Top Toys That Can Cause Hearing Loss

What not to buy for the holidays this year

Toddler playing with toy guitar
Toys can be loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss.. Sergio G. Cañizares/Moment/Getty Images

It’s not your imagination, parents: toys are just too loud. Some toys are actually loud enough to cause damage to your child’s hearing.

Dr. Hamid Djalilian, an otolaryngologist – or ear, nose and throat specialist – at UC Irvine tests the loudest among popular toys – this year, they were selected from Amazon’s top-sellers list – for decibel levels produced at varying distances.

Toys are tested with a sound-level meter; any toys with sounds louder than 85dB can damage the sensitive cells of the inner ear.

This can lead to permanent hearing loss, depending on the amount of continuous exposure to the noise. For toys that exceed 85dB, it is recommended parents tape over the speaker and volume control to reduce the noise.

Djalilian tested the toys in two conditions; at approximately 12 inches from the ear and close to the ear. Any parent who has watched children play with toys know that children are curious and will hold noisy toys up to their ears to figure out where the sound is coming from, or play in such a way that the toy is closer than 12 inches from the ear. This year they found that each of the 26 toys tested from a distance of about 12 inches fell below that 85dB level.

However, when held to the ear, they all exceeded it.

The loudest, the Space Raider Glow Space Gun, topped out at 115 dB, somewhere between the equivalent of a screaming child and a rock concert. At 115 dB, a child’s hearing can sustain damage in 30 seconds, Djalilian said.

Worst Auditory Offenders:

Here are some toys Dr. Hamid Djalilian tested at UCI Medical Center, with their up-close decibel readings:

For children under 3

• Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Click 'N Learn Remote: 101

• VTech Spin & Learn Color Flashlight: 98

For children 3 to 6

• Space Raider Glow Space Gun: 115

• Playskool Heroes Heatwave Rescue Bot: 107

For children over 6

• Twister Dance Rave: 107

• Fisher-Price Disney Princess Magical Music Maker: 100.5

Full List of Toys Tested:

Here are the toys Dr. Hamid Djalilan and his team tested at UCI Medical Center, followed by the decibel level (dBs) up close and at a distance of about 12 inches:

For children under 3

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Click 'N Learn Remote 101 / 66

VTech Spin & Learn Color Flashlight 98 / 71

VTech Go! Go! Smart Wheels 97 / 64

Bright Starts Click & Giggle Remote 96 / 62

LeapFrog Chat & Count Smart Phone 96 / 57

Thomas & Friends Light Up Talking Percy 93 / 67

VTech Little Smartphone 91 / 58

For children 3 to 6

Space Raider Glow Space Gun 115 / 74

Playskool Heroes Heatwave Rescue Bot 107 / 71

Power Rangers Megaforce Super Mega Cannon 105 / 65

Road Ripper Ford Mustang GT 103/ 64

Space Raider Armor Band 103 / 70

Rockin' Doc Sing Along Boom Box 99 / 64

Dora the Explorer Singing Star Guitar 98 / 63

Dora & Friends Sing It Together Microphone 98 / 62

Despicable Me Fart Blaster 97 / 56

B. Woofer Guitar 97 / 64

Disney Frozen Cool Tunes Sing Along Boom Box 94 / 60

Dora & Friends Play It Two Ways Guitar 93 / 57

Wing Warrior Batman 93 / 61

First Act Discovery Microphone & Amplifier 92 / 64

For children over 6

Twister Dance Rave 107 / 73

Fisher-Price Disney Princess Magical Music Maker 100.5 / 64

Simon Swipe 98 / 76

Hot Wheels RC Hyper Racer 98 / 74

Darth Vader Ultimate FX Light Saber 96 / 64

Bop It! Tetris 96 / 56

If you are concerned about a toy not on this list, there are a variety of smartphone apps designed to work as a sound level meter which will allow you to get an adequate idea about how loud your child’s toys are. Taping over the speaker, setting the volume control (if the toy has one) on the lowest setting, or simply removing the batteries are quick fixes. Use your best judgment when purchasing toys: if it sounds too loud, don’t buy it.


Chandler, Jenna. “Sound Check: Can you Hear UCI Doctor’s Warning About Noisy Toys?” Orange County Register. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from

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