Little ears are still developing during the baby and toddler stage. When your little ones are exposed to loud noises, lasting to permanent damage can occur. Sadly, current research shows that one out of eight children has suffered harm to his or her hearing. Medical professionals in the ears, nose and throat field have noticed an increase in young patients who have already experienced hearing damage.
The best way to avoid hearing damage is to avoid loud noises, but this isn't always possible. As the parent of small children, you must recognize the importance of protecting your children's hearing. To that end, you should understand when to use ear protection devices and how to choose the most appropriate one for your youngster.
Children are surrounded by noise everywhere they go. At home, the radio and television may be set to loud volumes; the vacuum, kitchen appliances and yard tools all make a lot of noise. Outside the home, there are cars in the street, sirens, construction equipment, crowds and local events. There's often a lot of very loud music and other types of noise at family events. Your little ones' ears are often exposed to high levels of noise for long periods of time. It's fairly easy to recognize the need for ear protection in these situations, but did you know the danger of hearing loss is usually closer to home?
Studies have shown that many toys produce sounds at decibels levels sufficient to cause damage. For example, the hum of your lawnmower occurs at 90 decibels (dB), which is likely to cause damage after long periods of time. When children hold toys close to their ears, they experience sounds louder than 100 dB. Those innocuous-seeming squeaky bath toys can actually produce noise levels as loud as 120 dB when held close to the ears. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), you can cover the toy's speaker with duct tape to muffle the volume to some degree.
When your neighborhood, child care and home environments are exposed to high levels of noise, your child could quickly experience hearing damage. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) advises parents that a 100 dB sound can cause hearing damage after more than 15 minutes of exposure. That's only a brief period of time, but some toys and environmental sounds can cause damage within seconds.
Once you're aware of the risks, you'll want to take steps to limit the noise exposure your children experience. However, it isn't always possible to remove unwanted sounds. Instead, you can invest in some of the best baby ear protection devices on the market. Before you make a purchase, take a look at some of the most commonly asked questions.
ASHA recommends that everyone use earplugs or noise-muffling devices when the noise level is greater than 91 dB. However, dangerous levels of noise are potentially more harmful to the ears of little ones. If the previous facts aren't enough to convince you, watch for celebrity baby ears, including the daughter of the Philadelphia Eagles' quarterback, the son of Olympian Michael Phelps and the children of Kate Middleton. Those stars have spent lots of time in noisy crowds, and they appear to make sure to keep their kids’ ear safe.
There are a couple of conditions that baby headphones should satisfy. Naturally, they should be safe for infants and toddlers to wear. This means tangle-free cords and no small parts. Wireless earbuds are also a no-go. These don't fit the small shape of little ears, and they are small enough to be a choking hazard. Next, the headphones should actually cancel out noise; a cheap set of earmuffs may be cute, but they won't provide the protection your child needs.
According to the Minnesota Department of Education, you should protect your little one's ears whenever noise is so loud that you have to raise your voice to communicate, or in an environment in which you struggle to hear someone standing about three feet away. There's also an app produced by NIOSH that does real-time noise level testing.
Parents of children with autism and sensory or auditory processing issues could also consider purchasing these headphones. The amount of noise in traditional settings, such as noisy classrooms, could be disruptive to your child's ability to learn. The headphones can also be used to help babies who are easily disturbed by noise.
Noise-cancelling headphones emit an inverted phase sound wave that cancels out the original sound. The outgoing wave basically combines with the external sound waves to complete what scientists call "phase cancellation."
These protective devices do not emit radiation and don't pose any of the potential hazards often associated with holding noise-making devices next to the ears.
As concerned parents ourselves, we considered many factors to choose the best baby ear protection devices. We considered the science behind the design, as well as professional and consumer reviews. We looked at the quality to cost ratio.
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The Baby Banz family of headphones for babies, toddlers and children are a consistent favorite with reviewers and previous customers.
Directly from the Baby Banz website, from Amazon or from your favorite baby supply retailers
Covers breakage due to defects for 12 months from the date of the purchase
Whether you choose the infant version or the size better suited for toddlers, you're getting a consistent winner with these ear protection headphones.
Directly from EMs for Kids, from your favorite online retailer and some baby supply stores
Return policy within 14 days for purchase for full refund, not including shipping. Contact [email protected] for more information
These sleek silver ear muffs are great for those events at home and in public that might disturb your little one.
You'll easily find these online through popular retail sites, though it may be harder to find them in physical store locations
Contact Alpine Muffy for a full refund if you aren't satisfied
These hearing protection earmuffs are most appropriate for children as young as 6 months and can be adjusted to fit adults.
You'll find these online through multiple retailers and you may be able to find them in areas hosting Monster Jam shows and similar events.
Contact seller directly
This kid-sized set of safety ear muffs is available in a couple of colors and sizes for kids who want to enjoy car shows, fireworks and concerts without lasting hearing damage.
You may not be able to find these on the 3M Peltor earmuff site, but they are readily available through popular online and hometown retailers
Warranty information is unavailable
You'll pay more for the cute designs and high level of protection, but these noise-canceling headphones get high reviews from previous customers.
Look for these headphones on Amazon.
No refunds under any circumstances
Look for these online. They may be available at local retailers
Double lifetime warranty with no questions asked
Ultimately, our favorite was the Baby Banz model of little headphones. Among the contenders, the Baby Banz products have a very good noise reduction rating and the company makes them in several sizes for very young babies to older children. The company is very open about its products and philosophy. It was easy to gather information and find lots of reviews for the Baby Banz products. The headphones are affordable and are readily available.
When you're ready to buy the best baby ear protection, it's a good idea to do some research into the available products. If you don't have the time or inclination to spend the time and money to try out a variety of baby headphones, turn to our review. You'll find that many happy customers have enjoyed the use of Baby Banz noise-cancelling headphones for the protection of their little ones' hearing.
* NRR and SNR ratings are basically the same. NRR ratings are assigned by clinical evaluations approved by OSHA and the EPA. SNR, or single number rating, is a system used in the European Union. The number indicates the level of noise reduction the headphones provide. For example, at a basketball game where the noise level is 110 dB, headphones with an NRR or SNR rating of 30 will bring the noise level down to 80 dB.
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