PhotoBefore buying a toy for a child, you might check the age recommendation and make sure that no small parts present a choking hazard. Making sure the toy is safe for its intended recipient is, of course, paramount.

But between reading the label and giving the toy a quick once-over, many adults forget to test the toy’s loudness factor. You wouldn’t hold a car horn close to a child’s ear or expose them to the sound of a motorcycle for an extended period of time, but that’s exactly the effect that some toys have.

Some toys on the market today are just as loud as the sound of a motorcycle 50 feet away, says Dr. Rob Danoff, an osteopathic family physician and program director of The Family Practice Residency. He urges parents to protect kids’ ears from the future effect of today’s loud toys.

Test the toy first

The Sight & Hearing Association (SHA) recently tested 20 noisy toys and found that three toys were so loud that they could cause hearing damage within 15 minutes. Another five could cause damage within 30 minutes to an hour of play time. At 104.4 decibels, this year’s noisiest toy was the WWE 3-Count Crushers, Roman Reigns action figure by Mattel.

While experts don’t yet have statistics on toy related hearing loss, they are concerned that loud toys could lead to future hearing problems for kids. That’s because hearing loss is often the result of cumulative exposure to loud noises over time, explains Danoff.

To keep kids safe from noise pollution, he recommends testing the toy yourself before giving it to a child. Here are four indications that a toy is too loud and should be avoided:  
  • If a toy is too loud in a noisy store, it will sound too loud in your quiet home.
  • If the sound of the toy hurts when you place it next to your ears, it will sound even louder to your young child as their narrow ear canals will focus those sound waves into pounding thumps of noise.
  • If the toy is too loud and has a battery compartment, remove the batteries. If they can’t be removed, avoid the toy.
  • If the toy has a speaker section without a volume control, put masking tape over the speaker to dampen the noise. If it's still too loud, avoid the toy.

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