Should You Take a Baby to See Fireworks?

By Sharon Perkins
Fireworks are beautiful, but don't expect your infant to be wowed.
Fireworks are beautiful, but don't expect your infant to be wowed.

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.

Ear Protection

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.

Smoke Inhalation

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.

Falling Pieces

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.

About the Author

A registered nurse with more than 25 years of experience in oncology, labor/delivery, neonatal intensive care, infertility and ophthalmology, Sharon Perkins has also coauthored and edited numerous health books for the Wiley "Dummies" series. Perkins also has extensive experience working in home health with medically fragile pediatric patients.