Each year, Sight & Hearing Association representatives go shopping for toys that sound a little too loud for young ones.

Some of the most common toys for infants, toddlers, and adolescents are not only dangerous for their hearing but can actually damage the hearing of adults, too, depending on their noise levels. There aren’t a lot of packages with adequate warnings, and the regulations for these toys are often poorly written.

Toys are required to meet standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials regarding sound-pressure levels, but those standards aren’t always in touch with reality. For example, regulations state that noise emitted from a children’s toy must not exceed 85 decibels (dB) at 50 centimeters from the body — but 50 centimeters is longer than the length of an average adult’s arm, creating a disconnect between the actual use of a toy and its rules for production. Of the Sight & Hearing Association’s 20 noisiest toys of 2014, 12 of them exceeded 94 dB at close range, with four of them breaching 100 dB.

When you consider how a child would actually play with a toy, they generally hold it a lot closer to their body, so safety is based on whether they’ll be interacting with and using the toy for an extended period of time. We don’t want to suggest to parents that they return their child’s gifts, but some of the loudest toys could be causing permanent damage after only a few minutes of play.

To avoid feeling like the Grinch who stole your child’s Christmas, use tape or glue to cover the speakers of your child’s loudest toys — this will help mitigate the intensity of the sounds they make. To see the full list of noisy toys, take a look at the Sight & Hearing Association’s Facebook page, where they will publish the results of their study once they have collected and tested all of this year’s toys.

How loud is too loud?

The loudness of sound is measured in decibels (dB). Most experts recommend that you use earplugs when exposed to 85 dB and above.

20 dB Ticking watch
30 dB Quiet whisper
40 dB Refrigerator hum
50 dB Rainfall
60 dB Sewing machine
70 dB Washing machine
80 dB Alarm clock (two feet away)

85 dB Average traffic
95 dB MRI machine
100 dB Blow dryer, subway train
105 dB Power mower, chain saw
110 dB Screaming child
120 dB Rock concert, thunderclap
130 dB Jackhammer, jet plane (100 feet away)

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