This holiday season, stores will be stocked with every imaginable type of toy. Unfortunately, toys that emit noise may increase the risk of hearing loss among our youngest citizens. The loudest offenders include cap guns, talking dolls, vehicles with horns and sirens, walkie-talkies, musical instruments and toys with cranks...according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
Toys are now required by the American Society of Testing and Materials to meet an acoustic standard, producing no more than 85 decibels at 50 centimeters from the surface of the toy. However, as the Sight & Hearing Association (SHA) points out, 50 centimeters is the average arm length of an adult. Children have much shorter arms and often hold these toys close to their face or next to their ears.
In addition, a number of toys tested by SHA in 2015 exceeded the 85 dB threshold. Two of them emitted more than 100 decibels, which is loud enough to damage hearing in less than 15 minutes if the toy is close to the child’s ear. Even toys that generate lower sound levels can be harmful over an extended period of time.
ASHA advises adults to consider the sound level of a toy before buying it. “If the toy sounds loud, don’t buy it.” Each year in late November, SHA (www.sightandhearing.org) releases its “Annual Noisy Toys List,” to help guide your holiday shopping decisions.
Lastly, if your child or grandchild already has a loud toy, remove the batteries, or reduce the sound level by placing clear packing tape over the speaker.
To establish a baseline for your child's hearing, find a provider to schedule an appointment today!