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Choosing the best headphones for your child is no small matter. Besides comfort and cost, you want to choose a pair that won’t permanently damage your child’s hearing. The good news is we’ve helped whittle down the dozens upon dozens of options available from the most basic to even some with features more likely to be found in an “adult” pair of headphones. Keep reading to get my picks for the best headphones for kids, and what you’ll need to look for when shopping!
Kidz Gear Wired Headphones
Made for children as young as two all through their teens, Kidz Gear’s wired headphones are among the least expensive options you can purchase. Featuring a 3.5mm adapter, the Kidz Gear can connect to pretty much any music playing device around these days including smartphones, tablets, and even video game controllers. Designed mostly out of plastic, the inexpensive cost belies their quality as they certainly didn’t feel like they were going to easily break apart with a little wear and tear.
Each ear cup is sized for little ears with a 2 1/4” diameter and ½’ of padding circling the audio ear port. Overall, comfort is a must for children as you’ll hear about it right away if there’s any chance your children will be uncomfortable. My oldest owns a pair of these and he’s not once complained about discomfort. Still, the dual-arc band offers absolutely no padding at all and, while they’re extremely lightweight, a little padding would do a lot of good.
What first caught my eye about these headphones was the limitation that audio volume couldn’t exceed 80% (around 20dB lower) than the original maximum volume. This offers a little peace of mind that my child wouldn’t inadvertently or intentionally kick these up to full blast and risk his hearing.
For the price, there’s hardly room to complain about the Kidz Gear wired option and, while we’d love to see some padding on the top, it would likely jump the price up. The volume limitation is a huge bonus and something that caught my own eye. At the price, I knew if these broke, I wouldn’t be out of pocket a fortune. I love that my son loves them and that he has worn them for hours on end (plane rides) with nary a complaint. Still, some padding on the top wouldn’t hurt.
- Available in a multitude of colors for both boys and girls
- Inexpensive enough that if they break, buy a new one
- Volume control is a major bonus
- Size fits ages from young children to young adults
- Lack of padding around the headband is notable
- Ear cups flip around easily making a firm fit challenging for a young child
- Doesn’t block any sound (no noise cancellation)
LilGadgets Connect+ Premium Volume Headphones
A small step above the Kidz Gear wired phones are the LilGadgets Connect+ wired headphones which rank as the best-selling kid-friendly headphones on Amazon. The Connect+ is compact and foldable and designed to be convenient for parents on the go. Each pair of Connect+ headphones will come with a microfiber travel pouch and a nylon braided audio cable to effectively prevent tangles and the screaming that follows.
Recommended for a child between the ages of 2-6 years old, the padding is comfortable without feeling overwhelming and, fortunately, there’s additional padding over the top of the head providing extra comfort for the little ones.
The volume limitation, like the Kidz Gear, is immediately noteworthy as the headphones are limited to 93dB with internal 40mm drivers with a range of just 20Hz to 20kH. Effectively, these comply with the strict “Standard Consumer Safety Specification on Toy Safety” regulation which offers parents peace of mind.
We love this pair and had I not purchased the Kidz Gear, I would have scooped up one pair for each child. What really sold me was the bonus addition of SharePort technology allowing the connecting of multiple headphones to one device without splitters. Letting two kids connect to the same device at the same time without argument or fuss? I’m sold!
- Portion of each purchase goes to bullying prevention programs in schools
- Compact and foldable
- Added padding to top of connecting arc
- Available in a slew of colors
- Volume limitation a dual-edged sword in noisier environments like an airplane
- Good build quality still won’t stand up to lots of wear and tear
- Shareport technology could lead to fights as kids battle what to watch together
At the higher end of headphones, the $100+ mark, sits the Puro BT220, a Bluetooth-compatible option that works with any Bluetooth-ready device, e.g. smartphones, tablets, etc. Available in a few different colors, the Puro feels classy and, dare we say it, too good for a child’s head. These rival adult headphones in the aesthetic world with a durable aluminum construction that ultimately will offer a longer shelf life over competing for plastic options. The headphones are generally considered ideal for children ages 2.5 to 11 years old.
The cushy earcups are excellent at sealing off the ears from the outside world. The lack of a cord is going to strike gold with children who are likely going to rebel against anything corded in their lives again. The padding on the headband and earcups has won over reviews online with nothing but glowing reports of children not wanting to take them off. The aluminum build also provides a lighter-on-the-head feeling which is ideal because the last thing we want as parents is something that’s going to be uncomfortable after a few hours.
The Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity means users can move around 30 feet away from the connected device before worrying about signal loss. The supple ear cushion is a huge benefit with the Puro as 82% of the sound is attenuated at 1KHz. In other words, there’s no need to turn these louder in a noisier environment because outside noise is blocked which is good for both parents and children alike. Volume is limited at 85 dBa which is the ceiling decibel level before there’s a risk of hearing loss.
With a battery life of around 18 hours, the Puro offers studio-grade sound, blocks noise, and sits comfortably on the head. The inclusion of a zippered travel case makes protection on trips a little easier even as the aluminum build provides plenty of protection against wear and tear.
- Say goodbye to wires (wires still included for instances where battery life runs out)
- Excellent build quality
- Studio level audio is exceptional for children
- Pricey for a pair of children’s headphones
- If the battery runs out and no cords are present, expect meltdowns
- No ability to change tracks on the headphones themselves
Onanoff BuddyPhones Explore
While Bluetooth options are great for children, the corded options offer almost all of the same features at a less expensive price. The last option on our list, the Onanoff BuddyPhones Explore headphone, is perfect for ages 2-8 with a lightweight and comfortable fit. The design itself is made from “durable, robust” materials including specially-calibrated polypropylene so it’s capable of being bent and twisted without breaking. The compact size almost means they can easily be shoved into a handbag or carry-on for on-the-go adventures.
The soft and comfortable hypoallergenic padding is notable for its lightweight approach and comfortable earcups. The padded headband offers premium stitching for a little extra quality and comfort. While the earcups offer enough padding, there’s a concern these will get tight quickly as kids grow fast.
Onanoff even took care to make sure that the design wouldn’t affect children who might drop the headphones around their neck while not listening. Add in a tangle-free three-foot cord and there’s little concern your child will find himself or herself struggling to stay connected. Like most of its competitors in the kid-friendly headphone space, the BuddyPhones are limited to 85 decibels and only vary by a safe 3 decibels to protect ears from loud starts that could occur while listening to movies or media.
Available in a slew of colors, the BuddyPhones are the sum of the whole with decent sound, good build quality, and just enough comfort to last for a cross-country plane ride. Still, it’s a little disappointing to read that most children grow out of them before the age Onanoff expects kids will need to purchase more adult-sized headphones.
- BuddyCable splitter allows four BuddyPhones to share the same device
- Tangle-free cord is a big plus (also it is removable so it won’t catch if it latches on to something)
- Excellent quality and build for the price
- Volume limited for parent peace of mind
- Won’t grow with your child into their teens (too small for kids older than 5)
- Won’t win any awards for sound quality
- Passive volume limitation isn’t as safe as Bluetooth
There’s no one-size-fits-all headset for your child as there are dozens, if not hundreds, of options from major headphone manufacturers to plenty of no-name brands. Ultimately, they all try and do the same thing. Ideally, a Bluetooth option is best for a child to grow and use so he/she can keep the device as far away from the face as possible even if most headphones offer three-foot cords. The Puro BT2200 will be the next choice for my child once the Kidz Gear sees its last leg. I know the pricing is a little high for a child’s headphone but knowing that it can be used for years with its excellent build quality makes the cost easier to swallow. There’s plenty of bad options in this category and plenty that ignore the 85 dBa mark for headphones, but overall whether it’s an option on this list or another headphone entirely, this is a space that’s going to see more competition in years to come and that’s a good thing for parents.