Noise Levels for Babies – When Sounds Become Too Loud

Posted by:gulf onOctober 10, 2017

By Dez Duran-Lamanilao

The pain threshold of a human ear is at 120 decibels (dB) and any sound above 85 dB can already cause hearing loss. A baby’s auditory faculty is more sensitive than the hearing of an adult and therefore has a lower level of tolerance to excessively loud sounds. Parents should be aware of this fact and must find ways not to expose their children to such kind of environment.

Image source: iStock

The table below summarizes the most common examples of noise and their magnitude and effects:


Example dBA (A-weighted decibels) Effect
Breathing 0-10 Hearing threshold
Conversationat home 50 Quiet
Freeway traffic (at 15 meters), vacuum cleaner, noisy party 70 Annoying, intrusive, interferes with phone use
Average factory, train (at 15 meters) 80 Possible hearing damage
Jet take-off (at 305 meters) 100 Damage if over one minute
Thunderclap, textile loom, chain saw, siren, rock concert, speakers 120 Human pain threshold
Toy cap pistol, gunfire, jet takeoff (at 25 meters), firecracker 150 Eardrum rupture


The Sight and Hearing Association (SHA) annually releases their annual Noisy Toys List, and their 2016 report reveals that 17 out of the 20 toys that were tested are louder than 85 dB, the level set by the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety for mandatory hearing protection.

SHA recommends that parents test toys before buying them. If it is too loud for you, it may be already harmful for your baby’s ears. Furthermore, you can also cover noise-producing toys with tape or glue to reduce their noise level.

While babies with calmer personalities may not similarly react when compared to babies with a different level of temperament, ensuring that they undergo the required newborn screening tests will keep your initial worries at bay. The next step is to make sure you protect your baby from dangerous levels of noise to allow your little one to enjoy the beauty of sounds and quietly pass through the stages of learning and development. 

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