Choosing the best headphones for your children is important because using the wrong ones could cause life-long damage to their hearing.
Headphones for kids are essential tech kit for parents as (1) none of us want to hear Spongebob for more than ten minutes or be subjected to either blam-blam action gaming or the high-pitched whine of Alvin the Chipmunk, and (2) maybe we can listen to something else while the kids are amused on the computer, tablet, phone or TV.
Another good reason for investing in child-specific headphones is for use on long-haul flights. Getting your child to watch a couple of movies during a boring flight is a big bonus for parents. The trouble is that airline-supplied headphones aren’t designed for small heads and so often slip off. These kids headphones shouldn’t do that.
But putting adult headphones on to your children’s head could endanger their hearing. See more on child headphone use below.
You should also consider fit, comfort and design, but also limit the amount of time a child uses headphones whatever the volume – our favourites now are:
Puro Sound Labs PuroQuiet
Griffin KaZoo MyPhones
Puro Sound BT2200
KitSound Mini Movers
Read our fuller kids headphones reviews below.
The maximum noise level recommended by many auditory health organizations is 85 decibels (dB), and to get our recommendation a child’s set of headphones shouldn’t, we believe, go any louder than that – Maxell and Sony sell kids sets at 90dB. Adult headphones usually peak at 115 decibels (equivalent to a loud train), and experts warn that you could experience severe hearing loss after just 15 minutes of listening at that level every day.
There’s a pair of headphones reviewed below that are made specifically for gamers – and this is vitally important as players can be listening to loud explosions and other ear killers for hours on end.
Are any headphones safe for kids?
Experts also suggest that the time spent listening to headphones should be limited to two hours a day (for children and adults), even if the volume is limited at 85dB.
Limiting the volume on headphones you give to your kids is obviously a wise decision if you want to help protect their hearing, but some experts warn against children using any type of headphones.
While the World Health Organization (WHO) and EU state that 85dB is an effective safety limit, the US Environmental Protection Agency and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 70dB as the average daily noise exposure level. That 85dB level is derived from occupational studies of noise exposure and hearing loss for adults, not children.
The trouble is that 70dB is very quiet and will likely not drown out ambient noise, so 85dB becomes the norm despite it being potentially damaging to a young person’s hearing.
Children’s ears are more sensitive to noise damage, due to growth and development of nerve fibres and other cells. Also because of their smaller external auditory canals, the eardrum is closer to the sound source.
Daniel Fink MD, who serves on the Board of the American Tinnitus Association, warns: “An industrial-strength occupational noise exposure level (85dB) meant for truck drivers, factory workers and miners is far too loud for a child’s delicate ears, which have to last her or him a lifetime.”
A sensible compromise would be to invest in a decent set of headphones that limits volume, but also limit the length of time children wear them.
Best headphones for kids
With those warnings taken on board, we’ve rounded up the best kids headphones (and some that don’t make the grade but are listed on Amazon and other retailers as suitable for kids) and tested them on a bunch of children and some discerning parents.
What we are looking for in a great set of kids headphones is an effective volume limiter to protect those sensitive ears, a good, comfortable fit for smaller heads, minimum noise leakage (the sound that others can hear outside of the headphones), and some kid-friendly fun in the design.
Don’t buy earbuds or any in-ear model for children – as the closer the sound source is to the delicate working of the inner ear, the more damage loud sound can do.
And just because your chosen headphones are volume limited, don’t let children wear them for hours on end. Even at 85dB prolonged headphone usage is not recommended.
Always remember that corded headphones pose a strangulation risk to young children, and as such most warn against under threes wearing them unsupervised. One solution is wireless headphones, although these cost more and require regular battery charging. If you can afford it, Bluetooth kids headphones are well worth consideration.
TOP best kids headphones
#Puro Sound Labs PuroQuiet Kids Headphones
If you’re looking for a great pair of volume-limited headphones for kids, the Puro Sound Labs PuroQuiet Kids Headphones are the best that we’ve tested. These are a bit pricier than our previous favorite—the Puro BT2200—but they offer a killer new feature: noise cancellation. Though it may seem like a luxury feature for many children, it’s an awesome addition for kids who have sensory issues.
For other children, the noise-cancellation helps reduce the urge to crank the volume to the absolute max. Though volume-limiting headphones are critical for protecting your child’s hearing, the recommended max of 85dB(a) simply isn’t very loud. These headphones help solve for that by further cutting down ambient noise.
In our lab tests, the PuroQuiets were some of the best noise-canceling headphones we’ve tested, cutting down a significant amount of ambient noise with no major technical issues. Though our tests showed they could get up to around 87 decibels(a), that’s still near the recommended level that experts deem safe for most children up to 8 hours.
The main drawback here is the price, but Puro frequently discounts these. Headphones that cost around $100 (or higher) can be pricey for younger kids who are likely to forget them somewhere (or simply break them), but for an older kid wanting nicer headphones, these are worth the investment.
The wireless capability ensures that your kid can’t easily circumvent the volume protections, provide a tangle-free listening experience and they will work with a wider range of modern devices including newer smartphones that don’t have built-in headphone jacks. Just note that if the battery dies you can use the included cable, but the volume limiter on the cable only works when plugged in the right way.
Cuts ambient noise with no technical issues
Safe for up to 8 hours
#Puro Sound Labs BT2200 Kids Headphones
Our previous “Best Overall” pick for volume-limiting kids’ headphones, the Puro Sound Labs BT2200 is a really competitive option if you like the PuroQuiet but want something a bit cheaper. The main difference between the two is the lack of noise-cancellation and the price, which drops to around $70 on sale (compared to $100) .
In our tests, the BT2200s played at about 82-84.6dB(a) when used wirelessly at full volume, with about 12 hours of battery life. And because they run off their own internal power when in Bluetooth mode, there’s no risk of them being overpowered. When used wired with our standard source (an iPhone 7 Plus with the Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter), they topped outright at the 85dB(a) threshold, assuming you plug the volume-limiting cable in the right way.
Our one issue is that the cable can easily be plugged in the wrong way (I did, the first time). This pushed the max volume to 96-100dB(a) in our tests, which could cause damage. The cable does have “Headphones→” written on it so you know which end is which, but these should really be designed so the cable only plugs in the correct way.
As long as you’re willing to police this issue (or just have your kids use them wirelessly) these are a premium product that would be perfect for an older child. They’re stylish, offer soft padding in their ear cups, built like a premium product, and they have rock-solid user reviews over the years. If you don’t need noise cancellation for your kids’ headphones, these are a perfect backup pick.
12 hours of battery life
Soft padding in ear cups
Cable can easily be plugged in incorrectly
#Sakar Hello Kitty
These kids’ headphones are made by Sakar and are identical to other versions, except with Hello Kitty branding. Though we can’t guarantee all 14 variations of this model are identical, we tested this model and a model with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle branding (now off the market) and they performed similarly.
This Hello Kitty version was within 0.1dB(a) of the Ninja Turtles model and both were below the 85dB(a) threshold when used properly. Beyond the volume-limiting and the basic branding, it’s important to know that these are cheap and will probably break at some point—but the same could be said of almost every pair in this roundup. If you’re cool with that (or know your kids will break them anyway), these headphones are a good, affordable option.
Will break easily
Though these are marketed as working primarily with LeapFrog’s line of tablets and other devices, these are standard over-ear headphones like all the rest on this list, which means that they’ll work with any audio source that has a headphone jack. They’re well-built, comfy, and a bit bigger than the other models on this list, so they’ll be a bit loose on a toddler, but will fit an older child or a preteen well.
These are marketed as having a maximum volume of 85dB(a), but in our tests they output around 88dB(a), with certain songs pushing them up to 90 or 91dB(a) for short stretches. That’s a bit louder than the ideal value, so you’ll want to set volume limits on whatever device you’re using so they fall safely within the recommended levels. Still, for a good pair of all-around headphones for a slightly older child these aren’t a bad bet—if you take precautions.
Need to set volume limits
#LilGadgets Untangled Pro Premium
These super-popular wireless headphones are not a bad alternative to the Puro BT2200 Bluetooth model. Even though we have some reservations about the wired version (the LilGadgets Connect+ Premium), these were much better. They’re still more flimsy than the Puro BT2200s, but they seem comfy and well-built.
In our tests, these did a great job of keeping noise to the recommended level—when used wirelessly. With Bluetooth, we observed sound levels of 83-87dB(a), which is close enough to the mark. The issue is that the included wire doesn’t do enough (if anything) to limit volume, and in wired mode, these got up to 92.4-96dB(a). That’s a bit too loud according to the experts, so if the battery runs out or you need to use the wire, you’ll want to set hard volume limits on your device.
Need to set volume limits
#Kidz Gear Wired Headphones for Kids
Kidz Gear makes two of the most popular kid-friendly headphones on the market, and this wired pair is affordable and available in a bunch of fun, bright colors. They’re also quite flimsy and mostly made of plastic, but the biggest issue is that they don’t have a built-in volume-limiting cable. Instead, these headphones rely on an adapter to do the heavy lifting.
The main problem is that the adapter is small and easy to lose. It’s even easier to remove intentionally. And while these tested below the recommended level with the adapter (hovering between 82-85dB(a)), they were way too loud without it, topping out at around 108dB(a). Unless you plan to watch your kids like a hawk all of the time, these aren’t the best option for safe listening.
Fun color and design
No volume-limiting cable
#LilGadgets Connect+ Premium
The LilGadgets Connect+ Premium headphones were probably the most intriguing pair of headphones we tested in this group. These are affordable and they feel like they’re well-built, with a removable cable and two ports so you can hook up a second pair of headphones. In our tests, they were too loud to be used at full volume (94-96dB(a)), but generally, these seem like a decent pick if you can lock in lower volume limits.
Where these get real fishy is when we compare them to the other models pictured above: the Snug Play+ and Nenos Children’s Best headphones; they are identical, despite being from ostensibly different companies. This is because many manufacturers, particularly in China, let you purchase products like this in bulk, apply your own branding, and sell them through a service like Amazon.
The problem with that model is it’s very difficult to get customer service issues resolved in a timely manner, there’s no guarantee the company you’re buying it from has done any actual safety testing, and there is usually a wide variance in build quality. Our advice? Play it safe and go with one of our better picks above.
None that we could find
No guarantee of safety testing
Poor customer service
#JLab Audio JBuddies
The JLab Audio JBuddies are well-made wireless kids headphones that limit volume to 85dB.
They are comfortable with foam cushions, and they fold to save space and keep them safe when not in use. They would suit ages 8 and up more than tiny tots, and the design is pretty gender and age neuutral.
Audio quality is fine for the price.
Bluetooth is great as it removes any cord safety issues, although you must remember to keep them charged as they don’t (unlike some others tested here) come with a detachable cable for wired listening.
Battery life is stated as 13 hours – long enough for even a long-haul flight, although we’d recommend some sleep instead!
One annoyance was the instructions that didn’t explain the “automatic” Bluetooth connection adequately – the secret is to hold the power button for 30 or so seconds until it flashed blue and red.
#Griffin KaZoo MyPhones
Griffin’s KaZoo MyPhones are available in several fun animal designs: a frog and a penguin for the over-ear headphones, and now monkey and even SpongeBob.
I was worried that my seven-year-old daughter would find these too kiddy but she loved the design. (She was still wearing them aged nine, but moved on to slightly less kiddy designs when she hit double figures). Older kids would probably prefer something a bit less childish – like the company’s Crayola MyPhones.
The KaZoo MyPhones have built-in volume-limiting circuitry that keeps the sound pressure down to levels recommended as safe for young ears. The always-on sound-control circuit caps peak volume levels at 85 decibels – the maximum level recommended by many auditory health organizations.
The headphones fit a child’s head (ages 3+) well, and are comfortable with generous round-the-ear padding. Expanded to maximum they would still fit an average 10-12 year’s old head.
They also feel pretty robust, which is another important feature in anything you hand over to a child!
The padding isn’t just for comfort. It helps reduce noise leakage so only the child hears whatever it is they’re listening to.
The cord is 1.2m long, which is slightly longer than average for headphones.
The KaZoo headphones are certainly kid-friendly with their fun animal designs. The kids we tested these on were delighted with the little touch where the headphone jack is shaped for fun, too. The penguin set has a jack shaped like a fish, and the frog has a tadpole jack.
#Puro Sound BT2200
While many kids headphones are quite plastic-y the Puro Sound Labs BT2200 headphones look more like a high-end adult audio product, and the cost reflects this, too.
You don’t get just a more stylish, less kiddy look. The audio quality of these headphones is also noticeably higher, even using Bluetooth.
That’s right, the Puro BT2200 are wireless, too – which is great if you’ve had too many cables damaged by a child yanking them around, or you’re worried about the cable wrapping round a small neck.
Volume is limited to 85dBA, and we found that this was more than sufficient. DSP-based volume limiting means that the electronics actively monitor volume levels, with the limiter kicking in only when the sound reaches 85dBA.
These headphones go further than just limiting the volume. They also block background noise, attenuating 82 percent of sound at 1kHz. This reduces the need to turn them up to a dangerous level even when in a noisy environment such as an airplane.
The comfortable ear cushions also help block outside noise. The ear cups and head band are made of durable aluminium, while the ear cushion and band cover are leather. There are available in Purple, Blue, Pink and Grey.
Using Bluetooth means that these headphones need to be charged, and the “up to 18 hours” of battery life should be enough for most journeys. If the battery does run out there’s a detachable cable included. Volume controls are situated on the left ear piece.
The Puro Sound Labs BT2200 headphones certainly cost more than most kids headphones but the higher audio quality, build and wireless function make them serious contenders as our favourites.
#Puro Sound Labs PuroQuiet
Also from Puro are the PuroQuiet kids headphones, which are a class apart from most of the cheaper headphones reviewed here.
They are not just volume-limited (to the standard 85dB) but offer active noise-cancelling (up to 22 dB). Just flick the ANC switch on the right ear cup, and background noise is filtered out, and the audio quality improves significantly.
There are volume buttons on the left cup, with the power on/off switch. The volume did sound a little higher than some of the other headphones – not excessively so, but still noticeable. If you can trust your child not to keep pushing volume up, then you shouldn’t have any problems.
Using Bluetooth, the PuroQuiet do away with a cable, which also reduces risks of injury by entanglement. Wireless pairing was simple. In case you forget to charge the headphones (via the included microUSB cable), there’s a detachable cable included, as well as a nice carry case to protect them when not in use.
Available in rather gender-based Blue and Pink,These headphones seem built to last compared to some of the cheaper plastic sets. If you can afford the extra you get your money’s worth.
There’s a special deal on the PuroQuiet until January 1, 2020; see pricing above.
#Puro Sound Labs JuniorJams
At the cheaper end of the Puro Sound Labs, range are the JuniorJams.
These wireless, lightweight foldable on-ear headphones feature volume limiting (to the standard 85dB) are look as good as their pricier siblings, the BT2200 and PuroQuiet.
Sound quality is excellent – possibly the best we’ve heard on a kid’s product, and these look and feel like quality products.
That said, we found the maximum volume to be much higher than others tested here – this may be no bad thing as some find the volume limiters too quiet, but these headphones can go louder than we’d want on our head, let alone a child’s.
As such, you need to trust your child to not pump the volume up when you’re not around, and definitely not for the very young.
A cable is included so you can connect two headsets and then share via Bluetooth to a single phone or other music-giving devices.
That cable can also be used to connect to a phone (with a headphone jack or adapter, of course) if the batteries run out of juice for wireless play – which Puro claims is 22 hours.
Control buttons are located at the bottom of the right ear cup to play music, answer/reject calls and volume up/down.
They come in a durable soft carrying bag, plus all the cables you need to connect and charge.
#Kitsound Mini Movers
These wired kids’ headphones from Kitsound are very reasonably priced and offer volume-limited sound (85dB).
While the audio quality is hardly hi-fi, it’s fine for kids.
They feel comfortable and have an adjustable headband.
The cable is 1.2m long. They are available in two colors – rather obviously aimed at boys (Blue) and girls (Pink). Each has customizable ear cups and comes with pencils and blank cards.
Not all kid’s headphones are for Peppa Pig and Disney movies. The PuroGamer is a volume-limited set of headphones made especially for gamers.
Puro is a hearing-sensitive audio brand we’ve reviewed elsewhere here, and now it has what it calls a “world-first” – gaming headphones that are volume-limited especially for youngsters (older kids and teens), although they’ll fit any adult, too.
In fact, Tech Advisor’s resident adult gamer said he was impressed with the audio quality, and actually grew to appreciate the limited volume, despite initially wanting to boost to tympanic-membrane tearing levels.
Unless you play games yourself, you might not be aware of how loud some can get – with explosions, gunfire and screeching tires; let alone some other 12-year-old screaming in multiplayer mode.
Volume is limited to 85dB, although parents should remember that even at that level prolonged exposure is potentially damaging to sensitive ears – at least you know it can’t go any higher.
Audio can be via 3.5mm audio jack or USB. Volume can be controlled from the cable’s mic toggle switch.
There’s a detachable gaming omnidirectional microphone that isolates your voice by blocking ambient noise while still picking up your speech from any direction.
The mic is adjustable, so it’s not in the way when you don’t need it.
Puro believes gamers will get a competitive edge with the clear audio, but at the same time not wreck the player’s hearing.
Woke gamers will also be happy that the breathable padded “leather” is vegan. These are comfortable (weighing 370g) and should block out most outside noises – even mum or dad shouting that it’s dinner not screen time!
PuroGamer is compatible with PC, Xbox, PlayStation, and mobile devices, but can also be used for listening to music and movies, of course.
The cable length is 140cm, with a split cable length of 20cm for USB and 3.5mm audio jack.
Another more-mature-looking set of headphones, the KitSound Levellers look like old-school DJ cans and are available in black (which we tested). The white model we saw on Amazon looked quite different, however, so we’re not sure they are the same specifications.
Sound quality is at the top end for kids’ headphones, and the volume is safely limited to 85dB. There was no problem with these sounding too quiet, as our child tester found with a few of the kid’s headphones reviewed here.
There’s a volume control on the long (1.6m) cable, which appears tougher than most of the plastic cables we found. One problem was that the fatter headphone jack support meant that the cable kept slipping out of the iPhone headphone port when the phone was in a protective case. Outside of the case, the jack fitted just fine.
The large size and soft ear cushions made some of the most comfortable headphones we tested. They should also block out more background noise.
While we’d be wary of using these with a phone in a case we liked the KitSound Levellers look and feel, and sound quality.
Also from KitSound the My Doodles headphones feature 85dB volume limiting, plus a very wide range of colorful designs to choose from.
They are comfortable to wear and can fit quite large heads so they are suitable for any age. They could even become a hipster fashion statement!
The sound quality was more than acceptable, not the very best on test here (see Puro headphones above) but decent all the same.
#EasySMX Kids safe Headphones
The EasySMX Kids Headset are lightweight, comfortable and colorful, with a maximum 85-decibel rating, although we found these headphones louder than some of the others here.
The over-the-head, adjustable design with foam ear cushions ensures a secure and comfortable fit, and they are some of the lightest we tested, so great for traveling.
If you don’t mind the slightly louder volume (our tester wanted to keep the volume turned down, and that’s fine but you have to trust your child), as some kids complain volume-limiting keeps sound too quiet, then the EasySMX headset might suit you.
#JVC Tiny Phones
The JVC Tiny Phones (HA-KD5) are well made and feature comfortable soft padding, which also restricts noise leakage. The headband is wide and seems robust.
They are available in two vivid models (pink/purple and yellow/blue) with obvious girl/boy choices. They are built for ages 4 and up. Again, they’d expand to fit most (even adult) heads.
The volume limiter (85dB) is good – slightly louder than the Griffin MyPhones but much more acceptable than others on test.
The cord is 0.8m, which is about right for laptop/tablet/phone use but might require an extender for TV viewing.
You need to have these headphones on the right way round for comfort. There’s an R and L to show the correct side, but if your kid doesn’t know his or her left from right you may get a complaint every other time they’re put on incorrectly. Hey, maybe it’ll teach them their left from their right!
A bonus with the JVC kid’s headphones is customizability. The child can decorate the headphones using the supplied stickers that include letters and pictures. We had the purple/pink set in for test and the stickers included hearts, wands, teddies, and bunnies – so I’d hope the blue/yellow pair come with more boyish stickers!
To be fair you could slap any old stickers on these or any of the headphones on test here, but it’s a gimmick that will attract some parents – and most kids!
We liked the JVC HA-KD5 Tiny Phones. They’re not too tiny and should fit most kids’ heads so the name might needlessly put some parents off.
Do Kids Need Special Headphones?
By our thirties, if not sooner, the vast majority of us have some form of hearing loss compared with the pristine abilities of a young person’s ears. Kids can hear frequencies older people can’t, mainly because they haven’t been exposed to the loud elements of the world for as much time as we have. Aside from quick, intense bursts of loud sound, the main reason for hearing loss is prolonged, continuous exposure to audio at high levels. It should come as no surprise that headphones and earphones are, therefore, the culprits behind much of the gradual hearing loss in adults. In the smartphone and tablet era, kids are listening to headphones from an early age, and the need to keep overall volume levels to a reasonable maximum is real.
Also, kids break things, lose things, or simply tire of things and stop using them. All of these issues factor into the decisions manufacturers make when designing headphones for kids. Excellent sound quality with volume limitation might be all your child needs, but perhaps a waterproof build or a budget-friendly price is more important to you. Here we’ll tackle the basics of kids’ headphones and what to pay attention to when shopping for a pair. We’ve also listed the seven best models we’ve tested to date.
What Is Volume Limiting?
First off, beware of headphones that are marketed for kids—with colorful patterns or popular characters emblazoned on the headband, for instance—but have no volume-limiting at all. Not all kids’ headphones are concerned with keeping the volume to a reasonable level. That said, we only review pairs that claim to keep the volume low.
Though most kids’ headphones aim for volume levels below 85dB, not every model limits volume in the same way. Perhaps the most straightforward is to go with a wireless pair that connects via Bluetooth, as Bluetooth shouldn’t exceed the advertised volume limit. But be advised that some Bluetooth models ship with audio cables for wired listening, and might only offer true volume limitation in wireless mode. Sometimes, as with the LilGadgets Untangled Pro, the wired listening experience can be notably louder.
Do Kids Need Mics?
These days, if a pair of headphones intended for adults comes with a cable that has no inline remote or microphone, it had better be a professional model intended for the recording studio or designed for use with home theaters and stereos. Simply put, most people connect their headphones to their smartphone and often use them to take calls while on the go.
With kids’ headphones, however, it’s less clear whether the lack of a mic is a disadvantage. Not every parent necessarily wants a mic built into headphones for their child. For instance, you might not want to encourage your child to use their headphones like a gaming headset. It’s worth checking out our reviews to see if your pair of choice includes a mic or not.
I wish you find the right headphones for your child.