There’s a lot of wiggle room for varying opinions when it comes to headphones for grown-ups: whether you like a strong bass, flat frequency response or anything in between, you can’t really be wrong.
But that’s not what the headphone landscape for kids is like!
The situation here is very clear and there most certainly are unfit headphones. Here, sound quality takes a back seat to durability, comfort and, most importantly, volume control. So, without further ado, here are our picks for the best headphones for kids.
The 8 Best Headphones for Kids in 2021
|Model||Wired/Wireless||Volume Limiter Cap|
Chances are you haven’t heard of Puro Sound if you’ve never looked specifically for kids headphones, but they are hands down the best manufacturer of child-friendly headphones. We probably wouldn’t have nearly as many high-quality models for this list if Puro Sound hadn’t been founded, as they were among the first to fully dedicate themselves to the pursuit of a sound that’s just as safe as it is rich.
The BT2200 may seem like a bit of a splurge, but they’re well worth the money if you can afford them. The hard aluminum frame makes them quite durable, while the generous padding helps ensure there’s no discomfort. Furthermore, the audio quality is quite a grade above the other models on this list.
We did say that audio quality isn’t the most important aspect in kids headphones, and we stand by that, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. After all, the lack of clarity may very well be what inspires kids to crank the volume up to eleven. Either that or poor isolation, but luckily neither of these is a concern with the BT2200.
Not that they could turn the volume up. These headphones boast one of the most impressive volume control systems we’ve ever seen. They don’t go above 85dB via Bluetooth, but then again volume control is always more reliable via Bluetooth. The problem usually occurs when using a wire, as the power source can overcome the volume control just by raw power if plugged in into something like an amp.
However, the wire that comes with these headphones is hard-capped at 85dB, so this isn’t something you have to worry about. Just make sure you plug it in correctly, as it can also be plugged in to allow for normal sound, so this is something to be aware of.
Finally, unlike some of the other models on this list, there’s nothing about the BT2200’s design that screams ‘for kids’, so you don’t have to worry about your kids suddenly finding them too immature or uncool.
You can put a price on safety and Puro is here to tell you just what the price is.
- Aluminum frame
- Reliable volume control
- Great sound quality
- Very expensive
Seeing as Puro Sound Labs really are the best player in this market, we had to include another one of their models. The Junior Jams are yet another pair of comfortable headphones with excellent volume control and sound quality, way beyond what’s normally found in kids’ headphones.
The build isn’t quite on par with the BT2200, mainly because the Junior Jams use a lot more plastic. While this does pose some durability questions, rest assured that the folk at Puro know what they’re doing. They know how to design a kid-friendly headphone, and making sure it can take a beating is certainly a requirement.
On the flip side, they have the BT2200 beat in terms of price. We wouldn’t call them affordable, they’re still more expensive than any other model on this list save for the BT2200, but if you’re looking to save just a little bit while still getting a premium product, these are the headphones for you.
What’s more, we’d argue that the Junior Jams are a much better pick if you have two children, because they feature daisy-chaining. Basically, what this means is that you can connect one Junior Jams headphone to, say, a tablet, and another pair to the first one, and they’ll both play the same thing.
If you’ve ever traveled with two kids and one tablet to go around then you don’t need me telling you how handy these can be. Plus they have a superb 22-hour battery life that even eclipses that of the BT2200.
Other than that, they don’t differ too much from the BT2200: you can use a wired or a wireless connection, the volume control is excellent either way and the sound quality still handily beats the competition.
- Great sound quality
There’s just something reassuring about a brand name as renowned as Sony. We’re sure that it won’t take much effort for even the most skeptical buyers to grow to trust a producer like Puro, but we’re just as certain that there’s no one to whom we would have to explain just what Sony is all about.
After all, while it may be a global giant today that deals in everything from video games and films to cameras and consoles, Sony first started as an electronics shop that built Japan’s first tape recorder. It’s a safe bet to say that anyone who’s been in this business since 1946 knows their stuff.
While you shouldn’t expect greatness out of Sony’s headphones for kids, the MDR-222KD are excellent for the price. They’re one of the most comfortable headphones on this list and while the padding isn’t bad, this is still mostly thanks to how lightweight they are, at only 52 grams. They’re about as light as a Snickers bar!
Great as this is for listening to them all day, however, it does pose some durability issues. Naturally, their build is all-plastic, and while it offers some resistance, we could easily see them breaking. Because of this, we wouldn’t recommend them for very young children, but they should hold up well for the somewhat more mature intended ages of 8 and upwards.
The sound quality is not too shabby either. You should never expect greatness out of sub-$20 headphones, but the 13.5 mm drivers with neodymium magnets do provide a level of clarity that you wouldn’t find in most similarly priced headphones.
Sure, they still sound muddy compared to the previous two models, but then again, kids use headphones more often for watching videos and playing games than listening to music.
If you’ve got the next Wunderkind on your hands there are better headphones you can obtain to nurture their talent, but these are more than fine for watching CartoonNetwork.
And the way the MDR-222KD handle volume control is also very reassuring, using both a volume-limiting resistor cable and high impedance to make sure the volume never goes over 89dB. This may appear undesirable in a chart, but it struggles to reach even that level of loudness, which can be a problem if used in loud environments, as their noise isolation leaves a lot to be desired.
- Great value
- Super lightweight
- Neodymium magnet driver
- Poor noise isolation
- All-plastic build
Next up, we have another model from a manufacturer that specifically makes headphones for kids, the Untangled Pro by LilGadgets. Right off the bat, we have to say that these provide an ideal balance of durability, comfort, sound quality and price. The BT2200 may be better overall, but if you’re looking for the best value, the Untangled Pro still has a lot to offer at half the price.
So let’s go through the checkboxes one by one.
The durability here truly is something to marvel at, with a stainless steel and polycarbonate design that can handle a siblings’ tug of war. The only thing that can be even remotely criticized is the durability of the padding, as some users have reported issues of pads tearing and even separating from the earcups in extreme cases.
However, these complaints are few and far between. We’re confident that the Untangled Pro will last as long as there is some understanding on the kids’ part that these aren’t toy swords to be whacked.
As for the padding itself, it’s incredibly comfortable. In fact, everything about the comfort is top-notch, from the materials of the padding to the clamping force and adjustability. Not only are these headphones that your kids will be able to use for hours on end, but they’re also headphones that your kids will be able to use year after year as they are growing up.
The sound is also quite a grade above the low-budget entries on this list. Again, this isn’t really a must have for 4-year-olds, they can understand Peppa Pig just fine even on headphones way worse sounding than the Sony MDR-222KD, but it’s a welcome addition and one that they’ll grow to appreciate as their taste in music develops along with their ears.
Most importantly, the clarity will hopefully stop them from needing to crank up the volume, because the volume control here isn’t like in the other models. It’s capped at 93dB, above the industry standard. This was a conscious design choice that you can read about here, and we’re inclined to agree with them but only if everyone involved is aware of how these headphones should be handled.
Also, these are of course wireless headphones just like the name implies, which is always handy when handling small children, but even more importantly, they feature a share port so they’re just as handy when traveling as the Junior Jams.
- Stainless steel exterior
- Good sound
- Share port
- 12-hour battery life
- Dubious padding durability
- 93dB cap raises some eyebrows
Of course, with all the expenses kids entail, it’s perfectly okay if you don’t intend to splurge on headphones. You should still aim for volume limiting, kid-tested headphones, but these come in all price ranges, and one of the cheaper ones that young kids are sure to adore is the JBuddies Kids by JLab Audio.
They won’t wow you, but for the price of $10, you get volume-limited headphones that you can give your children without worrying and they get fun, colorful headphones that they’ll love for their design and customisability. Pretty much every headphone on this list is available in many colors, but JLab goes a step further by packing 6 pairs of 3D stickers which the kids can then use to further customize them to their liking.
This may sound like a gimmick but trust us, no matter how great aluminum frames, stainless steel headbands and neodymium magnets are, chances are your kid would trade them all for a cool-looking sticker.
And it’s not as if they have no substance to them, they wouldn’t be on our list if this were the case. The foldable variant is very handy for traveling and it comes with a carry pouch. The headphone is easy for cleaning and the lightweight build, adequate clamping force and soft vinyl-covered padding make them very comfortable.
The internal volume limiter won’t let the volume exceed the industry standard of 85dB.
You will be trading off sound quality which, again, is still more than okay for multimedia, and durability, seeing as the build is all-plastic, but at their price, this is more than a fair trade.
- Fun design
- All-plastic build
Now, this next entry is somewhat niche, but it’s more than worthy of making the list. The award-winning Onanoff BuddyPhones Explore is your best bet when dealing with kids between the ages of 2 and 4 because of their small frame, although they’ll still fit many older kids just fine. It all depends on the head size.
Your kids will outgrow them, but this is only a testament to their sturdy build. Everything about them was designed to specifically suit children in this age range. They aren’t wireless but they do feature a detachable cable, which goes a long way in making sure your child is safe from the headphone.
They don’t really excel at any one particular thing, but they’re more than solid all-around. The comfort is on point with soft, cushy padding. The design is very fun, with lots of color variants and stickers much like with the previous entry.
Also, the volume limiter is capped at 85dB. It is an internal volume limiter that can exceed its limit if you plug the headphones into a more powerful power source, like an amp, but we can’t really see this as a downside just because we can’t imagine parents plugging their kids’ headphones to an amp in the first place.
Nonetheless, the best thing about them has got to be that they also come in a 2-pack. You can pair them up just like with the Untangled Pro and the Junior Jams. You can pair 4 BuddyPhone Explore headphones. This alone makes them the best pick for twin toddlers. In fact, it’s worth paying the few extra dollars for the second pair even if you have one kid, just as an extra precaution.
- Detachable cable
- Solid all-around
- Excellent value with the 2-pack
- They will be outgrown
As you can already see, there are quite a number of aspects that differentiate kids headphones from headphones for grown-ups, but the Cozyphones Kids are a completely unique and clever ‘outside the box’ solution that’s rather ingenious in many ways even among kids headphones.
They’re basically a soft fabric headband with sound drivers and a cable attached to it. The many designs like Unicorn, Panda, and Kitten, just to name a few, are all brilliant and sure to be a hit with kids. Honestly, it’s a wonder this hasn’t been done before, just because the idea is so simple yet so good.
As you can imagine, this does wonders for comfort. Liking the feeling of headphones on your ears is an acquired taste, and many people spend their whole lives avoiding earbuds just because they can never fit them properly, but the Cozyphones are a genuine one-size-fits-all that kids will love.
The stability is on point and, if not for the potentially hazardous cable, we’d say that you could easily put these on an exploring toddler and not have to worry about them falling off. The same goes for older kids, only here the cable really isn’t a problem. They’re safe, they fit and the soft fleece material is so comfortable you could easily sleep wearing these headphones.
The sound drivers are super thin at only 31 mm (if you have trouble imagining how thin that is, just remember that a USB port is 45 mm) and they’re removable, along with the tangle-resistant cable, so you can wash the soft fleece headband anytime it gets dirty!
The only two things that have us slightly worried are the volume limiter and the overall durability.
The volume is allegedly capped at 85dB but, according to many tests, it has no problem outputting volume louder than that by 10dB. The loudness isn’t really given free rein, but it surely could be controlled better. Overall, how loud the Cozyphones can get will depend on what they’re using as a power source.
Other than that, we’re a bit skeptical about their overall durability. It’s great that you can remove the drivers and wash the headband, but the drivers do have some wiggle room and it’s hard to imagine them not getting damaged as they go through the daily torment that only a growing child can dish out.
Overall, these are still awesome headphones and the only thing that could make them better is a wireless version. This would automatically get rid of the fluctuations in loudness because they would always be running off of an internal battery and always be toddler safe. If you live in a future where the headphones we’ve just described exist then get those, but until then the Cozyphones Kids headband are still an excellent pick.
- What We Loved
- Brilliant design
- Soft as a pillow
- No wireless option
- Weak volume limiter
- Dubious durability
If you like the unique design of the Cozyphones, you’ll also be sure to appreciate the Headfoams by Marblue. The premise here couldn’t be simpler: they’re indestructible!
Well, that’s what they’re advertised as, at least. They don’t miss the mark by a lot, but more on that later.
Just as the name implies, the Headfoams are made entirely out of EVA foam, which does make them basically indestructible. Think flip-flop soles – those are usually made from this material. They’re quite literally stepped on every day and they can last you for many years.
That’s exactly what these headphones are like. You can twist them, turn them, bend them, pull on them, step on them, throw them… they’ll just walk it off. You get all the lightweight benefits of a plastic build without any of the durability issues. The foam is also rather soft so comfort isn’t an issue.
One of the best things about them is that they feature smaller earcups designed specifically for smaller children. They also come with an extension pad, which truly makes them suitable for children between the ages of 3 and 9, just as advertised. Honestly, even grown-ups shouldn’t have any problems fitting the Headfoams without the extension pad, of course, but the earcups can get outgrown, so we’d recommend sticking to the prescribed target age.
Just like all the other models on this list, they feature a volume limiter that caps the loudness at 85dB and does so quite admirably.
The only problem with them lies where you’d least expect it – durability.
The foam part of the Headfoams really is astounding, but the cable isn’t. There’s absolutely nothing special about the cable whatsoever. So while the headphones themselves can survive pretty much everything you can dish out, the cable can’t. It’s fragile and can actually get severed at the point where it meets the foam.
It’s not as if other cables on this list can survive many of the things that this one can’t, but they have the benefit of not being associated with an ‘indestructible design’. This really is a shame, because you wouldn’t even need to go wireless to avoid this issue, you’d only need a detachable cable.
They’re still one of the best fitting headphones for smaller children on this list aside from the BuddyPhones Explore and can take a fair beating, just don’t be surprised to find the cable broken if your kid is hell-bent on truly testing their limits.
- Incredibly durable foam
- Super lightweight
- Not wireless
How To Shop for Kids’ Headphones
The eight models we’ve handpicked for this buyer’s guide are all excellent and, most importantly, safe, and you can’t go wrong with any one of them, but we know that kids can be tricky to shop for. Maybe your child doesn’t like how any of these look and wants the Griffin KaZoo MyPhones because they have SpongeBob on them.
So here are the things you need to be aware of when shopping for kids’ headphones.
First of all, forget about sound quality for a moment. We simply have to repeat ourselves: Sound quality is great, but it’s not the be-all-end-all when watching cartoons. While not all the models are equally good for listening to music, they are all more than competent enough for multimedia. The hearing apparatus doesn’t fully develop until kids reach their teens anyway.
So it’s vital to make sure the headphones they use have a volume limiter. Estimates say that 12.5% of children suffer from noise-induced hearing loss and full-volume headphones are one of the main culprits. Experts agree that 85dB is the loudest volume children should be exposed to for long periods.
LilGadgets’ 93dB cap doesn’t contradict this because they specify that volume level as safe for shorter periods of time. Still, an 85dB cap is your safest bet in most cases.
You’ll also want to think long and hard about whether you need a wireless model or not. In addition to all the benefits wireless headphones generally have, they’re even handier with small children. Cables can always make you feel restless as a parent when you have toddlers and what’s more, volume limiters generally work more consistently with wireless headphones because they’ll always use their own internal battery as a power source.
However, this doesn’t mean that you have to go wireless, especially if your children are 6 or older and if they’re already hooked on gaming. A smartphone is not likely to overpower the volume limiter and gamers are glued to their PCs or consoles anyway, so while freedom of movement is appreciated, it’s not a must-have.
Comfort and durability are the next things to look out for, along with sound quality, but this only comes after the essentials we’ve listed above. After that, it’s only a matter of negotiating the design with your child. Good luck!
The Absolute Best Headphone for Kids Today
Finding a headphone that puts a hard volume cap and strikes a good balance between comfort, durability and sound quality is no easy task in and of itself, but then finding the most cost-efficient headphone among these is quite a task.
But pound for pound, we’d say that the LilGadgets Untangled Pro are the most cost-efficient kids headphones out there.
They simply do everything right, from durability and comfort and even the sound to giving you both a wired and wireless experience and all of this with a volume capped sound. Unlike the Puro Sound headphones, they don’t cost quite a fortune. They may have a higher volume cap than the other models, but unless your child is determined about wanting to wear them for 8 hours on end, this won’t be an issue.
If the 93dB cap is a problem for you, we’d suggest either going for the Junior Jams or the Onanoff BudyPhones Explore, depending on your budget. If money’s burning your pocket, the BT2200 headphones by Puro are definitely worth it, but we just couldn’t give them our pick because of the price.
And if you have to purchase more than one pair, then the Onanoff BudyPhones Explore shoot up to the top of the list with their 2-pack that has just an unprecedented value.
Whatever the case, just remember the guidelines for buying a kid-friendly pair of headphones and you’ll be fine.