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.
With remote-learning and home-schooling, a decent set of kids’ headphones is even more important these days, and look out for pairs with a microphone for virtual-classroom interation.
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 child’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.
Read our full kids headphones reviews below. We tested each model for sound quality, volume limitation, comfort and safety.
The maximum noise level recommended by many auditory health organisations 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.
Find out how we test audio.
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.
Many smartphones and tablets let you monitor your headphone volume. iPhones and iPads do this in the Health app, under Hearing and Headphone Audio Levels. Some Android phones let you set a volume limit, too. And the Google Play store has apps that limit volume, such as Volume Limiter.
Best headphones for kids 2021
iClever BTH03 – Best value kids wireless headphones
The iClever BTH03 Kids Wireless Headphones are great value for money, offer a decent battery life for Bluetooth headphones, are light and comfortable with adjustable headband, and come with multicoloured LEDs on the outside.
Sound quality is great (with a tendency to bassiness) for a pair of headphones in this price range, and the volume is limited to 85dB, although this still sounded quite loud in our tests.
We’ve tested quieter, but these often raised complaints from our helpful child testers, so if you can trust your child not to wear these at full volume for hours on end, you should be ok.
Pairing via Bluetooth 5.0 was easy after fully charging the headphones, and they also come with a detachable cable for those times when you’ve forgotten to charge the headphones up beforehand.
There are basic controls on the earpiece: play, pause, answer and end phone calls
If you want to run the battery down a little quicker or just look the coolest kid at the party, then turn on the multicoloured LEDs on each earpiece.
Conveniently, they fold into a small and robust shape, although exactly how robust they are depends on your child, of course!
ONANOFF BuddyPhones School+ – Best kids budget headphones with boom mic
These excellent kids headphones are built for home-schooling and remote learning, with a quality boom microphone built into the BuddyJackCable, which also allows another headset to be added to the one source.
It also comes with a mic-less cable if you don’t need the microphone.
Audio quality is great for both wearer and listener. The kid-safe volume-limiting (85dB) works a treat, and isn’t either too loud or too quiet, and it features effective passive noise cancellation.
The over-ear headphones are comfortable and adjustable, and come with a bunch of stickers for customisation. There are colour options from Blue, Pink and Green to Yellow, and a carry bag is included.
The headphones aren’t wireless, so you may need an adapter for modern phones or tablets that don’t come with a headphone jack.
ONANOFF BuddyPhones Cosmos+ – Best kids wireless headphones with boom mic
The quality wireless Cosmos+ sound as good as we’ve heard for a set of kids headphones, and they’ve got everything you need, including a detachable boom microphone for video calls.
The improved audio quality is down to the active noise cancellation, which works excellently.
There are three safe-audio modes: Toddler Mode is set to an ear-protecting 75dB; Kids Mode goes up to 85db; and Travel Mode ups the volume to 94db to block out background noise. Try to stick to the lower levels if possible.
A Study Mode isolates voices from other sounds, producing clearer vocals to help when studying during online learning.
The Cosmos+ are comfortable and suitable for all but the youngest heads. The audio controls are easy to use, and pairing is simple to setup.
They come in a sturdy travel case, and charge via USB-C rather than fiddly microUSB. There’s a separate audio cable when you want to use them wired if the 24-hour battery runs out.
One thing we didn’t like was the childish and rather gender-specific outer earpiece graphics, which might put off older children, but there’s plenty of colour choices as they are available in Cool Blue (DJ graphics), Rose Pink (Princess), Sun Yellow (Lion), Grey Matter (Scientist), Deep Blue (Pirate), and Snow White (Unicorn).
Puro Sound Labs PuroQuiet – Best noise-cancelling kids headphones
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. The 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, PuroQuiet is at the higher end of the price scale but warranted for the build quality, which is excellent. 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.
Puro Sound BT2200 – Best non-kiddy kids headphones
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.
Buying the Puro BT 2200 is a big step up from most of the cheaper headphones listed here. However, there’s a special deal on the BT2200 until January 1, 2020; see pricing above.
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 around 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 aeroplane.
The comfortable ear cushions also help block outside noise. The ear cups and headband 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 earpiece.
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.
PuroBasics – Best wired kids headphones
Also from Puro, which has several different models of kids headphones, are the PuroBasic – which we have to presume is the entry-level for this quality brand.
The sound is good for an inexpensive pair of headphones. Volume is limited – not so much that you can’t hear much (a common complaint) but enough that I’d count these as fairly loud.
They are comfortable and adjustable, with the soft ear cups made from vegan leather in a lightweight, flexible plastic frame.
PuroBasic are wired headphones (with 3.5mm jack), so you’ll need an adapter if you want to use these with a phone or tablet without a headphone jack.
They are available in Red, Blue, Pink and Green.
imoo Ear-care Headset – Best off-ear headset
If you worry about sticking earbuds into a child’s ears or covering them with foam and so blocking outside noise, the Bluetooth imoo Ear-care kids wireless headphones cleverly keep the speaker away from the eardrum.
The speakers instead sit just in front of the ear, beaming the sound into the ear. They therefore allow outside sound (which might well be the parent’s voice or traffic noise) to be heard. Noise leakage is surprisingly low.
Audio quality is pretty good, maybe lacking some bass but nice and clear.
The Imoo headset is lightweight (30g) and is designed for children aged 4-15 years old.
Volume is limited to 85dB, although they seemed a little louder than some. We weren’t worried about this as much as with other headphones as the sound is not right into the child’s ear.
Snuggly Rascals – Best alternative kids headphones
We like a product that tries something different, and that’s the case with Snuggly Rascals over-ear children headphones. These wrap around the child’s head and are adjustable with Velcro. It will even keep little ones’ ears warm, and they won’t fall off or break as easily as normal headphones.
They’re super comfortable, and you can’t feel the flat speakers through the material.
The sound quality was good, even through the fleece and a child’s long hair. Although specified as a maximum of 85 decibels it’s at the quieter end of the audio spectrum in reality, which will please many parents keen to protect their kids’ hearing.
The speakers can be removed and the headband popped into the washing machine.
There’s a range of great designs: Monster, Unicorn, Plane, Giraffe, Penguin, Piggy, Chicken, and Cat.
PuroGamer – Best kids gaming headphones
Not all kids 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 how loud some can get – with explosions, gunfire and screeching tyres; 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 – but 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.
KitSound Levellers – Most comfortable kids headphones
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 kids 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 these 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.
Puro JuniorJams – Excellent sound but quite loud
At the less expensive end of the Puro Sound Labs wireless range are the JuniorJams. If you want much-cheaper Puro headphones, look for the PuroBasic wired headphones.
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 kids 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.
iFrogz Little Rockerz – Fun kids heaphones
iFrogz (from Zagg) make a fun range of kids headphones called Little Rockerz that might not teach your children decent spelling but will keep their headphones pegged back at 85dB and provide fancy dress at the same time.
There’s a range of Little Rockerz Costume headband designs available (Blue Monster, Orange Lion, Green Monkey, Green Puppy, Robot and Ice Princess Tiara).
iFrogz also sells a non-costume set of Little Rockerz kids headphones, available in Green, Pink, Purple and Red. These have interchangeable earcaps, supposedly for boys and girls (aren’t we beyond that by now?) – but let the kids choose their favourites.
They are comfortable with soft felt ear pads, and suitably lightweight. The cable is 1.2m long.
Audio quality is more than acceptable for kids – we wouldn’t recommend them for audiophiles but for watching movies or playing games they are fine.
JLab Audio Jbuddies – Affordable wireless kids headphones
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 neutral.
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.
Maxell Kids – Best basic kids headphones
Another brand name you can trust for headphone audio quality is Maxell, and its Maxell Kids Headphones don’t disappoint. The sound is great, or rather great enough for kids with some appreciation for audio quality.
They are very much like the Sony kids headphones, but available with blue or pink ear clips instead of black and pink.
At a mere 45g they are very slightly lighter than the Sony Children’s Headphones (52g) but there’s very little in it. This does make them great travel headphones, as they’re much less bulky than some of the more colourful products tested in this roundup.
One difference is the size of earpads, which are smaller on the Maxell. This didn’t affect comfort but the Maxell allow noticeably less noise leakage.
Both the Sony and Maxell kids headphones have volume limited at 90dB, which we found acceptable but are louder than those tested here at 85dB.
We liked the Maxell Kids Headphones for their light weight, good audio quality and less childish looks.
Kitsound Mini Movers – Decent kids headphones
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 colours – rather obviously aimed at boys (Blue) and girls (Pink). Each has customisable ear cups, and comes with pencils and blank cards.
JVC HA-KD5 Tiny Phones – Kids headphones you can decorate
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 kids headphones is customisability. The child can decorate the headphones using the supplied stickers that include letters and pictures. We had the purple/pink set in for the test and the stickers included hearts, wands, teddies and bunnies – so I’d hope the blue/yellow pair come with some less cutesy 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.
iFrogz Animatone – Too loud for kids
Another set of kids headphones that rock the animal theme are the iFrogz Animatone – available in three models: red ladybird, blue snail, and green turtle.
The kid-friendly design is nice, lightweight compact, and apparently sturdy, although they look less robust than the MyPhones or JVC sets. They have foam earpads, which are comfortable but are known to rip up fairly quickly.
Like the MyPhones, the Animatone headphones feature a built-in volume limiter that iFrogz says will not play audio over 85 decibels. The unit we tested, however, was much louder than the MyPhones, even though both are supposedly limited at 85dB. As a parent I wouldn’t be happy with my child listening at the volume these headphones pump out so can’t recommend them.
iFrogz also offers Animatone earbuds for children, although these are hard to find in the UK. We found these quieter than the iFrogz over-the-ear headphones but still a little too loud. Another problem with earbuds is that they get tied up in knots just by looking at them when they’re off your head. Haven’t you got enough problems with kids’ tangled hair to add tangled earbuds?
BestGot Over Ear Headphones – Too loud for kids
The BestGot Over Ear Headphones come in a wide variety of colours: blue, green, red, pink, purple and more.
They don’t look childish (they’re reminiscent of much more expensive Beats headphones) and feel comfortable. They fold up to a small size and come with a cloth bag for travel. The cable is detachable for some reason, but they aren’t wireless.
The sound is a little bassy for my liking but many prefer this bias, and, again, Beat headphones are similar.
But, while marketed as “for kids”, these headphones have no volume limiter and can reach an ear-damaging 103dB.
Elecder i36 Kids Headphones – Too loud for kids
The Elecder i36 Kids Headphones look great, and are available in a wide range of colours.
They are also easily foldable, and pretty cheap. So far so good…
But there’s no volume limiter and these headphones can whack out a very high volume. Also, the audio quality is a bit bass heavy and muggy.
We don’t recommend these headphones for young children.
Groov-e Kidz Wireless – Too loud for kids
Groov-e also has some wireless headphones for kids that use Bluetooth to do away with the cord, which also removes the strangulation risk.
As with other Groov-e kids headphones they are comfortable and the audio quality is fine. They fit a child’s head well, and there are + and – volume buttons on the left earpiece for ease of use.
However, the lack of a volume limiter makes them difficult to recommend as kids’ headphones – if you value your child’s hearing, that is. Some people do find volume-limited headphones to be too quiet, and so these would work if you can trust your children to stick to acceptable volumes.
A built-in mic allows children to take or make calls.
They are available in either blue or pink, and come with a MicroUSB cable for charging (fully charged, they should last around 7 hours) and a detachable headphone cable for those times the batteries run out, say on a long journey.
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