Posted on Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Hidden Danger of Children's Toys

Children playing with toys.

Did you know that some children's toys create sounds loud enough to damage your child's hearing? It's true. In fact, some sounds from toys are greater than the siren from an ambulance. There are ways to recognize sounds that are too loud. And there are also ways for parents to protect and care for their children's hearing.

Sounds are measured in decibels. Sounds greater than 85 db listened to for more than fifteen minutes can cause childhood hearing loss. Unbelievably many toys have been measured at 129 db or higher. That’s not even reasonably safe as each increase of ten means it’s ten times more damaging to your child's ears. These explosively loud sounds create greater difficulties when listened to for longer periods or at closer distances—as children are known to do. The video below explains the problem.

The admonition, “Too loud, too long, too close” is used by the National Institute of Health to create awareness around the only preventable type of hearing loss—noise induced hearing loss (NIHL). Government programs and campaigns raise awareness, but without regulations it’s up to parents to beware noisy toys and to guard their children’s hearing.

Here are a few steps parents can take to protect their children's hearing:

  • Cover the speaker. Using age-appropriate material, duct tape or clothe, to cover the speaker can muffle the sounds.
  • Take out the batteries. Taking out the batteries can eliminate dangerous sounds, especially if they are replaced by a child’s imagination.
  • Discard or recycle toys that are just too loud. In some cases, there is no way to make a noisy toy safe. These toys should be tossed out or if possible recycled.
  • Before purchasing any toy, listen to the sound. If it’s loud enough to make you uncomfortable in the toy aisle, it is not something you want in your home.
  • Make your family and friends aware of your concerns. Often times it is the toy bought by a grandparent or a well-meaning friend that can make the most noise. Explaining the dangers to others will help keep dangerous toys out of your house, and away from your child—who might not understand why you are taking away their new toy.
  • Consider a holiday reminder. In some instances it's appropriate to remind parents of the dangers of loud sounds when you are sending out holiday invitations. A simple, but effective note that says, “Help protect our child’s hearing. Please don’t purchase overly loud toys! Thank you!”
  • Knowledge is key. Become familiar with the toys most likely to cause childhood hearing loss. Emax Health has an annual list of Top 20 worst toys and so does Sight and Sound Hearing Association
  • Regular visits to an audiologist-- like visits to an eye doctor will help children keep their hearing fitness. Let’s spread the word about this issue. It’s time to make people aware of the third largest health problem in the nation—hearing loss and all the noisy culprits that could be lurking in your child’s toy-box right now.

    If you'd like to learn more, see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!

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