Right from birth, your baby has a very defined sense of hearing. In fact, a newborn’s hearing is almost exactly the same as an adult’s.
However, while they may be able to hear perfectly, babies don’t yet understand what the noises are, or where they come from. This can understandably be really frightening for your little one, leading them to become extremely upset whenever they encounter a loud noise.
So, how should you handle your baby’s fear of loud noises and is it something you need to be worried about?
Understanding Baby’s Fear Of Loud Noises
It’s said that babies have two main fears – loud noises and the fear of falling. This is likely down to the fact they have very immature nervous systems; making it difficult for them to interpret various sensory inputs. So, when they hear a sudden, loud noise, they’re likely to react in shock and either cry or fling their arms and legs out, before clenching their tiny fists.
Physical responses such as crying, are the only thing a baby can do to express their fear or shock. It’s also worth pointing out that a noise may not even seem loud to you, but for baby’s sensitive ears it could definitely sound louder than it is.
This initial fear of loud noises will usually start to fade as your little one becomes more aware of what the noises are. However, at around one year of age, it’s possible the fear could return. This is because at this age, babies start to want more independence, as well as to control their environment. So, if there’s sudden noises they cannot control, such as thunder, it could cause a lot of upset.
Are All Babies Afraid Of Loud Noises?
The majority of babies go through a phase of being afraid of loud noises. However, some are more sensitive to sounds than others. Just like adults, each baby is different, and some may be totally chilled out when it comes to hearing new sounds. They may be more mesmerized than afraid.
Babies who do go through a phase of being afraid of loud noises, usually tend to get better with them after around two months. They may still become startled if a loud noise occurs, but the fear response won’t generally be as severe as it once was.
What Types Of Noises Are Babies Afraid Of?
When you think of loud noises, you typically imagine fireworks, an explosion or something being dropped onto the floor. While these noises would definitely startle baby, it’s actually more common household noises which can cause the problem.
Some babies don’t really get too scared by any noises, while others may be afraid of even the slightest noises. The vacuum, washing machine, a dog barking, a hairdryer, juicer or even the television can all frighten your little one if they’re especially sensitive to loud noises.
So, if your baby is scared of everyday noises, don’t worry it’s still a normal part of their development.
Will They Always Be Scared Of Loud Noises?
Most babies get over their fear of loud noises once they get a little older. When they can start to understand where noises are coming from and what they actually are, their fears will automatically go away.
However, there is a possibility the fear will stay with them throughout their childhood and potentially adulthood too. This is actually a condition known medically as Ligyrophobia. It’s also sometimes referred to as Phonophobia and is basically a fear of loud noises. If a child is scared of noises for more than six months, it’s worth taking them to see a medical professional to determine whether they could be experiencing an actual phobia.
Is There Anything I Can Do To Help Ease Baby’s Fear Of Loud Noises?
There isn’t an awful lot you can do to help ease baby’s fears of loud noises. If they’re especially sensitive, it may seem like a good idea to minimize the noises they’re exposed to. However, doing this could actually make the problem worse.
If baby isn’t introduced to new sounds and they’re shielded from loud noises, when they do inevitably experience a loud noise, they’re going to find it even more startling. So, instead of trying to eliminate loud noises completely, it’s a better idea to gradually increase the amount of background noise there is within the home.
Listen to the radio on a low volume and gradually start to turn it up after a few weeks. Don’t be afraid to use loud appliances such as the vacuum, but start by using them in a room away from your newborn. That way, they’ll still be able to hear the noise, but it won’t be too loud that it startles them. You can start vacuuming nearer to baby gradually, to build up their noise tolerance.
If your little one gets upset after hearing a loud noise, simply pick them up and talk to them soothingly. Explain what the noise was. They may not fully understand you, but saying something like “Well, that was a loud noise wasn’t it” and then tell them what it was. Remember, for very young babies, skin-on-skin contact can be especially soothing, so hold them close and just reassure them that it’s okay.
When baby is a little older, you could also try turning loud noises into a more positive experience. For example, playing a game and making loud noises such as banging on a toy drum, or saying something like “bang, bang” loudly and excitedly, can help to turn loud noises into a fun, positive thing. Of course, this won’t work for all babies, but it could definitely be worth a try.
Overall, it is totally normal for babies to be afraid of loud noises. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong or the fear will stick with them. However, if you do notice the fear lasts longer than six months, it is worth mentioning it to your pediatrician or doctor. They’ll be able to tell you whether the fear is a normal part of baby’s development, or whether there may be something else contributing to it.