If you think that taking your baby to see fireworks will be a treat, you might be in for an unpleasant surprise. While the exploding shells make beautiful patterns, your baby might be too busy screaming -- with his eyes tightly shut -- to appreciate the sight. While some infants might enjoy the show, be prepared to remove your baby from the fireworks scene if his screams manage to be louder than the fireworks.
What to Expect
Adults and older children anticipate that fireworks come with very loud noises. Children -- and even some adults -- often cover their ears as soon as they see the fireworks shoot up into the air. Babies have no such ability or context to anticipate the imminent noise. Every single big boom catches them unaware, possibly scaring them and often causing an outburst of shrieking at a decibel level possibly higher than that of the fireworks. One way to allow your baby to see the sights without shrieking is to watch from a distance, so that the noise is muffled, if audible at all.
A fireworks display can produce sounds of up to 140 decibels, according to the Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission. Protecting a baby's little ears from really loud sounds isn't easy. Consider buying sound-deadening earmuffs for your baby; a good pair blocks 15 to 30 decibels of sound, says the Commission. Earplugs provide another 15 to 30 decibels of protection, while cotton blocks only around 5 to 7 decibels. A combination of earplugs and earmuffs work best, if you can find a pair that fits.
Fireworks displays can create a considerable amount of smoke, which could irritate your baby's lungs, especially if he has a lung condition such as asthma. Worse, the smoke can contain minute amounts of metallic toxins, Spanish researchers from the Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research reported in a 2010 article published in the "Journal of Hazardous Materials." Try and figure out which way the wind is blowing and don't sit downwind of the fireworks display.
While fireworks displays normally don't normally pose injury risks, occasionally hot embers or bits of residue make it to the ground. Hot embers can cause burns; residue from the fireworks can fall into your baby's eye as he looks upward, causing irritation and possible eye injury. If you notice that you're in an area where debris is falling, move or cover your baby's head, particularly his face and eyes.
- The New York Times: Want a Better Listener? Protect Those Ears
- Illinois Deaf and Heard of Hearing Commission: How to Protect Your Hearing
- Journal of Hazardous Materials: Effect of Fireworks Events on Urban Background Trace Metal Aerosol Concentrations, Is the Cocktail Worth the Show?
- ScienceDaily: Smoke from Fireworks Is Harmful to Health, Study Suggests
- Pains Fireworks: A Practical Guide to Safety
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images