Anderson & Madell (2014), only about 10% of children achieve full time hearing aid wear (defined as 12 hours/day) & 40% of children wear their hearing aids 4 hours or less per day!! These numbers make me want to rip my hair out... if the kids aren't wearing their equipment, then they aren't hearing ... and if they aren't hearing then how will they ever to listen & speak? Figuring out how to keep the hearing equipment on little ones is an ongoing struggle and continues to be the #1 discussion that I have with caregivers.
The Anderson & Madell article linked above has some really awesome printable brochures for families that are full of fantastic ideas for how to keep hearing aids on children birth-kindergarten. Their list of retention ideas is also great -- they include parent ratings of different products & lots of detailed information about the development of listening skills from infancy through kindergarten age.
Below, I've compiled my own list of resources for products to help keep hearing aids on young children including commercially produced, handmade & DIY solutions ... in terms of ages, the effectiveness & appropriateness of the solutions listed will vary greatly from child to child - again see Anderson & Madell (2014) for a parent review of effectiveness & suggestions by age group. Now onto my list...
For very young children, one of the first suggestions frequently is a tight fitting 'pilot' cap style hat that covers the ears & hearing equipment and ties securely. This makes it more difficult for babies to pull their hearing aids out... but not impossible! Look for a tight fitting cap made of light weight material & strings long enough to tie securely.
Commercially Available Pilot Caps:
Handmade Pilot Caps:
Cords & Clips
This options is pretty simple -- a cord (i.e. string) of some sort attaches to the child's hearing equipment and then is secured to the child's clothing. If the equipment comes off, it doesn't go far!
Commercially Available Options:
Dental Floss & Safety Pin
Sunglasses Holder & Safety Pin
Headbands for behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid & CI's are specially designed with loops and/or pockets to hold the behind-the-ear portion - that is often too heavy for the tiny ears of an infant or toddler. Look for light weight materials and avoid covering the microphone area of the HA/CI.
Toupee/Wig & Medical Tape
Toupee/wig and medical tape are adhesives that are specially designed for use on the skin - but can potentially be irritating to sensitive skin. Toupee/wig tape (i.e. double sided tape) can be trimmed to size then placed on a BTE hearing aid or CI processor - on the side that rests against the head. Medical tape (i.e. single sided tape) can be placed over the earmold portion of the hearing aid - over the entire outer ear. Used alone, adhesive options are not especially reliable, but are a nice addition to other methods. (affiliate links below for your convenience)
Anderson K, J Madell. Improving hearing and hearing aid retention for infants and young children. Hearing Review. 2014;21(2): 16-20.