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Best kids’ headphones 2024: Keep the noise down and protect their hearing with the top headphones for children

From simple wired headsets to wireless, noise-cancellers, these are the best kids' headphones available

Most children are constantly glued to one form of electronic entertainment or another, so it really pays off to ensure they have the best pair of kids’ headphones possible.

Don’t get us wrong, children should always be encouraged to play outside or read a good book, but the chances are they’ll still keep coming back to their YouTube videos, music and video games.

Here, the best headphones for kids play two vital roles. First, they give your offspring a much richer experience than they’re going to get from their device’s tinny built-in speakers. Second, they save us adults from having to suffer through the audio of whatever they’re watching, playing or listening to, which is good for your sanity. If you’ve ever been assailed by the racket from a YouTube funny memes compilation, a game of Fortnite or the average Netflix kids’ cartoon, you’ll know exactly what we mean.

We’ve run the rule over numerous kids’ headphones and below you’ll find our pick of the best of them, along with a buying guide detailing all the things to consider before buying your little one a pair.

Best kids’ headphones: At a glance

Best durable headphonesiClever Kids Headphones (~£14)Check price at Amazon
Best cheap wireless headphonesJLab JBuddies Studio Wireless (~£30)Check price at Amazon
Best premium kids’ headphonesPuro Sound Labs BT2200-Plus (~£85)Check price at Amazon
Best for sound qualityJBL JR 460NC (~£70)Check price at JBL

How to choose the best kids’ headphones for your child

What’s different about headphones for kids?

Kids’ headphones have many of the same features as adult headphones, except they tend to be smaller (for obvious reasons) and brightly coloured (because black or white is boring). They come in wired and wireless varieties, and with or without active noise cancellation. The crucial difference is that they usually feature some kind of volume-limiting technology, to stop your kids from whacking the sound up and doing permanent harm to their ears.

How limited should the volume be?

There’s plenty of research showing that prolonged listening through headphones at high volumes can damage hearing and cause additional symptoms like tinnitus. Children, whose ear canals are smaller and whose ears are still developing, are even more at risk than adults.

Generally speaking, kids’ headphones should limit the volume to below 85dB and may have additional measures to stop kids from exceeding the limit. Some health experts suggest keeping the limits even lower, to around 70dB, though this might be a bit too low if there’s any chatter or ambient noise around.

What about design materials?

The other thing we’d suggest you look for is the build quality. Kids don’t tend to be careful with their headphones – they leave them lying around and let the cables tangle, or ditch the protective case and carry them around loose inside a bag. The tougher the headphones, the longer they’ll last. Also, take a good look at the thickness, design and materials of any cables, not to mention whether the plugs are reinforced or not. It’s these weak spots that often result in a pair of headphones hitting the recycling box.

Wired or wireless?

Wireless headphones have a couple of advantages. You don’t have a cable to trip over or get tangled up with, and they pair easily with one or two devices – you just turn them on and they connect. And there’s also less danger of over-enthusiastic plugging in and out causing damage to your phone or tablet’s headphone socket.

The downsides are that you need to keep them charged, they’re more expensive and they can be less convenient if your child tends to switch between, say, a smartphone, a tablet and a console; they may need to pair and unpair to get their headphones working, whereas the old plug just works every time. With battery life increasing and prices coming down, a Bluetooth set makes the most sense, especially for older kids, but it’s not always the best option.

READ NEXT: The best headphones to buy

Is active noise cancellation essential?

Active noise cancellation (ANC) is a bit of a luxury, but one of the reasons kids tend to turn the volume upwards is that they can’t hear their headphones over the outside noise. So having ANC can help keep the decibels down. It’s also a big help for kids sitting in the back of the car or stuck on a long train or plane journey, as it helps to mask engine noise.

It’s also worth mentioning that kids on the autism spectrum sometimes find ANC headphones can help them focus, even without any sound actively playing through them, as they dampen outside noise and help them concentrate on their current task.

READ NEXT: Best noise cancelling headphones

How we test kids’ headphones

We test kids’ headphones with a range of TV shows, animated movies, music and video games to assess audio quality and clarity, especially at lower volumes. We also check any volume-limiting features to ensure they work at keeping the output to a comfortable level, below the WHO recommended maximum of 85dB. We also recruit eager testers from friends and family to evaluate the headphones for comfort, adjustability, audio quality and style. Throughout testing, we also keep a careful eye on build quality, looking for any weaknesses in the earcups or the headband that could see a pricey pair of headphones destroyed.

READ NEXT: The best tablets to buy for kids

The best kids’ headphones you can buy in 2024

1. myFirst CareBuds: Best wireless earbuds for kids

Price when reviewed: £51 | Check price at Amazonbest kids headphones myFirst CareBuds on a white background

Designed for kids aged between four and thirteen, the myFirst CareBuds are a capable and colourful choice for your child’s first wireless earbuds. They come with six pairs of different-sized eartips, making finding a good fit a breeze, are comfortable for long periods, water resistant and have various kid-focused features.

Volume is limited to 85dB to protect delicate ears from damage, transparency mode automatically engages when the buds sense movement and the touch controls are very simple to use. Sound quality is reasonable too, while latency when watching YouTube videos like BabyShark is low, which is crucial given how much visual content youngsters consume.

For similar money, you could buy your child a pair of regular wireless earbuds but none cater specifically to kids nearly as well as the myFirst Carebuds.

Key specs – Wireless: Yes; Connections: Bluetooth; Volume limit: 85dB; Battery life: 31 hours (incl charging case); Weight: 5g per earbud, 45g charging case

2. iClever Kids Headphones: Best tough headphones for kids

Price when reviewed: £14 | Check price at Amazon

Needless to say, kids don’t always treat headphones with respect. If you find yours can wreck a pair in ten seconds flat, give these iClever headphones a try. The headband is designed to be twisted, grabbed and stretched, and does a fantastic job of flexing back into shape every time. The tangle-resistant cable is similarly tug-proof, and the pair even fold down for easy storage. But while they’re tough, they’re not rough on the ears or head. In fact, their light weight and soft padding make them comfortable enough for watching movies or making it through a long car journey.

For under £15 you can’t expect miracles in terms of sound quality, but the iClever Kids are better than you might expect. There’s some bass, but it’s neither mushy nor too strident, and you can make out individual instruments or sound effects. They come in a nice range of colours, too, so there’s a pair for every kid out there.

Key specs – Wireless: No; Connections: 3.5mm headphone; Volume limit: 85dB; Battery life: N/A; Weight: 153g

3. Onanoff BuddyPhones Explore+: Best headphones for younger kids

Price when reviewed: £25 | Check price at Onanoff

The BuddyPhones Explore+ are the ideal headphones for younger kids. They’re robust, but extremely lightweight at just over 100g, with a tough flat cable with added reinforcement around the plugs. There’s enough grip to keep them from falling off smaller heads, but not so much as to get uncomfortable. Ample cushioning on the earcups, coupled with some nice padding on the headband, keeps them nice and cosy. Onanoff also throws in a travel bag and a set of stickers kids can use to personalise their brand new headphones.

They also sound pretty good, with just enough bass and bright treble to make pop songs come alive and only a little hint of boxiness creeping in. Movies, games and cartoons get an enthusiastic sound, and with an 85dB limit, you don’t have to worry about excess volume. Our testers also liked the thoughtful buddy socket – an extra headphone socket on the cable where you can plug in another set of headphones to share the sound.

Key specs – Wireless: No; Connections: 3.5mm headphone, 3.5mm buddy socket; Volume limit: 85dB; Battery life: N/A; Weight: 110g

Check price at Onanoff

4. Planet Buddies Kids Wireless: Best wireless headphones for younger kids

Price when reviewed: £30 | Check price at Amazon

Best headphones for kids - Planet BuddiesThere’s a lot to like about these wireless headphones, especially for younger kids. They come in three colours – black, coral pink and aqua, – and each features a different animal on the earcup, with a panda, owl and penguin. Each critter gets its own bit on the box to share an environmental message, and all the packaging is made out of recyclable materials.

More practically, the batteries last for up to 38 hours and take just two hours to charge through via USB-C. If they do run out of juice, Planet Buddies bundles in a tough, braided cord for a direct connection to a laptop, phone or tablet.

They’re also easy to use, with volume and playback controls on the right earcup and a power/pairing button on the rim, and volume is limited to the recommended 85dB. And while their smaller size means they won’t be so good for older children, the Planet Buddies are lightweight and comfortable for younger kids, with some thick padding underneath the headband, and can be folded away too.

In terms of audio quality, they’re no match for the JBL and PuroQuiet headphones and the sound can get congested, but there’s a nice, warm tone with decent levels of detail, and enough space to make crazy cartoons and action-packed movies come alive.

Key specs – Wireless: Bluetooth 5; Connections: 3.5mm headphone, USB-C; Volume limit: 85dB; Battery life: 38 hours; Weight: 134g

5. JLab JBuddies Studio Wireless: Best cheap wireless headphones for kids

Price when reviewed: £30 | Check price at Amazon

Where kids’ headphones tend to go big on fluorescent, high-contrast colours, the JBuddies Studios have a more grown-up look, which means they’ve got a better chance of growing with your child instead of getting dumped before they’ve even left primary school. They’re built to last, too, with lightweight yet tough plastics that shouldn’t fall apart within a year. You won’t have any problems pairing them with a tablet or smartphone, with spoken alerts to tell you when you’re connected or the battery is low, and the Bluetooth range is excellent – better than many adult pairs, in fact.

The output is a bit heavy on the treble, but there’s some body to audio and bass never gets too thumpy. It’s a good fit for pop and dance music, and cartoons and kids’ movies sound really punchy. You can hear details and background effects that some cheap wireless headphones leave out. They’re also really comfy, thanks to swivelling earcups that extend from the headband and thick padding on the band and earcups. A great cost-conscious choice.

Key specs – Wireless: Bluetooth; Connections: 3.5mm headphone, micro-USB; Volume limit: 85dB; Battery life: 13 hours; Weight: 116g

6. Puro Sound Labs BT2200-Plus: Best premium kids’ headphones

Price when reviewed: £85 | Check price at Amazon

best kids headphones Sound Labs BT2200-Plus

You might baulk at spending this kind of money on a pair of headphones for a child, but the BT2200-Plus do their best to justify it. The build quality is impeccable, with comfortable padding around a strong but flexible headband, metallic cups and well-upholstered over-the-ear pads. At 167kg, our testers found them lightweight and easy to wear; but with enough grip to stop them slipping off too easily on smaller heads. The cups also do a solid job of stopping sound from leaking in or out, making them a good option in quiet (or very noisy) environments.

They charge via a USB Type-C to Type-A cable, with a battery life of roughly 20 hours, while you can connect either via the bundled 3.5mm cable or Bluetooth 5.1. We were impressed with both the range and the rock-solid connection. And while the JBL KR 460NC have the edge when it comes to bass and body, the BT2200-Plus win for clarity and detail, scoring high marks across the board for music, movies and TV. The simple controls, comfort and 85dB volume limit make these excellent headphones for kids – but they sound and feel like a grown-up’s pair.

Key specs – Wireless: Bluetooth 5.1; Connections: 3.5mm headphone, USB Type-C; Volume limit: 85dB; Battery life: 20 hours; Weight: 167g

7. JBL JR 460NC: Best wireless kids’ headphones for sound quality

Price when reviewed: £70 | Check price at JBL

The JBL JR 460NC headphones are a great bet for older kids and teens. Not only is JBL an established audio brand name, but the two-tone grey models we reviewed could easily pass for adult headphones. They’ve got ANC on board as well, plus a battery that lasts up to 20 hours with ANC turned on and 30 hours without. We also like the simple controls, clear built-in microphone and the fact that they use USB Type-C rather than old-school micro-USB for charging.

The real knockout here, however, is the sound. Audio purists would call it a little unrefined and bassy, but then kids don’t tend to be hi-fi buffs, and the output’s really warm, powerful and dynamic. It’s a strong match for pop such as Dua Lipa, Imagine Dragons or 1989-era Taylor Swift, but surprisingly able with rock and indie too. Animated movies, blockbusters and games also sound fantastic. Volume limiting works well, with a little note that chimes in when you hit the max level, and the generous padding on the cups makes the 460NCs pretty easy on the ears. Noise isolation and cancellation isn’t as good as with the PuroQuiets, but it still does a solid job of masking chatter and engine noise.

Key specs – Wireless: Bluetooth 5; Connections: 3.5mm headphone, USB Type-C; Volume limit: 85dB; Battery life: 30 hours (20 hours ANC); Weight: 200g

8. Puro Sound Labs PuroQuiet: Best wireless ANC headphones for kids

Price when reviewed: £115 | Check price at Amazon

The PuroQuiets are expensive for a pair of kids’ headphones, but they’re a real step up from other child-friendly wireless headphones. They have a great, flexible design with metallic colours and black or white faux-leather pads and headbands, with the earcups swivelling for comfort and storage, and extending out to fit even larger heads. You can easily wear them for an hour or two without complaint.

Better still, they combine effective noise isolation with an active noise-cancelling circuit, meaning you can keep the volume below 85dB while masking out unwanted racket to hear your headphones above all but the most unearthly din. This has a hit on battery life, bringing it down from 22 hours to roughly 16, but the PuroQuiets also sound better with ANC engaged, taking an already rich, punchy and dynamic tone and pepping it up a notch – albeit with a small amount of low-level background hum in quiet moments.

Key specs – Wireless: Bluetooth; Connections: 3.5mm headphone, micro-USB; Volume limit: 85dB; Battery life: 22 hours (16 hours ANC); Weight: 187g

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