Protecting your child’s hearing is crucial and achievable without much interference in their daily life. Here’s a list of actionable tips from the NIDCD to help avoid damage to your child’s ears:

  • Turn Down the Volume Lower the volume on devices, like TVs, music players, and especially headphones. High volume levels can lead to noise-induced hearing loss over time, and now more smartphones have volume parameters parents can set to keep their children from damaging their ears.
  • Maintain a Safe Distance Avoid sitting or standing directly in front of speakers at events and concerts. The closer you are to the source of loud noise, the greater the risk.
  • Use Earplugs While Swimming Wearing earplugs can help prevent swimmer’s ear.
  • Be Mindful of Your Environment If you have to raise your voice to speak to someone just a few feet away, the noise level is probably too high and could damage your hearing.
  • Get Hearing Tests Regular hearing tests can help monitor any changes in your child’s hearing and catch issues early.
  • Use Personal Hearing Protection When you can’t avoid loud noises, use personal hearing protection, like earplugs or earmuffs.
  • Avoid Inserting Objects Into Ears Never stick anything in your ear, not even for cleaning. This can lead to infections or even perforate the eardrum.
  • Consult a Doctor Promptly If you notice any signs of ear or hearing damage, consult a healthcare provider immediately for diagnosis and treatment.

Note: These tips not only apply to your child but are important for the whole family.

Ear Protection

When safeguarding your child’s hearing, several types of ear protection are available. Here’s a rundown of options to consider:

Ear Plugs and Custom-Fit Ear Plugs

Ear plugs are small devices made to fit directly into the ear canal. They come in various forms, such as formable foam and pre-molded plastic, rubber, or silicone. Custom-fit ear plugs are molded specifically to your child’s ears, offering a more comfortable and effective fit. These are particularly useful for children who need frequent ear protection.

Swimming Ear Plugs/Ear Molds

For children who swim regularly, specialized swimming ear plugs or ear molds can be used to prevent swimmer’s ear. The design of these plugs keeps water out of the ear canal, reducing the risk of infection.

Noise Reduction Headphones/Earmuffs

Noise reduction headphones and earmuffs are often worn by kids at concerts or loud events. Constructed as padded plastic cups connected by a headband, they are easy to use and fit most children’s sizes. They reduce noise by completely covering both ears and are generally more comfortable for extended wear than ear plugs.

Zoë M. Schmitz, AuD, a pediatric audiologist at Rocky Mountain Pediatric ENT Associates, offers advice on hearing health for children. “The best thing a parent can do to protect their child’s hearing is invest in hearing protection. Sporting events, concerns, and even fireworks shows can reach upwards of 115 decibels, which can immediately damage hearing and cause long-term effects. You can purchase hearing protection at many convenience stores or by visiting your local pediatric audiologist to obtain custom hearing protection. Another way to protect your child’s hearing is by monitoring the time spent and the volume of electronic devices. Most devices offer volume limiting capabilities, which allow parents or users to set the maximum volume on their phone or tablet. This can reduce excessive noise exposure and create a safer listening environment when listening to music or phone calls, streaming movies, and during gaming.”

Additional Tips

  • Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) Check the NRR of the ear protection to gauge how much noise they can block out. The higher the NRR, the more noise they can reduce. According to the CDC, you generally want to choose protection with an NRR of at least 30, especially for very loud environments.
  • Comfort and Fit Choose a type of hearing protector your child finds comfortable and easy to use, so they are more likely to wear it consistently.

Bringing Kids to Loud Places

You don’t have to skip out on family outings to protect your child’s hearing. Taking your children to concerts or loud events like monster truck rallies can be a fun experience, but it’s crucial to protect their hearing. Here are some tips to ensure a safe auditory environment for your kids:

  • Prepare Them in Advance Talk to them about what to expect and let them know it will be loud and why it’s essential to protect their ears.
  • Choose the Right Gear Opt for earplugs or noise-reducing earmuffs suitable for children and get them accustomed to wearing them before the event.
  • Pick a Safe Spot Choose a spot away from the speakers — the closer you are to the noise source, the higher the risk of hearing damage.
  • Monitor noise levels If you have to shout to communicate with someone a few feet away, the noise level is too high and could be damaging your hearing.

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