Can you really get children to wear ear plugs? That was really my first thought when I heard about these SpongeBob SquarePants Ultra Soft Ear Plugs (£4.25 including standard delivery at Amazon*).
It might well be possible with slightly older children. I do have some experience of enticing little ones to stick something in their ears (which is odd when you spend most of your time making sure they don't stick things in their ears) as our middle child had many ear problems that led to permanent grommets when he was eight. This meant no swimming without ear plugs.
They're also good for other uses. My friend's daughter can't handle loud bangs, so fireworks displays and other events can be difficult. If you're around loud noises at all, ear plugs or defenders are necessary for young ears. The babies that I saw in the arena at the Olympics looked ever so cut with their little ear defenders on!
But when it comes to water, whether it is swimming or just being in the shower, you really need ear plugs rather than ear defenders. So, where these any good or just a bit of a gimmick using a well known TV brand?
First off a little bit about why we were rather excited about these ear plugs, and what makes them a slightly different to other types. These ones are designed to sit on the opening to the ear, and not in it.
You get six little ear plugs in a hard plastic case designed to keep them protected while you're out and about. In your bag when swimming, for example. The plugs are reusuable and non-allergenic. And really about the only thing 'SpongeBob' about them is the little smiley face on the front, and the fact that they're yellow. The 'face' gets rather disturbingly distorted and crumpled when the plugs are pummelled into shape.
Yellow was the selling point for my son, as that's his favourite colour. He hates sticky textures though, so my husband had to put them in. He's a musician so has plenty of experience using ear plugs (he plays the drums), and was fairly impressed at how easy they were to fit. He tried a pair out himself.
The ear plugs are not for children under the age of 2. And while they are non-toxic, they're definitely not edible, so best not to let them anywhere near little ones who still like to eat everything they come across!
You are supposed to get up to five uses out of them, but I do think that depends on the wearer. My husband has worn his three times, and they're still sticky. But my son just keeps fiddling with his, and one pair has already lost all its stickiness after just two uses.
One use for these ear plugs that I hadn't thought of is for flying. To stop your ear's 'popping' (something that can cause great discomfort for little ones). However, it says to wear the plugs for the entire flight. I'm not sure I'd be able to keep them on my son for that long, but again, it depends on your child.
If you're taking them on holiday with you then take note that they can't be used at depths of more than 10 feet, or 3 metres.
Pros: sit on the ear, rather than in it; easy to put and keep in place; a nice bright colour that makes them visible if they accidentally come out.
Cons: that face looks a bit scary after a couple of uses, but that might just be me.
Overall verdict: 9/10