That wrapped gift looks innocent enough, but inside may be a toy so loud, it could harm a child’s hearing. For example, a sing-along karaoke toy for kids can clock in at 95 decibels (dB) — similar to the sound generated by a power mower or motorcycle. At 95 dB, a child's hearing can be damaged in approximately 30 minutes.
Children’s ears are much more sensitive to loud noise than the ears of adults, and any noise-induced hearing loss that occurs is permanent. So it’s crucial to find out how much noise a toy produces before buying it. Each year, the nonprofit Sight & Hearing Association (www.sightandhearing.org) publishes a list of the noisiest toys, including the decibel levels generated by each.
A good rule of thumb: If it’s too loud for you, it’s too loud for a child. If there’s no way to avoid buying a loud toy, consider steps to prevent hearing damage, such as putting masking tape over the speakers or only allowing children to play with it outside, where the decibels can be dispersed.