You want to give headphones to your toddler, but you’re not sure if that’s safe? Here’s the answer.
You are not the first one who’s asking this question. There are plenty of other parents who want to know if they can give headphones to their toddler. There’s many reasons why you would want that, but the main one is:
You want to have some peace and quiet, at least for a while. So, you’re thinking, why not let them watch some cartoons or listen to music on headphones while I do other things.
It’s good thinking on your part, but a new question arises in the back of your mind: Is it actually safe for toddlers to listen to headphones or could it hurt them?
Not to mention your big headphones probably won’t fit on a small head. And if you spend a considerable amount of money on your pair, do you really want to entrust them to a little kid?
Why You Should Not Give Regular Headphones to Toddlers
The consciousness in the back of your mind is right. You shouldn’t give a toddler the same headphones you use. There’s a couple of reasons, but the main one is that they’re too loud.
Toddlers are in the early stages of development and growth, so their ears aren’t fully developed. As a consequence, their ears are extra sensitive to external noise. In other words, they hear more and better.
A noise that’s a bit loud for you is much louder for them. And the easiest way to hurt their hearing is by exposing them to extreme volume. This is when noise-induced hearing loss occurs. It’s also a reason why you shouldn’t take your toddlers to live concerts and instead wait for them to grow up a bit, to 10 years or older is optimal.
How Loud is Too Loud for a Grown-up
A normal conversation is around 60 dB and isn’t harmful, but places like a subway station or heavy road traffic can create noises louder than healthy for an adult. The same noises will do even more damage to a toddler.
Image credit: hearinghealthfoundation.org
Most of the constant noises in our lives are perfectly safe and don’t go over the threshold of what’s considered safe. But some temporary noises like ambulance sirens or loud concerts can be harmful even at short exposure.
When you’re mowing the lawn and using other power equipment, use hearing protection and you should be fine.
According to CDC, it estimates nearly 50% of young adults are exposed to unsafe levels of sound from the use of personal audio devices. It’s smart to start educating your kids about safe listening at an early age.
What’s the Safe Volume for Toddlers According to Experts
A regular pair of headphones can generally reach over 100 dB of noise and in some cases, even more which isn’t healthy for grown-ups, let alone toddlers. So how loud is too loud for toddlers?
While there are many different sources, most of the research data from WHO, CDC, and other organizations generally agree to keep the noise under 80 dB to stay on the safe side. And to never expose kids to these levels for longer than a couple hours (8 hours in tests). And if this is true for kids who can be 10 years old or older, then limits for toddlers should be even lower.
While there is no consensus and the data on safe volumes for toddlers is limited, the HeadphonesAddict guide on headphones for toddlers recommends keeping it under 70-75 dBA. It’s a slightly lower limit than for older kids whose ears had more time to develop and mature.
Not All Headphones are Created Equal
The good thing is there are headphones made specifically with volume limiting in mind. Some brands even let you decide what the max volume is, so you can adjust them for your kid’s age. One of those brands is BuddyPhones who puts adjustable volume-limiting in all of its headphones.
You can choose from many different colors and sizes. Some are even waterproof and come with a colorful design that’s sure to attract your little one.
But stay away from fixed volume-limiting that’s prevalent in many kids’ headphones. The limit is usually set too high for toddlers. Over 80 dB is a bit too loud for a 2-year-old and can lead to hearing problems later in life. Limit exposure to loud music from speakers as well. If you have to shout to communicate, it’s too loud.
Is It a Good Idea to Give Headphones to a Toddler?
If you plan on getting cheap headphones because you can’t justify paying a bit more for volume limiting, you shouldn’t buy them at all. Damaging your kids’ hearing to save a couple bucks isn’t worth it.
In the ideal world, you’d never have to give headphones to a toddler. But real life isn’t ideal world. Sometimes a short distraction is the best alternative. For example when traveling with kids and when you need it, get a proper solution and don’t skimp safety of your kids.