How to Purchase Gifts that Protect Your Child’s Hearing

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Loud sounds are not just a nuisance, they can be dangerous. Excessive noise can damage the inner ear and cause hearing loss, and children can be especially vulnerable. With the advent of child-friendly technology and the availability of noisy toys, hearing safety should be of particular concern during the holiday season when parents and grandparents are shopping for gifts. 

According to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Education Fund, toys have strict regulatory sound limits to ensure against child hearing damage. Those limits, however, are often higher than parents realize. For example, crib toys emitting continuous sound cannot not exceed 85 decibels when measured from 20 inches away. By comparison, that is roughly equivalent to hearing a diesel truck driving 40 mph at 50 feet away. 

Close-to-the-ear toys are allowed up to 96 decibels for short bursts of sound, while other toys can reach 115 decibels for short bursts, equivalent to a live rock concert. Technology presents other hearing hazards. Smart devices, headphones, and tech gifts are among the most coveted items for kids of all ages. Unfortunately, many are also loud. 

Need more help? Before heading to the toy store or shopping online, check the annual “Sight & Hearing Association’s Noisy Toys” list to see if any of the products your child wants are listed. When possible, test toys before buying them and look for toys with volume controls and on-off switches to manually reduce sound. 

Other helpful tips we want to share with you include: 

  • Purchasing quiet gifts, such as puzzles, books, and building toys.
  • Limiting “screen time” for tablet computers and noisy video games.
  • Putting masking or packing tape over a toy’s speaker to muffle sound.
  • Avoiding competing sounds from multiple sources in the same area. 

Remember, if the noise level coming from a child’s toy is bothering you, it is almost certainly too loud for them. Further, if you can hear the sound from your child’s headphones then it is definitely too loud. Keep an eye out for toys that have American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) approval, and refrain from purchasing anything if you are unsure whether its safe.

If you feel your child has been harmed due to excess toy-related noise, do not wait to contact an experienced attorney for more information. There could be many factors in play and we want you to be able to assess all of them. You may contact us any time, day or night, with your concerns.

Want to learn more about how to protect eyesight and other safety concerns for children when you are buying gifts? Just click this link!