The Best Kids' Headphones That Provide Maximum Listening Fun While Protecting Little Ears

Wireless and wired headphones that work great with all kinds of devices and won’t break after one use.

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kids headphones
Photo: Amazon

I still remember my very first pair of headphones that came with my Sony Walkman, with their cheap foam earpads and sound that definitely leaked to everyone else near me, and that eventually only played in one ear after being dragged around the house while I listened to my favorite cassette tapes. We have come a long way in personal sound technology, and in particular in the realm of kids' headphones. Audiology experts have advised parents and manufacturers to take measures that prevent children from blasting out their eardrums, for one. And for another, brands have developed ways for us to go wireless and connect to the many devices our kids use for fun and for school.

Safest Headphones for Kids

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, regular exposure to noise above 85 decibels (something like the sound of kitchen appliances or a motorcycle) can cause gradual hearing loss over time. For this reason, many headphones designed for children limit the volume to 85 decibels, or allow parents to turn this limit on and off. In the past, some headphone manufacturers that have claimed to limit the volume failed to do so during testing by the New York Times. For that reason, we suggest reading reviews as well as testing the headphones out yourself when you purchase them.

Another way to prevent possible hearing loss in children is to buy only headphones that go over the ear, not earbuds. Earbuds place the sound closer to the eardrum, and they also allow more outside sounds to interfere, which can make the listener want to turn up the volume higher.

Some parents have wondered whether wireless Bluetooth headphones are safe for children. Though the technology does use radio waves to transmit sound, the amount of radiation is at most one-tenth of the amount of radiation emitted from a cell phone.

What to Consider When Buying Kids' Headphones

Budget: It's possible to find kids' headphones in the $15 range, going up to hundreds of dollars for gaming headphones teens love. The headphones we list here are all under $100. Even the most durable headphones break, especially when young children are handling them, so we don't recommend investing a lot of money into this device.

Connection Needs: Headphones with cords are less expensive than wireless headphones, and they don't require batteries. But those cords do break easily, and some devices such as iPads and iPhones require a special adaptor. Bluetooth headphones provide an easy way around those headaches. Some wireless headphones come with a cord you can attach for wired use, and others allow for connection between two or more sets.

Comfort and Fit: Some kids' headphones have adjustable headbands, like adult headphones do, and others skip that feature in order to make them sturdier. Check to see whether the pair you want is appropriate for the age of your child. For kids who aren't quite ready for headphones, there are also pairs that use soft cloth headbands to keep the earpieces in place.

Durability: If your kid is hard on their toys and electronics, again, we don't recommend spending a lot on headphones. For wired headphones, look for cords that detach from the headsets and/or those that have braided nylon cord coverings.

Noise-Cancelling: Most kids' headphones don't offer active noise-cancelling features (and really, that sounds super annoying for parents whose kids already don't listen), but some passive noise cancellation or noise isolation may be a good idea. When headphones block some of the outside noise, kids can listen to devices at lower, safer volumes.

Below are the nine best kids' headphones, as chosen by Parents' editors and customer reviews.

Best Bluetooth: iClever TransNova Kids Bluetooth Headphones

kids headphones

Whether they'll be using an iPad without a regular headphone jack or you just want to give them freedom of movement without yanking cords around, Bluetooth headphones that are specifically designed for kids can be very convenient. Parents magazine editors recommend the iClever TransNova headphones, which have three different sound-limit settings (74, 85, or 94 decibels) parents can set, plus a 45-hour battery life before you need to recharge via USB-c. Kids will enjoy customizing them with the interchangeable plates, and there's also a built-in microphone for use on video chats or remote classes.

"I tried them on myself and the headphones will extend enough to accommodate an adult head. The sound as I was listening to it was fantastic and they had some noise isolation, which is what I was glad for, given that I was going to restrict the audio," wrote a parent in a five-star review. They later amended their review to give other customers one warning: "The battery life is more like 20-25 hours. The only reason I [didn't] remove stars is that they charge super fast. It really does charge back up to 80 percent after 10 minutes. That gets me through the day with minimal annoyance."

To buy: iClever TransNova Kids Bluetooth Headphones, $24.99 with coupon (originally $49.99);

Best for Toddlers and Preschoolers: Little Crowns NYC Sound Crowns Headband Headphones

kids headphones

Some kids just hate the feel of over-ear headphones on their head. If they're 12 months or older, they may just find these adjustable headbands (cotton-spandex blend with Velcro) with built-in headphones comfortable enough to enjoy their music and screen time without having to share it with everyone else. You can also remove the headphones and wash the headband by hand.

"I loved how snug they sat on his head," wrote one parent. "My son is 4.5 [years old] and has a large sized head and lots of hair and this fits like a glove. He used them for the whole 14-hour LAX to MEL trip!"

To buy: Little Crowns NYC Sound Crowns Headband Headphones, $25;

Sturdiest: JBL JR 300 On-Ear Headphones for Kids

kids headphones

I bought these for my son in an airport when some other kids' headphones we had for him broke. They've lasted four years, through many more trips stuffed in his backpack, yanked around with various devices, and left in strange places of the house to be stepped on. That's more than I can say for any headphones I've owned for that long. The sound is clear, allowing him to listen to shows and movies with the built-in 85 decibel-limit on an airplane. He loved decorating them with the included stickers, too.

"My very rough 11-year-old uses these, and they have held up," wrote another parent. "That is saying A LOT! I also love that the max volume is the max safest volume recommended by doctors!"

To buy: JBL JR 300 On-Ear Headphones for Kids, $24.95;

Best for Future Audiophiles: Puro Sound Labs BT2200s Volume Limited Kids' Bluetooth Headphones

kids headphones

These Bluetooth headphones (which come with a cord for non-wireless devices too) are for young music fans who want a higher quality of sound than most kids' headphones can provide. They have an 85-decibel limit, as well as a passive system that blocks 82 percent of background noise, so kids won't have to turn the volume up too loudly to hear. Kids can also connect another set of headphones to these to share a device with a sibling or parent. The built-in microphone is perfectly designed for video chatting, but not for gaming. The battery reportedly lasts 20 hours.

"These headphones have all but stopped the arguments in our house over headphones and volume," a customer raved. "My teenager has underdeveloped impulse control and, despite warnings and consequences, insisted on listening to her previous headphones at maximum volume most of the time. With these headphones, she can max the volume out, but I am comforted by the fact that the built-in limited volume will protect her ears, even if she can't/won't. The sound quality is good, the fit works for a petite teenager, and they are just cool looking enough to pass the teenager test."

To buy: Puro Sound Labs BT2200s, $89 (originally $99);

Best Disney Headphones: eKids Frozen II Bluetooth Headphones

kids headphones

If your kids need a bit of convincing to use headphones, you can get some help from their favorite characters. In addition to Anna and Elsa, eKids offers headphones for fans of L.O.L. Surprise, JoJo Siwa, Minnie and Mickey Mouse, Batman, Spider-Man, Pokémon, Paw Patrol, and more. These are Bluetooth headphones with an optional cord for wired use. They have a built-in microphone and limited volume, but no noise-cancelling capability. The headphones fold up for storage, and they are not adjustable.

"I got this for my 3-year-old son for his birthday," wrote one reviewer. "He already has the wired headphones, but wires get in the way. He can walk around watching his YouTube videos on his tablet or sit however he wants without any cables or wires getting caught or tied up. I like how it has limited volume, so ... he doesn't blow out his ear drums. And the battery lasts for a few days before needing another charge."

To buy: eKids Frozen II Bluetooth Headphones, $29.99;

Best Budget Bluetooth: JLab JBuddies Studio Bluetooth Over-Ear Kids Headphones

kids headphones

This Parents magazine pick is another solid option for kids' Bluetooth headphones with more than 1,100 five-star ratings on Amazon. There's a built-in mic, and the volume is limited to 85 decibels. The battery lasts 13 hours on Bluetooth, and the headband is adjustable.

"The battery life is phenomenal," wrote a parent who bought a pair for each of their kids. "[T]he kids like the sound quality, I can't hear whatever they are watching/playing whenever I am sitting with them (unlike some other volume controlled headphones they have had), and the headphones are very sturdy. Perfect."

To buy: JLab JBuddies Studio Bluetooth Over-Ear Headphones, $23.99 (originally $29.99);

Best Budget Wired (With Mic): JLab JBuddies Studio Wired Over-Ear Headphones

kids headphones
Best Buy

If you don't need wireless capability, you can save $10 and get these no-frills headphones that have very high ratings on both Amazon and Best Buy. Like the Bluetooth model, they limit volume to 85 decibels but do not have a noise-cancelling feature. The mic is built-in, and the headband is adjustable.

"Seems pretty heavy duty," wrote one customer nine months after their purchase. "Got them for the kids to do their virtual classes for school. So far, they are holding up to their abuse."

To buy: JLab JBuddies Studio Wired Over-the-Ear Headphones, $19.99;

Best Budget Wired (Without Mic): Noot Products On-Ear Headset for Kids

kids headphones

These wired headphones have more than 23,400 five-star ratings on Amazon, and all models are under $21, so they're a pretty good bet for anyone looking for something basic for their kids. The volume limit is 93 decibels, higher than most of the other kids' headphones listed here, but some parents might prefer this for taking on an airplane where background noise makes a higher volume necessary.

"My son is diagnosed with [autism spectrum disorder] so sensory is huge for us," wrote one parent. "[H]e is constantly chewing on things. His clothes, his toys, paper, ANYTHING. I was so upset when I saw that he was chewing on the rope of his headphones, but y'all...they still work! And that's the beginning. He had an episode one night, threw the headphones, stomped on them.. I just knew they were done after that. Nope! I used them tonight for a work Zoom meeting and had zero difficulty. I am so thankful for this product, I might just [buy] another pair, just to have them!"

To buy: Noot Products On-Ear Headset for Kids, $18.99;

Best Cat-Eared: iClever HS01 Food Grade Kids' Headphones With Microphone

kids headphones

If you've never had the pleasure of seeing a kid wearing adorable cat-ear headphones while bopping around to their favorite tunes, you are missing out. These budget-friendly headphones are also made with safety in mind: They have two volume-limit settings (85 or 94 decibels) and are made with nontoxic materials to ease parents' minds about being on their kids' heads (and yeah, sometimes in their mouths) all day long.

"I love that these are really flexible!" wrote a parent. "[My daughter] has been really rough with them so far, and they are still holding up great! The little kitten ears are super cute, and the padding is nice and soft around the ear pads. The best part? She can totally crank the volume when I am not looking, and it will not blow her little eardrums since it has a kid-safe volume that it maxes out at."

To buy: iClever HS01 Food Grade Kids' Headphones With Microphone, $15.29 (originally $22.99);

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