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How Loud is too Loud for a Baby?

For all of you parents out there who are worried about their baby’s health, especially when it comes to the noise, this is rather a common question: How loud is too loud for my baby?

In the world of noise pollution, we are surrounded by the noise anywhere we go. Transportation, parks, even staying in your own home is sometimes too loud, especially if you happen to be living in a big city.

Babies in general are quite sensitive, and so are their ears, so it is of utmost importance to take good care of your infants and their ears, in this matter.

Being unable to take care of its own self, your infant depends solely on you to take care of him/ her and protect him against harmful and loud sounds from all around him. Your purpose, when it comes to this topic, would be to be a guardian against unwanted damage to his/ her delicate ears and hearing.

Therefore, it is highly important to understand the levels of noise that can be harmful and know what they can do.

I am not talking only about the traffic noise, and loud music from the apartment above, toys can be very loud too and damage a baby’s hearing.

Being able to point out the possible dangers, you would be much more efficient at protecting your loved one.

How Loud is too Loud for a Baby?

How Loud is Too Loud for a Baby?

When it comes to the levels of noise that can harm us, they differ when we talk about adults and about infants, naturally.

Therefore, we should pay much more attention to the sounds that hit the little ones and that they are exposed to. Even if we do not mind, they might, but they will probably not tell you that.

Here are some things that you should pay attention to, and some rather simple ideas that can make quite a change in the long run.

Noises during pregnancy

While in a womb, a baby is rather delicate. As you are very well aware of, it is important to keep it out from harmful influences. If not, it can have various problems developing later, once it is born.

However, most mothers-to-be take much more care about what they take into their bodies, but much less to themselves being exposed to harmful influences.

Still, taking something toxic (to the baby), like cigarettes, can be as serious as being exposed to loud noises; and not only because of the stress.

Ears in a fetus normally start to develop around the ​9th week of pregnancy, and by the 28th week, the fetus can hear as good as it will ever be.

Of course, fluids in the womb can make the sound that fetuses hear the sound a bit more like what a person who is slightly under water hears, but you get the point.

This doesn’t mean that you have to sit in an isolated chamber or not listen to the radio, but if the sound starts bothering you, it will probably make some damages to the baby in your stomach too.

Being exposed to loud noises for a short while shouldn’t damage your child either, but you should surely try to avoid staying next to a raging amplifier for longer periods of time.

Sounds that are louder than 100 dB should be avoided at all situations. Once the baby is born, this goes to 80 dB.

Hearing in infants

Infants and toddlers can be more sensitive to loud sounds and hearing damages for many reasons.

One of the most important things to pinpoint when talking about the sensitivity to loud noises in children is the thickness of their skull.

Since babies have thinner skulls than grown-ups do, exposure to sudden, or even worse, prolonged loud noises can seriously harm their inner ear, the part of an ear that is responsible for hearing.

If the damage is made only to one fourth of the cells in the inner ear, hearing loss can be caused.

safe noise levels for babies

Safe noise levels

Safe levels of noise exposure can really vary. The most important factor here is the duration of a child’s exposure to loud noises.

Let’s take for example an adult who is using an old and loud hairdryer. That person can easily damage their hearing over time of constant using of this apparatus. But they can stop when they feel that it is too loud.

However, if you use the same hairdryer on your toddler, it is highly unlikely that it will tell you that they mind the sound of it. And, let’s be honest, even when they do, we tend to ignore it sometimes.

(Looking for a quiet hairdryer? Click here.)

In this case, just go with the general rule that says that sounds that are up to 80 dB will not damage the hearing of your child.

The noises of 80 dB would be something like café chatter or a city traffic jam. A normal conversation is about 60 dB, so there is no need to whisper or anything. Just keep the noises at a normal level.

Loud Toys

Toys for kids can be very loud too, and I do not mean only about mobile phones or toys that a child would use later on in his/ her life. Toys for infants can sometimes have seriously loud noises too.

Most of these toys are meant to entertain a child from afar, but infants can be very curious and hold those toys right next to their ears.

When listened from further distances, the sound of these toys would be around 80 dB, but once the child puts a new shiny toy to their ear, it will be much louder. These toys can produce sounds to up to 120 dB, which is similar to a chain saw being held next to your ear. No need to point out how harmful it can actually be.

Some of these toys are speaking dolls, cars with sirens, musical instruments, and so.

In order to prevent the hearing loss due to these loud toys, try to listen to the toy before you buy it. And if your child really loves it, and you want to treat them, take the batteries out, if the toy is battery-powered.

White Noise Machines

Possible Solution

It is evident that you cannot always calculate everything and protect your child from noises like a sudden car honk or a jackhammer, it is never wrong to be precautions.

Some of the safety- measures here can be purchasing noise-canceling headphones specially designed for babies or earplugs with a special NRR 32 formula that would make these earplugs reduce the sounds you are hearing from your surrounding by 32 decibels.

Of course, there is no need to use these products when you are comfortably sitting at home or when you have guests over as long as the level of sound is on a normal level, or under 80 dB, as I mentioned before. You can also soundproof the baby's room with these techniques.

However, if you are taking your child to a movie theater or some kind of local festival, it would be the best to make them wear those.

On the other hand, if you are concerned that your child has already experienced some serious damage in the matter of the hearing, talk to your child’s doctor who can recommend the testing.

So, How Loud is Too Loud for a Child?

In the light of everything that I previously mentioned, let’s conclude that exposure to loud noises doesn’t only make damages to your child once it is born, but while the mother is still pregnant too.

Good care should be taken of a child after it is born too, but let’s not over exaggerate. A normal conversation or a short stay in a restaurant will not make any serious damages to a baby.

However, if you are intending to spend some time in a festival, buy some of the products that can help in protecting your infant’s inner ear.

Pay extra attention to the toys you give to your baby since they can be rather loud and cause some hearing problems too.

And if you believe that some damage has been already made, do not wait for the child to tell you, take him/ her to the doctor and do some tests.

I hope that parts of this text helped you in figuring out what can harm your little one’s hearing and what to do to protect them.

Remember, they are not going to take care of themselves; you are the guardian angel now.