When and Why Should My Child Wear Ear Protection?

wearing-ear-protectionWe do everything we can to protect our children and teach them good, healthy habits. Our repertoire includes “put on sunscreen”, “wear a helmet”, “buckle your seatbelt”, “go to bed early”, “brush your teeth”. But there is one area that many parents overlook: ears.

Why is child ear protection important?

Five in six children will experience an ear infection by the time they are 3 years old. What people underestimate is that ear infections can quickly lead to hearing loss. According to Niskar’s “Prevalence of Hearing Loss Among Children”, early onset deafness affects 4-11 per 10,000 children, with half of those cases caused by external, environmental causes.

Hearing loss in children damages their ability to socialize, understand the world around them, develop speech, and succeed in school. This can detrimentally stunt their growth in the long term. So how can you prevent this from happening to your child? Ear protection and ear care are the way forward.

When should your child wear earplugs or earmuffs?

Your child should wear ear protection whenever you would — and more. Their ears are sensitive and their eardrums are still developing, so extra care must be taken. Ear protection should be used when:

  • Flying: Choose earplugs of earmuffs to help protect your child’s ears from pain, discomfort, and any potential barotrauma from the change in altitude and pressure.
  • Swimming: Earplugs will prevent water and bacteria from entering the ears, getting trapped, and causing infections or skin damage.
  • Playing with loud toys: Loud toys can damage the eardrum if they are held too close. If your child has a favorite toy that makes a lot of noise, earplugs or earmuffs can help them enjoy it without worry of damage.
  • Sleeping: Using safe earplugs while sleeping will help your child sleep through the night, which leads to overall wellbeing, health, and growth. (And it helps you get more done around the house too. Maybe not vacuuming, but at least holding a conversation above a whisper.)

Choosing the best possible ear protection for kids and babies is important. Here are the factors you should take into consideration:

  1. the Noise Reduction Rating;
  2. the size;
  3. the material;
  4. the cleanliness;
  5. the durability.

You want to choose a comfortable and safe option for your child not only to save their developing ears, but also to teach them the importance of ear protection as they grow older. Just as it is second nature to strap on your seatbelt when you get in the car or to brush your teeth before bedtime, it should be equally engrained to use earplugs in noisy environments or when the ear is subject to bacteria or fluid.

If your child has any of the following symptoms, consult a doctor for ear health:

  • Inattentiveness or seeming to ignore your voice
  • Asking you to speak louder
  • Misunderstanding words or slow to put conclusions together
  • Unexplained irritability
  • Pulling, scratching, or cupping ears
  • Rubbing upper jaw