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 for a baby, the typical things you think to buy (and that are on registry lists) are things like a crib, toys, diapers and the like. If there’s one thing any mom can tell you is that even if you buy everything you can think of for a baby you’ll still end up making an emergency trip (or overnight Amazon order) for some random item you never knew you needed, wanted, or even had heard of.

As a mom who’s worked in sound for the entertainment industry for over 15 years, I probably have a different perspective than most. I can give you a few pieces of advice that hopefully can help you when your baby comes along. I’ve got a few posts about sound and pregnancy plus a lot more on babies and sound.

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 (if you want a better idea 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 post on noise machines but the main thing to know is if it’s too loud, it can actually disrupt their 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 a lot 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’s 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 will not sleep unless they are 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 super light sleeper when he was drowsy but 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 if a baby has an active older sibling who doesn’t nap at the same time.

Don’t forget your own ear protection

Listening to tv, movies and music (at home and in public) can be loud. 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. We all want to hear our kids (and grandkids someday!)

Best of luck and if you have any questions about pregnancy and sound please contact me!

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