For children with profound hearing loss in both ears, a cochlear implant often can help the child hear better when hearing aids are not beneficial. The common practices for cochlear implants and children require the child to be of a minimal age of approximately eighteen months, to have no health conditions that would make the surgery risky, and to have the social support to help the child develop speech and learn to hear with the implant.

The minimum age for a child to receive a cochlear implant varies slightly among cochlear implantation programs, however, the common minimum ages are one year, eighteen months, and two years old. Parents should discuss the pros and cons of cochlear implants and any risks associated with the surgery with the physician.

The surgery is only part of the cochlear implantation process. After the surgery, the audiologist finishes connecting the implant and turns it on. The settings of the cochlear implant may need to be adjusted. The child will have therapy to learn to hear.

A child who was born with severe or profound hearing loss needs to learn how to hear and what sounds mean. It may take a great deal of effort and patience on the part of the parent to teach the child how to hear. Eventually, the child may be able to understand sound and learn to speak.

Parents should be aware that cochlear implants are not a quick fix for deafness. In many cases, the child receives therapy to help the child associate sounds with the cause of the sound and to decipher speech. Parents considering cochlear implants for children should have realistic expectations of the process.

The cochlear implant may allow the child to develop speech. Some children adjust to cochlear implants very well and enter mainstream classrooms. Others may struggle with meeting developmental goals in speech comprehension and speaking. It is usually difficult, if not impossible, to predict how a child will respond to cochlear implants. A parent considering cochlear implants for a child may want to talk to parents who have gotten cochlear implants for their children. This can give the parent insight as to what to expect.