10 best kids’ headphones
Comfort, volume restriction, style and price are all worth considering when choosing how your child listens to their tablet or handheld gadget
We may earn some commission if you click on a link in this article and buy a product or service, but we never allow this to influence our coverage.
Chances are your children love playing music or watching the latest YouTube sensation on their tablets. Usually meaning you’ll be in earshot of their current fad.
Yet rather than enduring their favourite song or episode on repeat, (no more Paw Patrol, please) why not invest in some headphones designed specifically for youngsters.
Not only made to fit little heads, many come with volume restrictors to help the sound reaching dangerous levels.
Vital considering adult headphones can hit volumes of around 115 decibels (dB), the equivalent of being at a rock concert. Listening at that volume for just 15 minutes a day can damage a child’s ears.
Lots of children’s headphones have a volume restrictor of 85dB, which is the maximum noise level recommended by many auditory health organisations.
Yet even then, it’s not recommended that your child wear headphones for more than two hours a day.
Audiological scientist Adam Walker says: “Look for headphones with volume limiters and think about background noise when your child has headphones on. The quieter the background noise, the lower the volume needs to be on the headphones as the headphones are not having to compete with the background noise.”
Walker also recommends avoiding in-ear headphones. They put the sound closer to the eardrum, potentially causing more damage.
It’s also worth considering the cable length – too long and your child could well trip over it – or whether you’d prefer wireless.
We tested the headphones on a group of children aged four to 14 (along with a handful of parents) and judged them based on sound quality, fit, volume control and – in the words of one young tester – “cool factor”.
With all that in mind, here’s our pick of the best...
JBL Jr 300BT: £34, AO
We have a joint best buy for kids’ headphones: the JBL Jr 300BT and the next pick, the Puro BT2200 model.
Designed for children aged three to 10-years-old, the JBL headphones were voted joint favourite by our testers.
Not only were they the most comfortable, they have a safe sound limit of 85dB, a 12-hour battery life and clever 3D axis rotating ear cups which adjust to the size of your child’s ears. This basically means they are great at cancelling out background noise, meaning the headphone volume can be even lower.
Wireless, there’s no cable to get tangled up (or lost) and there are even stickers for your kids to customise their headphones.
Puro BT2200 Wireless Kids’ Headphones, £89.99, Amazon
Admittedly the Puro headphones are the priciest of the bunch, but our testers thought they were worth it.
Not only are they super stylish – they look more like adult headphones – they have an 18-hour battery life, volume limiter and incredible audio quality.
They are also good at blocking out background sounds and, crucially for parents not wanting to listen along with their kids, they are great at preventing noise leakage.
The Puro headphones come in a sturdy case which means they can be safely stored (and not dropped or trodden on).
Also wireless, so your kids can dance around as much as they want without fear of getting tangled.
JLAB JBuddies Studio Over Ear Folding Kids Headphones: £14.99, John Lewis
Suitable for ages six to 16, the JLAB headphones scored highly among our testers. They have a cushioned headband and over ear pads with eco leather trim, making them one of the most comfortable we tested.
They’re also foldable, so they’re great for travel or storing away. The built-in volume regulator also limits the sound to 85dB.
The tangle-free cable has an easy-to-use control setting so youngsters can play or pause tracks.
Given the price – they’re a great buy.
Robert Dyas Retrak Unicorn Headphones, £14.99, Robert Dyas
With two plush unicorn heads doubling up as earphones, what’s not to love?
No surprise that these Robert Dyas kids’ headphones, suitable for ages three and above, scored highly in novelty factor.
Even with the fuzzy earpads, the sound quality is surprisingly good. They also come with an 85dB volume limiter and a retractable cord, meaning less chance of tangled wires.
And don’t worry if your child isn’t a unicorn fan – they can choose from a range of designs including a lion, monkey or shark.
LilGadgets Untangled Pro, £34.99, Amazon
Suitable for kids aged four and above, the LilGadgets bluetooth headphones have a 12-hour battery life – long enough for most journeys. And don’t worry if the wireless charge runs out: there’s a back-up cable you can use instead.
Just be mindful that the volume is limited at 93dB – higher than the recommended 85dB.
Groov-e Kidz wireless headphones, £29.99, Groov-e
Even though they are suitable for kids aged three and above, the Groov-e Kidz wireless headphones can reach a maximum volume of 96dB.
(There is another version which we didn’t test – the Kiddiez wired headphones – which have an 85B volume limiter.)
The headphones are comfortable and have a sharing audio port, so your child can “daisy chain” headphones with their friends and listen to music from one device.
They are also wireless, with a 7.5 hour battery life – long enough for most journeys.
Smiggle Fun Colour Bop headphones, £22, Smiggle
The bright design of these mini headphones meant they were popular with our testers. If your kids don’t like the bright pink or multi-coloured design, they’re also available in blue. The headphones, which are aimed at kids aged six and above, have a 1.5m cable. Your child will have plenty of space dance until their heart’s content, be mindful they don’t get tangled up in the wire.
Despite our young testers loving them, the parents were concerned about the lack of volume limiter; close to the noise levels of adult headphones.
Pokemon PK0602 Kids Stereo Headphones, £16.95, Amazon
These “Pikachu Face” headphones were a hit with our younger – Pokemon-obsessed – testers. Suitable for kids aged between three and seven, the volume is restricted to the recommended 85dB.
With padded ear pads and headband, they also scored highly for comfort. And they’re pretty robust – ideal given the younger age range they’re designed for.
Headfoams HF-BT100 Kids Headphones, £29.99, Amazon
Headfoams are, as the name suggests, made of foam. Designed with children in mind, there is an 85dB volume limiter and also a removable pad to help fit smaller heads.
They weren’t the most comfortable we tested, but parents loved the fact that out of all those we tested, they were the most robust.
Aimed at kids aged three to 12, they are bluetooth and super easy to pair with your device. Be warned though: there’s no back-up audio cable so when they battery runs out you’ll need to recharge them. Luckily the battery life is eight hours which should see you through most journeys.
Snuggly Rascals Headband Headphones, £14.99, Snuggly Rascals
These headphones have won innovation awards and it’s easy to see why. Available in six designs, the headphones are ultra-flat speakers built into a washable fleece band. (Just make sure you remove the lightweight speakers before you pop in the washing machine.)
Our testers loved how comfortable they were, and they got extra points for limiting the volume to the recommended 85dB.
And if you need another reason to buy, Snuggly Rascals gives 10% of every pair of headphones sold to children’s charities.
The Verdict: Best kids’ headphones
For comfort and sound quality, the JBL Jr 300BT and Puro BT2200 Wireless Kids’ Headphones came out joint top. Yet we also loved the Robert Dyas Retrak unicorn headphones for their novelty value – and sound quality.