When your kids put toys on their wishlist, you may think of choking hazards and pinched fingers- but doctors hope you'll also think of their ears. Doctors say some toys could be causing damage.
Dr. Emily Patterson is a clinical audiologist at Marquette University. She told TODAY'S TMJ4 there is reason to worry about the volume of your kids' toys.
"If it's loud enough, any sound is hazardous to anybody's hearing," she said.
An international group called ASTM sets standards for sound all toys have to meet- but Patterson said they don't measure the same way kids play.
She said they measure at 50 cm, which she said is almost the length of an adult arm. She said children play at a distance between zero and 25 cm.
Companies aren't supposed to make toys louder than 85 decibels. That level allows kids to play with a toy for 8 hours.
"Once that level quickly starts increasing and getting toward that hundred decibel mark, you're looking at the minute range instead of hours," Patterson said.
The Institute for sound and hearing puts out a Noisy Toy list every year.They measure toys at zero inches and ten inches. They pick the toys by walking through aisles, pushing buttons.
This year's highest level from a toy they tested came from Beat Bugs: Molded Sing-Along Karaoke.
If a child put their ear to the toy, they'd be getting 96.7 decibels of sound into their ears. At 10 inches, it's 89 decibels.
Patterson explains even short bursts of a very loud noise can do damage to the part of your ear that sends sound signals to your brain.
Almost half the toys on the list from 10 inches away measure more than 85 decibels.
The list includes popular children's brands like paw patrol, power rangers and Disney princesses.
"We certainly don't want to take all these toys away," Patterson said.
In addition to being an audiologist, Patterson is a mom. So, she's found ways to make even the loudest of toys safe.
She says you can:
- Put tape over speakers
- Get inside the toy and put felt between speakers and where sound comes out
- For toys like a hammer, she recommends covering the contact end with felt
- Some parents limit loud toys by rotating them out
- Or even skipping batteries in some of them.