversations with the baby or sing her a song to familiarize her with your voice.

It is also advised to dad to talk to the baby as she can already recognize other voices and sounds that they hear often even outside the uterus. It is also revealed that newborns are more reactive to voice or sounds that they always hear while inside the womb than those that are not. So, daddies, you can start talking and singing to the babies during your partner’s pregnancy. This can be one of the ways on how dad can bond with the unborn baby.

What can parents do to support a baby’s hearing development?

This can be a time when you can start playing music for the baby in the womb. Some even suggest that classical music’s calming effect brings positive effects to babies’ development. Also, make time talking or reading stories to the baby.

If the mommy is working on too noisy environment with prolonged and repeated loud sounds like factories, machine shops, and those involving too loud music, guns, airplanes, trucks, and sirens, she might opt to talk to her boss to transfer her in a more quiet area to remove the possibility of developmental damage and hearing loss to the fetus. As a guide, anything louder than 115 decibels should be avoided.


As the baby grows in the womb, hearing also develops. As parents learn when do ears and hearing develop for a baby, the timeline can be their guide to create early bonding moments with their child. Talking to the baby, telling stories and playing music can be of great help to help the baby prepare for her grand entrance in the real world.

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