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8 Best Kids Headphones in 2024 (We Tested for Safety)

Last updated: 3 months ago
16 min read

We test and evaluate headphones using a standardized 9-point methodology. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

We tested the volume limiters of popular kids’ headphones. Many went over the limit (find the results below).

Some successfully keep the volume at healthy levels. Find the best kids’ headphones for school, kindergarten, and travel below.

Price Volume Limiter Best for Ages More Info Noise Cancelling
BuddyPhones POP Fun Best volume limiter
BuddyPhones POP Fun
Under $40
2 levels – 85, 94dB
3-16 years
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Puro Sound Labs BT2200 Best premium
Puro Sound Labs BT2200 Kids Headphones
Under $100
85dB
3-16 years
crosscross
BuddyPhones Cosmos+ Best for travel
Under $100
3 levels – 75, 85, 94dB
1-12 years
checkmarkcheckmark
Puro Sound Labs PuroPro Best for older kids
Puro-Sound-Labs-PuroPro-white-background
Under $200
85dB
5-18 years
checkmarkcheckmark
BuddyPhones Play+ Best cheap
BuddyPhones Play+
Under $50
3 levels – 75, 85, 94dB
1-8 years
crosscross

You want to give your kids a pair of headphones for watching cartoons, listening to music, school work, or traveling.

But not all kids’ headphones are safe.

So, we gathered a bunch of kids’ headphones and tested their volume limiters. Do they really work? Here’s what we found:

Most headphones for kids get louder than advertised.

High volume in headphones permanently damages hearing in a couple of minutes (according to scientific sources below).

We only recommend models that have an effective volume limiter.

UPDATE March 23, 2024: Added loudness measurements for iClever BTH18 headphones in the comparison table below.

CONTENTS (show more)

    Key Test Findings:

    60% of tests of kids’ headphones surpassed the loudness limit advertised by the manufacturers.

    We did a total of 45 tests using different headphones and audio sources.

    • 18 results are in the green (safe) zone (below 3dB over the target)
    • 16 are in the orange zone (under 8dB above the target)
    • 11 results landed in the red zone (+8dB above the target).

    Find out what is the safest way to listen to headphones for kids and all about the test below.

    Best Kids Headphones for Safety

    1. BuddyPhones POP Fun

    1st-place The Safest Kids Headphones
    • Volume limiter: The most accurate volume limiter: measured at 84.4dB in the 85dB Mode
    • Type: Bluetooth on-ear headphones suitable for daily use with a smartphone, tablet
    BuddyPhones POP Fun headphones for kids

    BuddyPhones POP Fun have the most accurate volume limiter of all headphones we’ve tested. For this reason, they’re the safest headphones for kids – BuddyPhones POP Fun review.

    Connection icon Connection: n/a
    Driver size icon Driver size: 40mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz
    Type: On-ear | Battery life: 24h | Wireless range: 60 feet (18.2 meters) | Noise cancelling: No | Charging: USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC | Water resistance: None | Features: Volume limiters, foldable
    • Smooth, warm sound that never gets harsh
    • Safe listening volumes ("84.4dB" in 85dB mode & "94dB" in 94dB mode)
    • Comfortable fit, even for adults
    • Lightweight & very flexible construction
    • Long battery life of 23.5 hours (in 85dB mode at 50% volume)
    • Washable earpads from anti-allergic materials
    • Not even basic IPX water protection
    • No carrying pouch included
    • Not the most stable for active kids

    BuddyPhones POP Fun are natural-sounding wireless headphones with a smooth sound signature that doesn’t fatigue sensitive children’s ears.

    Furthermore, with the most accurate volume limiters, they’re the safest pick among kids’ headphones (that we’ve tested).

    You can choose from 85 and 94dB modes, and be sure your kids will never expose themselves to loudness above that.

    Like other BuddyPhones headphones, these also use antiallergenic materials. The POP Fun even has easily detachable earpads that you can wash and keep fresh at all times.

    While a bit plain-looking, the volume-limiting headphones come with 4 pairs of stickers for personal decoration.

    One thing to keep an eye on is to keep them away from liquids as they lack even the basic IP rating.

    Overall, if you’re looking for safe modern kids headphones, BuddyPhones POP Fun are our top recommendation.

    Best Premium Kids Headphones

    Puro Sound Labs BT2200

    trophy Best Premium Kids Headphones
    • Volume limiter: 3.3dB above 85dB limit when testing with music at max volume
    • Type: Fancy-looking on-ear wireless headphones with aluminum housing
    Puro-Sound-Labs-BT2200-review

    Puro Sound Labs BT2200 are the best premium wireless headphones for kids we’ve tested. Their volume limiter is fairly accurate, and it comes in high build quality with a stylish design – Puro Sound Labs BT2200 review.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
    Driver size icon Driver size: 40mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz
    Type: On-ear | Connection: Wireless Bluetooth & wired | Back design: Closed-back | Battery life: 20h (18h21min) | Wireless range: 50ft (15m) | Noise cancelling: No | Charging: Micro-USB | Mic & Controls: Yes | Weight: 150g | Bluetooth codecs: SBC | Water resistance: No | Features: Volume limiter, 3.5mm port, foldable, music share
    • Stylish colorful design yet suitable for older kids
    • Durable aluminum build quality
    • Effective volume limit at 85dB (Bluetooth and wired)
    • Simple built-in controls
    • Music sharing cable
    • Can’t change the volume limiter
    • Somewhat pricey compared to alternatives

    We also tested the newer model: Puro Sound Labs BT2200 Plus. But its volume limiter isn’t as effective, the loudness reached almost 90 dB, 5 dB over the 85dB limit. So the older model is better. The new model only comes into account for older kids who can use headphones responsibly. See details in our review.

    The BT2200 performed really well among all the kids models we tested. Their volume limiter stayed under the 85 dB limit but occasionally reached slightly over (by 3.3 dB). Overall, they’re suitable for protecting your kids from dangerous loudness.

    A strong, colorful design with stickers is attractive for toddlers and preschool kids. But what happens when they grow up? Once your kid grows older, 6 years+, they’ll look up to their friends. And colorful headphones won’t spark interest.

    This is where Puro BT2200 come in with a wide array of colors while staying unassuming. They look fine on an adult head and are great for tweens.

    The unassuming, stylish design stays relevant longer than extra childish alternatives.

    They’re perfectly suitable for young as well as primary school kids. They come with wireless Bluetooth connectivity, a built-in mic, sound quality, and durable construction.

    For tweens headphones that will stand the test of time, Puro BT2200 are a great choice.

    Best Kids Headphones for Travelling

    BuddyPhones Cosmos+

    trophy Best Travel Headphones for Kids
    • Volume limiter: 3 modes: under 75dB Toddler Mode, 85dB Kids Mode, 94dB Travel Mode
    • Type: Bluetooth over-ear headphones with active noise cancelling for comfortable travel
    BuddyPhones Cosmos+ review - blue headphones

    If you need headphones for trips with your kids, BuddyPhones Cosmos+ are the best kids headphones for traveling we’ve tested. The ANC removes background noise, 3 volume-limiting modes ensure safe volume, and there are many other features – BuddyPhones Cosmos+ review.

    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

    If you want one pair of headphones that can do it all, the BuddyPhones Cosmos+ are the best choice.

    These are suitable for 12-month-olds or early teenagers thanks to the adjustable headband. And their 75 dB Toddler Mode makes them suitable as toddler headphones.

    You can use them for listening to music and videos with quality drivers and comfy design, or use them for online lessons and chat.

    Thanks to Study Mode (hear-through mode) and a detachable boom microphone that extends right in front of the mouth, they’re great for online classes or just chatting with friends. There are 2 microphones: built-in and boom microphone that detaches when not needed.

    To ensure perfect safety, you can toggle between 3 different volume control modes, as well as active noise cancellation (ANC). ANC removes engine noise during a flight, making flying more comfortable and protecting kids’ ears.

    The only bad thing is their price. Around $100, they rank among the more expensive kids models.

    If you don’t mind paying a higher price, the BuddyPhones Cosmos+ headphones are the top choice for traveling kids.

    Best Headphones for Older Kids

    Puro Sound Labs PuroPro

    trophy Best Headphones for Older Kids
    • Volume limiter: 85 dB is mostly effective with occasional 3dB outburst over the limit
    • Type: Bluetooth over-ear headphones with ANC that look like adult headphones
    Puro Sound Labs PuroPro buttons

    If you prefer the look of normal headphones but still want a volume limiter, Puro Sound Labs PuroPro are the best grown-up kids headphones we’ve tested – Puro Sound Labs PuroPro review.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
    Driver size icon Driver size: 40mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-20,000Hz
    Type: Over-ear | Connection: Bluetooth & wired 3.5mm | Back design: Closed-back | Battery life: 38h+ | Wireless range: 55ft | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: Micro-USB | Mic & Controls: Yes | Weight: 10 oz (285g) | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC | Water resistance: None | Features: Volume limiter
    • Good, smooth sound
    • Super comfortable over-ear cups
    • Volume limited to 85 dB or 95dB
    • Active noise cancellation with 2 modes
    • Long battery life (38h+)
    • Construction quality
    • Expensive
    • Kind of bulky for kids headphones

    If your kid is a bit older or dislikes childish headphones, then the Puro Sound Labs PuroPro are a great fit.

    The Bluetooth headphones come with active noise cancellation (ANC – 2 modes), a massive battery life of almost 40 hours, and plush over-ear earpads that fit an adult. When the battery dies, you can use them as wired headphones.

    ANC makes them suitable for traveling on a plane and other public transport, protecting against ambient noise.

    They look like adult headphones, but in reality, they’re limited to an 85dB volume. While the limiter mostly works as advertised, it occasionally reaches over the limit by around 3dB. This is still a solid performance and will protect sensitive ears from overexposure. Your kid can crank up the volume to the max without worrying it will hurt their ears.

    These are big and comfortable for an adult head. For this reason, they’re not suitable for younger kids with smaller heads.

    Puro PuroPro are a great choice if you want adult-looking Bluetooth headphones with rich features and a volume limiter.

    Best Cheap Kids Headphones

    BuddyPhones Play+

    dollar Best Cheap Kids Headphones
    • Volume limiter: 3 modes: 75dB, 85dB, and 94dB, which mostly keep the volume under limit
    • Type: Lightweight wireless on-ear headphones for a budget price
    BuddyPhones Play+ on a plush toy

    BuddyPhones Play+ are the best cheap kids headphones we’ve tested. These don’t cost an arm and a leg and come with 3 volume-limiting modes, Bluetooth connectivity and elastic design – BuddyPhones Play+ review.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
    Driver size icon Driver size: 40mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz
    Type: On-ear | Battery life: 20h | Wireless range: 33ft (10m) | Noise cancelling: No | Charging: 2h – USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC | Water resistance: None | Features: Foldable, volume limiters, Study mode, audio sharing
    • Great sound quality (for the price)
    • 3 volume limiters
    • Study mode for better concentration
    • Good battery life
    • Good comfort and stability
    • Flexible design
    • But a bit cheap-feeling
    • Mediocre Bluetooth range
    • No IP rating

    The BuddyPhones Play+ are on-ear budget headphones for kids with everything you expect from modern wireless headphones.

    You get Bluetooth, so you can easily connect them to a smartphone, tablet, or TV. And you can use them with a cable, too. The volume control ensures a safe listening volume for all ages. And a built-in microphone for calls and online classes.

    The volume limiter is fairly effective. The volume reached over the 85dB limit on a couple of occasions for 3 dB, but it mostly stayed under. It’s less effective than the limiter in the POP Fun model, but a close second. Some other headphones we tested overextended the volume by 15 dB, which is a huge difference.

    Moreover, when you don’t need them, they fold for easier storage. And their battery life of over 10 hours isn’t shabby either.

    BuddyPhones Play+ are cheaper headphones without ANC or extra-long battery, but most kids don’t need more.

    And the fact you can get them for under $50, depending on which model you buy, they’re fantastic value for money. You can read more about them in our review.

    For cheap headphones for kids with an effective volume limiter and Bluetooth connectivity, get the BuddyPhones Play+.

    Runner-Ups: Other Models Worth Considering

    6. Puro Sound Labs PuroQuiets

    Puro PuroQuiets are similar to BT2200. The on-ears are noise cancelling headphones for kids with more features. PuroQuiets have a slightly longer battery life, over 20 hours with ANC, and even more turned off. But they also cost more money, so consider them if you want active noise cancelling headphones for kids.

    7. BuddyPhones Wave

    BuddyPhones Wave folded headphones

    With an IP67 rating, BuddyPhones Wave are protected against dust and water, and you can easily clean them under a tap. Moreover, they come with 3 volume control modes, including Toddler Mode and a durable, foldable design for easier storage. These are the most durable kids headphones for rowdy children.

    BuddyPhones Wave review

    8. Puro Sound Labs BT2200 Plus

    Puro BT2200 Plus on a branch

    Puro Sound Labs BT2200 Plus headphones have a very comfortable design with interchangeable on-ear and over-ear ear pads. That way, they fit small and big kids’ heads. Furthermore, they’re the best-sounding kids headphones right now, but their volume limiter often misses the target and plays too loudly. So they aren’t the safest in regards to controlling volume. These are more suitable for older kids.

    Puro Sound Labs BT2200 Plus review

    Our Kids Headphones Safety Test (Results)

    Puro BT2200 Plus loudness testing

    What’s the safest way to listen to kids headphones?

    Using a smartphone with an AUX adapter is the safest way to listen to kids headphones.

    Out of 3 tests, only one boosted the headphones over the target into the orange zone. Compared to Bluetooth results:

    • 33,3% of headphones connected to a wired smartphone went over the limit.
    • 68,8% of Bluetooth headphones went over the limit.

    There’s no significant difference between wireless and wired kids headphones in loudness.

    • 68.8% of Bluetooth kids headphones reached over the limits.
    • 68.2% wired headphones were louder than they should be.

    Puro BT2200 did the best job at maintaining their loudness below the target loudness.

    However, they also did the worst in wired mode using a non-stock cable (stock cable has a built-in limiter).

    We agree with Wirecutter, who also tested them and came to the exact same conclusion regarding Puro BT2200.

    How did we choose the models?

    We primarily focused on the effectiveness of the volume limiter. Safety is the main concern when giving headphones to kids.

    So, our recommended headphones effectively keep the volume under the volume limit. Altogether, we tested (193 headphones, and headphones for kids are just a small part of that.

    Comparing Results: The Table

    We colored the results for easier navigation.

    If the loudness exceeds:

    Up to +3dB above the target
    Up to +8dB above the target
    More than 8dB above the target
    MODEL & MODEWHITE NOISEMUSIC
    BuddyPhones POP Fun (Bluetooth, 85dB mode)84.4dB83.3dB
    BuddyPhones POP Fun (Bluetooth, 94dB mode)94.0dB93.4dB
    BuddyPhones POP Fun (wired mode, laptop)93.2dB91.7dB
    BuddyPhones POP Fun (wired mode, amp)98.4dB/
    BuddyPhones Play+ (Bluetooth, Music mode, 75dB mode)79.9dB79.2dB
    BuddyPhones Play+ (Bluetooth, Music mode, 85dB mode)86.7dB86.4dB
    BuddyPhones Play+ (Bluetooth, Music mode, 94dB mode)96.2dB98.1dB
    BuddyPhones Play+ (wired mode, laptop)86dB85.6dB
    BuddyPhones Play+ (wired mode, amp)97.6dB97.1dB
    BuddyPhones Play+ (Bluetooth, Study mode, 75dB mode)81dB/
    BuddyPhones Play+ (Bluetooth, Study mode, 85dB mode)88.4dB/
    BuddyPhones Play+ (Bluetooth, Study mode, 94dB mode)98.1dB/
    Puro Sound Labs PuroPro (Bluetooth, 85dB mode)90.5dB88.3dB
    Puro Sound Labs PuroPro (Bluetooth, 95dB mode)100.5dB98.7dB
    Puro Sound Labs PuroPro (wired mode, laptop)90.9dB85.1dB
    Puro Sound Labs PuroPro (wired mode, smartphone)/82.1dB
    Puro Sound Labs PuroPro (wired mode, amp)96.3dB94.1dB
    BuddyPhones School+ (wired, 85dB, laptop)93.9dB92.1dB
    BuddyPhones School+ (wired, 85dB, smartphone)/89.5dB
    BuddyPhones School+ (wired, amp)98.5dB98.2dB
    Puro BT2200 (Bluetooth)84.9dB84.6dB
    Puro BT2200 (Wired, stock cable, laptop)85.1dB85dB
    Puro BT2200 (Wired, third-party cable, laptop)109.7dB111dB
    BuddyPhones Explore+ (wired, 85dB mode, laptop)90.5dB88.3dB
    BuddyPhones Explore+ (wired, 85dB mode, smartphone)/84.5dB
    BuddyPhones Explore+ (wired, amp)98.3dB97.1dB
    Puro BT2200 Plus (Bluetooth)100dB89.2dB
    Puro BT2200 Plus (Wired, stock cable, laptop)85.4dB75.4dB
    Puro BT2200 Plus (Wired, third-party cable, laptop)105.5dB95.7dB
    iClever BTH18 (Bluetooth, 74dB mode)87.1 dBA82.6 dBA
    iClever BTH18 (Bluetooth, 85dB mode)94 dBA90.1 dBA
    iClever BTH18 (Bluetooth, 94dB mode)101 dBA97.2 dBA
    iClever BTH18 (Wired, stock cable, Samsung dongle)91.2 dBA86 dBA

    What Did We Learn From The Volume Tests?

    White noise

    Most headphones for kids are slightly louder than they should be. While some are only a few dB away from the target, some can even deviate for +10 dB.

    The only ones that were perfectly accurate in Bluetooth mode were BuddyPhones POP Fun and Puro BT2200. However, when plugging them via third-party cable, we managed to get them to absurd loudness.

    Music

    Music results are much more promising. They indicate that headphones only occasionally surpass the target loudness.

    From the example of the “Baby Shark” song, only at the loudest part do headphones surpass the promised loudness. Otherwise, they stay below the target.

    BuddyPhones Play+ on a plush toy

    All wired headphones are louder than healthy

    Since headphones with a cable receive power from external devices, their loudness largely depends on the power of the external music source.

    What does that mean?

    You can power wired headphones above the healthy volume with a strong amplifier.

    Using a headphones amplifier pushes all kids headphones above healthy and sometimes to truly dangerous levels.

    Even without the amp, 68.2% of all wired headphones in our tests reached above their target loudness.

    So, what’s the safest way to use headphones?

    The safest way is to use them in wired mode paired with a smartphone. The latter has the least power, so it rarely pushes headphones above the target (in our tests, it only happened once with the BuddyPhones School+ model).

    BuddyPhones Play review

    Using a smartphone in wired mode results in lower loudness

    Among laptops, headphone amps, and smartphones, the latter output the least amount of power. Consequently, they don’t drive headphones as loud.

    Therefore, it’s safer to use wired headphones with a smartphone.

    But as seen in BuddyPhones School+ tests, some headphones still surpass the advertised loudness using a smartphone.

    How We Tested The Loudness

    Why are we doing these tests?

    Because you want to keep your kids safe from hearing damage.

    When buying headphones, you can’t be 100% sure they work as intended. Manufacturers tend to overpromise to lure you into buying their product. But in some cases, they’re only bluffing.

    Therefore, it’s our mission to verify if headphones, which should protect your kids’ hearing, are safe to use.

    How volume limiters work

    There are 2 types of volume limiters in headphones: physical and software-based.

    • Software-based is used in wireless headphones, where sound characteristics are controlled by a DSP (digital signal processing). The latter is already responsible for regulating loudness in other Bluetooth headphones to prevent driver damage.
    • Physical limiters are tiny resistors that reduce the power input by half. However, that works only when using weaker audio sources like smartphones.
    Physical volume limit
    Resistors inside BuddyPhones Explore+ headphones for kids.

    Manufacturers don’t specify industry standards

    While companies say their headphones reach a specific loudness, they don’t specify what loudness standard they’re using. It sure isn’t the latest IEC 62368-1 safety standard. We checked.

    BuddyPhones Play+ volume limiters

    Moreover, manufacturers only offer a vague decibel number that doesn’t tell the whole picture.

    That leaves a lot of room for interpretation. If headphones have an 85dB limit, does that mean that:

    • Headphones never surpass 85dB?
    • Or the average loudness is 85dB, yet sometimes headphones surpass the target loudness?

    Furthermore, manufacturers don’t disclaim whether they’re using dBa or dBc measurements.

    • dBa – focuses more on the midrange, cutting away most of the low-end spectrum. While dBa measurements are used for measuring volume limits for humans at a lower volume, they don’t expose loud bass.
    • dBc – better representation of the whole frequency spectrum. However, according to hearing experts, lower frequencies don’t damage your hearing nearly as much as higher ones.

    As you can see, it’s quite tricky to know precisely what you’re really getting.

    For the purpose of our tests, we used dBa readings since they’re widely used to measure loudness (like at live shows).

    What equipment did we use?

    We perform loudness tests using our H.E.A.R.S MiniDSP. It’s loudness-calibrated, so we know our results are credible.

    Huge thanks to OLLO Audio for all the help.

    Headphones calibration
    To verify our measurements are accurate, we tested headphones on different equipment.

    All measurements are performed using Room Equalizer Wizard (REW) version 3.19 (there’s a newer version available, but it doesn’t allow you to manually calibrate the loudness).

    We place each headphone on the MiniDSP and play various sounds at maximum volume.

    BuddyPhones Play+ on MiniDSP

    Wired headphones

    The loudness will largely depend on the audio source.

    Since every audio source outputs a different amount of power, we hook the headphones to various devices. We use:

    • Smartphone (Samsung Galaxy S21 with the Samsung audio adapter)
    • Laptop (HP 470 G8)
    • Headphone amplifier (AudioQuest DragonFly Red)
    Kids headphones amp test

    That way, we cover the most common devices that kids will use with their headphones. We throw the amp into the mix just to see how much we can push the headphones.

    Furthermore, we observe how the headphone’s volume limiter handles various powers, from mild to relatively strong.

    Wireless headphones

    We focus on performance via Bluetooth connection when testing wireless headphones since that’s the most common way of using such headphones.

    We also cover wired mode performance if headphones support it.

    We use:

    • Laptop (HP 470 G8) (for both wireless and wired test)
    • Smartphone (Samsung Galaxy S21) (wired test)
    • Headphone amplifier (AudioQuest DragonFly Red)
    Puro Sound Labs PuroPro on a laptop

    How we do our loudness tests

    Headphones for kids go through different tests using various sounds.

    White noise

    White noise is all audible frequencies combined and played at the same time. Similar to white color, which is a combination of all colors.

    Not all headphones have a perfectly flat frequency response. White noise exposes all frequency peaks at the same time. Therefore, we quickly identify how loud the headphones are.

    It’s worth noting that white noise isn’t the most accurate representation of real-world usage. However, it’s widely used for testing since it provides consistent results.

    Inside REW software, we open the SPL Meter widget (which was previously calibrated for loudness) and observe the decibel reading.

    BuddyPhones Play+ white noise headphone amp

    What about a sine sweep?

    By performing a sine sweep (an audio signal that travels from 20Hz to 20.000Hz at the same loudness), we could also determine the exact frequency where headphones are the loudest.

    However, performing a sine sweep is too unreliable for testing overall loudness. Our readings always show higher maximum loudness, so we don’t do these tests.

    BuddyPhones Explore+ sine sweep
    Sine sweep of the BuddyPhones Explore+ shows the highest peak at 99.8dB, whereas we measured 90.4dB with white noise.

    Also, since music is a combination of different frequencies, sine sweeps don’t truly represent real-world use-case scenarios.

    Music

    Furthermore, we put music into the mix to simulate real-world usage. More precisely, “Baby Shark” song. This song is popular among kids and relatively loud, making it perfect for testing.

    Kids headphones smartphone test

    Unlike white noise, music is much more dynamic and is constantly changing the loudness. Which makes the results a bit inconsistent.

    However, since we know exactly where the “Baby Shark” song gets the loudest, we focus primarily on that part.

    Like in the white noise test, we open the SPL Meter and observe how loudness changes throughout the song.

    BuddyPhones School+ baby shark measurement

    Why Volume Limiting is Important

    Younger ears are more sensitive, so kids have better hearing. And while that’s great for playing and learning, it can be dangerous when they come in contact with modern technology.

    Extended high-volume exposure is dangerous for adults. And even more so for kids.

    Hearing loss can start at a young age and can have a detrimental effect for the rest of their life.

    The results of the RANCH (Road traffic and
    aircraft noise) the study has found that students attending schools around airports had worse
    reading comprehension and poorer recognition memory after adjusting for social-economic
    factors (Basner et al, 2017).

    Source

    Kids with mild hearing loss do worse in school, and their condition usually worsens through life. In adulthood, issues can progress with age as they’re exposed to more harmful sources.

    For these reasons, it’s crucial to start early to protect your kids from harmful sound exposure.

    How Much Noise (and for How Long) is Dangerous for Kids According to Science

    We found 3 scientific sources of recommended noise exposure. There is no maximum limit set in stone, but most research papers recommend staying under 80 – 85 dBA noise levels for 8 hours.

    Noise Exposure Recommendations for Kids

    Source 8-hour exp. 24-hour exp.
    WHO 80 dBA 75 dBA
    Neitzel&Fligor 83 dBA 70 dBA
    NIDCD 85 dBA 70 dBA
    Sources: WHO, Neitzel&Fligor, NIDCD

    Standards for kids are higher compared to adults since younger ears are more sensitive.

    Sources:

    According to World Health Organization, the recommended exposure limit for recreational noise for children is 80 dBA for 8 hours.

    The 8-hour 83 dBA exposure limit is recommended by Neitzel and Fligor for the general population.

    To completely eliminate the Risk of noise-induced hearing loss for the most vulnerable individuals, including children, maintain a 24-hour exposure limit of 70 dBA. (Neitzel & Fligor, 2017)

    What Does That Mean?

    To protect your kids hearing, limit their exposure to noise under 80-85 dBA in 8 hours. Or even better, keep it under 70 dBA for complete safety.

    This means it’s safe for your kid to listen to music and cartoons with volume-limited headphones under 80-85 dBA.

    General guidelines for kids headphones:

    • At max volume (under 80 dBA), they can safely listen for a few hours but not over 8 hours.
    • At 75% max volume, under 70 dBA, they can safely listen all the time.
    • At 85% max volume, under 75 dBA it’s safe for toddlers under 8 hours.

    Be aware:

    • Don’t let kids listen at max volume with adult headphones.
    • Don’t let toddlers listen loudly for too long even with a volume limiter.

    How noise-induced hearing loss looks like under a microscope

    This is how permanent hearing loss looks like in the inner ear.

    Healthy cells
    Damages cells

    Source

    To avoid hearing loss in your kids, keep the volumes low and never expose them to noise for too long.

    How to set volume limiting on your device?

    If you’re using a smartphone, most give you the option to limit max volume. So even if your kid increases the volume to max, it stays in the safe range.

    How to Set Volume Limiting on iPhone

    Credit: Reddit

    Steps:

    1. Open Settings
    2. Tap on Music
    3. Tap on Volume Limit
    4. Use the slider to set max volume. There’s no indicator in dBA, but 60% – 70% should be generally safe.
    5. Use your regular headphones safely

    How to Set Volume Limiting on Android

    Some Android smartphones have the option to lower the volume, but not all.

    Credit: Reddit

    Steps:

    1. Open Settings
    2. Tap on Sound and Vibration
    3. Tap on Volume
    4. Turn on Volume Limiter by tapping on the 3 dots on the top right corner
    5. Once the Volume Limiter is enabled, set the max volume
    6. Listen to music safely

    P.S. Exact menu names and order might vary across brands.

    You can also try downloading the Volume Limiter app from Google Play and set it there.

    How to Choose the Best Headphones for Kids

    Here are the main requirements for quality kids’ headphones.

    Volume limiting

    Safety comes first. Effective volume limit is the main feature of headphones for kids. It protects them from long-term noise-induced hearing loss, as mentioned above.

    Volume control modes in BuddyPhones.

    There are a couple of types:

    1. Fixed to a specific max volume. Most common 85 dB and 95 dB (you can’t change it)
    2. Changeable Volume Modes. 3-4 modes with different max volume

    Audio quality is also important, but as long as it’s good enough for kids music and cartoons, you don’t need to judge it with adult standards.

    Durability

    You want headphones that will last for a long time.

    Look for signs of good build quality like:

    • Waterproof ratings: IP rating – the higher, the better
    • Foldable headband and ear cups that can be stored safely
    • Quality brands that invest in the longevity of their headphones

    Convenience

    Things like long battery life, wireless Bluetooth connectivity, and microphones all make the headphones useful.

    Getting Bluetooth headphones for kids is a no-brainer. Wires are susceptible to accidents and tangling. Plus, if you have a newer phone, it doesn’t have a wired AUX output.

    Long battery life just means less charging and more carefree use.

    And microphones for making phone calls and online chatting are basically essential for any youngster nowadays.

    Price

    Since you can’t expect headphones to last forever, you don’t want to spend too much.

    We all want the best for our kids, but that doesn’t mean you always have to buy the most expensive item.

    You might be asking yourself, “How much do I want to pay for headphones for kids?”

    Since kids won’t know the difference between good and bad sound quality, as long as the headphones are safe and come with the features you want, they’re good enough.

    The general price ranges of kids headphones are:

    • $100- $150 premium top-of-the-line headphones
    • $50 – $100 are mid-tier
    • Under $50 are budget headphones

    Are headphones better than earbuds for kids?

    There aren’t many safe earbuds for kids with volume control.

    Generally, headphones are easier to use for younger kids and come with more features like ANC, boom microphones, and volume control modes. We did find a couple of volume-limited earbuds for kids, but just with wires.

    LilGadgets BestBuds

    BestBuds are wired earbuds for kids with the max volume set to 73 dB, making them perfectly safe. They are designed to fit kids and come with a splitter cable, an in-line microphone, and a carrying case.

    Symphonized Kids

    These are similar to the popular Symphonized NRG earbuds. The wired buds are limited to 85 dB maximum volume and fit little ears. But they’re often sold out.

    FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

    Do kids’ headphones need a microphone?

    If you need kids’ headphones for making phone calls, online school, or just Skyping, then a microphone is necessary. Thankfully, most Bluetooth headphones for kids already come with a microphone that’s good enough for the job, and they don’t cost much money.

    What is a good brand of headphones for kids?

    The most known ones and specialized for kids’ headphones are BuddyPhones, Puro Sound Labs, and LilGadgets.

    Are Beats headphones good for toddlers?

    No. Beats headphones are too loud and can induce hearing loss if left unsupervised. They might look cool but aren’t fit for a toddler with extra sensitive ears. Get volume-limited headphones instead.

    Are wireless headphones OK for kids?

    Yes, Bluetooth technology has been proven safe and has no harmful effects on kids. At the same time, keep the volume and time of use limited. Prolonged exposure to noise can impact their hearing and learning ability.

    Hopefully, our guide has been useful to you. If you picked any headphones from our list, we’d love to know about it. Leave us a comment.

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