Why All Parents Need Earplugs (In Bulk!)

The irony of parenthood is that our littles often can't hear us, when we can hear them all too well. Hence why all parents need earplugs. In bulk.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a parent. And chances are good you’ve already acquired some earplugs. I’m talking the maximum-decibal-blocking kind.

If not, you need some. ASAP.

I’m typing this post as I work from my temporary home office in the living room, because my regular home office is currently full of stuff that belongs elsewhere in our house. This is week #2 of putting down new flooring, after our water-line damage and subsequent flooding last May.

And you’d better believe I’m sporting a pair of maximum-decibel-reduction earplugs.

Want to skip ahead to my tips on choosing the right earplugs for your unique circumstances? Then click here to go straight to my Parents’ Earplug Buying Guide, and learn how to choose the best solution for your personal noise problem. 

We have bulk packages of earplugs, in different colors, scattered all over our house. All rated to reduce sound by 29 decibels or more.

Let’s face it, earplugs don’t last forever. And they get lost. And you never know when you might want some on hand.


Originally published August 29, 2018; last updated May 2021.

So in case you need ideas – or further convincing – here’s a few reasons

Why All Parents Need Earplugs In Bulk

1) You’re a new parent

If you’re a new parent who’s used to quiet days, you may find it hard to adjust to the volume of your little one’s cries. A good pair of earplugs can help take the edge off. And no, that doesn’t make you a bad parent – it makes you a parent who wants to protect your sanity and your ears!

2) Your child has colic

Yes, newborns cry for a reason. Except some aren’t sure what the reason is. And nothing you do will console them. This is commonly called “colic.” As I and other parents who’ve lived with a colicky child can tell you, it’s not fun.

By the time you’re on the second hour of inconsolable crying – if not before – you need some earplugs. If only so you don’t go deaf while trying in vain to comfort your child.

3) You’re sleep-training your infant

I remember the night we’d had enough with our firstborn’s refusal to go back to sleep, 2-plus hours after the middle-of-the-night feeding. She was 4 months old, neither my husband nor I was getting any sleep, and he had an important work meeting the next morning.

I took Baby downstairs, strapped her into the bouncy-seat, and put in the earplugs while I hauled out the sleep-training books to re-read. The earplugs made the 20 minutes until she cried herself to sleep bearable.

4) You can’t wean yourself from the monitor

You’ve moved Baby into her own room, but you’re still not sleeping. Because every coo, giggle, and turning-over comes through loud and clear on the baby monitor.

Trust me. If you feel you must sleep with the monitor at your bedside, at least pop some earplugs in. You’ll still hear the cries on the baby monitor – but you won’t hear everything else.

5) Sleep is regressing

Your previously sleep-trained child is adjusting to a new sibling. Or a new skill. Whatever is causing the sleep regression, there’s no way around the screaming sometimes.

I remember when Kimmie was learning to walk, and could NOT go to sleep, even though she was exhausted. I spent the better part of an hour watching her (so I knew she was OK despite the howls) while she stood, howling, at the side of the crib. Every so often I’d make her lie back down, and she’d pop up again, still howling.

Earplugs were the only way I could be by her side until exhaustion won and she finally fell asleep.

6) It’s your spouse’s turn

Your child is sick, or teething, or going through a nightmare phase. For whatever reason, you and your partner have agreed to take turns on nighttime duty.

When it’s your turn to sleep, you better have those earplugs in, so you don’t wake up anyway.

7) Your spouse snores

You can’t sleep if the love of your life is keeping you awake by sawing logs. And as a busy parent, you need your sleep. Earplugs decrease the chances that snoring will keep you awake.

8) Your spouse is sick

Ditto if your significant other is up half the night hacking through a cold. ‘Nuff said.

9) Your toddler won’t sleep

Each new stage seems to bring new sleep challenges. At least the toddler ones are (far as I can tell) the last that involve loud howls of protest that just won’t quit. If you’ve tried everything else and the kid still won’t go to sleep, get out the earplugs.

RELATED POST: How To Get Your Kid To Go To Sleep

10) You’ve got a night on the town

My, hasn’t it been a long time since you went out clubbing! When did the music get so LOUD? Just pop in those earplugs already, if this isn’t a habit from your younger days.

11) Or a weekend at a music festival

This is something I never did until recently, when my hubby booked us all for a family-friendly one.

We brought multiple packs of earplugs, so each family member could have his own color-coded options. Worked like a charm. (If your kids are too little for earplugs, consider kiddo ear protection instead.)

12) Your child is tantruming

Kids will throw tantrums. Sometimes they can’t be consoled. Sometimes they need to calm down before you can even try to comfort them. Either way, earplugs will help you survive.

13) Your child (or you) is in time-out

Do you know about the four different kinds of time-outs (and when to use each one)? For several of them, earplugs are a useful addition; for others, they’re downright essential.

14) Several kids are crying at once

You’ve got multiples. Or a newborn and a toddler. And something sets them both off at the same time, and they just won’t stop.

Earplugs can be your ticket to parental survival. Trust me on this one.

15) Your kids are fighting

Do you ever get tired of hearing your children bicker with each other? I sure do. Nothing like a pair of decent earplugs to help you filter it out, so you don’t intervene too quickly.

When you need to block out the fighting, earplugs can be a Godsend.

16) You’re traveling with the family

I’m glad my children enjoy their noise machines at sleep time – until we’re on vacation and I have to share a room with them again. At times like this, I’m especially grateful for my earplugs.

RELATED POST: Must-Haves For Traveling With Preschoolers

17) You’re sleeping in a strange place

Noises not what you’re used to, because you’re visiting friends whose background noises are different/louder than yours? Earplugs can help.

18) You’re on a family camping trip

Same is true for your kids. Especially if you don’t live in a rural area.

RELATED POST: 100 Genius Hacks to Make Family Camping Easier

Rather than have them up all night, freaking out at the sound of every owl and rustling branch, just give them some earplugs already.

19) You’re on a plane

And you don’t fly frequently enough to justify investing in those fancy noise-cancelling headphones. Popping in a pair of standard maximum-decibel disposable earplugs can help you cut down on the flying noise, and also thereby hear other noises around you – like the flight attendant offering the beverage choices.

For what it’s worth, there are special earplugs made just for flying that also help to keep your ears from “popping” by equalizing the pressure.

I was skeptical before I first tried them, but they really work! They minimize the need to plug your nose and swallow constantly. AND and they take the edge off the engines’ roar.

UPDATE: The Christmas after I first wrote this post, Dear Husband got me my very own set of noise-cancelling headphones. I take back what I said about their being only for frequent flyers; I cannot imagine parenting through the pandemic without them (see #32-35 below).

20) Or a road trip

In our family, the rule is that whoever’s driving controls what’s on the audio system. This is fine, except that my hubby likes to be the one driving – and when he drives, he likes to listen to his own music. Loudly.

And if I’m not the one driving, chances are good I want to sleep. Earplugs make this possible.

21) You’re short on sleep

And what parent isn’t short on sleep from time to time?

RELATED POST: Why Mama Needs More Sleep (And What She Can Do About It!)

If you’re sleep-deprived, you can’t afford to miss a single moment of sleep. But sometimes the thing that’s made you short on sleep is actively interfering with your ability to fall asleep. Earplugs can help drown out any excess noises keeping you awake.

22) You need a nap

For that matter, earplugs are good for anytime you need to catch a little shut-eye in the middle of the day. A pair of high noise-reduction ones plus some room-darkening curtains are what make my midday naps an option.

23) “Asked and answered”

Do you have a child who won’t take “no” for an answer?

I once read a great parenting post that suggested, when your kids keep asking you the same thing over and over again, saying simply “asked and answered” instead of engaging in further discussion on the topic.

The problem comes when your child doesn’t take “asked and answered” for an answer, either.

Insert earplugs. Problem solved.

24) You have too much whine at home

Not to be confused with too much wine, which is a separate issue.

Earplugs can help you cut back on the whine – or at least your awareness of its existence.

25) It’s chore-time

My hubby wears earplugs whenever he mows the lawn (which he does not because he’s a guy, but because I’m allergic to grass pollen). He doesn’t wear them when vacuuming, but I often do. And the girls have also been known to wear them when the vacuum is on.

Seriously: you’ve only got one set of ears. It’s worth protecting them, even from the more mundane noises.

26) It’s practice time

Now that Kimmie is a big fourth-grader, she gets to be in Beginning Band at school. Which means music practice. I love listening to my budding clarinetist/bells player practice her lessons.

If she were playing something even louder (say, trumpet or trombone), I might feel differently – and reach for my earplugs at practice time.

27) Or game time

My girls and I LOVE attending ball games at our local minor-league ballpark. We thrill at the roar of the crowd whenever the home team scores.

My dear husband, not so much. For some reason, the din of a ballpark on game day is at a frequency that gives him a headache. So on the rare occasions when we can convince him to join us for a game, he brings a pair of earplugs.

28) Or the movies

Surely you’ve noticed that they get louder all the time?

Just bring earplugs for everyone when you go to the theater, and everybody will be happier (not to mention less hard-of-hearing when it’s time to leave).

29) It’s karaoke time

My kids have this thing about turning up the volume and singing their hearts out.

In general, I don’t mind this. But if I’m working on a deadline, it’s not what I need to hear.

30) Or playdate time

As anyone who’s hosted half the neighborhood in their yard knows, kids running around outside together can get pretty noisy. Earplugs work better than telling them to pipe down.

31) Your child has discovered (their own) music

C’mon, YOU were a tween/teen listening to music once, weren’t you?

Yes, they should turn the volume down. Yes, it will probably still be too loud for your liking, even once they have done so. Insert earplugs and restore family harmony.

32) You work from home

Life as a work-from-home parent is full of sounds, temptations, and interruptions that just aren’t conducive to getting the job done. Earplugs are a critical addition to your workday attire.

33) And “home” is itself a work zone

As some of you may recall, our basement and kitchen floor flooded last May. Which meant a week of high-powered industrial drying machines in our house. This is what they sounded and looked like:


More recently – as in last week and this week, when the last of our damaged hardwood has been coming up and the new floors have been going in – it’s sounded more like this:

Needless to say, without earplugs I would’ve gotten even less done during our summer house chaos!

Updated for Life Since the COVID-19 Pandemic Began:

34) You’re (All) Zooming/Google-Meeting From Home

Ever since the pandemic shutdown began in spring of 2020, I’ve done way more meetings from home.

As has everyone else.

When they’re in their meetings, you can bet I’m wearing earplugs, with my noise-cancelling headphones on top. Those two things together can block out anything and everything.

And if I’m trying to participate in my own virtual meeting, I just take out the earplugs.

35) Your kid is doing virtual school/camp

How many of you can give your full concentration to [whatever you’re doing] when your kid is doing school, or a music lesson, or day camp, or whatever from their device?

Even when they’re in a different room than you?

That’s what I thought.

Lately, when I’m trying to do my own thing and they’re doing theirs (even if they’re wearing earphones), I put a pair of maximum-noise-reduction earplugs into my ears UNDER my noise-cancelling headphones.

With BOTH of those in use, I can’t hear a thing of their various activities.

Which is how I like it.

Earplugs for Parents Buying Guide

There are several things to consider when looking for the best earplugs for parents:

  • Noise reduction level needed;
  • When/how often you’ll be using them;
  • Where you’ll be using them;
  • What else you’ll be doing at the same time.

Crying infants: For example, if you need maximum noise reduction at a moment’s notice because of loud little people (crying newborns, crying toddlers), you definitely need a bulk container of maximum-decibel noise-reducing earplugsThen you can stash a pair in each room of the house.

Look for AT LEAST 30dB (30 decibels) noise reduction. When I first wrote this post, the max noise reduction available was 33dB, but I just ordered my very first jar of 38dB reduction earplugs, and can’t WAIT to try them.

Work-from-home: On the other hand, if you work from home and will need something to block out kids’ noise while WFH, then either noise-cancelling headphones or noise-cancelling earbuds might work better for you.

For what it’s worth, while headphones are bigger and bulkier, they have the advantage of going over your ear. This means means that you can get even more noise reduction by using them WITH max-dB-reduction earplugs.

Sleep: Finally, if you need to sleep through crying children, a snoring partner, or both, look for the best combination you can find of maximum noise reduction plus comfort features (softness, size, etc).

Flents and Mack are two names that have been around for years, and make an assortment of bulk earplugs designed for specific sleep needs, from extra-small ears to extra-delicate canals. If you’re a side sleeper who likes a firm pillow, you may need to experiment to find which ones are most comfortable for sleeping.

Your turn:


Do you use earplugs? What’s your favorite parental use for them? Let us know in the comments!


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42 thoughts on “Why All Parents Need Earplugs (In Bulk!)”

  1. Oh my goodness, I’ve told this hack to many parents lately, and they are always surprised. I have twin boys at home. Enough said. Haha! But my earplug dependency began when they were babies, and one son got carsick and would cry in the van. It had to wear earplugs so I could calmly ignore it till we arrived safely home (driving at a calm, normal speed. lol!).
    Then I began counteracting the frustration of cooking dinner with loud background noise by wearing either my earbuds or noise canceling headphones.
    I’ve used them for “time-ins”….which I’m not a huge fan of, but I understand their purpose when your child needs you near them while they explode and slowly get a grip on their emotions. Unlike my husband, I cannot handle being in the same room with a tantrumming child without ear plugs. The noise is like a physical punch in the face and makes me angry.
    Thanks for blogging about this! It really is one of the most useful parenting hacks!

    1. You are so very welcome, Becca! I loved earplugs BEFORE I became a parent (can’t sleep w/o them), but they have taken on a whole new level of importance in my life since becoming a mama!

  2. Oh my gosh YES to all the reasons in this post! I’ll admit, I didn’t even consider the need for some of these, but you better believe they’re all valid. Parents DEFINITELY need earplugs!

  3. I’m glad I’m not the only parent who uses earplugs! I have to sleep with them at night so I can cancel out my husband’s snoring. And they’ve been helpful during sleep training our kids.

  4. There’s literally an endless list of uses for those earplugs. I had some when my little guy was a newborn and we were taking turns during the night shift. No matter who’s turn it was, if I heard the cry I would jump out of bed so they were a tremendous help. I think they would be great for right now too as I’m working from home and the noise is so distracting. We’re again taking shifts between work and watching the little guy and I constantly find myself taking over because I hear him asking his dad for something and his dad doesn’t understand lol

  5. Great post! Oh man, there are so many reasons to use earplugs that I would never have thought of. Those fans are so loud, no wonder you need earplugs. Hopefully, they will get the work done quickly.

    1. Well, we’re now down to the final (third) week of the work, but the major stuff is done, so the touch-up details that remain should be a lot quieter!!!

  6. When my kids were younger and would tantrum in the corner, I would put my headphones in to block out the noise and keep my anxiety level down. Fast forward several years later and I use them to get a good night’s sleep every night. I agree – have earplugs around – you never know when you will need them!

  7. This post made me LOL! Whenever I’m on an airplane, I usually just opt for noise canceling headphones, but now maybe I’ll bring along some earplugs!

    1. I’m so glad it made you laugh! It’s a fine line to walk between complaining and making light of things, so I’m glad I landed on the side of the latter – that was my goal! 🙂

  8. I have actually never used earplugs! I might need to start wearing them after reading this though 🙂 with 4 kids I could probably use a pair or 2

  9. I haven’t used ear plugs directly, but I do walk around a lot with earphones in and nothing playing. I just need to dull the chatter and non-stop noise.

  10. I am a huge fan of my noise canceling headphones! They’ve been a game changer for me! Ear plugs were fantastic but I found they blocked too much but they are definitely handy.

    1. I am seriously considering putting those earphones on my Christmas list lol! But the earplugs are a good choice too, and easier to tuck a pair everywhere you might need them, so you always have some handy!

  11. I’m not a parent but I can see a good few of these being reasons for me to have earplugs, too! I’m sensitive to sounds sometimes because of my autism but I never remember to buy earplugs. Usually I slip earphones in to focus on just one sound such as music or an audio book or if I’m watching videos. Great advice!

    1. Earphones would definitely help in those settings, too! But seriously, try the earplugs. They are a lifesaver and so small to tuck into a purse or backpack!

  12. My son has scar tissue on his eardrums so his ears are very sensitive to high pitched sounds – so when his baby was born, earplugs became his lifeline! haha

  13. So many uses for these little things! My dad had a bunch when we went on a family vacation this summer with my parents. Apparently, I must be used to my husband’s snoring but he kept my dad up the first night so he went and bought these. He put them in on some of the long drives when the boys were being loud, too. My husband and I both have noise-canceling headphones that we use when it’s our turn to work at home and the other is on kid-duty.

    1. I’m considering putting some noise-cancelling headphones on my Christmas list – they seemed like such a luxury but I have a lot more air travel coming up in 2019…

  14. Oh my goodness I love this post!! Good old common sense parenting. My husband always has some pretty awesome ear plugs laying around from deployments and field trainings. I might swipe a few!

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