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Best Headphones for Toddlers (and why avoid regular headphones)

Last updated: 3 weeks ago
6 min read

Find the best headphones for toddlers that are safe, durable, and protect your toddler’s hearing.

Here we explore the best toddler headphones for ages 1-3 years. We look at important things like safety, durability, price, and other features. And examine the best models for a young “troublemaker.”

Whether you want to find safe headphones for toddlers to wear at home or a way to distract them on a long plane flight, we’ll find the best option.

Also, we’ll talk about how to avoid bad headphones and protect their sensitive ears.

Regular headphones without volume limits can be dangerous for toddlers.

Read the article to find why. And you’re welcome to use the table of content for easier navigation.

Table of Contents

    Why Many Kids Headphones Aren’t Suitable for Toddlers

    Not all kids headphones are suitable for toddlers.

    Most headphones for kids come with some kind of a volume limit. But not all are suitable for toddlers.

    The fact is, kids younger than 36 months have more sensitive hearing that can get injured easier.

    According to research, sources here: Neitzel & Fligor, WHO, and NIDCD, it’s recommended to keep 8-hour noise exposure under 80-85 dBa for kids in general.

    But to keep toddlers safe and avoid noise induced hearing loss, keep the noise exposure lower, under 70-75 dBA.

    Many headphones meant for kids only limit the volume to around 85 -90 dB, which is too loud for toddlers.

    Make sure to give your toddler headphones with a volume limit under 80 dB.

    How to Choose Headphones for Toddlers and How are They Different from Regular Headphones?

    The main things to look for are:

    Volume Limiting

    Safety comes first. And toddlers have extra sensitive hearing. Like we’ve established before, it’s even more sensitive than with older kids over 3 years.

    For this reason, it’s crucial to give toddlers headphones that are made for sensitive children’s ears.

    The volume has to be lower than with regular kids’ headphones. Look for under 80 dB volume limit, preferably under 70 – 75 dB.

    Volume-limiting-mode-in-kids-headphones
    BuddyPhones have different volume-limiting modes, including Toddler Mode.

    And regular adult headphones are “no bueno” as they are too loud and can hurt a child’s hearing.

    Durability

    1-year olds aren’t exactly gentle creatures. They’re still learning about the world and trying different things.

    Headphones can easily end up on the floor, intentionally or accidentally.

    Throwing is part of the learning process. Older kids, 2- and 3-year-olds are usually more careful with their items, but accidents still happen.

    For this reason, you want lightweight, flexible headphones that won’t break if they get thrown around a bit.

    Even if you get the cheaper ones, you still want to protect your investment. Nobody wants to buy new headphones every couple of months.

    Some headphones are waterproof and dustproof for top-notch durability.

    Price

    Sure, all parents want the best for their little ones. But that doesn’t mean you have to buy the best and most expensive things for them all the time.

    Suppose your toddler occasionally needs headphones to watch some cartoons on a tablet. In that case, it doesn’t make sense to buy the most expensive ones with all the features.

    As long as they’re safe and do what you want them to do, you can easily get away with buying an older model that costs less.

    Generally, the prices of volume-limiting headphones for toddlers range from $50 to over $100 for premium models. It can get pricey if you buy more than 1 pair.

    Features

    Toddler headphones have to be smaller to fit on smaller heads.

    The right fit and size for a toddler are the obvious requirements. You want headphones that sit comfortably on small heads.

    But there are a couple of optional features that each solve a different problem:

    Active noise cancellation: If you want to protect your toddler’s hearing during long haul flights, get noise cancelling headphones to lower background noise exposure like airplane engines.

    Water protection: If your toddler is energetic and likes to experiment with throwing headphones in milk and cereal, then get waterproof headphones for better durability.

    Wireless or wired: While we recommend wireless headphones for sheer convenience, you can still get wired headphones. Bluetooth headphones are generally better but wired headphones tend to be cheaper and often enough for a light user.

    Battery capacity: Since charging the battery will probably fall on your shoulders, you want decent battery life.

    Foldable body: If your toddler is likely to travel with headphones, then a foldable design that’s easy to store in a carry bag is the best.

    Best Headphones for Toddlers

    The only toddler headphones that are safe and have a 75 dB volume limit come from the BuddyPhones brand. Other brands are limited to higher volumes over 80 dB that aren’t the safest but better than regular headphones.

    BuddyPhones Cosmos+

    1st-place Best overall
    BuddyPhones Cosmos+ review - blue headphones

    BuddyPhones Cosmos+ are over-ear headphones with all the features you’d want in Bluetooth headphones for toddlers.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth
    Driver size icon Driver size: 40mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 18-22,000Hz
    Type: Over-ear | Connection: Wireless & Wired | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: Yes | Mic & Controls: Yes | AUX cable length: 1m | Impedance: 32 Ohm | Weight: 233g | Features: Voice limiter, detachable boom mic, foldable, colorful options
    • Great design your kid will love
    • Quality materials and sturdy, foldable construction
    • 3 volume limiting modes: 75, 85, 94dB
    • Active noise cancelling (ANC)
    • Detachable boom microphone
    • Massive battery life over 30h
    • Pricey

    The important thing is that you can limit them to 75 dB Toddler Mode, which is safe even for 1-year-olds. And once they grow up, you can change the mode to 85 dB Kids Mode or an even louder Travel Mode (94 dB).

    You can use them for traveling too. Active noise canceling removes background noise and keeps flying for toddlers more bearable (and easier for parents).

    The wireless headphones also come with a built-in microphone and a detachable boom microphone for online chatting, school, and remote learning if the need arises.

    And the battery lasts over 38 hours which is more than you’ll find in similar headphones. When the battery runs out, plug them in and listen to them as wired headphones.

    Also, great sound quality slightly emphasized bass which comes out alive and energetic, just what the little ones like.

    The only concern might be their size. Since these are over-ear headphones, they might fit loosely on a toddler’s head. The fit isn’t tight, but listening to them shouldn’t be a problem when sitting down. Thanks to the adjustable headband and swiveling ear cups they’re comfortable for small and bigger kids.

    Read the BuddyPhones Cosmos+ review

    BuddyPhones Wave

    BuddyPhones Wave unboxed

    BuddyPhones Wave are the best wireless headphones for “energetic” toddlers with high IP67 water protection.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 4.2
    Driver size icon Driver size: 40mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz
    Type: On-ear | Battery life: 24h (19h+ in test) | Wireless range: 33ft (10m) | Noise cancelling: No | Charging: 2h – Micro-USB | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: n/a | Water resistance: IP67 | Features: 4 volume limiter modes, 3.5mm port
    • Great design your kid will love
    • Quality materials and sturdy, foldable construction
    • 3 volume limiting modes: 75, 85, 94dB
    • Active noise cancelling (ANC)
    • Detachable boom microphone
    • Massive battery life over 30h
    • Pricey

    If you’re concerned your little one will trash the new headphones you’ll buy, then the Wave make the most sense.

    The lightweight plastic construction is flexible enough to survive quite a bit of abuse. And if they come in contact with water, no worries, they’re fully waterproof.

    You can rinse them under tap water to get them perfectly clean again. And the IP67 rating is also the highest protection against dust and sand, just in case they get buried in a playground.

    Additionally, they come with 3 volume control modes, including a max 75 dB Toddler Mode.

    You connect them with Bluetooth or a 3.5mm cable. The AUX cable has a splitter that enables another wired headphones to connect to the same music source, so 2 kids can listen together.

    Moreover, a 19-hour+ battery life (from our test) is plenty of juice even for a demanding user.

    But they have no active noise cancelling for ambient noise reduction. And despite the adjustable headband, the on-ear fit is less comfortable than the bigger over-ear fit.

    Also, the cushioned ear pads aren’t the thickest, but that’s probably for the better. You don’t want your toddler to wear them all the time.

    Read the BuddyPhones Wave review

    BuddyPhones Play / Play+

    BuddyPhones Play review

    BuddyPhones Play are an older model of wireless Bluetooth headphones for toddlers that still offer everything you’d want.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 4.2
    Driver size icon Driver size: 40mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz
    Type: On-ear | Battery life: 14h | Wireless range: 33ft (10m) | Noise cancelling: No | Charging: 2h – Micro-USB | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: n/a | Water resistance: No | Features: Volume limiter (75, 85 & 94dB), detachable cable
    • Great design your kid will love
    • Quality materials and sturdy, foldable construction
    • 3 volume limiting modes: 75, 85, 94dB
    • Active noise cancelling (ANC)
    • Detachable boom microphone
    • Massive battery life over 30h
    • Pricey

    They were one of the first wireless headphones with a volume limiter. They have 3 volume control modes, one of them Toddler Mode, which is limited to 75 dB. It’s perfect for a 2-year-old.

    You can use them as wired headphones if the 14-hour battery runs out.

    The updated Play+ model comes with a bigger battery but costs more money, while other features are the same.

    There’s nothing fancy about them. No active noise cancellation, no detachable microphones, or water protection.

    But they do well what they promise. The Bluetooth connection makes them convenient, and you can even use them for calls with a built-in microphone.

    And the sound quality is good enough for an adult, let alone a small kid.

    The colorful design is flexible and won’t easily break. And best of all, they are cheap.

    You can get them under $50, knowing they’ll fit a toddler, protect their hearing and last long enough to justify the price. What more do you want?

    If you’re looking for budget headphones for toddlers, BuddyPhones Play are the way to go.

    Read the BuddyPhones Play review

    Honorable Mentions

    Puro Sound Labs BT2200

    Puro-Sound-Labs-BT2200-review

    Puro BT2200 are Bluetooth on-ear headphones with adult-like styling and limited volume. They’re fixed to max volume of 85 dB and can’t be changed. Which is slightly higher than recommended. This means you, as a parent, will have to supervise more and make sure the volume isn’t ramped up to max. There’s no active noise cancelling like in the model below.

    Puro Sound Labs PuroQuiets

    PuroQuiets are premium active noise cancelling headphones suitable for a toddler as long as you know the volume limiter is set at 85 dB and requires supervision. And they cost quite a bit of money but will last longer. They can be used by a teenager thanks to their adult-like design.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

    Can toddlers use headphones?

    Toddlers can safely use headphones as long as the maximum volume is limited, recommended under 75 dB, and for a limited time of a couple hours. Prolonged exposure to higher volumes can lead to hearing loss into adulthood.

    Are headphones safe for toddlers?

    Limited and supervised use of headphones is safe for toddlers. The safest are dedicated toddler headphones with volume limited under 75 dB. And made from parts that can’t be swallowed by a curious kid. Though unsupervised use of adult headphones can be dangerous.

    At what age can a toddler use headphones?

    The moment a toddler is interested in audio and can comfortably wear headphones. From 12 months on and older. But use should be time-limited and at lower volumes, especially for little kids. There’ll be plenty of time for them to discover modern technology later in life.

    Are noise cancelling headphones good for toddlers?

    Active noise cancelling headphones are the best way to reduce ambient noise on a plane flight. If you travel with your toddler often, you can protect their hearing. For listening at home, they’re not necessary.