Toy Silencers

January 26, 2009 at 4:10 pm 34 comments

Toys that make noise drive me insane. I’m assuming I’m not alone in this. I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to avoid all toys that make noise—I’m not even going to try. I’ve accepted it and I’m moving on, though we keep them to a minimum.

One of my favorite toys that Orison ever had was a toy phone that I got him for Christmas 2005. I remember it so well because the music and noises were quiet! Imagine that, toy manufacturers making toys that parents can stand to be around!

I’ve tried to locate this particular phone so that you all could know which one is awesome, but they must not make it any more. It was a little light-up, musical phone by Chicco. Here’s photographic proof:

orison-with-phone o-13-months

For his birthday a couple months ago, my parents just sent Orison these really cool cars that go super fast when you shake them. The boy loves them! The mom loathes them. Perhaps that’s too strong of a word, but they do drive me nuts. They have to be the loudest toys I’ve ever been around. What were my parents thinking?! Don’t they remember what it’s like to have young children???

But I was at a kids’ birthday party awhile back and overheard one of the dads talking about putting tape over the speakers to make the toy quieter. I immediately barged into the conversation and pleaded, “WHAT?!?! What do you do?!?!”

packingtape“You just put some packing tape over the speaker if you want to make it softer.”

I’m struck dumb with the sheer genius of this idea.

Then another mother in the conversation said, “Well, I tried that with one of Zoe’s toys, and it didn’t do enough, so I stuck sticky tack into the holes.”

I’m thinking, “People, you are changing my life.”

Here’s something to consider: I remember when we were helping with a preschool Sunday School class a few years ago. They shared that one way to get kids’ attention was to lower your voice to a whisper, and then everyone quiets down to be able to hear. They attend better to that change in volume, rather than raising your voice above the sea of 4-year-old voices. And it worked!

Is it possible that the same could be true for toys? Rather than trying to be the loudest toy in the room, could it engage a child better if it were softer?

Anyway, I’m off to arm myself with packing tape and sticky tack, to see if I can thwart toy manufacturers’ attempts to give my children conductive hearing loss.


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34 Comments Add your own

  • 1. patty broberg  |  January 26, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    I’ve done the packaging tape thing for years. Some toys have several layers. I actually took one toy APART because the speaker was just in the middle of it. I wrapped the speaker in packaging tape and then put it back together.

    Yes, it’s a beautiful idea, isn’t it?!

  • 2. jamsco  |  January 26, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    We used to have a stuffed Barney Dinosaur doll (a gift – we certainly didn’t buy it) that sang (his typical songs) loudly. We came upstairs to the boys bedroom one night and heard a very high pitched (annoying) tone and we figured out that it was from the Barney doll. I was swinging it into things to try to get it to stop.

    My kids were upset when the came up and found me repeatedly banging their stuffed dinosaur doll into the wall.

  • 3. C.  |  January 26, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    I think kids play more imaginatively, as well as play longer with toys that don’t make noise or require batteries. That’s true in my situation at least. I’ve found that they are forced to make their own noises and invent their own stories and tend to continue that sort of play longer.

  • 4. Andrea  |  January 26, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    My husband once took apart a noisy toy and put a thin layer of cotton batting over the speaker before putting it back together and THEN doing the tape trick. Worked very nicely. 🙂

  • 5. Melissa  |  January 26, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    I think we have one of those cars. The noise doesn’t bother me as much as the car’s ATTITUDE. It says, “Hey! Show some respect, Holmes!” and “Low and slow…” What does that even mean and why would you want a kid to speak like that?!

  • 6. Jess  |  January 26, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    I am so with you on this one! At one point a toy remote control got in my diaper bag (and it stayed there way too long) and every once in a while as I was carrying it, or if we hit a bump in the car, we could hear an elephant, or a dog, or even numbers in spanish, english and french. The worst loud toy yet is one we got this Christmas…one of those sit and spins. I remember loving these as a kid, but of course the modern day version has at least 8 different types of music blasting out of it. Some toys have a volume switch that at least lets you set the noise on a lower level, and the good toys have an off switch that lets you end the madness if you accidentally set it off. This sit and spin however, has none of those, it makes you endure it until the song ends. I don’t think the batteries will be replaced in this one!!!!

  • 7. Jennifer S  |  January 26, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    I remember my husband telling me after our 1st daughter was born that he read somewhere (I know real specific, aren’t I) that the pediatric doctor’s association said that most childrens toys were too loud and at a level that would actually damage their hearing.

  • 8. Greta  |  January 26, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    Our son got some “shake and go” cars too (for Christmas)…I wonder if they’re the same ones. One says, “Speed??? I AM speed?” Thankfully they can be turned off.

    I got one of those toy keyrings (BIG MISTAKE). The thing can NOT be turned off. Who invents a baby toy that can’t be turned off? Who??!?

  • 9. Jessica  |  January 26, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    I love the well-communicated delight and bafflement in your practical “Eureka!” moments !

  • 10. laura  |  January 26, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    ooooh that is a clever idea! ::slapping my forehead:: that could save us all some grief in the after christmas/birthday present madness of loud toys.

    of course my personal favorite is to encourage them to use it as much as possible (in their own rooms away from me) so the batteries run out.

  • 11. jennapants  |  January 26, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    “…you’re changing my *life*! ”


    Noise toys are brutal. When my children are playing independently, I don’t want to hear Optimus Prime’s voice talking smack about the Decepticons and what not. I want to hear distant imaginings and chortles…or, even better, silence.

  • 12. Erin  |  January 26, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    I blogged about this EXACT same thing right after Christmas! 😉 I hate noisy toys with a passion.

  • 13. Boysmum2  |  January 26, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    Noisy toys are the bain of any parents life, but I found I don’t mind them as long as they have that magic ON/OFF button.

  • 14. Debby  |  January 26, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    Duct tape works great for us, although now I might move to packing tape (thanks for that tip!). It sounds more attractive. Almost every single “noisy” toy we have has a big slab of duct tape over the speaker!

  • 15. robin  |  January 26, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    helpful tip… kiddo would see the packing tape and proceed to tear it off. so then i used CLEAR packing tape. she didn’t notice it. noisy toy problem solved!

  • 16. Amber  |  January 26, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    I love these tips!
    I always wanted to buy some thin sheet foam at a hardware store or something (akin to the foam on earphones) and insert a piece into the speaker. Of course, that would have meant actually buying the foam and actually taking the toy apart and laying a piece of foam on the inside.

    Which is probably why I never got around to it.

    Your tape and sticky tack method is MUCH more likely to happen. 🙂

  • 17. Angie  |  January 26, 2009 at 11:46 pm

    Some toys even have an internal secret off switch which can come in pretty handy. Just don’t let the kid see why you’re operating on their toys.

  • 18. Vailzee  |  January 27, 2009 at 4:41 am

    Found your blog after going thru “22 words”. Found that one thru the blog awards site. Anyway – thought I would share about loud toys … Train up a child in the way he should go …. because ……. There is nothing louder than drums!

    When my son was 2 – my sister thought it would be fun to give him a Mickey Mouse Drum Set. Well he hit and banged that thing every time we played music! My favorite video has him screaming at the top of his lungs, playing the drums, while singing “Pwince Awi, Fabyouwus, He, Awi of Bobwah!!”

    My son is now 17 and in band that is doing very well. For a while they practiced at our house. Yeah – guitars, amps, microphones, the whole shabang! Talk about loud toys! We wore ear plugs. We could not even watch the TV or answer the phone. Thankfully our youth minister offered the band a great place to practice. Now the ‘music’ is elsewhere as is his 3rd drum set. But ….. son # 3 also plays drums. He has the oldest son’s 2nd drumset He is an all county percussionist thru school. (So was the oldest) He is 12 and has also been playing since he was 3. He is thinking about being a music teacher. He plays with our worship band on Sundays. But he is still very loud!

    And I can’t leave out son #2 (age 15) . He doesn’t play drums. He likes the guitar. Both of his plug in. They plug into the big amp his dad said he needed. And yeah he loves music too. He listens to his mp3 player. But there is this awful awful music out there called SCREAMO. It is this death curdling vocal gaging sound – that he just can’t get enough of. He justifies it with “but mom they are Christian lyrics”. My response … Who can hear what they are saying!!”

    Moral of the story – you can tape toys, you can ban toys – but there will always, always be loud noise when it comes to boys.

    Okay so maybe that is just my house …..

  • 19. amy sanders  |  January 27, 2009 at 7:40 am

    you have revolutionized my life–i know the first toy to go. a barney steering wheel given by my blessed mother.

  • 20. Crystal  |  January 27, 2009 at 8:45 am

    THANK YOU! Yes, I’m shouting…over the toys. I really wonder why some of them don’t even have an off switch. We had a see & say school bus hidden under our couch for a really long time because of that.

  • 21. lb  |  January 27, 2009 at 9:13 am

    one day at a picnic, the kids had one of those magnetic fishing games. the fish go ’round and ’round in a plastic pool randomly opening their mouths. the game was fun enough for kids. the music was a different story.

    so i walked over to the kids armed with my swiss army knife, opened the speaker cover, and simply cut one of the small wires to the speaker. if there was a need to restore sound to the device, i could remedy that back at the office with my soldering iron.

    peace settled upon the camp. but i still feel a little guilty about it.

  • 22. Christen  |  January 27, 2009 at 10:35 am

    I got one of the toy keyrings that “jingle” every time anyone even thinks about touching them. I hated them before my son was even born. Now he’s 4 months and starting to enjoy them…. yes, I still have them. It’s some kind of weird compassion of a parent towards a child… I hate them, he likes them but wouldn’t care if he never saw them again in his life, and yet they’re still here. Maybe I should go toss them…

  • 23. Jen B.  |  January 27, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    I remember our son’s first Christmas. We traveled by plane to visit my parents where he received a toy phone. Somehow on the flight back it got switched on, so around the luggage carousel it came in our suitcase shouting, “Four, Four!” and playing it’s little ditty! So embarrasing!

  • 24. Lindsey  |  January 27, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    My son has a couple of toys that he doesn’t realize should batteries in them. Just a steering wheel with no sound or whatever.

    Have you seen these:

    My son got them for his first birthday and they’re fantastic. So much so that I once wrote a blog post about them:

    But the short version is that they’re the toy we took to everybody else’s house because they weren’t obnoxious.

  • 25. Erin  |  January 27, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Yes! Amen to packing tape for less noisy and less annoying kids toys!

  • 26. Ashlee  |  January 27, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    This is so funny! Thanks for sharing! I told our family that if they bought Noah noisy toys we were keeping them at their house! However, he still ended up with a few at our house, but they’re not too bad. I was impressed that some toys have a tab you pull out when you get it out of the package that decreases the volume from the volume it has in the store and a few of them have two different volume levels. Anyway, I’ll keep the packing tape in mind for future noisy toys!

  • 27. David King  |  January 28, 2009 at 11:25 am

    It’s not just the volume of the toys; it’s also the number of those infernal things. We have bought some toys for our kids, but grandparents, friends, relatives insist on giving my kids too many toys. So my beloved-bride and I regularly work on a toy diaspora. If you want some let me know. In the meantime, please give my kidlets good books (and let me define good!).

  • 28. Melissa Parnell  |  January 28, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    Thanks for the reminder and for letting us borrow that phone!

    a “tape over the speaker of all annoying toys” day is coming soon to our household. Especially the weird one that says “Can you please push me now?”

  • 29. Shannon Archer  |  January 28, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    hmmm…that car looks familiar…it may be the one I got tired of listening to and pawned off on the PipersL-)

  • 30. Kelly @ Love Well  |  January 28, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    This. Is. BRILLIANT!

    Now, could you come up with a way to make winter shorter?

  • 31. Nikki  |  January 29, 2009 at 12:44 am

    That’s a great idea.

    We have a wooden barnyard animal puzzle that my son got for Christmas. Whenever you fit the correct piece in the puzzle, it is supposed to “reward you” by making that animal’s sound. Cute idea. However, the sensers are out of whack, and respond to any change in light. So almost every time I turn off the lights in the living room I am rewarded with an electronic animal sound (which can be creepy in the middle of the night). So the duct tape idea is tempting…although the speaker is on the top of the puzzle, and duct tape may ruin the aesthetics.

  • 32. Shalana  |  January 30, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    And when all else fails…they get to go in the bathtub with the kiddies for bathtime! And they never make any more noise again!

  • 33. Tanya  |  January 31, 2009 at 11:45 am

    I heard somewhere (I think it was 20/20) that if you have to talk over the toy for your child to hear you, then that toy is way too loud and could cause hearing damage.

    My husband recently grabbed a loud toy and put tape over the speaker and I was dumb struck with his brilliance. Sheesh, why didn’t I think of that years ago?

  • 34. Allison Hirsch  |  February 2, 2009 at 8:04 am

    Hmmm… I’m a new parent, so maybe I’m a bit naive, but we’ve decided to have a battery-operated-toy-free house for our little one. He’s only 8 months old, so he hasn’t clamored for any noisy toys yet, Battery-free toys (which don’t even have little speakers) that he’ll have to bang and wack to make noise are A-OK in my book.


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