Dad Gets in Serious Trouble for Using Noise-Canceling Headphones to Deal With Baby’s Cries

Man wears noise canceling headphones while baby is crying.
Man wears noise canceling headphones while baby is crying.

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He has a good reason, though.

A Reddit post has ignited a serious debate over a father’s unconventional approach to coping with his baby’s cries—using noise-canceling headphones.

The father, grappling with sensory issues due to autism, defends his method as a necessity for managing overstimulation while caring for his child. His wife, however, strongly disapproves of this method as she says it prevents him from being fully involved with parenting.

This post opened a broader conversation on the complexities of parenting with sensory processing sensitivities.

Balancing Parenting and Sensory Sensitivities

The OP, u/throwawaynoisecancel, is a 33-year-old father diagnosed with autism and experiences severe sensory issues, especially with sound.

He turned to noise-canceling headphones as a solution to handle his baby’s crying without feeling overwhelmed. He described them as a “necessity for him to function effectively as a parent”. This allowed him to be present. And, be attentive during late-night feedings despite the sensory overload.

But, his wife directly told him how she “hated” the method and demanded him to stop doing so. She stressed the importance of experiencing all aspects of parenting, including “the bad stuff”. She is worried that the headphones might also scare or alienate their daughter when she’s feeling distressed.

Redditor u/throwawaynoisecancel explains why his wife disagrees with using noise-canceling headphones. (From: Reddit)
Redditor u/throwawaynoisecancel explains why his wife disagrees with using noise-canceling headphones. (From: Reddit)

The couple’s family supported this perspective. But, a friend of the father argued that his disability needs are also important.

The OP’s story sheds light on the unique challenges parents with sensory sensitivities encounter. It also sparks conversations about the creative methods parents with disabilities use to look after their kids.

How Well Do Noise-Canceling Headphones Block Babies’ Cries?

Man sits oblivious to baby's cries due to ANC headphones.
Man sits oblivious to baby’s cries due to ANC headphones.

Noise-canceling headphones are helpful for many reasons, thanks to their ability to reduce background sounds through active noise control. They generate a sound wave that is the opposite of the unwanted noise, effectively neutralizing it.

Although they’re good at reducing steady low-frequency noise, they’re less effective with higher-frequency sounds. As such, they’re safe to use in cases like the OP’s, as they won’t completely block out the inconsistent sound of a baby’s cries.

Reddit user explains that noise-canceling headphones don't completely block noise. (From: Reddit)
Reddit user explains that noise-canceling headphones don’t completely block noise. (From: Reddit)

Contrary to popular belief, noise-cancellation technology doesn’t create a soundproof barrier. It just lowers the volume of background noise, making it easier for people with sensory sensitivities to handle their environment.

Positive Reactions, Personal Experiences, and Update

Supportive comments on Reddit. (From: Reddit)
Supportive comments on Reddit. (From: Reddit)

The Reddit community overwhelmingly supported the father’s use of noise-canceling headphones, with many labeling him ‘’not the a**hole’’ in this scenario. They commended his approach to managing sensory issues while still striving to be an attentive and loving parent.

Redditor u/Moist_Panda_2525 praised his method, saying, “I think you found a wonderful solution and have a sweet attitude with your baby”. They further questioned the criticism about wearing headphones.

‘’It’s really weird to say the baby will have problems with you having those on your head when she’s distressed. The baby will not know either way!’’ they noted.

Another user echoed this sentiment, reflecting on their own experiences as a person with autism:

‘’NTW, fellow autistic here. Growing up with multiple baby siblings, I wish I could’ve done this lol. What a lot of neurotypicals seem to not understand is that sensory overload is not only overwhelming. It can be physically painful. Your wife demanding that you willingly subject yourself to that is terrible and selfish.’’ – u/KanKanKermit

Many responses adopted a constructive tone, particularly after an update to the original post revealed the wife may be dealing with postpartum depression. Some commenters mentioned therapy and open conversation to navigate these challenges.

Man's update to the original AITA post, sharing the result of discussing the issue with his wife. (From: Reddit)
Man’s update to the original AITA post, sharing the result of discussing the issue with his wife. (From: Reddit)

“After a lot of talking, she said she felt angry and frustrated that (in her view) I was breezing through parenthood while she feels like she’s drowning. What really hit me is when she said she feels like a bad mum and a failure,” says OP in the update.

“My amazing wife, the best mother I could ever imagine for our daughter, the woman with seemingly boundless love and care felt like she’s failing as a mother. I wish she could see herself the way I see her just once.”

Alongside these suggestions were practical recommendations for less obtrusive headphones. These include devices like noise-canceling earbuds or the Loop Quiet Earplugs.

If you’re looking for a similar workaround as the OP, here are our recommendations for the best noise cancelling headphones in the market today.

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