Deciding on the best headphones for kids or young children is not always as simple as buying whatever is cheap. In fact, a lot of headphone companies now design headphones specifically for children.
These are kids headphones that specifically meet the needs of younger users and their parents. With the rise of portable media and more young users than ever being proficient enough to operate tablets and smartphones, it seems a logical step to give them their own headphones.
That way they can watch movies and TV or listen to music and give you a little peace. After all on those long road trips or flights who hasn't pulled the diversionary tactic of throwing them the iPad and headphones combo to keep them entertained.... and yourself sane.
How to choose the right headphones for kids?
So when deciding on the best headphones for this most important task we are going to look at the key areas where they need to perform well. All sorts of factors come into play when choosing a set of children's headphones such as a build quality, design and believe it or not sound.
We have made this list to save you money in the long run, potentially protect your kids hearing long-term and make their experience with audio that much better.
Styling - Don't let them grab the first thing that looks cool
Let's face it kids don't really care about brand name, they want something cool looking or something with their favorite cartoon character emblazoned on it. They might even just want what the other kids at school are using etc.
The problem with this is that some headphones look like they might be designed for kids but in reality, they offer little to no hearing protection and lack other child-specific features that may be beneficial in the long run.
Build Quality - Durability matters when Children are involved
Kids are notoriously tough on everything. Unfortunately, that means that these children’s headphones are going to have to put up with a lot of abuse. Build quality is extremely important as you don't want something that is going to break from a little bit of rough play.
We included some seriously tough options that should hold up better than most regular headphones. We have to give credit to many of the companies on the list for putting this at the forefront when designing their headphones for small children.
Hearing Protection - Limiting Volume to Safe Levels
Given that your child's heading does not fully develop until their late teens you will want to protect their hearing as best as possible. Listening to loud music for extended periods of time can have serious consequences on your kids hearing later in life.
One option is monitoring their volume levels yourself, another is to use a volume lock app that restricts the decibel level of the device. Another easier option is that you can have headphones and earbuds with built-in volume reduction that stops children damaging their hearing. This saves you time on checking yourself and stops them from bypassing a parental lock on mobile devices.
We think the last option is the easiest because it is a set and forget solution and works with any device the plug the headphones into. All the headphones we have recommended come with a decibel limitation on the volume of at least 86db (decibels) which is well under the safe volume level for children recommended by W.H.O. (World Health Organisation), that should keep the little ones safe for years to come.
Price - How much should you spend on your kid's headphones?
How much you want to spend on your kid's headphones is entirely up to you. You can go expensive or cheap but let's face it your kids probably won't be too kind to them and accidents do happen.
Luckily the vast majority of these headphones come in at a reasonable price and we have tried to keep a strict budget of under $100 but most are far less than that.
Headphones vs Earphones (Over-Ear vs In-Ear)
I would only advise you to consider earphones (in-ear headphones - earbuds) only if you have older children. With less moving parts and a smaller footprint they are less likely to get crushed or exploded into a thousand little fragments when dropped, however, earbuds and earphones do represent a significant choking hazard for younger kids. For this reason, we have only included full-size on-ear or over ear headphones for kids purely out of safety reasons.
If you still want to buy a set of in ear style headphones then check out the Lilgadgets Bestbuds volume limiting earbuds. These are cheap and cheerful and come in 3 different color options and still have built in hearing protection.
JVC TinyPhones Childrens Headphones
The JVC Tinyphones are perfect for kids whith their fun design available in a wide variety of different colours. We also like the price on these.
Even though they are super cheap they still have pretty solid build quality with nice a nich chunky headband and hard wearing yet comfortable earpads.
The headphones are volume limited to 85db/mw meaning the provided adequete protection to your childrens ears.
Ifrogz Little Rockerz
The Little Rockerz line of headphones for children is one of the most popular options available in 2017.
Kids love them because they offer a whole line of dress up themes such as lions (pictured right) and this little princess one with a crown. They are really well built and again are volume limited to 85db.
One cool feature on these that many people overlook is the venting which means your kids should still be able to hear you despite listening to music or watching tv.
FSL Protec Kids Headphones
We like these headphones because of the unique way they handle the issue of safe volume levels for children.
On the left hand side of the Protec Kids headphones there is a child proof dial that lets you adjust the volume output to three different levels.
There is 84db which is the lowest setting and considered safe for very young children. Next up is 94 decibels which is acceptable for children over 10 and then there is a volume unlimited version just in case you want to have a go yourself.
Griffin Crayola Headphones
Griffin who are mostly well known for their iphone and ipad accessories such as cases and cables have teamed up with kids favourite Crayola to produce a colourful, fun and safe set of over the ear headphones for little ones.
Again these are volume limited so considered child friendly and the design is available in a few different colour options.
Build quality is only ok and ther eis no padding on the headband but the price is very cheap so deffinetley worth consideration if the budget is tight.
Griffin Kazoo Volume Limiting Headphones
A cheap and chearful option for the little ones could be the Griffin Kazoo headphone line.
These fun headphones are aimed at younger children and there is a range of designs to choose from such as monkey, penguin and lion.
They feel a bit cheap thanks to the unpadded headband but again the price is right on with them generally appearing online for around $10.
Puro Sound BT220
If you find the wild and crazy kids style designs a bit off-putting or if you have older children and still care about protecting their hearing then the Puro Sound Labs Bluetooth Headphones will be a perfect choice.
Obviously, the big advantage here is that the Puro are wireless headphones (with 18 hours of battery life) but we also like that despite having a volume restriction in place they don't look like a set of kids headphones.
Other color options are available and you can buy them in white, blue purple of black.
Phillips SHK2000PK Kids Headphones
One of my kids favorites during testing for this list were the terribly named Philips SHK2000PK (Pretty catchy right). These turned out to be one of the comfiest headphones despite the on-ear design.
The headband is pure quality and capable of taking lots of stress and we like that the earcups swivel to help fit different head shapes.
You can have the SHK in so many colors it can be hard to pick but for the price, these are a great option.
Whoever designed the Headfoams should get an award because they just make so much sense.
These are essentially a giant block of foam with some headphone drivers stuck inside. In my own testing i went as far as launching them off walls to test durability and no matter what I tried they just kept working.
They have plenty of colors to choose from, are volume limited and are super comfortable on the head.
Kidz Gear offer something unique in that their headphones are designed for little gamers. These headphones have a built in microphone that can be great for talking with friends when gaming online.
Like most of the headphones we have listed the Kidz Gear Deluxe headphones are available in a range of different colour options that suit boys or girls and the headband on this one is super sturdy.
The only thing we weren't a fan of was that the microphone is not removable but considering the it may be a potential saftey hazard we can see why this design was chosen.
Last but certainly not least we have the Groov-e GV590 Kids Headphones that come in either pink or blue.
These are one of the cheapest headphones on the test but they were also one of the ones which ranked highest for comfort.
You get the standard volume restriction of 85db and lots of adjustment points on the headbands to ensure a good fit. The earpads were also excellent and offer lots of cushioning for tiny ears.
LilGadgets Untangled Wireless
Our vote for best kids headphone of 2018 has to go to Lilgadgets untangled pro. I have been using them for some time with the little ones and they love them.
Brilliant design, lots of colors to choose from and of course the are wireless meaning you wont have them running off with the headphones on and the cable attached to your iPad (I know this from personal experience).
Battery life is solid at around 12 hours and a portion of every sale made goes to anti bullying charities.
Ekids Movie Headphones
Ekids Marvel line of headphones are possibly a Christmas or birthday present that your kids will freak out over.
These wireless headphones have all the good features listed in other headphones above but come in multiple designs such as Cars, Spiderman, Ironman, Frozen and Starwars among many many others.
They have a design for almost everyone an have excellent build quality as observed in our long term testing.
Note: Updated December 2018 to include link to pdf regarding safe listening levels for children.