How Do Babies Hear the World?
Unlike the adult brain, which can filter through sounds to focus on those we want to hear, babies listen to all sound frequencies simultaneously.
"Babies have a different way of listening to the world," says Dr. Lynne Werner, PhD, a University of Washington professor of speech and hearing science. "Adults usually hear in a narrow band of sound, while babies seem to use a different approach. They don't have the selective attention of adults and they don't pay attention all the time. Instead, they always seem to be listening broadband or to all frequencies simultaneously."
This means that babies respond to unexpected sounds, often startling violently at sudden noises. It also makes the noise level that our society is accustomed to difficult for babies. Says Dr. Werner, "If you are talking to a baby or reading her a story, background noise can be a problem. Turn off the television or radio."