Babies and toddlers have vulnerable ears. Both ears and hearing develop substantially in the first years of life, therefore it is essential to protect young children from loud noises.
The problem is that our babies are exposed to loud noises on a daily basis. Often, parents are not even aware of what a loud noise can be. The problem is that our ignorance can result in a permanent hearing damage for the little ones.
A series of studies and research conducted in various countries of the world support this affirmation. For instance, a research conducted in Germany shows that one in eight children suffers from permanent hearing damage caused by the exposure to loud environmental noises.
Moreover, more and more pediatricians raise a warning signal about the increasing number of babies that present forms of hearing damage.
The worst part is that damaged hearing is rarely reversible. Moreover, exposure to loud noises can cause a number of different conditions in young children, including stress, nervousness, and lack of concentration.
At this point, the main question that arises is how to protect our babies from noise. As it is easy to imagine, the easiest way to protect the hearing of your child is by avoiding the exposure to loud noises. However, this is not always possible.
In this case, it is important to invest in quality hearing protectors. There are various types of hearing protectors available, but for a matter of convenience, baby earmuffs are probably the best for infants and toddlers.
Let’s find out more about the causes of the hearing loss in young children, then find out how to choose baby earmuffs that actually do their job.
MAIN CAUSES OF HEARING LOSS IN YOUNG CHILDREN
If your baby was born with a perfect hearing, you might be wondering what can damage it. There are various medical conditions that can have that outcome, but in this article, we want to focus on the hearing loss in otherwise healthy kids.
The main causes of the hearing loss in infants and toddlers are the environmental factors. Babies are exposed to sounds every day, and although many young children are accustomed to sounds, their fragile and developing ears can barely support loud frequencies.
Examples of loud sounds vary widely. Sirens, car horns, bike bells, are only a few examples of items that produce loud sounds. Loud can also be defined the sound made by a large crowd of people. Even more dangerous is the sound of numerous household objects.
A baby’s hearing can be damaged by the sound of the vacuum cleaner, by a too loud TV or radio, by the sound of kitchen appliances or outdoor power tools.
Besides all this, electronic educational toys can be harmful too. Often, parents believe that toys are safe for their babies, yet studies show that some toys can reach level noises over 100 decibels. A sound that loud can produce irreversible damage, this is why you should always check the sound level of each toy before handing it to the baby.
From a medical point of view, the scientists consider that a sound of 80 decibels is harmful to a young child when the subject is exposed to it for more than eight hours. The time diminishes to four hours in the case of 83 decibels, while sounds above 110 decibels are considered to cause immediate damage.
Most electric tools and kitchen equipment can easily exceed the threshold and some carnival noises, such as fireworks, can even reach 150 decibels.
WHEN ARE BABY EARMUFFS NEEDED?
With so many loud sounds surrounding you and your baby every day, you might now be wondering if your baby has to wear baby earmuffs all day long. There is no need to exaggerate, but sometimes it might be wiser to put them on your baby’s ears.
If you’re now worried about electronic toys, you should know that most manufacturers equip their products with buttons or switches that allow you to set the intensity level of the sound. Thanks to this feature, you can simply set the sound level to a minimum to prevent damaging your baby’s hearing. Ear protection will probably be unnecessary in this case.
However, some situations require the use of baby earmuffs. You should use them:
- When cleaning the house or the lawn. Both the vacuum cleaner and the lawn mower make loud sounds that can damage the hearing of your child. Consider using ear protection for your baby in other circumstances too, for example, if you have to use loud appliances or tools.
- When attending events with your baby. Events include going to concerts, festivals, parades, sports events, or even the New Year’s Eve party. In this case, you should also consider using protection for yourself not only for your child.
HOW TO CHOOSE BABY EARMUFFS
On the market, there are various types of hearing protectors for babies but baby earmuffs are probably the most comfortable to use. Knowing how to choose them is very important because those that don’t comply with minimum requirements will not be able to provide sufficient protection.
When choosing the baby earmuffs you should consider:
- Noise Reduction Rating: this is the most important parameter to consider. Noise Reduction Rating factor is often abbreviated to NRR and manufacturers must write it on the product’s package. This factor determines the amount of protection a certain pair of earmuffs can provide, and you should aim to choose the muffs with the highest level of protection.
- Muffs size: another thing to pay attention to is the size of the ear cup. This component of the muffs should cover the ear of your child completely. Ideally, the edges of the ear cup should be padded with a thick border able to block the sound completely.
- Fit: always try the earmuffs on your baby before buying them. If they are too loose, they will not block the sound efficiently. On the contrary, if they are too tight they will be uncomfortable and your baby might refuse to wear them. If your toddler wears eyeglasses, make sure that the earmuffs are able to seal the ears properly without being too tight.
- Design: if you think the design is not important then you probably never dealt with a fuzzy toddler before. Trust me, if your child will not like the accessory he or she will probably never wear it with pleasure. Not to mention that some toddlers actually refuse wearing stuff they don’t like. Make sure you choose the earmuffs in the favorite color of your baby or that they are decorated with his favorite characters.
HOW DO BABIES BENEFIT FROM WEARING EARMUFFS?
The fact that wearing baby earmuffs helps young children protect their hearing should be clear by now. However, baby earmuffs have many other benefits. Here are some of them:
- Reduction of noise-related stress: loud or constant noises can not only damage the hearing but they also produce stress in babies and young children. Baby earmuffs can help children fight this stress by providing them a loop of peace. In fact, it is enough to put the earmuffs on your baby to help him filter out all unpleasant sounds.
- Increase attention: background or environmental noises can often distract a child. The problem is even more evident if your baby suffers from any auditory processing issues. If this is the case, a pair of earmuffs can help your little one increase the attention, by simply reducing the environmental sounds. This is particularly important as it can help the baby improve his learning skills.
- Sensory breaks: nowadays, babies are exposed to impressive amounts of sounds. From electronic learning toys to appliances, tools, and vehicles, our offspring live in a really noisy world. This type of sensorial stimulation can be harmful, especially for babies suffering from autism. Baby earmuffs can provide a break from stimulation which is great for these babies.
- Calming effect: some babies show signs of nervousness when exposed to unfamiliar sounds. For this reason, it might be handy to have a pair of baby earmuffs at hand regardless of where you go. Being able to improve the comfort of your child in new environments might be priceless for both of you.
Baby earmuffs are essential for many reasons. They can protect the developing hear of your child and provide comfort in many situations. This doesn’t mean that your child will accept earmuffs from the start.
To make your baby wear earmuffs you should introduce them gradually, one step at a time. Moreover, if your toddler already began to express personal preferences, involve him in the choice of the earmuffs, allowing him to choose the design he likes best.
Last but not least, remember that wearing earmuffs should be perceived as a game by your baby. Make him feel comfortable about it and you’ll see that your little one will want to wear the hearing protection in all circumstances.