This section is from the "The Young Mother. Management of Children in Regard to Health" book, by William A. Alcott. Also available from Amazon: The Young Mother
The suggestion, in another place, to keep away caps from the child's head, if duly attended to, is one means of perfecting, or at least of preserving, the sense of hearing. For caps, by the heat they produce to a part which cannot safely endure an increase of temperature, greatly expose children to catarrhal affections; and many a catarrh has laid the foundation for dulness of hearing, if not of actual deafness.
The ears should be kept clean. If washed sufficiently often, and syringed once a week with warm milk and water, or with very weak soap-suds, gently warmed, the cerumen or ear wax will hardly be found accumulated in such masses as to produce deafness. And yet such accumulations, with such consequences, are by no means uncommon. It is not long since a young man with whom I am acquainted, applied to an eminent surgeon of Boston, on account of deafness in one ear, which had become quite troublesome, and as it was feared, incurable. Syringing with a large and strong syringe disengaged a large mass of cerumen, and hearing was immediately restored.
Children should be taught to distinguish sounds with closed eyes, or blindfolded. We may strike on various objects, and ask them to tell what we struck, &c. This will lead them to observe sounds; and will perfect their hearing in a remarkable degree.
There are also advantages to be derived from accustoming a child to a great variety of sounds; both as regards their strength and character. But this must only be occasional; for if the ear be constantly accustomed to sounds of any kind, and more especially those which are harsh or loud, the organ of hearing is liable to sustain injury. Music, as it is now beginning to be taught to children in our schools, will do much, I think, to improve the faculty of hearing.