We had selected a daycare for T while I was pregnant, but once we found out T had a hearing loss and would need to wear hearing aids, I started second-guessing our decision to send him to daycare. I was worried that it would be hard to teach caregivers to put in the hearing aids. I also worried that the daycare might have high turnover, and it would be hard to teach all of the caregivers how to do this properly. At that point, we briefly considered either a nanny or a nanny-share.
I want to acknowledge here how lucky we are that we had a choice at all! Also, my mom watched T from when he was 3 months old (which was when I went back to work and when he first got hearing aids) till when he started daycare, which we are so grateful for – this gave us time to get comfortable with everything and make a childcare choice we were happy with.
Anyway, while we were thinking about whether daycare would still work for us, I searched online for information about babies who wear hearing aids and daycare, and I didn’t really find much. We did end up choosing to send T to daycare (when he was 5 months old), so I wanted to write about our experience with that here.
There were 3 main things I was worried about daycare handling properly:
- Making sure T wore his hearing aids whenever he was awake
- Taking his hearing aids off at nap time (I didn’t want him pulling them off and putting them in his mouth while he was in his crib)
- Not losing the hearing aids
All of these things turned out totally fine, and honestly, they were fine from the very beginning! When T first started, my husband went in on the first day and showed the two main caregivers how to put T’s hearing aids on. They got the hang of it right away! He also gave instructions for taking them off at nap time, changing the Stick and Stays on the processor (we use the Stick and Stays to stick the processor to T’s head behind his ears so that they don’t fall off) whenever they lost their stickiness, storing the hearing aids in a box in T’s cubby when he wasn’t wearing them (to ensure they weren’t accessible to any babies who could accidentally swallow the batteries), etc. I also sent in a document with written instructions for all of this. For the first few days, the caregivers had a bit of trouble getting the ear molds in all the way, but we showed them how to visually tell that they weren’t fully inserted in the ear, and also showed them how you can hear feedback when they aren’t fully inserted. After that, the ear molds were always in all the way when we picked T up.
In the spirit of being totally honest, I should note that, although I’m so happy and relieved with how well T’s daycare has handled his hearing aids, it took me a little while to get there (not because they were doing anything wrong, just because I worried so much!). For the first few weeks, my husband and I weren’t sure if they were taking his hearing aids off when he was napping – as I mentioned above, this was really important to me, because I didn’t want T pulling off his hearing aids while in his crib and putting them in his mouth. We weren’t sure if they were taking them off because the Stick and Stays seemed too sticky when we picked T up at the end of the day, and we weren’t sure if they were changing them during the day. So, I devised a plan where we marked the Stick and Stays in the morning with a Sharpie so we could tell if they had changed them during the day – my thinking was that if the same morning Stick and Stays came back at the end of the day but they were still sticky, we’d know that they hadn’t removed T’s hearing aids during nap time. (Yep. I’m basically the bumbling Hercule Poirot of baby hearing aids). As a result of my detective work, we were relieved and happy to find out that they were changing the Stick and Stays (just as we’d instructed!). I also happened to pop in at nap time one day and saw T napping without his hearing aids on, and I started to relax at this point (about the hearing aids. I’m still pretty tightly wound about lots of other stuff).
I realize that this post doesn’t really have any advice if you are thinking about whether or not to put your hearing-aid wearing baby in daycare or about how to ease that transition, and I’m not sure what advice I have on that front. We really liked the daycare when we visited (before we knew about T’s hearing loss), and we felt really comfortable with the idea of him being there. I wish I had more advice to give, but I hope our positive experience is helpful to read about!