If you have a newborn in the family, here’s what you need to know about Little One’s ears and fireworks.
Every detail of your family’s Fourth has been planned to a “T,” from the neighborhood barbecue to staking out the perfect spot to watch fireworks. But there’s one more thing to do: Grab Baby’s hearing protection.
While the iconic booms and pops of fireworks come with a thrill, they also put hearing at risk — especially for little ones. From what’s too loud to where to sit and what to do, here’s what you need to know to help keep your family’s hearing healthy this Independence Day and those to come.
Most adults think that because it doesn’t bother their hearing, it won’t bother Baby’s. This isn’t necessarily true — babies hear differently than adults. Loud sounds could potentially damage infants’ hearing and hinder auditory development.
“Babies have a different way of listening to the world,” says Lynne Werner, professor of speech and hearing science at the University of Washington, in the May edition of The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. “In real life, we are confronted with a variety of sounds. Somehow the adult brain takes all sounds we hear and separates them into where they are coming from, then focuses on the one we want to hear. Adults usually hear in a narrow band of sound, while babies seem to use a different approach. They don’t have the selective attention of adults, and they don’t pay attention all of the time. Instead they always seem to be listening broadband or to all frequencies simultaneously.”
What You Can Do
Shelter Your Ears
Hearing protection — such as earplugs, headphones, or earmuffs — helps soften loud sounds, reducing harmful noise exposure. A good pair of earmuffs will be lightweight, durable, and adjustable. You know Little One’s habits better than we do, but we’re guessing they’ll want to take them off at first until they hear the benefits themselves. We love these because not only can they be worn to other loud events, they can also be worn on planes, and they can help children conk out during festivities if needed.
Keep Your Distance
When it comes to live events, most everyone wants to be right where the action is, but staying a good distance from the show’s speakers or fireworks can go a long way toward protecting your and your loved ones’ hearing.
Limit Your Exposure
Permanent hearing loss can occur even from a single exposure to loud noise, one of the most preventable causes of impairment. Take a short break from the festivities, or consider leaving a little early to give ears a helpful rest.
Have a Happy Fourth
Hearing plays a critical role in a child’s cognitive, social, and emotional development; a child with a hearing loss can face serious delays in speech and language processing and understanding. Early detection and intervention can minimize the negative impacts that hearing loss can have on a child and prevent developmental difficulties that stretch into adulthood. To identify children with hearing loss, and to provide intervention before the age of 6 months, each state has established an Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) program.