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Science has shown that letting your baby listen to piano music has many great benefits. That’s why many pregnant women let their children listen to Mozart early on. However, pianos are very loud instruments. And since babies are more sensitive to sounds compared to adults, are the sounds from a piano loud enough to harm a baby?
Pianos are loud so you should only let babies listen to the piano for 5-10 minutes every day. This is because a baby’s ear canal is smaller than an adult’s, making them more sensitive to loud sounds. You should also take steps to make the piano sounds quieter for your baby.
Continue reading to find some steps you could take to make the piano quieter for your baby. I’ll also discuss the dangers of letting your baby listen to loud sounds frequently and the ideal decibel level for your baby.
Is the piano too loud for a baby?
A piano played normally with no accents is around 60 -70 decibels. Meanwhile, a piano played loudly can reach up to 80-100 decibels.
According to this health article, it is recommended to not your baby be exposed to noise levels over 60 decibels. With that said, sounds louder than 60 decibels are safe for babies if it’s only for a few minutes. That’s why you should let your baby listen to the piano playing for 5-10 minutes to be on the safe side.
For your information, according to this study, here are the effects of prolonged exposure to loud sounds on babies:
- May cause permanent damage to hearing
- Makes learning new things and concentrating on tasks more difficult
- Makes it harder to sleep well
- Hinder speech and language skills like reading and listening, which could cause your baby to learn to talk much later
- Could affect the heart and raises blood pressure levels.
Here’s a handy infographic on the effects of loud noises on babies and steps to take to minimize the risk.
Things to do to make the piano quieter for babies
Use the soft pedal or the practice pedal
If you own an upright piano, you can use the soft leftmost soft pedal or the middle practice pedal to soften the sounds from the piano, making them quieter for your baby to listen to.
Soft pedal (number 1): makes the sound softer and quieter by shifting the hammer so that each hammer only hits one string instead of three, since each key on the piano is connected to 3 strings. This results in fewer vibrations, meaning quieter sounds.
Practice pedal (number 2): on an upright piano, the middle pedal is also used to make the sound softer and quieter. Meanwhile, the middle pedal has a different function on a grand piano.
The practice pedal on an upright piano softens the sound by lowering a felt cloth between the dampers and the strings, making the sound quieter.
You can use either of these pedals to soften the sound. I recommend you try playing the piano with both of them and see which one you prefer better.
Place sound-absorbing objects in the room
Place objects that are good at absorbing sounds from the piano to make your room quieter. Here are a few objects you can place in your room to reduce the noise for your baby:
- Hang artworks or blankets on the walls
- Install drapes for any windows in the room
- Attach styrofoam at the back of the piano
- Have bookshelves filled with books lined against the wall
- Put a rug under the piano and stick caster cups below the piano legs
- Buy and install sound-absorbing panels on the wall
Artworks and blankets are very good at absorbing sounds that are hitting the wall. Bookshelves with books in them are a good choice for absorbing sounds also
Drapes are better at absorbing sounds compared to curtains.
The sound at the back of the piano is louder so a piece of styrofoam there will absorb some of that noise.
A rug under the piano and caster cups will absorb the sounds and vibrations hitting the floor. Caster cups under the piano legs will also prevent the piano from scratching your precious hardwood floor.
If you have some extra money, you can also invest in sound-absorbing panels on Amazon (affiliate link) since these panels absorb sounds the best and reduce the noise coming from the piano.
Buy a digital piano
The main reason to buy a digital piano with a baby in mind is that you can adjust the volume on a digital piano freely using the volume knob. This makes sure that the sounds from the piano are always within the safe decibels range for your baby, regardless of what piano piece is played.
You can also download a decibel measuring app on your phone to know the exact decibel level when you’re adjusting the volume.
If you’re concerned about the touch and sound of a digital piano not being as good as an acoustic piano, know that technology has come a long way and digital pianos nowadays are designed to replicate the touch and feel of acoustic pianos, giving you the playing experience and sounds just like an acoustic piano. Not to mention, digital pianos look just like upright pianos if you care about the looks.
If you’re considering a digital piano, I recommend looking into the Yamaha Clavinova line of digital pianos as they are excellent pianos with great sounds and solid key weights for reasonable prices. I own one myself and love practicing my piano pieces on it.
Only play calm piano pieces
By only playing calm piano pieces which require soft and slow hand movements, you won’t be producing loud sounds that can affect your baby.
So find pieces like Satie’s Gymnopedie No.1 to play for your baby to listen to, and definitely don’t play intense pieces like Chopin’s Etude Torrent.
Place your baby as far away from the piano as possible
Sounds are loudest near the piano and get quieter as they travel throughout the room. Thus, place the piano in a spacious area like the living room and have your baby sit as far away from the piano as possible.