How Do Deaf Parents Hear Their Baby Cry?

Deaf parents hear their baby cry
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Deaf parents, myself included, get asked this question, “How do deaf parents hear their baby cry?” all the time.

To my surprise, it is also so common that it shows up in Google search suggestions when you type, “How do deaf parents…”

The very first search suggestion is how do deaf parents hear a baby cry.

How do deaf parents hear their baby cry

If I type in, “How do parents…” It shows filing taxes, monitoring kids’ screen time and such. That is a vast difference between deaf parents and typical parents. I was surprised because I assumed that the Google search suggestions would include communication between deaf parents and their children or how deaf parents’ children learn to speak. Nope, it is all about hearing babies cry.

So, I am here to educate you on how do deaf parents hear their baby cry.

Deaf parents hear their baby cry

Photo via VisualHunt

My answer for you is no, deaf people do not hear babies cry. Well… let me explain. “Hear” is the inaccurate term to use, because deaf parents do not HEAR their baby cry. They utilize their other senses such as sight and touch. If you prefer to lick your baby to see if the baby is crying, I wouldn’t judge you… Actually, I probably would.

Back in the old days, deaf parents did not have many choices. They were limited in what they could do. They co-slept with their babies. I have heard of some deaf parents tying a string around their wrist to the baby’s wrist. If the baby moved, the deaf parent will wake up knowing that the baby is either moving or crying. Some deaf parents put their arm or leg near the baby in the crib.

Some would have a trained hearing dog that would alert them of the baby crying. My dogs are unquestionably not helpful in this situation. They will just walk out of the room and sleep elsewhere leaving me unaware of the baby crying.

Even though their choices were limited, the deaf parents survived the late nights and their babies thrived.

So, what are deaf parents’ choices in the modern world, you ask?

We live in a society where the technology is taking over our lives in one way or another. Today in the modern world, deaf parents have abundance choices to help with “hearing” their baby cry.

We have baby monitors, smartphones, flashing lights, and simply using our EYES. We use the same things that deaf parents in the old days used such as the mirrors and hearing dogs.

Photo credit: rafaelsoares via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-SA

The baby monitors are popular in the deaf community just like for hearing parents. A baby monitor is a device that can be clipped into your clothes, set on a table, or installed on the wall.

There are various kinds of baby monitors. There are audio baby monitors, vibrating baby monitors, video baby monitors, and some that can do all the above. Most deaf parents prefer to use a vibrating monitor and/or a camera baby monitor. In the deaf community, there is also a baby monitor that can be connected to their vibrating alarm clock which will vibrate the bed when deaf parents are sleeping.

There are even apps on smartphones and ways you can use a smartphone that can alert you of the crying baby like this. If I need to go in another room and don’t want to take my baby along, I will be able to see her through FaceTime (free) with an iPad facing her and me using my iPhone.

Many deaf people rely on the flashing lights to alert them of the fire alarm, a phone call, the doorbell, and many other sounds.

So, of course, it is a no-brainer that there would be flashing lights to alert them of the crying baby.

Apart from the technology equipment, there are also the mirrors. The mirrors are perfect for the car rides or in places that you couldn’t really see your baby’s face.

Deaf parents still have the ability to obtain a hearing dog to assist with alerting them to the baby’s crying. However, the hearing dogs are expensive. There is a wide range of hearing dog costs from $0 (donation-based) to more than $30k, so it is not always the ideal option you would utilize. Some deaf parents get lucky with their regular dog taking on that responsibility naturally while other dogs are simply lazy just like mine.

How do Deaf parents hear their baby cry?The best and easy way to know that their baby is crying is simply using their eyes. When babies cry, they don’t just make a crying sound. They show it by screaming, having a scrunched up red face, having crocodile tears on its face, moving its legs and arms, etc. I rely on my eyes for the majority of the time except for when I am sleeping or when the baby is napping in another room.

For some hearing parents, they are able to decode the different cries from their baby such as a hunger cry, a tiredness cry, a pain cry, and a frustrated cry. It is the same for deaf parents but in a different way.

The parents are the experts of their own babies. They don’t need to only hear the cry to know what their baby needs.

Through her movements and her face, I could tell whether my daughter is hungry, tired, in pain, overstimulated or annoyed.

How do deaf parents hear their baby cry? They don’t “hear” their baby cry, they see and feel their baby cry! Click To Tweet

Deaf Parents hear their baby cry


If you would like to know what products I would recommend gifting a new deaf parent to make his/her life easier with a baby, please check this post out!

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19 Discussion to this post

  1. candy says:

    My husband grandmother slept with one are in the crib by the bed so she could tell when the baby was awake during the night. She raised 11 children who were all hearing. They all learned sign language and there were no problems. Wonderful to know technology has helped in so many ways.

  2. Casey says:

    Thanks so much for sharing! I’d never actually stopped to think about how a deaf parent would hear their child crying – such an informative post:)

  3. Great question, and great insights. I’m not a parent but it’s great to learn more about how you are able to “hear” your kids crying. Obviously that’s during their baby years but I know a few deaf folks who have brought up their concerns about being alert with regards to their baby. Thanks for sharing with us.

  4. This was so interesting to read! The part about the dogs made me laugh because our dog did the same thing after about a week of the baby crying. At first he was very nervous when she cried. Then he just gave up and walked away to find peace and quiet.

  5. This was an interesting read! I’ve never thought about that, but it was interesting to read about the different tools that can be used and the way that parents have kept watch on their children over the years.

  6. This isn’t something I’ve ever thought about but thank you for sharing! I appreciate your candor in educating the rest of us! 🙂

  7. Hanna says:

    This is so interesting! I never knew of all the ways that you have to “hear” your baby cry besides hearing them! This is great information!

  8. Sharon says:

    Wow this is one of those things I take for granted. But I am glad that technology has advanced enough to provide support to you in these tough situations

  9. Kathy says:

    This was such an information filled post. I imagine all parents can sense their babies crying, even if they cannot be “heard.” Thank you for sharing.

  10. Renee says:

    Thanks for sharing this. My 15 year old daughter has unilateral hearing loss, so I am always interested in learning more about the deaf community.

  11. Kate says:

    This was a very interesting read, and something I haven’t thought about (which reminds me of the privilege I don’t even pay attention to). Thank you so much for sharing!

  12. Shann Eva says:

    Such great information! I actually never thought about it before, but you explained it very well. The vibrating monitor sounds like a great option. I also had no idea that hearing dogs could cost up to 30K. That’s crazy!

  13. Jamie says:

    I found this post to be fascinating! Isn’t it wonderful that we live in an age with such innovations? I love the vibrating monitor–that probably would be a great thing for all parents to have.

  14. Maya says:

    Wow such great insight! I never thought about this!

  15. Roxy says:

    This was so interesting. I’d never given the topic much thought but as soon a second I read the title I had to know. All of these options totally make sense. It’s great that companies are designing products with all parents in mind!

  16. Roxy says:

    This is so insightful. I’ve never thought much about it, but the second I read the title I had to know more! I’m glad to hear baby product companies are making products with ALL parents in mind.

  17. Rebecca Bentley says:

    I have a question. I’m a heavy sleeper and what if a vibrating alarm doesnt wake me up when I hear my baby crying? I’m just trying to get prepared before I have a baby in the near future please give me some good advice in that.


    • Elizabeth says:

      I suggest you place the vibrating equipment inside your pillowcase right below your head instead of under the bed. My partner is a heavy sleeper and this would wake him up. The vibrating alarm will vibrate continuously when there is a constant noise such as a crying baby. What about flashing lights? Would that wake you up?

    • Elizabeth says:

      Just wanted to add that it would be best to have the vibrating alarm set up all ready to go before you have the baby. Test it out to see which would work best. Some mattresses with the foundations would vibrate strongly while others aren’t as noticeable. With my previous mattress, the whole bed will vibrate really well. With my current mattress, inside the pillowcase works the best. I hope this helps!

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