Parents may think that noise is a problem they need not worry about until their child reaches the teenage years. Not so. Some toys are so loud that they can cause hearing damage in children. Some toy sirens and squeaky rubber toys can emit sounds of 90 dB, as loud as a lawn mower. Workers would have to wear ear protection for similarly noisy sounds on the job.
The danger with noisy toys is greater than the 90-dB level implies. When held directly to the ear, as children often do, a noisy toy actually exposes the ear to as much as 120 dB of sound, the equivalent of a jet plane taking off. Noise at this level is painful and can result in permanent hearing loss.
Toys that pose a noise danger include cap guns, talking dolls, vehicles with horns and sirens, walkie-talkies, musical instruments, and toys with cranks. Parents who have normal hearing need to inspect toys for noise danger.
Before purchasing a new toy, listen to it. If the toy sounds loud, don’t buy it.
Examine toys you already have at home. Remove the batteries or discard the toys if they are too noisy and pose a potential danger to hearing. Some parents place heavy duct tape over the speakers on noisy toys.
The Sight and Hearing Association publishes a list of the noisiest toys each November, just in time for the holidays.