Friends, it’s that time of year again, where we take a look at the toys that can hurt your little one’s ears. The Sight and Hearing Association publishes an annual list of “Noisy Toys” after they’ve sound tested them. Every year there are new toys that are loud enough to potentially damage your child’s hearing, not to mention drive us parents a little bananas. First, let’s review what “loud” means in decibels.

What Are the Current Standards?

According to the American Society of Testing and Materials (ATSM), the toy’s sound should not exceed 85 dB at 50 cm away. 50 cm is approximately 20 inches. In the real world, a child is not likely to keep a toy that far away from their ears during routine play, and thus the ATSM standards have been the focus of criticism because the toys are measured by OSHA military noise standards for adults. That means these toys were tested at the adult-level standard. Since hearing damage can occur at a lower decibel level than you may realize, it’s important to keep the following numbers in mind:

Hearing protection is recommended at 85 dB (decibels). A rock concert’s decibel levels range from 110 dB to 140 dB.

There are smartphone apps available to measure the decibel level if you want to find out just how loud it is around you. We recommend the Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) SLM app.

And the 2019 Noisy Toys Winner is…

The crown for 2019’s Noisiest Toy belongs to…Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Smart Learning Home™ Made for ages 9-36 months, the toy’s decibel reading came in at a whopping 104.6 at zero inches away and 91.4 dB at 10 inches. Ouch. This year’s runner-up is Vtech’s Sort & Build Farm™ coming in at 102.1 dB at zero inches and 87.6 dB at 10 inches away. Remember, the threshold for recommended hearing protection is 85dB. To find out what other toys made the list, download the Sight & Hearing Association’s pdf: Noisy Toys List 2019.

What You Can Do

Toddler-age child wearing hearing protection headphones.

We’ve all likely seen small children at events and concerts wearing hearing protection. Getting your children accustomed to wearing them is a great place to start teaching them to protect their hearing and take care of themselves. Right now, it’s estimated that 12-15% of teens have noise-induced hearing loss. Teach them early the art of hearing self-care, and model good hearing care in your own lives. Carry earplugs with you, keep the tv volume at a reasonable level, and turn on Closed Captioning. If your children are older and using earbuds or noise-canceling headphones, have them check if they’re set too loud. This recently updated article, 6 Simple Ways to Check If Your Headphones Are Too Loud, is a great place to start. Other hearing-care tips for older kids include the 60-60 rule (listen at 60% volume for a max of 60 minutes) and look at noise-canceling headphones. These do actually help with volume control by canceling the background noise around you.

Healthy Hearing for Life!

At Hearing Resources Audiology Center, we are committed to giving you and your family the tools and information you need to hear better and stay connected to your world. Contact us today!