Although older heads may moan about 'snowflakes', it's quite right that we’re more careful about avoiding hearing loss these days. The best children’s headphones are ones that’ll keep their ears safe while being comfortable to wear. If they also sound alright too, that's a bonus.
- Headphones for adults
- Best Bluetooth headphones
- Best noise cancelling cans for travel and the office
- Best headphones for running
Headphones for kids are always a good idea. They mean you don’t have to listen to The Wheels on the Bus (or whatever it is they listen to these days – Olly Murs? Paul Simon? Who knows what’s going on in those little brains) hundreds and hundreds of times. If you’re on a long journey and want to keep them occupied with a game, they mean you’re not subjected to endless hours of pew pew pew pew.
But if you think you can get away with standard airline issue headphones, or your own great honking pair of Sennheisers, you might want to think again, because chances are they’ll want to turn them up to 11 (children, you might have noticed, love loud noises) and risk damaging their delicate little ears.
Not a good risk to take, no matter how adorable they’d look wearing an enormous pair of headphones. Which takes us to our next point: specifically engineered for little heads, they’ll also ideally keep them more comfortable than untailored adult ‘phones, without unpleasant slipping or pinching.
Finally, as much as we hate to sound like the cranky parents from a Beastie Boys video, even with the limiters put on children’s headphones experts say it’s best to limit headphone use to two hours a day. How you go about enforcing this rule is up to you, but what we can help with is the best pair of headphones to buy, so without further ado...
If you have a preteen who’s adamant that they’re not a child anymore, despite happily accepting pocket money from you (joke’s on them!) then you’ll understand the impulse for them to have something a little more grown-up while still making sure they’re looked after. That combo is precisely what gives these cans our top spot for best kids’ headphones.
They do represent a price bump compared to most other children’s headphones, but for that, you get a much-improved, very stylish design and a huge step up in sound quality even over famously dodgy Bluetooth.
These Kidz Gear headphones remove themselves from the potential pitfalls of sly gendering without being boring, offering a range of bright funky colours and cool neutrals to choose from.
The design is pretty low-key, and they expand to fit heads from two to twelve years old, so if you’re looking for something with a bit more longevity than a novelty design, this is it. Reviewers said they were lightweight and comfortable for little heads, but one thing to bear in mind is the sound limiter, actually a separate component that the headphone jack plugs into, so make sure they don’t “lose” it.
The ifrogz Little Rockerz headphones by ZAGG do double duty as dress-up accessory and audio device thanks to their clever costume headbands.
Over at John Lewis they can currently choose between tiger, panda, kitten, and tiara designs, to be whoever they want to be while they’re listening to their favourite tunes in crisp, clear quality – all under the recommended 85dB, of course. In the interest of fights not breaking out in the back seat, ZAGG have also thought to include a splitter, so your little angels can listen to the same music, or watch the same show, in unison.
Like all good children’s products, these JVC TinyPhones are cheerfully bright and completely unbreakable, but they have plenty of other plus points too. With built-in sound limiting, they’re certified safe for little ears, and the soft padding limits ambient noise while providing comfy cushioning, but the big seller here is customisability.
Each set of headphones comes with a pack of stickers including letters and pictures, so they can really make them their own, as well as eliminating confusion if there’s more than one pair in the family.
The Snuggly Rascals headphones are less of a traditional set and more of a high-functioning headband, and while some kids might not be sold on the design, it brings a whole bunch of virtues.
Far more comfortable than a regular pair of headphones, the soft textile band wraps around and secures with velcro for a snug but not tight fit, and reviewers reported the flat speakers couldn’t be felt through the fleece. They’re far less breakable too, and even washable with the speakers removed.
Can we have an adult version, please?
Potentially the closest you’ll get to a noise-cancelling headphone for kids, the soft cushions of these Groov-e headphones promise a comfortable listening experience, as well as offering some pretty decent passive noise cancelling.
Reviewers report on a range of ages having used and enjoyed them, saying they’re comfortable to wear and look great – we’d be inclined to agree, with their blue and black colourway and cool dude design on the left cap, they are firmly in the ‘snazzy’ category. Plus, the noise-quashing capabilities mean they’d be a great extra layer of distraction for kids who find it hard to relax on planes.
Griffin Kazoo’s MyPhones headphones are more discernibly designed for younger children than some of the other picks on our list, but we love the adorable animal designs, and any aspiring Attenborough is sure to as well.
Reviewers found the build to be robust, and the on-ear padding to be both comfortable and adept at passive noise cancellation, meaning these may be a good bet for environments with more ambient noise that might disturb them, such as planes.
Best of all, the headphones feature always-on noise limiting, to protect kids from themselves.