You love music, and you want your kids share that passion. But you know the damage you’ve done to your ears with the countless number of times you’ve seen The National and Radiohead live. Not to mention blasting your favorite songs at full volume through your headphones. Kids’ headphones are a great investment for those who want to share the gift of music with their children while also protecting their hearing. Plus it gives parents a little welcome silence as well.
Kids headphones are a bit different from adult headphones. For hearing protection, kids’ headphones limit the maximum output of volume. You are going to want a pair that cancels exterior noise as well. Anything around the 85 dB of maximum sound is considered a safe volume for kids.
You’ll also want to look for headphones that are comfortable for a wide age group. Try to buy a pair that your kid can grow with, instead of having to replace headphones every year.
Protect your kids’ hearing with our recommendations for the best kids’ headphones below.
1. Puro BT2200
This is a solid pair of safe, comfortable and great sounding headphones for children. The size and design of the headphones allow them to be used on both toddlers and children. Since these fit so many age groups, you can buy these for your toddler and the kiddo can continue to use the same pair as they grow up. Although you generally buy kids’ headphones for the safety features, they should still sound good, and the BT2200 are simply good sounding headphones, whether children or adults are listening through them. Often, sound quality is lacking with children’s headphones, but neither parents nor children have to worry about crumby sound with this pair. In terms of safety, the noise cancelling will keep your child’s ears protected during airplane rides and will keep them preoccupied with their Pokemon soundtrack as you vacuum around them at home. This pair of headphones checks all the boxes for both kids and parents.
2. JLab JBuddies Studio
The JLab JBuddies are a good pair of headphones for kids ages six and up. One cool thing about these headphones for kids is the design; it doesn’t look like a pair of kids’ headphones. If you have a kid that wants to be more like the grown-ups, these headphones are a good place to start. The fabric and the slightly stretchy headband make them comfortable for a variety of head sizes. Even though they are comfortable like the Puro BT2200, they certainly don’t have the same sound quality. But that is the compromise you’ll make for a pair of inexpensive headphones. What you won’t compromise on is safe volume levels. Since this is a corded model — it’s also available in Bluetooth – the volume won’t get louder or quieter depending on whether the device is connected via Bluetooth or with a cord, which is a common issue with kids’ headphones. They do block out a substantial amount of outside noise, but we wouldn’t suggest taking your child to their first rock concert in these. Overall, it’s a great budget headphone that keep your kids’ hearing protected and won’t drive you nuts if they thrash them.
3. Etymotic ETY Kids 5
Over-the-ear headphones aren’t for every kid. The headbands and cushions pressing against their ears can be uncomfortable for some kids. For those who seek an alternative to over-the-ear headphones, we suggest the Etymotic ETY Kids 5. These earbud style noise reducing headphones don’t even look like a children’s pair of headphones. They don’t come in bright colors or have a wild design. They look like an adult pair of earbuds, and actually, adults can wear them too. These are made to limit volume when listening. If you were to crank the volume on your phone while listening to music, it would remain at safe levels. The earbuds work like ear plugs, and they work quite well. PCMag stated these can reduce outside volume by 35 dB, which is like bringing the sound of a lawnmower down to the volume of a normal conversation. The biggest issue with earbuds though is that everyone’s ear canal is different. The ETY Kids 5 does come with three different sizes of earbuds, but if they don’t fit your only option is a custom order, and that can get pricey. If you’ve tried over-the-ear headphones for your kid and they just don’t want to keep them on, we suggest giving these earbuds a shot.
4. Onanoff BuddyPhones Explore
BEST FOR TODDLERS
This is a solid choice for kids ages 2-4. The small design, cushy headband and ear collars, as well as the bright colors make them fun and comfortable for smaller children. They are also relatively inexpensive, so even if your kiddo treats them like a rag doll, you won’t be too upset if you have to replace them. If you child happens to snag the cable on something while blitzing around the house, it won’t matter. The cable on the headphones is detachable, making them a little more durable to the common mishaps of children. Another nice feature is that these headphones can fold, so you can easily pack them in your child’s daypack without taking up too much room. While unpacked and on your child’s head, they do a decent job at limiting output volume. According to WireCutter, these headphones maintain between 82.1 dB and 88.6 dB of maximum volume output, which is slightly above the 85 dB that you should look for, but its close and still within safe ranges. If you have a rambunctious toddler running around the house that needs headphones, this is a durable, and inexpensive choice.
5. Puro Sound Labs PuroQuiet
BEST NOISE CANCELLING
The Puro Quiet is one of the few kids’ headphones on the market with legit active noise cancellation. With it deactivated, the passive noise cancellation of the padded over-the-ear cups block out 22 dB of sound. With the active noise cancelling on, Puro Sound Labs claims it can reduce outside noise up to 82 percent. Essentially, you could bring your kid along with you to your favorite concert, have them wear these headphones with the ANC on, and their ears would be safe. On top of excellent noise cancelling, these headphones have a sound quality that is well balanced, producing clear highs and a deep low-end, all without sounding blaring or too loud. These are a great choice for your children, but they are more expensive than most of the other options we listed.
6. Kids Gear Wired Headphones
As opposed to the Puro Quiet Kids Headphones, the Kids Gear Wired Headphones are on the opposite end of the pricing spectrum, but they don’t sound like a complete flimsy pair of headphones. They don’t sound as good as any of the Puro’s or JBLs, but adults won’t scoff at the sound quality, either. The headphones have a volume limiting adapter that will keep the maximum output below 82 dB, but you can take the adapter off. Parents, be aware when the adapter is missing from the headphones. Now, if there is one thing that is pretty close to universal knowledge: kids break stuff. Luckily the Kids Gear Wired Headphones come with a lifetime warranty. So, if the kiddo does what kiddos do, you can return them and not be out an Andrew Jackson.
7. JBL JR300BT
BEST FOR OLDER KIDS
As you can imagine from a premier audio company like JBL, even on kids headphones, it doesn’t skimp on sound quality. Parent’s looking for a good sounding pair of headphones for their kid should seriously consider the JBL JR300BT. They are comfortable, Bluetooth and sound really good. We consider these better for older kids because of the button layout and feature set. There is only a Bluetooth button and power button on the right ear cup. The power button has more than just on/off functionality. Depending on how many times you press it or how long you hold it down, the power button also controls music playback and pausing. It takes a little bit of know-how, so toddlers might struggle with the controls and inadvertently turn the headphones off. Once your kids get the hang of the controls, it will continue to keep their hearing protected. The volume maxes out at 85 dB, which is a safe listening volume. The cushioned earphones keep outside noise out and great sound quality coming in. It’s a great choice for older kids and its available in a handful of different color options.
8. LilGadgets Untangled Pro
BEST FOR LOUDER VOLUME
These headphones can reach up to 93 dB, which can be useful when traffic is a little louder than normal or you and your child are on an airplane. For the volume limiting feature, you’ll definitely want to use these headphones via Bluetooth. They actually get noticeably louder when used with an audio cable. Plus, according to the manufacturer, the passive noise reduction reduces outside noise by -13 dB, so the need to listen to audio at max volume should be few and far between. The ear cups will most likely rest on the child’s ear as opposed to over the ear like most headphones, which could become uncomfortable over long stretches. When it comes to prolonged use, the LilGadgets Untangled Pro sport a 12-hour battery life, providing plenty of use before a recharge is necessary. If you have a set of kiddos, you can actually connect two sets of Untangled Pros together with a cable to listen to a single audio source. And, they sound good, like a normal pair of headphones, not just of the kid variety. These are a good investment for the twins on long road trips or plane rides.
9. MEE Audio KidJamz
BEST PARENTAL CONTROLS
The MEE Audio KidsJamz have volume limiting controls to help keep your kids’ ears safe, but there is also a hidden switch on one of the earbuds to turn the limiter off if a situation calls for having a bit more volume to distract your kid from the outside world. We recommend keeping the button a secret from your child, because if it is discovered, it does become rather easy to turn it on and off. Beyond the secret volume switch, their really isn’t any extras. The headphones are made mostly from plastic that does have some pliability to it, so don’t worry about your kid thrashing them a bit. They come in three different colors: black, purple and pink. That’s about all of thrills these headphones offer. Even though the lackluster design doesn’t suggest much audio prowess, these headphones actually sound quite good. Although they are inexpensive, you don’t compromise on sound quality. We like these headphones for the sound quality and adjustable volume control, but they might not be the most comfortable for all kids.