The Fourth of July is an exciting time for children. There are lots of fun festivities and fireworks, which means NOISE. We want our children to be involved, and the degree to which this is possible depends on the age and temperament of the child.
Parents of newborns often opt to stay home from fireworks displays, and they wonder how to help their baby cope with the noise -- both distant and close to home.
Parents with infants three months to 2 years old often choose to attend their local fireworks, but may go home early so as not to stress their little one too much.
Parents of children a bit older may stay out until the fireworks have ended, and, as a result, the stimulation lasts longer and may not stop once they get home.
So, how do parents help their infants, toddlers and young children adjust to the excitement and noise that are not under their control?
Tips for Children of All Ages
The best tip I can give you is, comfort your child -- during this unique event, don't worry about over-coddling. Fireworks and loud noises that are special to this summertime celebration can be scary and overwhelming. Trust your instincts. If your child wakes up alarmed by the noise, go into their room and hold them until they are calm. The next day, when normalcy returns, focus on getting your child back on a regular sleep routine. A white noise machine, placed next to a window, is also very effective with helping your little one get to sleep.
Now, here are some tips specific to each age group.
Generally, newborns go down for the night between 10 and 12 p.m. This means that, most likely, they will be awake for the duration of the fireworks. While most parents of newborns choose to stay home from fireworks displays, their baby may still be exposed to the loud noise. Hold your baby until the fireworks are over, and then put your baby to sleep as usual.
At age 3 months, bedtime should be between 6:30 and 8 p.m. If you opt to stay home and your baby is startled awake by the fireworks, again, hold them until they are calm and fall back asleep. If you opt to attend the local Fourth of July fireworks celebration, put them in their pajamas before you go out so you can do your regular bedtime routine once you get home. You'll want to take your baby out of the stroller and hold him or her through the display. The noise will be too much for them to handle and they may be jolted and distressed. By holding them, you'll reassure them that everything is OK.
Children age 2 years and up can stay up a bit later than infants. They may be excited about seeing fireworks but, at this age, they cannot handle the intensity alone. Carry them to reassure them that there is nothing to be alarmed about. If you choose to stay home, bedtime should be around 7 to 7:30 p.m., which means, again, they may be startled awake by the loud noise. If this happens, go in and hold them and comfort them until they fall asleep. Don't worry about over-coddling. This is a unique situation that requires stepping out of your routine for the evening.
Ages Five to 10 Years
Children ages 5 to 10 years are able to process the event and noise better than babies and toddlers. Explain to them that there will be loud noises and quantify how long they will last.
Although children ages 5 to 8 years old often don't understand the concept of time, you can explain about how long the noise will last in terms they can understand. I suggest comparing it to a favorite TV show. For example, you might say the noise will last as long as one Max and Ruby show. After the fireworks, get them to bed as soon as possible and let them sleep in later than usual the next morning. If they wake up during the night and come into your bedroom upset, hug them, take them back to their bed, and put your hand on them. Wait until they fall asleep before leaving their room.
Fourth of July celebrations are an exciting time and many children enjoy fireworks displays. With a little extra care and bending the bedtime rules, parents and children can sit back and enjoy the fun.