We have tried a variety of headphones which are designed specifically for use by kids and we’ll now report what we’ve found. These are everyday basics for parents who are worried about their children listening to loud music, and can also aid those who find full-size versions either too big or cumbersome to use. The following are our picks and guidelines on how to choose a good model for safe and enjoyable use.
The headphones in the table below represent the best headphones for kids out there on the market today. It’s updated as of May 2017.
|Griffin KaZoo MyPhones||8.3/10|
|Puro SoundLabs BT2200||9.2/10|
|KitSound My Doodles||9.1/10|
|Griffin Crayola MyPhones||8.6/10|
|JVC HA-KD5 Tiny Phones||8.2/10|
|Maxell Kids Headphones||8.4/10|
|Sony Childrens Headphones||8.6/10|
|Kidz Gear Wired Headphones||8.4/10|
|LilGadgets Untangled Pro||9.6/10|
There are a few things you may need to understand before buying a kid-friendly headphone. First of all, few parents care to listen to their kids’ favorite tunes or show all day long, and even fewer think it fun to hear the loud sounds of games being played around the house.
Secondly, it could be that we’d like to enjoy our own music or channels on our own devices separately from what the children are listening to on their desktops or mobiles, never mind the console or TV in the living room.
There is a third good reason for getting a kid-oriented headphone, which is their private enjoyment of music and videos on a long flight or ride. Parents know that having their children quietly engrossed in music or video for a few hours at a time can be a boon for sanity and order on a plain or train. Although many airlines do issue decent headphones for use on long-distance routes, the problem is that the models they usually stock on board aren’t normally designed to fit smaller heads. These types can often upset the youngest ones, and as experienced parents have learned, this is a big no-no when there’s nowhere else for them to go for relief or play.
Child hearing loss
There’s also a health risk associated with letting your kids use full-size headphones. Models designed for use by adults are almost never constrained in the volume of sound they output. Prolonged use of such models by unsuspecting small children could result in cumulative damage to their hearing over time.
Another thing to consider is that even if you already know about the need for appropriate sizing and comfortable fit as well as reliable and safe operation, you should also heed the latest findings on hearing loss among young people. Many experts advise parents to limit the periods and lengths of time of headphone usage by children no matter what volumes they play at, so as to lower the risk of such conditions occurring.
Nowadays, a lot of teenagers and younger kids are slowly losing their ability to hear things clearly. Statistics from the CDC show that some 12% of youth from 6 to below 20 years of age suffer hearing losses due to rampant exposure to damaging sound levels. An AMA journal study indicates that as many as 25% of teens already suffer from some type of hearing impairment they’ve acquired in their younger years, an increase of 30% over the past two decades.
Newer generations like to listen to excessively loud music on their phones and other mobiles, and many devices can output sound levels that approach 100 decibels, or dB. Children cannot be expected to understand that they should limit their exposure to loud music to levels of not much more than 70 dB over a 24-hour period. And many adults do not realize that such prolonged exposure is equivalent in effect to around 5 minutes of music played at an extremely loud 100 dB level. Thus, it’s not surprising that more and more kids today are incurring some damage to their hearing at earlier ages than were considered normal in decades past. This damage may badly impact the quality of their later lives as adults.
What you should look for in a good pair of kids’ headphones is the presence of a volume-limiter function which limits output to lower sound pressure levels that are safe for young ears. You should also ensure it comfortably fits the head of the child. And so that he or she can enjoy musical favorites without bothering others nearby, you’d want a model which leaks little sound so that others cannot easily hear what’s playing. For the youngest audiophiles, it’s a good idea to choose headphones with fun and colorful styles.
Safe use by the youngest
A rarer but still crucial consideration is that models with cords can be riskier for toddlers to use due to a higher likelihood of accidental self-strangulation. Most parents are warned against letting three-year-olds and younger use wired headphones without supervision. A good remedy to this would be to let them use a kid-friendly wireless model with a long battery life. Eliminating the risk of danger and gaining the peace of mind which follows should be well worth the slightly higher price and the constant need to charge batteries.
Kids’ (and adults’) top picks in kid-friendly headphones
We’ve gathered and tried out some of the more well-known kids’ headphones and let a number of children (and their judicious parents) show and tell us what they thought of each model.
But first off, we will advise you not to let your kid use any type of earbud or in-ears version. That’s because the closer a loud source is to the inner ears and their fragile tissues, the more injury its loudest output level can inflict to them. This applies even if your pair has been volume-constrained by design, which is why we don’t want your kids to wear one for most of a day no matter how “safe” its design might be. For even at the recommended maximum exposure level of 85 dB, protracted use still results in an accumulated degree of impairment over time.
KaZoo MyPhone by Griffin
One of the more popular kids’ headphones, these come in a number of fun over-the-ear styles which sport animal themes such as frogs and penguins and hey, monkeys. We’ve also reviewed these kids headphones and we find them to be one of the best kids headphones for the money out there today.
You might think that six- or seven-year-olds might find the styles a bit underage, but you wouldn’t know it from the way the kids we know love theirs. Older children particularly boys can always use less kiddy-looking headgear like Griffin’s Crayolas
These headphones have rich and clear sound and feature integrated volume limiters that dampen sound pressure levels to a degree deemed safe for young children. Its sound-shaping circuitry works to constantly cap volume peaks to around 85 dB, which is the maximum safe level endorsed by most hearing experts.
This model is designed to fit the crowns of small children and features a generously thick set of pads on the cups for greater comfort. The additional padding also assists in reducing leaking sound issuing from the headphone’s cups, which helps to keep the kiddy music session a private affair. When extended to the maximum width, it can still be worn comfortably by most 10- to 12-year-olds. This model is solidly built and should be able to withstand the kinds of daily abuse that most children are capable of.
With their good audio quality, fun and friendly animal-theme styles, and 120 cm length cords which allow a lot of free-ranging movement, these headphones have proven to be popular with our small kid set of testers. They were particularly fond of the cute audio jacks shaped in the form of little fishes and tadpoles.
KaZoos are available at online resellers and their mid-range prices reflect good value for a well-made, well-performing, and fun kid’s headphone that works to prevent early hearing loss.
BT2200 by Puro SoundLabs
Many models in this category are made of plastics, but this is designed and equipped more like a full-sized audiophile headphone and is priced accordingly. At four times the regular price of most inexpensive models on this list, Puro’s model also offers appreciably better audio quality than most of the others even though it streams sound wirelessly.
It’s actually a smart idea to give your youngest kids a wireless headphone for safety reasons as the risk of accidental self-strangulation is naturally eliminated. And the absence of a long wire can be a godsend if you’ve had your fill of entangling cords left lying around, or damaged ones jerked hard once too often by reckless little hands.
Sound output is volume-limited by DSP circuitry to the recommended safe level of 85 dB. This is more than enough as the signal-processing system constantly monitors sound output and only caps volumes when the safe limit is breached. The technology does more than just reduce sound volumes, though; it also works to reduce ambient noise at 1 KHz by 82%, which lets young users keep volumes down at lower levels while still retaining clarity in noisier settings like on planes and trains.
The highly-efficient Bluetooth operation doesn’t need frequent recharging and is rated for 18 hours of operation on a single full charge, which should be sufficient for most trips. Interestingly, a removable cord is supplied for convenient use whenever the batteries run low. As a high-end “kiddy headphone”, it features plush leather-style ear pads which assist in blocking noises, and volume controls are integrated into the left cup. The cups and the leather-covered aluminum headband are sturdily constructed, and this model comes in Gold-Tan and White-Silver versions.
Puro’s premium kid-friendly headphone sells for a much higher price than the other models listed here, but it does deliver higher audio performance to match along with an effective noise-reduction system. Its quality construction and performance, safer wireless operation, and stylish looks make it a prime candidate.
Play Headphones by Smiggle
From a well-regarded line of children’s products, these headphones are styled with varied patterns and fun colors. Although there are other regular and foldable models available, only this particular version features a volume limiter. This is the critical feature of kid-friendly headphones that’s relevant to the needs of younger users, as there’s nothing to keep them from raising volumes to damaging levels without constant supervision or a function like this. The sound processing limits output volumes to 85 dB much like the other models listed here.
These headphones efficiently output music at slightly higher volumes than the Kazoos, the latter of which some kids found a bit too muted. But like with all the other “kiddy” headphones, sound clarity and definition won’t be anywhere near that expected by serious audiophiles.
Like the Kazoos, the Plays feature the kind of cutesy styling which grabs the attention of kids. They come in boy- and girl-style versions to match the expectations of older children who would likely find the former’s animal themes too childish. The headphone we tested wears just as easily on small heads while offering somewhat higher audio performance, while the excellent 150 cm length cord lets kids move around a little.
Levellers by Kitsound
These are among the few kids’ headphones which appear more suited to the tastes of older children, for it features a traditional DJ-style pair of cups and comes in consumer-standard-issue black. There is a white-colored version available online which may differ in specifications as it has slightly different styling.
This model does offer pretty good performance in its class while still featuring the volume-limiter function (maximum 85 dB) which we consider essential in a headphone meant for use by children. It was also much less prone to outputting overly quiet-sounding audio when compared to the others listed, as verified by the kids who were asked to compare the various models.
A volume control module is integrated into the exceptionally lengthy 160 cm cord which seems to be made of tougher materials than the plastics of the other tested headphones. There was an issue with the thicker sleeve surrounding its audio jack, though, as the plug wouldn’t fully slide into the headphone port of an iPhone which had a case cover on. With the case removed, the entire tip did fit snugly, so the issue is with the sleeve being too fat to pass through the narrow cut-out of the case and seat properly in the audio port.
With its cups’ bigger sizing and soft padding, this model was among the most comfortable we have tried. If not for the Leveller’s ill-fitting connections with certain iPhone cases, this would be our favorite in terms of audio quality and easy style.
My Doodles by KitSound
Here is another kid-friendly model from KitSound which also offers volume-limiting operation capped at 85dB. These headphones come in a range of eye-catching colors and trendy styles which are comfortably sized to fit both small and larger-than-normal heads, and so may be ideal for older children and even some adults. It offers decent audio, and even though the performance wasn’t among the more impressive among ones in this group, it still satisfied our most critical users.
An inexpensive headphone that’s sure to please many younger kids, the My Doodle is priced to go and would be great as economical party gifts for schoolmates.
Crayola MyPhones by Griffin
These on-the-ear headphones are much liked by our young testers and their comfortable cups and pads make quite a colorful statement. The newest models look the business what with their Crayola-ready colors in pinks and blues which a kid can further modify with custom-colored stickers. This is the same concept carried over from earlier models in the series but with a few Crayola coloring markers included in the package, along with a collection of forty colored labels to attach to the headphone’s band.
A child might well pick this model just for a chance at some sticker fun, but aside from the instant appeal, this can’t be the big reason to buy one for him or her. More important would be the integrated and constant volume-limiting system which controls peak volumes like the other models here. During testing, we found that it reduces music volumes to within the expected levels, which should encourage parents to gift this model to their kids with confidence.
These Crayolas would be a good alternative to the KaZoos, particularly if your children find the do-it-yourself sticker project more appealing than the latter’s animal-themed styles.
HA-KD5 Tiny Phones by JVC
These may be tiny, but the model is solidly built and has a broad headband and soft pads for more comfort which also work to block leaking sounds. There are dual versions: one is clearly styled for boys with its blue-yellow colors, while the purple-pink theme should appeal to girls. The band can be expanded as its young user grows to near-adulthood. And as befits a well-regarded specialist in audio gear, the volume-limiting system performs much better than those of the other tested models, and outputs slightly louder yet cleaner sound as well. On the other hand, we find the 80 cm length cable to be a bit too short for regular use with TVs and consoles, although it’s likely to be handy with mobiles.
One minor issue is that the headphones must be worn right for lengthy and comfortable use. A very young user would have to learn to orient it on his head along its correct axis, which is helpfully labeled with L and R symbols at each side. Do bear in mind that if you haven’t taught your kid yet to figure his right from his left side, you’ll have a loud problem with his frustrations until understanding dawns. One thing’s for sure, this should quickly motivate the youngest to get it “right”!
A good thing about these headphones is that these can be readily customized according to the child’s whims, using the packaged labels with catchy picture and letter graphics. The pink-purple version we tried came with a set of labels comprising a girlish bunch of hearts, teddy and bunny figures, and magic wands. Hopefully, the yellow-blue version offers a more boy-oriented sticker collection in its package. Then again, a kid with a creative attitude would be quick to make do with other labels lying around from previous “projects”. This may be a packaging trick, but it’s one that’s pleasingly convenient for parents looking for a ready-made kit of fun.
JVC’s headphones are quite likable. They’re neither too small nor too loose and would suit most young heads, so don’t let the product name tell you otherwise. The company does sell another slightly pricier type with a more adult look called the HA-KD10 which might be more appropriate for use in higher school. It only differs from the former in that its volume-limiting function is controllable from an in-line module integrated into the cable. But the latter riskier for children to use as they can listen at more damaging volume levels. It also requires a constant battery-powered operation, which may really frustrate them in those times when the cells unexpectedly draw down.
Parents mindful of their children’s hearing health may not want older kids to have the option to switch off the volume-limiting system.
Kids’ Headphone by Maxell and Children’s Headphone by Sony
Maxell’s model offers sound quality almost as good as that of JVC’s, and older children who enjoy highly musical tracks would likely appreciate both these headphones. It is quite similar to Sony’s current offerings and comes with either pink or blue ear pieces rather than usual pinks and blacks. As it is more lightly constructed, JVC’s model is lighter by 7g than Sony’s model, which weighs 52G. But its tinier form may serve your kids well while on long and frequent travels.
Maxell’s model does have smaller ear cushions than Sony’s, and although it isn’t really less comfortable, it does allow more noise to leak through.
In any case, both headphones limit music volumes to a slightly higher-than-average level of 90 dB. This is still regarded as safe and acceptable although both models can output louder volumes than the others in this review. We think Maxell’s model is a good choice for older and more discerning children due to its very decent performance, lightweight construction, and more serious styling. It also isn’t usually priced much higher than the less expensive headphones we’ve tried.
Animatones by iFrogz
If your kids rock their world with animal color themes and styles, these headphones have the look and they bring the colors. There are versions sporting ladybird motifs in reddish tones, snails in blues, and turtles in greens. All have compact and light frames which are nicely designed and appear to be solidly built, although perhaps not as solidly as MyPhones’s or JVC’s models. For one thing, it features foam pads which may be worn easily but is also prone to tearing more readily.
iFrogz’s model features a volume-limiting function that is claimed to cap sound pressures at the usual 85 dB level. But the headphones still sounded louder in the same passages played by other models despite the operation of the safe-level mode. Thus, it is hard to recommend this model for use by young children, given the overly sound volumes the headphones are actually outputting.
Animatone-branded earpieces for kids are also offered which offer a quieter listening experience than that with the regular over-the-ear models, although these can still sound overly loud on occasion. One issue with these accessory pieces is that they appear to be too easily tangled into a knot once taken off, and I’m not sure all parents have the time for untangling yet another of their kid’s stuff.
Wired Headphones by Kidz Gear
A well-padded set of cups and a very comfortable fit for kids older than two is a hallmark of these headphones, which come in varied colors such as blue, green, orange, pink, and even purple. The model comes with an excellent 150 cm length cable which children can readily string between their devices and the TV or game console. Some may find it a bit too lengthy for situations where it is used with phones or mobiles that must be held nearby, for the odd tangle or two will eventually develop in a wire this long.
Volume control is found in-line at the cord’s middle dial, which is used for adjusting sound levels upwards or downwards independently of its sound processing. Like most of the other units here, the sound processing system is said to limit music volumes to safe levels.
However, our testers found that music can still play too loudly as sound pressure levels can go higher than 106 dB if the volume-limiting component isn’t connected to the cord’s end plug. Once the component is attached and running then music volumes do get reduced but at slightly higher than average levels, much like iFrogz’s model.
There will always be the risk of children detaching the volume-limiter as it’s a distinct module that has to be attached, and if this happens their hearing will surely be impaired after long use. The maker claims says that the feature if left continuously on would be ineffective in noisier settings such as on planes as the system depresses the output so much that the user would hardly hear the audio. If the unit with the module unattached did not output sound that was so loud at times, then the option to detach it might actually be a useful feature.
Just the same, this model would have been so much safer to use in the long run if only the volume-limiter was integrated. And if its unlimited volume levels had not also been too high then I might have been able to recommend it, as otherwise these are solidly built and comfortable headphones.
Kidz by Groov-e
Available in many colors and featuring some of the lowest prices among kids’ models tested here, these DJ-style headphones are sturdy and attractive. Of course, these are not full-sized models are meant to better fit the smaller heads of children, but they can be expanded to better fit them as they grow in size. The cups have comfortable pads which impede leaking noises, while the cable has an average length of 120 cm. There are Black-Blue and Black-Red versions for boys and White- Violet and White-Pink for girls.
The problem with the unit, and why it can’t be recommended, is that it is one of the very few headphones marketed for children’s use which lacks standard volume-limiting features. If you believe your children can be trusted to lower their listening volumes, then you might still consider these. But like full-size most models, these are capable of outputting very high sound pressure levels of more than 112 dB. So you’ll be taking on a lot more risk by giving your kids these unfiltered headphones.
LilGadgets Untangled Pro Children’s Wireless Bluetooth Headphones
The LilGadgets Untangled Pro wireless headphones are the best headphones you can buy for your kid right now. They are not well-suited for toddlers due to the size of the headphones. They are also a bit more expensive than some of the other headphones in this article, but if you want premium sound quality for your child then these are the headphones you should buy.
These premium children’s wireless headphones are Bluetooth-compatible with SharePort compatibility, which means that other headphones can connect for an untethered wireless experience.The battery life is rated at 12 hours and has a 180 hour standby capacity. A 3.5mm cable is also included in case you outlast the battery time.
Every package of the LilGadgets Untangled Pro wireless headphones come with a micro-fiber travel bag if you or your child wish to carry it around. They are certainly good for airplanes and other flights as well, as they provide good sound isolation and ambient noise reduction.
These headphones have received over 1500 customer reviews with an average of 4,8/5 stars on Amazon as of the date of this writing. We also tested them and they delivered good sound quality and are safe to use for your child. We believe that the LilGadgets Untangled Pro wireless headphones are the best headphones for kids right now.
Kid-friendly also means Hearing-safe
The maximal level of noise exposure advised by most health organizations for children is set at 85 dB. For us to recommend a particular children’s model of headphones, it should therefore be designed to output a volume of music at this level or lower. A full-size headphone for use by adults can usually output some 115dB at its loudest, which is equal to the level of sound pressures a passing train generates. It is possible to suffer hearing loss after even just a quarter of an hour of exposure each day to this volume of sound.
As mentioned, experts counsel everyone to minimize the periods and lengths of time spent listening to music on any type of headphone (even the recommended ones here) to no more than two hours each day, even at the recommended level of 85 dB. And this advice goes for both adults as well as children.
Selecting a good headphone that’s both kid-safe and kid-friendly is critical because letting children use an unsuitable type may not only frustrate them but could even risk damaging their hearing in the long run. Fortunately for you, the results from our trials can point you towards some of the better kids’ headphones available. Unfortunately, we’ve also discovered that a very few can’t be recommended to any parent who cares about their children’s hearing health, due to their poorer volume-limiting features, and so it would be best to avoid such models.