In this day and age, kids are using tech almost before they can walk, but headphones suitable for adults are not ok for children. Quite apart from the size, delicate young ears need to be cared for and protected so choosing the right headphones is vital.
Whether you’re looking for headphones for use at home, during long journeys or in the classroom, we’ve done the research for you to help you choose the best headphones for kids so you can have the peace of mind they are listening in complete comfort and safety.
These headphones from JLab are aimed at young kids from about two years and up. They weigh only 6.4oz and fold up when you’re not using them, making them easy to carry. They are available in several color options so you can choose the best phones to suit individual styles.
For the price, the sound quality on these headphones is higher than you might expect and they do a good job of keeping external noise out which means your kids won’t need to turn them up loud to hear properly if they’re being used in a noisy environment.
The color options are attractive and they come with a set of stickers too so your kids can customize them and make them just the way the want them. There is a sound control on the side making it easy to adjust the volume.
Strangely, despite the recommendation for maximum volume being 85 decibels, these headphones limit the sound to 90 which is potentially harmful to young ears. These headphones feel a little cheaply made, which at this price is understandable, and the foam pads can fall off easily.
Overall, these are the best affordable headphones for small kids and should appeal to youngsters who will appreciate the bright colors and customizable stickers. If your primary concern is ensuring they don’t damage their ears with loud music, other headphones are better at limiting volume.
- Flashy colors and customizable stickers
- Best sound quality for affordable headphones
- Lightweight and pack down small
- Block external sound well
We Didn’t Like:
- 90 decibels, above recommended limit
- Ear pads fall off easily
Best affordable Bluetooth headphones
These Bluetooth headphones from LilGadgets are designed for four year olds and up and are available in several cool-looking colors that will appeal to younger children. The Bluetooth operates at up to 30ft and battery life is around 12 hours. They include a detachable cable.
We like the way these headphones are designed, they look and feel very slick. They are comfortable to wear and your kids will enjoy wearing them as they look pretty flash. The fact that they are Bluetooth headphones is a big plus as the lack of a cable gives them extra freedom to move.
One feature we particularly liked was the sharing function. This means if you have two tikes, you can buy them both a set, plug them both into the same movie and enjoy whatever it is you want to do in perfect peace! This company is also known for excellent customer service and after-sales support.
The major worry with these phones is that the volume is limited to 93 decibels and not 85 which means you will have to teach your young ones about the dangers of listening too loud. They are a little uncomfortable if worn for long periods and they don’t fold away small, making them less portable.
These phones are an excellent choice in the middle of the price range and would be ideal for someone looking for a quality pair of Bluetooth headphones but not necessarily willing to spend the money for a premium pair. Not best for someone worried about limiting the volume.
- Well designed, look great
- Bluetooth and sharing capability
- Good battery life
We Didn’t Like:
- Volume limited to 93 decibels
- Bulky and don’t fold down small
Best budget option
Available in a range of vivid colors, these headphones from Kidz Gear are aimed at people shopping at the lower end of the market. They weigh 8.8oz and include a volume-limiting cable which is attached to the end of the regular cable to reduce sound levels.
These headphones are sold at a low price point so it would be unfair to expect too much from them – however, at this price, they represent excellent value. For a pair of headphones at this price, they will stand up to a fair amount of rough treatment and althought the sound quality may not be the best it is pretty good.
We really liked the range of color options which means your kids can choose a pair of phones they like the look of. They are also good at cutting noise so your children can hear what they are listening to without disturbing you or others around you.
The main problem with these headphones is a bizarre design choice the company seem to have made. Volume is limited by attaching a separate cable which, for youngsters, would be easy to lose. Also, when you aren’t supervising them, they may just choose to not use it.
Other minor gripes are that they don’t pack down small, making them bulky to transport, and the top headband is unpadded, making it hard and uncomfortable.
These headphones are the best choice for someone looking for an inexpensive pair of kids’ headphones – as long as you don’t mind using the extra cable. They are aimed at someone not wishing to spend too much money and if you want higher quality, you will need to spend more.
- Affordable headphones and good value
- Range of attractive colors
- Best sound quality for price
- Good at cutting noise
We Didn’t Like:
- Bizarre extra cable to limit volume
- Bulky don’t fold away
These headphones from Puro are at the deluxe end of the market and are constructed from durable aluminum. They work with both Bluetooth or via a cable and are available in five color options. They feature Puro limiter circuitry ensuring the volume never passes the critical 85-decibel level.
These look and feel very classy. They are obviously well made and look professional. They will appeal to those who are a little old for bright colors and stickers and who want something a bit more grown-up in style.
The volume limiting system is excellent and the phones do a great job of blocking external noise which means you won’t need to turn them up. As you would expect at this price point, the sound quality is excellent and easily outperforms any of the rivals. Battery life is about 18 hours.
We could only identify the most minor of drawbacks with these phones. There is no share option in Bluetooth mode so if you have two youngsters and two pairs, you will have to use cables and a splitter. They only come with a soft carry case and if you want a hard case to protect them, you have to pay.
These are a top-end pair of kids’ phones that justify their high price tag by their performance. They look good, they’re comfortable, they limit volume well and the sound quality is great – the only reason you wouldn’t want to buy these is because you are unwilling to pay so much for kids’ phones.
- Classy, pro-looking design
- Great sound quality
- Excellent volume reduction system
- 18 hours of battery per charge
We Didn’t Like:
- Lack of hard case – need to buy separately
- No share option on Bluetooth
Nabi claim these headphones are “DJ quality” and they are designed for fashion-conscious youngsters. They are only available in one color but are customizable with KINABIs and wraps. They have a parent mode and a kid mode which limits volume to 80 decibels.
The most striking thing about these is the look – they are designed to look cool and should appeal to older kids concerned about their image and looking their best. They have a grown-up feel and are comfortable to wear. The over-the-ear style blocks external noise well.
The key design feature about the Nabis is the parent/kid mode switch. This allows you to easily control the volume to protect their hearing. The sound quality is super and this is true in kid mode as well as parent mode.
These phones are quite big and heavy. They can’t be adjusted for small children so they might not be best for the youngest ones. The kid switch is also a little obvious. There is a light that shows when they are in parent mode but ittle hands can easily switch to this mode if nobody is monitoring.
It should be noted that these are not Bluetooth speakers although looking at them, you might have the impression that they are. They are supplied with two removable cables.
These would be the best choice if your kids value style and sound quality. The kid switch allows you to limit the volume to protect their ears – but they might not be suitable for those who will change back to parent mode as soon as you’re not looking. Also, not great for small kids.
- Stylish, fashionable design
- Good sound quality
- Volume limiter cut sound levels well
- Blocks external noise
We Didn’t Like:
- Too big and heavy for smaller kids
- Kid switch too easy to find
- No Bluetooth, surprising at this price
Best for young kids
Onanoff’s kids’ headphones are aimed at younger children. They are available in several bright colors and are customizable with lots of attractive stickers, designed to appeal to younger tastes. They weigh 3.5oz, limit volume to 85 decibels, fold down small and feature hypoallergenic ear pads.
As these phones are aimed at smaller kids, we really like how they are customizable, and younger children will really enjoy wearing them. They also include a unique buddy splitter which means up to four pairs can be plugged into the same source – so no more lost splitters!
The volume limiting system is effective. They are comfortable to wear and do a fantastic job of blocking external noise which means 85 decibels is almost always enough. These phones aren’t too expensive but the sound quality is more than acceptable at this price.
On the negative side, they do feel a little cheap and although they seem able to withstand some rough handling, we are worried about how long they might last.
Overall, these are the best option for someone looking for a pair of reasonably-priced headphones for a toddler and who is concerned about hearing loss – probably not a very good investment long term as kids will grow out of them as they get older.
- Good volume limiting system
- Innovative buddy splitter
- Good sound quality for the price
- Block external noise well
We Didn’t Like:
- Feel cheap
- Won’t last as your child gets older
What Should I Be Looking For?
If you’re reading this, you’re probably aware that the features you’re looking for in kids’ headphones are not going to be quite the same as if you were buying a pair for yourself. Here’s our guide to the things you should consider when buying headphones for your little guys.
Probably the first concern for any parent is the potential dangers of damage to children’s hearing. The WHO has estimated that 1.1 billion people may be at risk of hearing loss due to unsafe headphone use, and youngsters are higher-risk as they may be unaware of safe listening habits.
The WHO recommends that the maximum safe volume for extended listening is 85 decibels or less but an iPod with a standard set of Apple buds can easily top 100 decibels. When choosing, you best consider buying a pair with volume-limiting technology.
Style – buds, on the ear or around the ear?
Small, in-the-ear buds have the clear advantage that they are small and easy to carry. However, a big disadvantage is that they don’t block external noise which may encourage your kids to increase the volume if they are listening in noisy environments.
Another issue is the simple fact that this style is worn pushed into the ear and so is less hygienic – especially when used by children, who are often less hygiene-aware than adults.
There are two other options, “on-the-ear” and “around-the-ear” headphones. On-the-ear versions have foam padding which rests on the ear itself. This may be uncomfortable for extended use. Around-the-ear phones encase the ear completely and the padding presses on the head.
Around-the-ear headphones have the advantage of being generally better at blocking external noise.
External noise blocking
One of the advantages of using headphones as opposed to buds is that they reduce the amount of external noise that can be heard by the wearer. As mentioned, if headphones are used in noisy areas and don’t block external noise, the user will need to increase the volume to hear clearly.
Related to this is the fact that headphones that prevent noise from entering also stop the sound from the phones getting out. If you want peace and quiet while you’re watching TV or reading, this could be important for you too!
Given that you probably want to choose a pair of headphones (not buds) for your little guys, an important consideration is how much abuse they can take. Little ones are notorious for giving their belongings a tough time and you want to be sure that the headphones aren’t going to break.
On long journeys or at school, they may find themselves using them for extended periods. This means that comfort is a primary concern since you don’t want them getting sore ears from their headphones.
Let’s be honest, if you’re interested in buying a pair of headphones for your kids, especially younger ones, the quality of the sound they produce is probably not going to be your primary concern as your children won’t need a pair of DJ-quality phones.
That said, they won’t want a pair of headphones with awful sound quality either. It is worth remembering that most headphones with volume-reduction technology generally suffer a certain decrease in sound quality and this is a trade-off you may wish to consider.
Size and weight
If you are buying some that will be carried around on the school bus, from class to class or on a plane, the size and weight are important aspects. You should consider how small they are when folded up as you don’t want them to be too bulky.
Nowadays, it seems positively old-fashioned to have a pair connected by a cable, and headphones connected via Bluetooth give much more freedom and mobility. However, most Bluetooth headphones still include a cable for use with devices that don’t support Bluetooth.
If you opt for a pair of Bluetooth headphones, a related issue is the battery life. Bluetooth headphones that constantly need to be charged are no good at all – especially if they are going to be used in a school setting where it might not be practical to charge them.
For fashion-conscious kids, having a funky-looking pair can’t be overlooked. You want the headphones to be useful and functional – but nothing says they can’t look great too. Fussy kids may even refuse to wear phones they don’t like so you need to think about kid aesthetics too!
It’s clear that choosing the best headphones for your child is an important decision and in our review, we have identified some clear winners.
If you’re on a budget, you could do worse than the Kidz Gear phones, a good affordable Bluetooth option would be the LilGadgets and we thought the Onanoffs were the best choice for young kids.
However, for our overall favorites, combining great look, top sound quality and the all-important volume limiting control, we chose the Puros – and we have no hesitation in recommending these as the best headphones for your children.
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