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Thursday, January 08, 2004

Metering baby's cry

metering_babys_cry.jpg

Like all other newborn babies, our precious has only one way to alert us about a need or discomfort, and that is by crying. It's a hard-coded survival reflex, and we respond quickly with compassion and love. But once a day or so, the crying won't stop, even after we've tried everything in the book.

It's during those times of waiting her out that I've recently taken to metering the sound level of her cries with a Radio Shack Sound Level Meter (part no. 33-2055). I read that sustained sound over 100db can cause hearing damage, and given that a baby's cry can ping an audio meter at 125db (!)—louder than a chainsaw at arm's length—I wondered if she could be emitting at dangerous levels.

I noticed immediately that her cries only last as long as a baby lung's worth of air, typically maxing out at 102db (with meter microphone at a distance of 8"), but only sustained for about five seconds. Her typical range is 90-100db in 10-12 bursts over a few minutes, and then she rests for a few minutes so she can start the cycle again. We're way short of chainsaw strength, but other parents have assured me that her lungs and vocal cords will only get stronger and more capable. I can't wait!

Now that I have metrics on our baby's cry, I can benchmark her to other babies. My boss at work has twin toddler boys, and claims he can clock some serious crying.

Update 1/12: The WhyCry Baby Cry Analyzer's indicator icons:

whycry_icons.gif

11:55 PM in Family | Permalink

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Comments

While I haven't acquired Radio Shack's sound meter, I have little doubt about our little Max's ability to do better than a chain saw taking down a 1 foot diameter tree (perhaps 15 seconds! I have no idea where he gets the air).

Max was born about two weeks before Cianna, and we've become big fans of 'the book' by Dr Harvey. And while there may be times that the five S's don't work, where would we be without them!

Good Luck Mike.

Posted by: Frank Baitman at Jan 12, 2004 11:04:51 PM

Wow, I have often wondered about babies and their crying. Our 7 and a half month old son can get ear piercing at times.. I almost have to cover them.. I wonder what level he must reach.
He has just learnt a new device as well. The scream.. but in pleasure.. whenever he is happy he lets out a short 3 second squeal/scream which is rather loud. and when ever his dad plays peek-a-boo he squeals to egg my partner on.. its great... i bet that would be rather loud as well

Posted by: Nicola at Jan 15, 2004 8:00:24 AM

Nicola, thanks for the very sweet posts. You make me hope that our little Cianna learns how to squeal and scream out of sheer delight soon. At seven weeks now, Cianna can make eye contact and smile, but besides cries and various grunts and gurgles, she can manage an "ah goo."

Posted by: Mike Lee at Jan 16, 2004 6:51:49 PM

Mike,

I believe it. Even as a (profoundly) deaf parent of a 2 year old and a 6 1/2 month old, I can hear the boys crying with my hearing aid on.

Even if I have it off and I'm carrying one of them while they're crying, I can hear them even though my residual hearing barely registers on the audiograms.

The worst cry: I'm just crying because I feel like crying and I ain't gonna stop until I damn well please.

Posted by: Neil at Jan 20, 2004 8:48:34 AM

I'm going to have a baby and I need to know what to do.

Posted by: princess lyons at Mar 24, 2004 11:07:03 AM

I JUST WANT TO LET YOU KNOW THAT YOU HAVE SOME INTERESTING STUFF ON YOUR SITE BUT I THINK YOU SHOULD PUT MORE THINGS ABOUT SCORPIOS AND THE MONTH OCTOBER BECAUSE THATS THE MONTH I WAS BORN GREATLY APPRECIATED IF YOU TAKE THIS IN CONSIDERATION
THANKS

Posted by: OCTAVIA HOUGH at Apr 2, 2004 12:29:58 PM