The Best Headphones for Kids of 2019By TJ Donegan, Updated June 18, 2019
These days, we're more connected than ever, and kids are using headphones all the time. Whether they're watching cartoons in the car, listening to music on their phones, or playing video games in the basement, it's important for your kids to have headphones that won't damage their young ears.
(If you're looking for headphones for the adults in your life, check out our article on the Best Headphones.)
If you're shopping for headphones for your kids, the safest option is a pair that limits the maximum volume. Out of more than 10 models we tested and reviewed, the best ones are the Puro Sound Labs PuroQuiet Wireless Kids Headphones (available at Puro Sound Labs for $99.99). They're a bit pricier than most, but they're well-built, sound great, and offer effective volume limits in both wired and wireless modes. They even offer noise-cancellation, an awesome feature that will help tons of kids, whether they want to hear their music better on long trips or they have sensory issues to overcome.
Here are the rankings for the best kids' headphones we tested:
- Puro Sound Labs PuroQuiet Kids Headphones
- Puro Sound Labs BT2200 Kids Headphones
- Sakar Hello Kitty
- LeapFrog Headphones
- Cozyphones Kids Headphones
- LilGadgets Untangled Pro Premium
- Kidz Gear Wired Headphones for Kids
- LilGadgets Connect+ Premium
- AmazonBasics Volume Limited On-Ear Headphones for Kids
Puro Sound Labs PuroQuiet Kids Headphones
Puro Sound Labs PuroQuiet Kids HeadphonesBest Overall
If you're looking for the best volume-limited headphones for kids, the Puro Sound Labs PuroQuiet Kids Headphones are the best that we've tested. These are a bit pricier than our previous favorite—the Puro BT2200—but they offer a killer new feature: noise cancellation. Though it may seem like a luxury feature for many children, it's an awesome addition for kids who have sensory issues.
For other children, the noise-cancellation helps reduce the urge to crank the volume to the absolute max. Though volume-limiting headphones are critical for protecting your child's hearing, the recommended max of 85dB(a) simply isn't very loud. These headphones help solve for that by further cutting down ambient noise.
In our lab tests, the PuroQuiets were some of the best noise-cancelling headphones we've tested, cutting down a significant amount of ambient noise with no major technical issues. Though our tests showed they could get up to around 87dB(a), that's still near the recommended level that experts deem safe for most children up to 8 hours.
The main drawback here is the price, but Puro frequently discounts these. Headphones that cost around $100 (or higher) can be pricey for younger kids who are likely to forget them somewhere (or simply break them), but for an older kid wanting nicer headphones, these are worth the investment.
The wireless capability ensures that your kid can't easily circumvent the volume protections, and they will work with a wider range of modern devices including newer smartphones that don't have built-in headphone jacks. Just note that if the battery dies you can use the included cable, but the volume limiter on the cable only works when plugged in the right way.
Puro Sound Labs BT2200 Kids Headphones
Puro Sound Labs BT2200 Kids HeadphonesRunner-Up
Our previous "Best Overall" pick for volume-limiting kids' headphones, the Puro Sound Labs BT2200 is a really competitive option if you like the PuroQuiet but want something a bit cheaper. The main difference between the two is the lack of noise-cancellation and the price, which drops to around $70 on sale (compared to $100).
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, assuming 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.
As long as you're willing to police this issue (or just have your kids use them wirelessly) these are a premium product that would be perfect for an older child. They're stylish, comfortable, built like a premium product, and they have rock-solid user reviews over the years. If you don't need noise cancellation for your kids' headphones, these are a perfect backup pick.
Why should you buy volume-limiting headphones?
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 9 models through the wringer 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.
Sakar Hello Kitty
Sakar Hello KittyBest 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 model and a model with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle branding (now off the market) and they performed similarly.
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 headphones are a good, affordable option.
Though these are marketed as working primarily with LeapFrog's line of tablets and other devices, these are standard over-ear headphones like all the rest on this list, which means that they'll work with any audio 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 preteen well.
These are marketed as having a maximum volume of 85dB(a), 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 the ideal value, 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 precautions.
Cozyphones Kids Headphones
Cozyphones Kids Headphones
And now for something completely different: the Cozyphones. These uniquely-designed headphones have thin drivers that are inserted into a stretchy, fabric headband. The concept is neat, 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 our preferred threshold of 85dB(a). That may be fine for short bursts, but it's too close for our comfort and we think there are better options available on this list.
LilGadgets Untangled Pro Premium
LilGadgets Untangled Pro Premium
These super-popular wireless headphones are not a bad alternative to the Puro BT2200 Bluetooth model. 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, we observed sound levels of 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 on your device.
Kidz Gear Wired Headphones for Kids
Where To Buy$17.98 Amazon Buy
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 bunch 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. Instead, these headphones rely on an adapter to do the heavy lifting.
The main problem is that the adapter is small and easy to lose. It's even easier to remove intentionally. And while these tested below the recommended level 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 for safe listening.
LilGadgets Connect+ 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 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 them 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 Volume Limited On-Ear Headphones for KidsAvoid
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 a 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.