Ear protection for kids

Just weeks after Aron and I went to a Morrissey concert—where we realized we wished we had brought those nerdy, safety ear plugs for music venues (because 1. our ears were ringing on the bike ride home, and 2. we’re getting older and nerdier)—a New York Times article on the growing problem of hearing loss made the “most-emailed list.” The article, “What Causes Hearing Loss,” is a scary, cautionary tale about what everyday noise can do to your hearing. (There was actually a really fascinating, equally scary earlier article about decibel levels in bars and restaurants and exercise classes in New York City.)

My cousin is an audiologist (audiology is the study of hearing), and Aron and I immediately bought ourselves those concert earplugs after talking to her—only we forgot to bring them along.

I wanted to learn, however, more about ways we might protect Hudson’s hearing. I spotted a photo of her and her six-month-old son on Facebook, headed to the circus. He was sporting the hearing protection earmuffs for kids by Peltor that are pictured on Hudson.

 The tight-fitting mufflers were designed to protect infants while mom or dad is hunting or shooting(!), a parent-infant activity which seems crazy to me, but hey, it’s our gain!

I also asked her how to tell when something or some place is too loud: “As a rule of thumb, if you are having to shout to hold a conversation the noise level is too loud.” She added, however, that both the decibel level and the duration of exposure are relevant. “This is why iPods can be concerning because in the good ole’ days you ran out of batteries with your walkman before hitting the maximum length of time for safe listening. Now it is so common to see kids using iPods for hours upon hours at loud levels.” (You can download software and set a volume limit). Here’s a link with more information about safe loudness levels.

We obviously can’t make him wear his headphones everywhere (even if I might try to make him wear them into Abercrombie as a teenager), but they have come in handy: like when he was really little and frightened of the sound of the vacuum or for watching fireworks over the Hudson river on the Fourth of July.

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