Babies and loud noise

What is a safe level of noise to expose a baby to?

When your baby is crying in the middle of the night and the rest of the world is quiet, it seems like his little ears can take any amount of loud noise! However, young ears are delicate and deserve respect.

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For adults even, the recommended safe noise level is around 90 decibels (a baby’s scream can be above 110!) and a good gauge of a safe level at which to listen, say, to music would be: can you hear someone talking over it? If not, the chances are it is too loud.
Babies and small children are more sensitive to high pitch sounds and you should try to be aware of this as much as possible. Whilst it is not neccessary to carry your child around wrapped in cotton wool, do bear in mind the length of time a child will be exposed to noise, as well as its volume. Duration of exposure can be a factor in short- and long-term damage.

Parents do take their children to rock concerts occasionally, but the length of time they are there and their proximity to loud speakers should be a concern. It is possible to buy small ear muffs (ear plugs are not advisable for small children as you should not put anything into their ear), but make sure the muffs are not putting too much pressure on your baby’s head. A hat that is thick and comes down over their ears might be a good idea.

Lastly, let your own baby be your guide. When a baby is asleep, a new parent will soon realise there is no need to creep about the house as if a pin dropping is going to wake up their child. It is true that the ‘white noise’ roar they heard inside their mother’s body will have seemed loud at the time, and that some babies are soothed by the hum of the spin dryer or the buzz of a vacuum cleaner, but do be aware of prolonged noises and the level at which you have your television, radio or stereo on.

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Ultimately, however, if a baby is in a room when a noise if uncomfortably loud, he will soon let you know he is unhappy – with another bout of his own noisy crying!

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