Does it ever seem like some toys are just too noisy? The sounds that many infant and children’s toys make are loud enough to reach hazardous levels. As cited in an article for Advance Healthcare Network for Speech & Hearing, 200 toys were recently tested and 98% of them measured at sound levels greater than 85 decibels at arms’ length. That level of noise has the same impact as being near an airplane when it takes off. White noise machines also exceed healthy hearing levels; some even exceed safe levels for adults. This type of exposure can put a child at risk for noise induced hearing loss.
Loud noises can impact a child’s development in many ways. It can cause hearing loss, increase fatigue, decrease a child’s ability to pay attention, even result in an upset stomach. Hearing loss directly impacts a child’s speech and language development. This can include delays in language development, articulation errors, and even learning words incorrectly when background noise disrupts their ability to process the information correctly.
Jennie Marble, Assistant Director, Integrated Pediatric Interventions at Jewish Child & Family Services suggests, “Turn off the sound in your toys, even take out the batteries. Instead, talk to your child about the toy or allow them time to explore the toy independently.” There are decibel meter apps that can be downloaded to give a general sense of how loud a toy is and if it might be safe. Also, protect hearing in uncontrolled noise environments by wearing noise-reducing earmuffs.
Or opt for toys without sound altogether, such as Play-Doh. Encourage children to open and close the lids for finger strengthening. When working at a table, spread materials out so children have to reach in different directions, and cross the midline or center of their body. Use tools such as cookie cutters, a rolling pin or a plastic fork and knife to develop hand strength and bilateral coordination. Play-Doh can also be a fun way to practice forming letters or numbers. It also helps spark a child’s imagination and pretend play skills.
- Noisy Toys
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
- City of Alexandria, Virginia
- Some Sound Machines for Babies are Too Loud, Study Says