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Noisy toys, dangerous play


Parents may think that noise is a problem they do not need to worry about until their child reaches the teenage years. Not so. Some toys are so loud that they can cause hearing damage in children. Some toy sirens and squeaky rubber toys can emit sounds of 90 decibels (dB). These sounds can be as loud as a lawnmower and dangerous to a child’s hearing. Workers would have to wear ear protection for similar sound levels on the job.

noisy toy

The danger with noisy toys is greater than the 90 decibels the toy is producing. When held directly to the ear, as children often do, a noisy toy actually exposes the ear to as much as 120 dB of sound. That is a damaging dose equal to a jet plane taking off. Noise at this level is painful and can result in permanent hearing loss.

The risk of hearing loss increases if a child has received medicines that can affect hearing. Some examples are the chemotherapy drugs cisplatin and carboplatin and some IV antibiotics.

Toys that pose a danger include cap guns, talking dolls, vehicles with horns and sirens, walkie talkies, musical instruments, household toys like vacuum cleaners, and toys with cranks. Parents who have normal hearing need to inspect toys for noise danger just as they would for small pieces that can be easily swallowed.

noisy toy

Prior to purchasing a new toy, parents or others who buy toys for children should listen to the toy. If the toy sounds loud, it should not be purchased.

Toys already at home should also be examined. Batteries can be removed or toys discarded if they are too noisy and pose a potential danger to hearing.

Adapted from materials from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association,


If you have questions about protecting your child from hearing loss, call Rehabilitation Services at 595-3621. If you are inside the hospital, dial 3621. If you are outside the Memphis area, call toll-free 1-866-2ST-JUDE (1-866-278-5833), extension 3621.


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

ATTENTION: If you speak another language, assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

ATENCIÓN: si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gratuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

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