For Hearing Impaired Parents, a New App Notifies When Your Baby is Crying — and Why

Dr. Maria Wynens, Au.D.Family & Relationships, Hearing Loss, Pediatric Hearing Aids, Tips & Tricks

New App Notifies When Your Baby is Crying
Dr. Maria Wynens, Au.D.
Latest posts by Dr. Maria Wynens, Au.D. (see all)

It’s a reality most new parents with healthy hearing take entirely for granted — an infant will cry to let you know they need something. Some might even tell you they’d be happy to be immune to the emotions that their crying child motivates. However, parents who have hearing loss face a much different set of obstacles when trying to manage how to monitor their child’s needs when hearing their cries is not an option. Now, new technology assists parents hearing loss in ways that revolutionizes the way they can answer the cries of their very young children.

The importance of response

Responding to a child’s cry is no small thing. In fact, it sets the tone for the relationships we have throughout our lives, and the ways we respond to others. In the very first stages of development, we form attachment styles. These are built incredibly deeply into our selves, because the moment of formation occurs so early on. The four types of attachment are: secure, anxious-ambivalent, anxious-avoidant and disorganized-disoriented. It’s easy to guess that the healthiest form of attachment is a secure one. Children with secure attachment are able to move from dependency to independence easily and are more likely to explore their environments, using their caregiver as an anchor from which to investigate who and what surrounds them.

Attachment styles are developed in the earliest stages of childhood, between two and six months, but their effects follow us throughout our entire lives. For this reason, responding to the cries of infants becomes more important than providing just soothing on the spot, it is an opportunity to nurture their sense of security in the world and their future relationships.

What’s more, the speedier a parent gives an appropriate response to a crying child can also help develop language development in children. 

Chatterbaby to the rescue!

Chatterbaby, the new app that alerts parents with hearing loss that their child is crying, will ease the minds of thousands of parents. Before, alert systems for those with hearing loss simply lit up or shook to communicate that the monitor in the child’s room detected noise. This can lead to some confusion. A young child that babbles to themselves at night would send off the same alert as a cry for attention. This means that parents might be either rushing into the baby’s room when nothing is amiss, or it could mean potentially ignoring a real distress moment.

This new app only alerts parents of actual crying. In fact, the algorithm is so precise that it can also distinguish why the child is upset. Parents often claim to know the difference in tone within their child’s cries, able to pinpoint their need immediately. A hungry cry will sound different from a “change my diaper” cry, which again will be different from a cry that’s simply seeking a little soothing. This gives parents with hearing loss the same advantages that those with healthy hearing might take for granted.

And even greater potential

Developed at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Chatterbaby has aims to go beyond assisting parents who find hearing challenging, it will also use data to investigate whether a child’s cry patterns have any correlation with later developmental disorders, such as autism. The app could potentially assist new mothers with postpartum depression, who are historically less able to identify the cause of their child’s cries.

Don’t be too attached to attachment

While it’s paramount that the needs of infants and young babies are met, it’s important to recognize that not every need is going to be fulfilled perfectly and immediately every time. That’s not the way that life works, particularly in today’s busy world with a million other things demanding attention, all on no sleep. It should be noted that attachment styles are finicky things, even sensitive and healthy hearing caregivers get it right only around half of the time. When an instance is missed, these are referred to as ruptures. The difference, or what can help foster a more secure attachment, is the way a rupture is managed and repaired by the caregiver.

Atlanta Hearing Doctor

If you are experiencing changes to your hearing, visit us at Atlanta Hearing Doctor. Maintaining good hearing health is important for all of our relationships, including with our families. Contact us today to schedule a hearing test and consultation.