5 Noise Sources that Could Damage your Child’s Hearing

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Babies and young children have thinner skulls and smaller ear canals so they are at greater risk of getting hearing damage from a loud sound than adults are. Some experts say that a child’s ears are likely to perceive sound up to 20% louder than an adult’s. Damage is caused by a combination of loudness and time of exposure. So, the louder the noise, the shorter the length of time your child should be exposed to it. Adults need to be aware that sounds that may seem just a little bit loud to us will be very loud to young children. One time when my daughter was 2 years old, she held her hands over her ears and cried at what I considered to be a low-volume music event.

Here’s a hearing safety table from Johns Hopkins Medicine (ranked #4 in the world).

Level of safety Decibels Type of noise
Permanent hearing loss may happen 140-150 Fireworks within 1 metre, guns, jet engine
120-130 Jet plane, siren, jackhammer
110 Personal music player set at loudest level, chain saw, radio-controlled airplane
Gradual hearing loss may happen over time 90 Subway, motorcycle
Safe  80-90 Kitchen appliances
60 Normal conversation
30 Whispering

www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/otolaryngology/noise-induced_hearing_loss_85,P00458

Four common sense ways to tell if a noise is too loud for your child

The sources for loud noises are not always ones you would think of

Toys

In one study, at a 30cm distance, one in four of the two hundred toys tested exceeded the maximum recommended noise level for infants (85dB). And 196 of the 200 exceeded 85dB at the speaker. Because most children hold toys close to their ear while playing with them, this is a problem you really need to be aware of. Here’s some things to think about with toys…

Problems with loud toys

Solutions for loud toys

Hairdryers

Choice Magazine’s reviews of hairdryers show that its common for hairdryers to operate at more than 90dB at 15 cm. This is the threshold at which hearing loss can occur in adults – let alone children.

Solutions for loud hairdryers

Cinemas

In most movies the speaking parts are around 80dB. But, depending on the movie, noise peaks can exceed 140 dB (30m from a jet aircraft is 135dB). Some say that a trip to see most movies is unlikely to cause long term hearing loss, but be sure to exercise common sense and keep young ears away from loud cinemas.

Solutions for Cinemas

Music Players, Smartphones and Tablets

Music Players, Smartphones and Tablets can be dangerous for children, especially when headphones are used…

Problems with Music Players, Smartphones and Tablets

Solutions for Music Players, Smartphones and Tablets

Infants in high noise situations

There will always be times where infants need to be in high noise situations – when they just need to “fit in” with the rest of the family. This means tagging along to concerts, travelling on aircraft, be in noisy traffic environments, accompanying you to work, etc. Two ways to deal with this are earplugs and earmuffs

Problems

Benefits of earmuffs

Conclusion

There are many different sources of loud noise that could potentially damage your child’s hearing. Many of these are only obvious when they are pointed out to you. Children’s toys are the ones that surprised me! The solutions can be simple when they’re pointed out – move away, turn the volume down, or wear hearing protection.