Expecting parents: What you need to know about sound and babies

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Photo by Steven Pisano
Photo by Steven Pisano

When you’re preparing a baby, the typical things you think about buying are a crib, toys, and diapers. As a mom who’s worked in the entertainment industry for over 15 years, here’s some advice about things you probably haven’t thought of.

You don’t have to stop going to loud places with a baby – but get hearing protection if you do.

Baby Banz
Baby Banz

If you want to go to a concert, a loud restaurant, or fireworks show don’t be afraid to bring your baby! Places that are active give a baby a lot to look at and listen to. But, get them a pair of earmuffs (like Baby Banz). Babies look adorable in earmuffs anyhow and it’ll cut the noise to a safe level for them.

But, babies are more prone to hearing damage than adultsIt’ll be too loud for a baby before it’s too loud for you. You can also learn how to measure sound using an app on your phone so you can tell if you’re in a sound danger zone.

Noise machines may help a baby sleep – as long as it’s not too loud.

HoMedics White Noise Sound Machine
HoMedics White Noise Sound Machine

I have a whole article on noise machines but the main thing to know is if it’s too loud, it can actually disrupt a baby’s sleep. A safe volume should sound like a light shower.

The idea of a noise machine is to “mask” other sounds that could wake up a baby – sounds like someone walking or talking right outside their room. It doesn’t take much for it to be effective.

Some babies will sleep through any sounds and other babies won’t.

I’ll never forget visiting a friend (who also worked in the audio industry) – His newborn was completely crashed on his chest while he was playing a video game, listening to rock music, and talking to me at normal volume. I thought all babies needed calm, total quiet, and dark to sleep! It just depends on the baby (and their temperament). Some babies can sleep through anything and others have to be in their own crib in the dark and silence.

It takes time to figure out your baby’s noise tolerance during sleep. My son was (and still is!) a light sleeper when drowsy but he could sleep through a fireworks show once he was asleep. We can adapt to noise, too – just look at children who share a room or have an active older sibling who doesn’t nap at the same time.

Don’t forget your own ear protection

Hearing damage doesn’t happen with age – it happens with being exposed to loud sounds for too long. So, we have to protect our hearing the same way we protect our eyes from the sun.

Check out my posts on sound and pregnancy plus a lot more on babies and sound.