The world is filled with sounds, with noise. Sounds can inform us but too much can harm us – damage our hearing or overstimulate us. And it isn’t just adults. Babies also need safe sounds. They need the appropriate sounds. They need adults to control the volume.
As I write this post the lyrics to “Sounds All Around Us” (available from MusicK-8) are running through my head..
“…Sounds all around us. Sounds everywhere. Sounds all around us filling up all the air…”
Most of us live in a noisy world. The birds, a car driving by, the wind, music, … sirens, thunder, alarms…. Which sounds are important? When are they important? Which ones do I need to notice? Which ones are just background noise? Some sounds especially at loud volume levels can damage hearing. In fact, there are more teens demonstrating hearing loss most likely as a result of listening to loud music on head phones.earbuds.
Infants are exposed to sounds in utero to muffled – moms heartbeat, the sounds of mom’s digestive track, sounds from the environment. When they are born needing to increase tolerance for sounds and to develop decoding skills for the sounds they hear.
Pay attention to your child and how they respond to sounds. If they frequently demonstrate a startle response, consider a need for a quieter and more predictable sound environment. Be aware of the sound level of infant and toddler toys. Some can be very loud (120 decibels = jet engine) which can with repeated exposure damage hearing.
Look at your child when you speak and sing to them. Help them connect sounds to a source. Demonstrate the emotion of your voice with facial expression. A normal conversation is usually around 60 decibels and is a safe volume.
Play a variety of music at appropriate volume levels for your child. While in general, children demonstrate a preference for simple songs with repetitive words (children’s songs), they can like and process other music. (For more information please read: Walworth, Darcy (2012) Music Preferences of Young Children, Imagine 3(1),46-47. )
Take some time this month (which happens to be Baby Safety Month) to consider the sounds that surround you and your baby. You can learn more at The Children’s Hearing Institute. And remember to speak with your child’s physician if you suspect a hearing loss or think your child is overly sensitive to sound.