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18 Toys That Damage Kids’ Hearing

18 Toys That Damage Kids’ Hearing

They are the toys that parents dread: wailing baby dolls, loud toy drums, karaoke machines. The noise can drive a person up the wall. Here’s a good excuse for getting rid of them: they may damage children’s hearing, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

“Squeaky rubber toys can emit sounds of 90 decibels (dB), as loud as a lawn mower,” ASHA warns. It takes just 15 minutes for 100 dB to cause hearing damage.

The Sight & Hearing Association (SHA) publishes an annual Noisy Toys List to help parents protect their kids’ hearing from these nefarious toys. Surprisingly, this year’s 18 entries include many educational toys, some toys meant for babies and some that can cause hearing damage with relatively little play-time.

This year’s loser is Disney Baby Einstein’s Take Along Tunes, designed for children three months and older. Next to a child’s ear, Tunes generates 114.8 dB. From 10 inches away, Tunes puts out 88.1 dBs.

Some other toys to dig out from under the Christmas tree: the Leap Frog Chat & Count Smartphone for kids as young as 18 months. It is handheld, which means children will put it up to their ears; when they do, they will get blasted with 100.7 dB.

Disney Baby Einstein loses again with its Discovery Drums. Drum purchasers know they are getting a loud toy virtually guaranteed to annoy nearby adults, but they may not realize that it is dangerous to its recipient.

Hearing loss is cumulative. A child who yaks on the Leap Frog Smartphone for a few weeks won’t suddenly become deaf, but over the years that child will also hear loud traffic and trains, construction noise, vacuum cleaners and ear buds playing music that is cranked up high so it can be heard over all the other noise. ASHA reports that 30 million Americans are exposed to dangerously loud noise regularly. Noise pollution is a serious and widespread problem.

The World Health Organization emphasizes that noise hurts more than our ears. Here is its list of other health consequences, as reported by Healthy Hearing:

  • Tinnitus, also referred to as ringing in the ears
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Pain and fatigue
  • Poor work and school performance
  • Speech problems
  • Hormonal responses (stress hormones), and their consequences on the metabolism and immune system

Many parents strive to minimize risks to their children’s health, like germs, sun overexposure and junk food. Loud noise merits a place on that list.

It isn’t possible to escape damaging noise entirely in our culture, which helps explain why older people have significantly worse hearing in industrialized societies than elsewhere. Your future self will thank you for avoiding or reducing loud noise whenever you can. Children can’t do that for themselves, but when it comes to loud toys, parents can easily protect their kids by dumping the offending gadgets.

The Noisy Toys List creator, the Sight and Hearing Association, has an acronym that is on the nose: “sha” is Yiddish for “be quiet.” Please, toy manufacturers — SHA!

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Photo credit: Mike Watson Images

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6:03PM PST on Feb 23, 2014

we have none of these

10:54AM PST on Jan 22, 2014

It's hard to believe that toys can be made that loud. It's so unnecessary! And it's crazy that the loudest ones are from educational toys that most parents have put a lot of trust in over the years like Leap Frog. It's important to protect our kid's hearing early on to avoid problems down the road. I'd rather find a quieter alternative than risk my children's hearing over a toy.

10:01AM PST on Jan 15, 2014

I agree with Sarah B. on this one. I had no idea that some of the toys I purchased for my kids this year could cause hearing loss. Needless to say, I will be testing the volume of toys before purchasing in the future. I also found this article to be very helpful as well in case anyone is interested in learning more on this topic:

3:42AM PST on Jan 4, 2014


9:04PM PST on Dec 29, 2013

Thank you

11:05PM PST on Dec 27, 2013

Thank you.

4:51AM PST on Dec 25, 2013

Thank you for the information.

3:09PM PST on Dec 24, 2013


2:50PM PST on Dec 24, 2013


4:42AM PST on Dec 24, 2013

People who design toys that make a lot of noise either don't have children or they have bad memories or they are hard of hearing.

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