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