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This weekend was a huge football weekend with many families celebrating the big game. Lots of hollers, cheers and even jeers were had!
Sunday morning we attended church. If your service is like mine, there is loud worshipping to be had. Banging drums, electric guitar, booming vocals carry through the sanctuary filling the air with a joyful noise in worship of the Almighty.
Maybe you attended a bigger sporting event. The large crowd talking simultaneously creating lots of background noise. Not to mention the occasional collective outburst of loud reactions to the plays.
Perhaps you just scored tickets for one of your favorite bands touring this year. You’re beyond excited to sing along at the top of your lungs to your favorite songs. All while trying to hear your voice over loud amps and the chorus of the crowd.
What do all these events have in common? Noise. Lots of loud, sometimes ear-piercing noise.
And as adults, we have some tough anatomy. We can stand front row, arms length of the speakers while Green Day belts out Nice Guys Finish Last and only lose some of our hearing for the rest of the evening.
We can attend loud events, filter out the background noise and not be harmed by the periodic peaks in volume.
But that’s not necessarily true of babies.
Now, you might say that babies won’t be attending a lot of these extremely loud events. But I believe that many parents enjoy doing these things with their children, including the wee ones. Additionally, there are many regular life events and even some well-intentioned objects that are quite a bit louder than you might think.
How A Baby’s Hearing Is Effected
Younger babies are still learning to make sense of their environment. They are developing the filter that allows us as adults to focus on specific sounds while tuning out others. So they take in way more noise than we do.
Also, you may have noticed your baby flinches when hearing a loud sudden noise. A lot of babies have a strong startle response and loud noises may trigger it. This can send some babies into a crying fit if the disturbance in the force is strong enough. (Wink, wink… jab, jab… see what I did there?)
And that’s on the lighter end of things.
There can be dangerous, long-lasting effects or even permanent damage when it comes to infants and loud noises.
The skulls of infants are thinner than that of an adult. This causes the sound pressure from loud noises to be amplified much more than that of an adult. So that music you’re blasting in your car may be reverberating painfully in your child’s ears.
In conjunction with this, prolonged exposure to loud noise can cause damage to the skin cells and nerves of the inner ear. This has potential to cause long lasting and even permanent hearing loss. Definitely something you can prevent in most cases.
So What Can You Do To Safeguard Your Baby’s Hearing?
Keep Things Quiet
One of the best things you can do is keep noise level under 80 decibels, which is the threshold for hearing damage to infants depending on exposure. This is the equivalent of the background noise in a restaurant. The rule of thumb is if you can talk over the noise, it’s not too loud.
You can also help quiet things down by creating distance between you and the noisy object or environment.
Be Cautious Of Noisy Toys
Babies love sound stimuli! They enjoy music, rattles, and noises that can entertain them! But be cautious of how loud these toys can be. Some toys can even be as loud as a jet plane taking off!! Pair that with a baby’s tendency to bring the toys up to their face near their ears… and you have cleared the runway for that little jet to ruin their hearing.
This includes this mom’s favorite tool in her arsenal, white noise machines. And I am going to give my full disclosure here. I have broken every rule as of late and now know the error of my ways. We’ve been using a white noise app to get the munchkin to sleep as she’s been feeling bad from a cold and now teething. I’ve also been running that thing loud and playing it all night too close to her head. Well… won’t be doing THAT anymore!!!
Use Ear Protection
Product makers are becoming keen on making sure safety is put first when it comes to these fragile little munchkins. There are a range of various types of ear protection available from preemie all the way up to bigger kids.
Here’s my chunky monkey experiencing the quiet zen of Littles Hearing Protection
For example, Littles Hearing Protection is great for ages 6 months to 12 years. I actually used them for my 3-month old for a brief photo shoot. You can tell she was weirded out from the muffled sound of people talking. But she kept them on like a champ! Until we put the blue ones on… to our dismay, she must prefer pink. I tried so hard to stay away from all things pink! She just may have other ideas on that.
So when it comes to loud play, enjoying a movie or a fun concert with the little munchkin in tow, just be mindful of those precious little ears. Safeguard your baby’s hearing as best as you can! Because your munchkins love hearing the sound of your voice when you whisper I love you to them!
May your munchkins be stylish with their fancy headphones, your white noise apps be just a little quieter and may God bless your journey.