The Best Headphones for Kids of 2018

By TJ Donegan

If you're shopping for headphones for your kids, the safest option is a pair that limits the maximum volume. Out of nearly 20 models we tested, the best ones are the Puro BT2200 volume-limiting wireless on-ears. They're a bit pricier than most, but they're well-built, sound great, and have effective wired and wireless volume limits—when used properly.

Why should you buy volume-limiting headphones? Because even cheap earbuds can dangerously exceed the levels recommended by health experts. Noise-induced hearing loss can start showing up in even young children, and it can have long-term impacts on their academic performance.

Worst of all? Many volume-limiting headphones are capable of exceeding their advertised limits with nothing more powerful than an iPhone. To sort out the good from the bad, we put 19 models through the ringer in our state-of-the-art audio lab. If you want to dig into the nitty gritty of how we tested, why, and what a $25,000 dummy wearing kids' headphones looks like, I highly recommend you read our full report. If you just want to know what to buy, here's what you need to know:

  • Experts recommend a max volume of 85dB for no more than 60min/day. For adults, noise exposure is considered hazardous after 8 hours at 85dB(a). An iPhone's earbuds can easily average 105dB at full volume, which can be hazardous after just a few minutes.

  • Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is permanent. NIHL is cumulative, may not become apparent until years later, and it may affect up to 1.1 billion people. Caution is key—we don't know exactly where the "safe" threshold is.

  • Volume-limiting headphones are not a guarantee of safety. We used an iPhone 7 Plus for our tests, but anything more powerful—like an amp—could drive even the best wired models we tested above recommended levels. Your best bet is to go wireless if possible, or just turn the volume to about 60% of the max.

— Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Updated July 06, 2018

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Puro Hero 3 Best Overall
Credit: Reviewed.com / TJ Donegan
The Puro BT2200 headphones look good, sound great, are durable, are well-designed, and have effective volume limits.

Puro Sound Labs BT2200 Kids Headphones

Puro sound labs bluetooth kids
  • Best of Year 2017

Where To Buy

$86.83 Amazon Buy

Puro Sound Labs BT2200 Kids Headphones

Best Overall

If you're looking for a high-quality pair of volume-limited headphones, the Puro BT2200 is the way to go. Though they're the priciest of the pairs we looked at, that's because they have the best combination of comfort, build quality, and sound quality. They are a bit too big for a toddler, but they should fit school-age children and up quite well.

In our tests, the BT2200s played at about 82-84.6dB(a) when used wirelessly at full volume, with about 12 hours of battery life. And because they run off their own internal power when in Bluetooth mode, there's no risk of them being overpowered. When used wired with our standard source (an iPhone 7 Plus with the Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter), they topped out right at the 85dB(a) threshold—as long as you plug the volume-limiting cable in the right way.

Our one issue is that the cable can easily be plugged in the wrong way (I did, the first time). This pushed the max volume to 96-100dB(a) in our tests, which could cause damage. The cable does have "Headphones→" written on it so you know which end is which, but these should really be designed so the cable only plugs in the correct way.

Sakar Hello Kitty

Sakar hello kitty
  • Editors' Choice

Sakar Hello Kitty

Best Value

These kids' headphones are made by Sakar and are identical to other versions, except with Hello Kitty branding. Though we can't guarantee all 14 variations of this model are identical, we tested this and a model with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle branding (now off the market) and they were the same.

This Hello Kitty version was within 0.1dB(a) of the Ninja Turtles model and both were below the 85dB(a) threshold when used properly. Beyond the volume-limiting and the basic branding, it's important to know that these are cheap and will probably break at some point— but the same could be said of almost every pair in this roundup. If you're cool with that (or know your kids will break them anyway), these are a good, affordable option.

JLab Audio JBuddies Studio Over-Ear

812887015431
  • Editors' Choice

JLab Audio JBuddies Studio Over-Ear

The JLab JBuddies Studio Over-ear headphones are the new kid on the block when it comes to kids' headphones, but they were among our favorites with an attractive, folding design. They are designed for kids six and up and feature soft padded earcups that pull down far enough to accommodate even adult-sized heads. The braided, tangle-free cable is non-removable, but that also means there's no way to circumvent the volume limits.

Speaking of which, the JLab Studio Over-ears were super effective in our testing. With industry-standard pink noise these averaged just 80.9dB(a), which was well below the recommended levels. The real-world samples we used registered a bit louder, but they only got up to about 84.9-89dB(a) with our iPhone, which isn't bad at all. If you're looking for a great pair of headphones that an older child can grow with, these are a good pick.

LeapFrog Headphones

Leapfrog headphones
  • Editors' Choice

LeapFrog Headphones

Though these are marketed as working primarily with LeapFrog's line of tablets and other devices, these are just standard over-ear headphones like all the rest on this list. That means they'll work with any source that has a headphone jack. They're well-built, comfy, and a bit bigger than the other models on this list, so they'll be a bit loose on a toddler but will fit an older child or a pre-teen well.

These are marketed as having a maximum volume of 85dB, but in our tests they output around 88dB(a), with certain songs pushing them up to 90 or 91dB(a) for short stretches. That's a bit louder than is suggested, so you'll want to set volume limits on whatever device you're using so they fall safely within the recommended levels. Still, for a good pair of all-around headphones for a slightly older child these aren't a bad bet—if you take other precautions.

Cozyphones Kids Headphones

Cozyphones kids headphones

Cozyphones Kids Headphones

And now for something completely different: the Cozyphones. These are designed unlike any other headphones we've tested before. Unlike most headphones, these have thin drivers that are inserted into a stretchy, fabric headband. The design is fun and unique, but the fabric felt very warm after just a few minutes and older kids may just not want to wear them.

In our lab testing these also proved to be just too loud for our liking. They hit between 93-95dB(a) in our tests, which is above the 85dB(a) threshold we're aiming for. That may be fine for short bursts, but it's too close for our comfort and we think there are better options in this list.

LilGadgets Untangled Pro Premium

Lilgadgets untangled pro premium%20

LilGadgets Untangled Pro Premium

These super-popular wireless headphones are a bit cheaper than the Puro BT2200 Bluetooth models that were our favorites overall, and they're not a bad alternative. Even though we have some reservations about the wired version (the LilGadgets Connect+ Premium), these were much better. They're still more flimsy than the Puro BT2200s, but they seem comfy and well-built.

In our tests, these did a great job of keeping noise to the recommended level—when used wirelessly. With Bluetooth these tested from 83-87dB(a), which is close enough to the mark. The issue is that the included wire doesn't do enough (if anything) to limit volume, and in wired mode these got up to 92.4-96dB(a). That's a bit too loud according to the experts, so if the battery runs out or you need to use the wire, you'll want to set hard volume limits.

Kidz Gear Wired Headphones for Kids

Kidz gear wired headphones for kids

Kidz Gear Wired Headphones for Kids

Kidz Gear makes two of the most popular kid-friendly headphones on the market, and this wired pair is affordable and available in a number of fun, bright colors. They're also quite flimsy and mostly made of plastic, but the biggest issue is that they don't have a built-in volume-limiting cable, relying on an adapter instead.

The problem? This adapter is small and easy to lose. It's even easier to remove intentionally. And while these were under the recommended level in our tests with the adapter (hovering between 82-85dB(a)), they were way too loud without it, topping out at around 108dB(a). Unless you plan to watch your kids like a hawk all of the time, these aren't the best option.

Siblings
Credit: Reviewed.com / TJ Donegan
The kids headphone market is a mess, with multiple companies selling re-branded versions of the same headphones.

LilGadgets Connect+ Premium

Lilgadgets connect plus premium

LilGadgets Connect+ Premium

The LilGadgets Connect+ Premium headphones were probably the most intriguing pair of headphones we tested in this group. These are affordable, well-reviewed on Amazon, and they feel like they're well-built, with a removable cable and two ports so you can hook up a second pair of headphones. In our tests they were too loud to be used at full volume (94-96dB(a)), but generally these seem like a decent pick if you can lock in lower volume limits.

Where these get real fishy is when we compare these to the other models pictured above: the Snug Play+ and Nenos Children's Best headphones; they are identical, despite being from ostensibly different companies. This is because many manufacturers, particularly in China, let you purchase products like this in bulk, apply your own branding, and sell them through a service like Amazon.

The problem with that model is it's very difficult to get customer service issues resolved in a timely manner, there's no guarantee the company you're buying it from has done any actual safety testing, and there is usually a wide variance in build quality. Our advice? Play it safe and go with one of our better picks above.

AmazonBasics Volume Limited On-Ear Headphones for Kids

Amazonbasics%20volume limited on ear headphones for kids

AmazonBasics Volume Limited On-Ear Headphones for Kids

Avoid

While we love Amazon's house brand AmazonBasics for many things, these are not the best choice if you want headphones for your kids. They're flimsy, they have mediocre sound quality, and they don't limit volume nearly enough in our tests—even with something as simple as an iPhone.

In our tests they produced between 95 and 100dB(a), which is well above the recommended levels. They weren't as loud as even stock Apple or Samsung earbuds, but they could easily be unsafe if used improperly for long stretches of time.

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