Don’t “play” around with your child’s hearing, things to consider when buying toys this Christmas

Well, Christmas Eve is exactly one month away and if you haven’t started your shopping yet you will be eventually.
We have just started and have a new addition to the family to shop for this year, our grandson who is just over 11 wks. old.

I have always enjoyed shopping in Toy Stores & especially like the ones that make noise (much to the embarrassment of everyone that happens to be with me). Keeping that in mind imagine my surprise when on a recent trip to New York City while visiting the  FAO Schwarz toy store, I had to step outside because the noise was overwhelming. Now, I know it’s been awhile since I’ve been in a toy store and never one quite that size but seriously this was off the charts!

Which got me thinking about our new little guy and wanting to know more about the actual  noise levels of  toys which is something I never seriously considered before now; with the exception of headphones etc. from iPods/computers/games.

I was shocked to learn that even a baby rattle was over the safe decibel level for a child. Instead of bringing joy to your children, these toys could give them unwanted, permanent hearing loss.

That’s right, many of the toys for children on the market ring in at more than 129 decibels (dB.) I came across this article on The hearing foundation of Canada website & thought I’d share :

Noisy Toys

Many popular toys that are readily available in stores emit noise levels that could be harmful to a young child’s hearing, particularly because their bodies are still developing. The risk depends on the loudness of the noise level and how long the child is exposed to it. In general, if you have to raise your voice above the noise level to be heard, the sound is too loud. Very loud noises, such as those made by a whistle or cap gun, can instantly and permanently damage a child’s hearing, especially if held close to the ear for a prolonged period of time.

The Hearing Foundation of Canada is a charter member of the National Coalition on Noisy Toys , which aims to educate parents about the hazards of noisy toys.

This Coalition suggests that when making toy purchases, parents give preference to toys equipped with a volume button and an on/off button, limit the amount of time young children spend with battery-operated toys, find ways of lowering the volume (by using tape to cover the loudspeaker, for example) and remove the batteries.

How Does Playing with Toys Cause Hearing

Young children will often bring toys close to their face and ears as part of the learning process. This can increase the risk of harm to
their small and sensitive ears, if the toy was designed to be held further away from the body during play. Since sound volume goes down as it moves away from its source, bringing a toy closer to the ears will have the effect of making it louder.

What Does the Law Say?
Decibel levels for toys are measured based on intended use. Toys that emit more than 100dB when held at a child’s arm-length are banned by Health Canada under the Hazardous Products Act. (Regulations in the US and Europe are 70 dB and 80 dB at the ear, respectively.)

How Loud is Too Loud?
Sound levels are measured in decibels (dBs). To know if a sound is loud enough to damage a child’s hearing, it is important to know the level of intensity (in dBs) and the length of exposure to the sound. The higher the decibel level above what is considered safe and the longer time exposed to the noise (85dB for 8 hours), the more likely it will cause harm. Generally, for every 3 dB increase you must cut the
duration of the exposure by half (ex., 88dB should be limited to 4 hours, 91dB for 2 hours, etc.)

The sound measurements in the following table are based on a toy being held at a distance of 25 centimetres from the body. Although not all toys are this loud, the risk depends on the noise level, how the toy is used and the amount of daily exposure to the toy.
Some toy cap guns can also reach decibel levels of 110 to 135, a level of noise similar to a rock concert or a jet take off.

Popular Noisy Toys

dB Level * dB Level *
Toy cap gun 105 – 110 CD player 97 – 103
Whistle 106 Police car 96
Keyboard 104 Xylophone 92
Drum 103 Rattle 102


To help people make safe purchases, portable sound level meters are often available at higher end music and electronic stores.

* Peak dB levels, measurements taken by the Nova Scotia Hearing and Speech Centres

Teach your children to protect themselves:

Encourage children to keep the volume adjusted low

Encourage quieter games and activities; substitute loud activities with quiet toys and games

Teach your children about the potential damage to their ears from noise


For more information on safe listening habits and hearing loss detection,  The Hearing Foundation of Canada website is


Happy Shopping :)


By lorraine | Posted in Information | Tagged , , , , | Comments (0)

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