Why worry about noisy toys?
A noisy toy may seem innocuous, but many toys are loud enough that they can directly damage your child’s hearing. Repeated and extended exposure to loud noise is one of the most common causes of noise-induced hearing loss.
How do I know if a toy is too loud?
Sound is measured in decibels. Some common sound levels include:
|Rustling leaves in the distance||10|
|Normal conversation, distance 1m||50|
|Vacuum cleaner, distance 1m||70|
|Subway train entering station||100|
|Gas Powered Lawn Mower (while mowing)||100|
|Chainsaw, distance 1m||110|
|Jet aircraft, 50m away||140|
Noise levels about 85 decibels will harm hearing over time. Noise levels about 140 decibels can cause damage to hearing after just one exposure.
My child plays with loud toys and their hearing seems fine. What’s the problem?
Parents need to understand that every time a child hold a loud toy to their ear they may be permanently damaging the delicate hair cells in the inner ear. The damage might not be noticeable right away, but over time your child’s hearing will be impacted. Current estimates are that one in five children between the ages of 12 and 18 has some level of hearing loss.
What are the consequences of hearing loss in children?
A small amount of hearing loss can affect a child’s speech and language comprehension. It can also impact a child’s classroom learning and social interaction with his or her peers.
Isn’t there a law against toys that can damage a child’s hearing?
In Canada regulations under the Canadian Consumer Product Safety Act state that toys “must not make or emit noise of more than 100 decibels when measured at the distance that the toy would ordinarily be from the ear of the child who is using it.” However, toy manufacturers are not required to label toys with the decibel level emissions.
The problem is that children often play with toys closer to the ear than the distance specified in the law’s measurement protocol. Also children often play with their noisy toys for long periods of time each day, increasing the potential for hearing damage.
How can I protect my child?
- Teach your child early on how to protect their hearing. Help them understand that noisy toys have the potential to cause hearing damage.
- Listen to a toy before you purchase it. Look for toys with on/off switches and volume control.
- Supervise your child to make sure they are playing with a toy in the intended manner. Be particularly careful with children 0 to 3 years of age, as often they will bring toys to the ear, increasing the intensity of the sound.
- Get out the duct tape and cover the speaker on the toy to reduce the sound.
- If all else fails remove the batteries from the toy.