Just because a major company releases a toy doesn’t mean it’s safe for your kid’s ears.
All toys have to undergo acoustic testing and meet requirements (set by the American Society of Testing and Materials, or ASTM). The problem is the way that kids play with toys (how close a toy is to their ears) doesn’t always match how adults test toys.
Luckily, the Sight & Hearing Association is trying to do something about it. For 20 years, they have released a yearly list of toys that are the worst offenders. The toys have been tested from a real-world distance (0-10 inches, which is about a child’s arms length away).
Here are the top 20 toys from the 2017 Noisy Toys List:
(Each name is followed by the dB level at 0 inches and 10 inches. 85dB is the threshold where there’s a risk of permanent hearing damage. More about that here)
1. Beat Bugs®: Molded Sing Along Karaoke (Sakar International) 96.7, 89.4
2. Disney Elena of Avalor: Magical Scepter of Light with Sounds (Jakks HK, Ltd) 96.3, 85.6
3. Disney Pixar Cars: Talking Cruz Ramirez (Mattel, Inc.) 93.9, 88.3
4. Despicable Me 3™: Dave with Banana (Thinkway Toys) 93.8, 79.2
5. Chomp & Count Dino (Vtech®) 93.8, 88.1
6. Power Rangers Megazord (Saban Brands, LLC.) 92.4, 88.3
7. Nickolodeon PawPatrol: Pups to the Rescue (Spin Master, Ltd.) 91.2, 79.6
8. Drill & Learn Toolbox (Vtech®) 91.0, 79.6
9. Bright Beats Dance & Move BeatBowWow (Fisher-Price®) 90.8, 83.1
10. Marvel Spider-Man: Homecoming Super Sense Spider-Man (Hasbro) 90.6, 87.3
11. Disney Beauty & the Beast: Enchanting Melodies Belle (Hasbro) 89.6, 79.5
12. Despicable Me 3™: ‘Talking Jail Time Tom’ Minion (ThinkWay Toys) 88.3, 79.6
13. FurReal Friends®: The Luvimals (Hasbro) 88.1, 74.6
14. Disney Princess: Colors of the Sea Ariel (Hasbro) 87.5, 77.2
15. Star Wars™ The Force Awakens: Kylo Ren Electronic Lightsaber™ 87.5, 77.1
16. AlphaPup (LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc.) 87.2 76.2
17. Star Wars The Force Awakens: Chewbacca Voice Mask (Hasbro) 85.7 76.8
18. Baby Alive Sweet Tears Baby (Hasbro) 85.4 73.0
19. MatchBox® Stinky the Garbage Truck (Mattel, Inc.) 84.9 79.6
20. The Secret Life of Pets: Best Friend Max (Spin Master, Ltd.) 83.1 75.1
If you have one of the offending toys:
- Recycle it (please don’t donate – it’ll expose other kids who’s parents don’t know)
- If you absolutely have to keep it, try putting masking tape or glue over the speaker (research has shown both are effective). Then, using a smartphone, use a dB meter app to measure and verify it’s in a safe zone. (More on measuring loudness)
- Take the batteries out
- Write a review of the product. Many of these toys are sold at major sellers (like Amazon, Target, Walmart) and other parents have no idea.
If you have a toy not on the list that you think is too loud:
- Use a sound decibel meter or dB meter app to take a measurement. If it’s under 85 dB up close, it’s ok.
- Report it to Sight and Hearing
- Put masking tape over the speaker. (I do this for most of my son’s toys by default)
- Trust your gut. If you put it near your ear and it’s uncomfortable, it’s probably too loud.
- Sometimes the names of toys change so if it looks like one of the toys on the list, it may be the same.