Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Health Issues

Tips to Preserve Your Child’s Hearing During the Holidays

Bells may be ringing this holiday season, but your kids' ears shouldn't be!

Hearing loss that results from exposure to loud noise, called noise-induced hearing loss, is of special concern for today's children. One of the main reasons is the widespread use of personal audio technology and other smart devices.

When not used safely, ear buds or headphones can present a significant danger to a child's hearing. Of course, these devices and accessories also happen to top many holiday wish lists. Beyond tech gifts, other holiday hearing hazards include noisy toys for the youngest of children and noisy gatherings such as parties and concerts.

The World Health Organization says more than 1 billion young people worldwide are at risk for hearing loss due to unsafe listening practices. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also recently sounded the alarm on excessive noise risks to kids.

We've teamed up with the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association to offer the following tips. You can use them to help protect your kids' hearing from too much noise while enjoying the best of the holidays.

Noisy technology

Earbuds and headphones, tablets and smartphones, and other electronic gifts such as gaming consoles and karaoke machines can reach dangerously high sound levels. That's why it is critical to use them safely:

  • Monitor & teach safe listening. Be attuned to the volume of what your kids are listening to. As a general rule, have them keep devices to half volume or less and take listening breaks every hour, especially when using earbuds or headphones. Even a few minutes of quiet will help their ears recover.

  • Model good listening habits. As a parent, it is critical that you be a good role model when it comes to safe listening. Little ears are listening.

  • Choose wisely. Certain features or products may help with volume control. Noise-cancelling headphones and earbuds can be a good idea, as kids won't need to turn the volume up to drown out outside noise.

  • Pay attention to fit. Look for ear buds or headphones that fit the child well, which will prevent sound leakage and again reduce the need to turn the volume up to hear. Need a practical tip? At an arm's length away, your child wearing headphones should still be able to hear you when asked a question.

  • Question "kid safe" headphones & other products. You may see headphones and other electronics marketed as "kid safe" because they cap the maximum sound output at a lower volume than typical. But some of these products still exceed a safe listening volume (75 decibels). Read the product descriptions closely. Also, listen yourself to decide if it sounds too loud.

Noisy toys

Toys designed for infants and toddlers may be noisy enough to cause hearing damage—especially since young children hold objects close to their face/ears.

  • Check your list. Before heading to the toy store or shopping online, check the Sight & Hearing Association's latest noisy toys list.

  • Listen up before purchasing. Pay attention to how loud a toy sounds, and consider a different option, if necessary.

  • Make a minor do-it-yourself modification. An easy way to reduce the noise is to put a piece of tape over the speaker. Another option is to remove the batteries. Instantly, you've made the toy a much safer product for your child's ears.

Noisy environments & events

Holiday parties, concerts, shows, and other gatherings are part of the season. Make sure to be mindful of the noise level.

  • Use hearing protection. Bring earplugs offer good protection for most teens and adults when there is potential for loud noise. This is a cheap, easy, and effective way to preserve kids' (and adults') hearing. Young children should wear well-fitting earmuffs instead of earplugs, as earplugs can be a choking hazard.

  • Keep a distance from noise sources. Don't let kids stand near speakers or other noise sources. Try to stand at least 500 feet away from noise sources, such as a speaker or a stage.

  • Leave if noise is enough to cause discomfort. Ringing and pain are signs that ears need a break. If your child is complaining, covering their ears, or seems uncomfortable, consider an early exit.

  • Download a sound-level meter app. There are many free apps available to measure noise levels. Here is one example.

  • Leave if noise is enough to cause discomfort. Ringing and pain are signs that ears need a break. If your child is complaining, covering their ears, or seems uncomfortable, consider an early exit.

Preventable, but irreversible, effects on hearing

Unlike some other forms of hearing loss, noise-induced hearing changes are preventable. However, once it occurs, it is irreversible. Roughly 15% of school-age children in the United States have hearing loss in one or both ears. Left unaddressed, hearing loss can lead to academic, social and behavioral problems.

Concerned about your child's hearing?

Even minor hearing loss can significantly impact a child's development, academic success, and social interactions among other effects. It's important that you act early if you have concern.

  • Learn the early signs of hearing loss and schedule a hearing evaluation. Visit for more information about hearing loss and ways to support children who are deaf and hard-of-hearing. You can search for a certified audiologist to provide your child with a thorough hearing evaluation at

More information

Last Updated
Copyright © 2019 American Academy of Pediatrics and American Speech-Language-Hearing Association/ASHA Leader
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
Follow Us