The Best Headphones for Kids
It may be easy to simply give your child or teenager a pair of earphones that have likely come with your phone. But there are some key differences between child and adult headphones.
In our latest review, we compare some of the wired and wireless headphones designed specifically for children.
We explore the sound quality, comfort levels and overall durability to help you decide on the best headphones for your kids.
At the opposite end of the pricing scale is Snuggly Rascals; an innovative set of kids' headphones that are specifically designed for younger children.
Unlike other sets of headphones that rely on an overhead band, these over-ear headphones use a washable fleece headband to keep the ultra-flat speakers in place.
We were floored by the choice available within this range of kids' headphones. Your child can choose from a range of designs including unicorns, pigs, baby shark, monsters, owls and even a phenomenal Gruffalo version.
It’s equally impressive that the fleece headband is washable.
So, why are these so well regarded?
The unique design means that comfort is at the heart of this set of childs' headphones.
For younger children, having a Velcro-fitted headband means that they are more likely to keep these on, whilst loving the variety of styles available.
Reviewers have praised these headphones, saying they are particularly effective for children impacted by autism and other sensory disorders.
We felt that these could be highly effective if you are travelling; the flat speaker design means that they remain comfortable on the head for hours on end.
If your child is resting against a car or train seat, they can snuggle in close to you without being impacted by the speakers.
For us, the only drawback was that they are a wired headphone set.
In an ideal world, we would have loved to have tested these on our five-year-old at bedtime. She loves falling asleep to an audiobook, but because of the wires, this would be a safety hazard.
If these were wireless, they would truly be a perfect set of headphones for young children.
Why Would You Need to Purchase Headphones for Your Child?
All parents will understand the need to invest in a quality pair of headphones for their children; however, there are many reasons why you might choose to buy your child headphones:
You may wish to drown out the sound of PAW Patrol blaring out from your child’s tablet.
You may be looking for a way to let your teenager play games with their friends or listen to their favourite music whilst you catch a few peaceful moments.
You may be travelling long distances and require a pair to keep your child entertained, whether you are driving, catching a train or flying to a holiday destination.
You may simply be looking for peace and quiet. Or you could be trying to find ways to help your child focus on what they are doing.
But the biggest reason to purchase a specific pair of child headphones is the ability to limit the volume and protect your child’s hearing.
According to research from the World Health Organisation, many teenagers and young adults are at risk of permanently damaging their hearing as a result of continual exposure to loud noises through personal audio devices.
As a result, the WHO recommends that noises should be limited to a maximum safety level of 85db.
“Teenagers and young people can better protect their hearing by keeping the volume down on personal audio devices, wearing earplugs when visiting noisy venues, and using carefully fitted, and, if possible, noise-cancelling earphones/headphones. They can also limit the time spent engaged in noisy activities by taking short listening breaks and restricting the daily use of personal audio devices to less than one hour. With the help of smartphone apps, they can monitor safe listening levels.”
Source: World Health Organisation
What Sets a Pair of Kids' Headphones Apart From Adult Headphones?
It may be tempting to simply share your pricey Beats headphones with your child, but you should think about whether the sound is suitable for your child’s ears.
The best headphones for kids and tweens come with volume limiters as standard, giving you confidence that you are protecting your child from unexpected hearing loss.
Safety is a key aspect when it comes to the best headphones for kids. As adults, we may be used to dealing with long wires hanging around our necks, but for children, these wires can have serious consequences.
This is why many newer sets of kids' headphones tend to be wireless.
Another key difference between kids' headphones and adult headphones is the levels of comfort.
Whilst adults may be more concerned by sound quality (hence the proliferation of brands such as Beats and Sennheiser), children will be more focused on comfort.
Children tend to find in-ear headphones uncomfortable and easily displaced. That’s why you are more likely to find a set of kids' headphones with headbands and heavy padding. They are designed to be comfortable for long-term use – ideal if your tween is heavily into gaming.
What to Look for When Selecting the Best Pair of Headphones for Your Child
With safety, durability and comfort key to purchasing decisions, here’s a handy checklist of things that you should be looking for when researching children’s headphones:
Are Your Child’s Headphones a Comfortable Fit?
As we’ve just mentioned, many children tend to wear their headphones for hours on end. This may be because they are playing a computer game with their friends, or it could be because you are travelling long distances.
Whatever the reason, they need to feel comfortable.
Check that the headband is adjustable to adapt to growing children. Does it fit comfortably on your child’s ears?
Is the material breathable? The last thing you want is a build-up of sweat and dirt which could lead to an ear infection.
Are They Bluetooth Enabled/Wireless?
Many of the newer sets of child headphones come Bluetooth enabled. This can be beneficial – especially if you are looking to use them for a variety of activities.
Perhaps your tween wants to wear their headphones whilst having a zoom chat with their friends. Or perhaps you have siblings sharing a tablet on a long car journey, in which case, Bluetooth connectivity can help you to avoid any arguments over who can listen to the device.
Wireless headphones may be pricier, but they are a lot safer for use by children than wired versions – especially if you are unable to physically supervise them during use.
Are They Sound Limiting or Sound Reducing?
Earlier on in this article, we mentioned that the WHO recommends limiting sound exposure to 85db.
Whilst many adult headphones will exceed this, many manufacturers of kids' headphones incorporate sound limits as standard.
This means that you can feel confident that no matter how long your child is using them, their hearing will always remain protected.
Be wary, though; not all childs' headphones have this feature, so check carefully before purchasing.
Are There Any Added Extras?
If you’ve had a walk around a toy shop and stumbled through the electrical department, you’ll likely be aware of the wide range of accessories that can come with children’s headphones.
Manufacturers know how to make their headphones appeal to children; whether they are PAW Patrol or Frozen branded or come with stickers and other gems designed to help your children get creative.
If you want to encourage your child to use their headphones more often, choose the ones that will appeal the most to them.
Are They Durable?
Any parent will know that the best pair of kids' headphones will be tough enough to stand up to the inevitable damage that will occur.
Will your chosen pair cope with being pulled off heads roughly and thrown onto the floor? If they are wired headphones, can the jack cope with being pulled around?
This is where more expensive brands can differ; they can often feel much sturdier and resilient to the daily play of a young child.
What Colours Are Available?
If your child is fussy, you may wish to let them choose their preferred colour.
The best kids' headphones come in a variety of colours and your child will enjoy picking their favourite.
This allows them to feel involved in the purchasing decision and is ideal if you have siblings and want to know whose pair belongs to whom.
The Other Kids' Headphones We Looked At
Although we’ve listed some of our favourite headphones at the top of this article, we know that everyone will have different requirements.
Here are a few more suggestions:
At the cheaper end of the market, we have the Groov-e Kidz headphones.
These promise to offer comfortable cushioned ear pads, designed for lasting use.
They felt quite flimsy, but at such a low price, they are never going to have the same durability as a high-end pair of children’s headphones.
We like the fact that they come in many different colours, although they are very gender-specific.
With a 1.2 meter cord length, your child has ample space between them and their device – something which is important if you want to try and protect their eyesight.
What we loved most about this pair of headphones, however, is the fact that you can purchase a separate headphone splitter that can provide sound to up to five additional sets of headphones.
This is a fantastic addition and makes a huge difference when using one device with multiple children.
At just £15.44 for one set of kids' headphones plus the headphone splitter, it’s certainly affordable to most.
However, a massive issue with these headphones is that there is no volume limit.
We’ve spoken a lot in this article about the importance of limiting audio to 85db to protect your child’s hearing. This particular pair can be as loud as 113db, so you need to have trust that your child will not play around with the volume controls.
Considering the audio volume is a primary factor in why you would choose to invest in specific headphones for children, it seems peculiar that the manufacturers haven’t incorporated a volume limiter.