I sit here and watch my son play with his Elmo drill I remember how loud children’s toys can be. Children’s toys have increased in noise level dramatically in the last ten years, and with the close proximity that babies and toddlers play with their toys to their heads, they can actually cause irreparable hearing damage such as Tinnitus or actual hearing loss.

As a child after being somewhere loud like fireworks or a concert, I remember laying in bed hearing my ears ring all night long, and I am grateful every time the ringing stops. Due to the loud level of toys some young children have damaged their ears so bad that the ringing never stops, which is called tinnitus. My mother has this condition and it is actually debilitating to her on some days she can’t focus or relax because the ringing is so loud, so I am very aware and cautious with noise levels around my children. I carry ear plugs with me in my diaper bag in case the noise levels are too high like at an indoor activity with lots of screaming kids or a children’s concert.

I had a friend who saved her original Tickle Me Elmo doll from when her 14 year old daughter was a toddler and she gave it to me. I was playing with both the Tickle me Elmo TMX and the original doll with my children on the floor and the new one is so loud that it actually drones out the normal volume of the original Elmo doll. When the TMX is not playing you can hear the original Tickle Me Elmo just fine and a child can actually hug it and put it next to his face without risking hearing damage. Why are toy manufacturers making everything so loud? Some toys when produced have higher decibel levels than a rock concert. Is the insanely loud noise level to attract attention for children to pick the loudest toy off the shelf? Maybe but it is unnecessary. Elmo’s high pitched voice at too high of volume can actually do more damage than a jet engine to a child’s ears, then you give it to them to play while they sit on the floor and lean over it like toddlers play.

Since I am so aware of these high noise levels every single new toy my children receive gets the noise treatment. If you walk around my house, every toy that makes noise has tape permanently pasted over the speaker to lower the damaging levels of noise. If the tape does not control the noise level down to a safe level I will open the toys and disconnect or permanently quiet the sound box. Just looking around in the living room, each of the books with buttons has tape over it, the ride on car, the activity tables, the Tag reader, the Barbie Cinderella Walking Horse and of course the Elmo talking Drill.

Not only do we have to worry about the lead paint used in creating the colors on the toy, make sure it is not leak hormones that can feminize our boys and develop reproductive health problems in our girls like in vinyl toys, make sure it does not have any small parts that our children can choke on, we also need to make sure that they are at an appropriate noise level to protect our children’s ears. Hearing damage is not only something grandparents need to worry about anymore!