If you want to buy the best kids headphones - whether that’s to indoctrinate them with your favourite childhood albums, or to keep them busy on the iPad or occupied on long drives – you need to make sure they’re built for the job. Stringent volume control and lightweight, comfortable design are paramount when it comes to choosing the best headphones for children. Handing down your pair of old Marshall headphones really isn’t on.
We’ve rounded up five pairs of the best kids headphones, so whether you’re after the best headphones for toddlers or the best headphones for small ears, we’ve got you covered. They may not be the loudest headphones on the block, but these are definitely worth your consideration.
Best kids headphones: The Louder Choice
Oozing audio credibility, our best kids headphone buy is the JBL Jr310BT (opens in new tab). Boasting high quality dynamic drivers, a selection of fun colour schemes and 85dB volume limiter, these Bluetooth budget wireless headphones tick all the right boxes. The kids may only be watching PAW Patrol, but they’ll look darn good doing it.
Running these rockin’ JBL’s a close second are the surprisingly sophisticated Puro Sound Labs BT2200s (opens in new tab). The aluminium headband and compact design on this model is splendidly precocious, and the provision of noise isolation unusual in the category.
Closing in on the two front runners is the iClever BTH12 (opens in new tab). These fun cans come with a cute LED lighting strip, large 40mm drivers for a fuller sound, and have a class leading battery life of 40 hours.
Best kid's headphones: Product guide
These great looking Bluetooth over-ear headphones come with a serious Hi-Fi pedigree, but still manage to look child-friendly in their bold range of colour combinations. Comfort is the name of the game here, with padded ear cups and a soft headband.
The cups have chunky, easy to use control buttons, while inside lurk 32mm dynamic drivers. The JR310BT are light (115g) and foldable, so can easily pop into a school bag, and have a generous 30 hours of battery life.
There's also a built-in volume control for the built-in microphone – and for a touch of individuality, the JBL Jr310BT come with reusable stickers.
There’s a welcome emphasis on audio quality here, with a carefully curated deep bass response and crisp treble performance. And with a standard 85dB-limited volume range, you can be sure that while these on-ears look like they rock hard, they’re still safe to use.
In addition to the built-in mic, the BT2200s also offer background noise isolation. While not the equal of Active Noise Cancellation, they still claim to reduce ambient noise by 82 per cent, which could really help in-class concentration.
Battery life is rated at 18 hours, which while good enough for a few days use, isn’t quite as exhaustive as their rivals. The good news is that the Puro’s can also be used wired, via a 3.5mm jack.
Available in a wide range of colours, they’re supplied with a hard carry case too.
These budget kids headphones don’t just have an indefatigable battery, they come with LED lights on each ear cup. These lights flash, pump and strobe but only when the headphones are being used in wired mode – that’s to prevent a drain on the battery during Bluetooth operation.
Unusually, they feature large 40mm drivers, better for bass, and volume sensitivity is variable. It can be set between 74dB, 85dB and 94dB. The levels are set via a key combination to prevent accidental adjustment.
The ear pads are nicely cushioned, while the adjustable headband should ensure long term comfort.
The iClever boasts a class leading 40 hour playtime, with a fast recharge. Bluetooth is the highly efficient v5.0 flavour, which goes some way to explaining this longevity. 10 minutes will get you four hours in the bank, just the thing when you’re in a mad rush. There’s also a built-in microphone for online education and chit chatting.
Available in pink, blue or green, the BuddyPhones Play are Bluetooth wireless on-ears for the youngest of rockers. They are volume limited and use hypoallergenic materials as part of their durable design. They also come with a bunch of decals, so kids can customise them for fun.
There’s a choice of four volume modes: 75dB Toddler Mode, 85dB Kid Mode, 94dB Travel Mode and StudyMode. The latter isn’t for music, it uses DSP to enhance the clarity of spoken audio content, which could help with online lessons.
A BuddyCable system allows children to listen together, and there’s a built-in mic for family chat or homeschooling. Battery Life isn't quite as good as BuddyPhones' competitors though, and comes in at 14 hours fully charged.
The JBuddies Studio headphones are the cheapest headphones in our roundup, because they’re wired rather than wireless – although there are wireless versions available. They feature an inline control for easy control of tracks or calls, and adopt the 85dB limit for safe listening.
Design is pretty good. Available in blue or violet, the ear cups and headband are nicely padded for comfortable listening, and weigh just 200g; they also fold down for easy stowing.
If wireless isn’t a prerequisite, or you simply need a pair of inexpensive headphones to plug into a tablet, they’re more than up to the job.
Best kid's headphones: Buying advice
Volume limiting explained
When it comes to spec, the first thing to check when buying kids headphones is that they have a volume limiter. The World Health Organization’ recommends an 85dB-limited volume range for young listeners, advice echoed by both the Hearing Health foundation and the US OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administrator).
While most of our featured kid’s headphones brick wall at an ear-friendly 85dB, a few have higher 94dB limiters. This louder mode is effectively for use when travelling, when the headphones need to compete with a higher level of ambient noise (trains, planes and automobiles).
These volume restrictions are there for a good reason, to prevent damage to young lugholes, so pay them heed.
What else makes a great pair of kid's headphones?
But that doesn’t mean pre-school headphones are dumbed down. Bluetooth is standard on all but the cheapest children’s headphones, and in many cases battery life matches or even exceeds what you’ll find on grown-up cans (as Active Noise Cancelling isn’t a thing in the classroom).
If your infant has an appetite for destruction, it might be best to swerve the more expensive Bluetooth models for now, and go for something cheaper and wired. We’ve got you covered there too.
And if you have two kids, look for headphones that offer a buddy pairing mode, so the sprats can listen to Spongebob together.
If your child does any form of video homeschooling, spends time FaceTiming friends or relatives or is an avid gamer, you’ll want headphones with a built-in microphone too.