Best {Safe-Listening} EarBuds & Headphones For Kids | 2018 Reviews

Safe-Listening Earphones for Kids
Volume Limited In-Ear Headphones by Etymotic Research

Parents are spending more time with their smartphones and tablets, and this habit has been adopted by their children as well. Because of the low price and availability of new technology, many kids these days have (or have access to) a smartphone, tablets and computer on a daily basis.

In addition, many children are now using their earbuds or headphones while they do homework so the total number of hours they are exposed to loud noises fed directly into their ears has a lot of parents looking for better, safer earbuds and headphones for kids to use.

With its safe volume limit and overall in-ear comfort, these earbuds by Etymotic Research are our top choice for in-ear listening.

For kids that prefer the comfort of wearing headphones: the Puro Sound Labs BT2200 over-ear headphones with bluetooth and noise isolation came out on top as our clear winner.

You may also want to consider a lesser known 3rd option- a Headband Headphone. These comfortable fleece headbands, like this one by CozyPhone (volume limited for kids) combine the comfort of a soft headband with incorporated headphones.

More adult are also switching to this type of headband as a kind of sleeping earphone for napping or side-sleeping while falling asleep to music.

We’ve reviewed several options worth looking at in each category, so please continue reading below to see some of our other top picks for 2018.

According to KidHealth, earbuds at 70% of maximum volume can emit sounds above 85 decibels. It’s rare for kids (or adults) to have the willpower to turn their volume down to 75%. Fortunately, there are earbuds and headphones on the market now that can limit volume to a safe level. Let’s take a closer look.

Best Earbuds & Headphones For Kids in 2018

1. Etymotic Research ETY Kids5 Safe Listening

Etymotic Research ETY-Kids5 Earbuds
High Quality Sound With Safety Features For Kids

The Etymotic Research ETY Kids5 is a well balanced sounding in-ear headphone. It is also light-weight and comfortable to wear for kids’ ears.

The Kevlar®-reinforced cable is less prone to tangle and durable even when abused by kids. Aside from volume limiting feature, they have stellar noise isolating performance thanks to the silicon based triple flange eartips.

However, since the triple flange earbuds tips are worn deeply inside the ear canals, some kids might find them uncomfortable. We recommend trying small eartips first because of their shallow insertion and ease of use.

ETY earbuds are commonly known as a great product for people who need a hearing aid, but they also make affordable earbuds as well, and specialize in safe hearing for kids.

Adding a volume-limiting feature to earbuds is not new, companies have been releasing this kind of earbuds for at least a decade and going back even further (to the age of cassette players, Koss introduced the “Safelite” line in the 1980s that had a warning light to notify users when the volume was too loud.

This set simply reduced the power received by the earbuds to a safe level. For portable devices like Mp3 players, phones, and tablets the ETY Kids5 do the job for limiting volume. However, if you plug them in to a source with more power, they are still able to reach higher volume levels.

In terms of sound quality, The ETY Kids5 have a neutral mid-range, clear treble and tight, well-controlled bass. To make up for this bass deficiency, the ETY-Kids offer a nice and sweet mid-range with outstanding clarity. The treble sounds pleasant and smooth, but not quite as soaring as you might hope for.

The ETY-Kids are not playing around, they have a fine design and your kids may not comprehend how clear and precise they sound. These are the best value earbuds for kids, and you will surely appreciate the volume limiting feature and great noise isolation. Please note: there are two versions of these earbuds: one with mic and the other without. 

The noise isolation is so good that wearers may not be aware of traffic or horns around them, so don’t allow your kids to wear these item when they walk to school.

Details: Etymotic Research ETY-Kids5 

  • Specifically designed for kids ages 4 and up
  • Feature volume-limiting safe listening earphones
  • Dynamic Driver
  • High impedence 300Ω

Pros:

  • Great noise isolating performance
  • High quality build
  • Great volume-limiting feature
  • Small and lightweight

Cons:

  • They come in different colors, but lack a kid friendly theme

2. LilGadgets BestBuds Volume Limited Earbuds with Mic for Kids

LilGadgets BestBuds Volume Limited In-Ear Headphones
These Rugged Headphones Come With Many Accessories

Lilgadgets BestBuds earbuds come with multiple silicon tip options to help find the best fit for small ears. The volume limited earbuds are recommended for children up to 6 years old.

They are light and compact with a rugged, tangle-free cable that sports an in-line playback remote with mic.

The included hard travel pouch offers a cool way for kids to manage the included accessories eartips and a splitter. The SharePort Adapter (splitter) is a great way for kids to share music or audio sound with a friend or sibling (i.e. watching a movie together on a tablet) which allows you to share music with others and may also prevent a few arguments 🙂  

Pros:

  • Designed specifically for kids
  • Recommended for 6 yrs and up
  • Travel pouch and splitter included
  • Tangle Free cable

Cons:

  • The sounds quality is not stellar
  • Some reports by users of short lifespan
  • Could be more durable considering they’re made for kids

3. Symphonized Kids Volume Limited Premium Wood Earbuds

Symphonized Kids Volume Limited In-ear Headphones
Volume Limited Kids Earbuds

Available in five different colors, the Symphonized Kids earbuds look cool and come in many different colors so you can find the perfect pair to fit your kid’s taste. The earbud housings are constructed with real wood, and they include various sizes of eartips so you can find the perfect fit (some readers have mentioned that kids with very small ears (5-6 years) may still find these too large)

The headphones work with all Android and iOS devices, and limit the volume from those sources to 85db. Due to the large size of the wooden housings, some users find these don’t provide quite as secure of a fit as the Etymotic Research ETY-Kids5.

Pros:

  • Classy looking real wood accent
  • Solid build, don’t look like a toy (like some kids earbuds do)
  • Compatible with Android and iOS
  • Volume limited to 85db
  • Three sizes (S/M/L) silicone ear tips

Cons:

  • Even smallest ear tips may be too big for small children

Safe Over-Ear Headphones for Kids

Top Pick: Puro Sound Labs BT2200 Premium Kids Headphone Review

Puro Sound Labs BT2200 Over-Ear Headphones Lightweight Portable Kids Earphones with Safe Wireless, Volume Limiting, Bluetooth and Noise Isolation for iPhone/Android/PC/Tablet - BT2200 Purple The first thing I noticed with the Puro Sound Labs BT2200 is its impeccable construction quality. The pastel color looks great when combined with the leather headband covering. The earpads also appear to be well made and quite comfortable to wear.

As Bluetooth headphones, the BT2200 is simple and easy to pair with your smartphone. Bluetooth range is decent enough at 30 feet. The BT pairing button is located on the left earpiece along with the power, volume, microphone, audio jack, and USB charging port.

A nice little feature of this headphone is its impressive noise canceling capability. It can effectively prevent 82% of the ambient noise from interfering with your listening experience. However, it does not have active noise canceling technology and instead achieves this by incorporating the closed-back earcup design.

Battery life is also great as it can play music for 18 hours without the need to recharge. The lightweight design of the BT2200 makes it an ideal choice for music-loving youngsters. In terms of comfort, I had no trouble wearing this headphone for close to 3 hours with barely any discomfort to report.

Puro Sound Labs BT2200 Over-Ear Headphones Lightweight Portable Kids Earphones with Safe Wireless, Volume Limiting, Bluetooth and Noise Isolation for iPhone/Android/PC/Tablet - BT2200 Purple As for audio quality, the BT2200 delivers above average performance. However, the important factor here is safety and these on-ear headphones by Puro Sound definitely earns its stripes in this category. Volume levels are limited to 85dB and as such will not put your child’s hearing at risk. Turning the volume to max via your phone will cause some distortion which is expected due to the volume limiter that is in place.

The bass is somewhat overwhelming at times as well. But I must point out here that the Puro Sound Labs BT2200 Headphone is designed to protect your child’s hearing from damage due to loud noises.

Audio volume is moderate throughout so don’t expect this one to be a top pick for audiophiles. But as a headphone to keep your child protected from loud noises while allowing them to also listen to their favorite music safely, it does its part well.

Key Features:

  • Volume limited to 85dB.
  • 40mm dynamic driver.
  • Closed-back ear cups with 82% noise cancellation.
  • 18 hours of battery life and 200 hours of standby time.

Our Rating:

  • Sound Quality: 8/10
  • Bass: 8/10
  • Build Quality/Design: 8.5/10
  • Fit/Comfort: 9/10
  • Battery Life: 9/10
  • Connectivity (Bluetooth stability): 9/10

Who would this be good for?

This is a good choice for parents who want to give their child a safe headphone to use. It is also on the affordable side of the spectrum and is well-made as well. A worthwhile headphone designed to be safe for children to use.

Pros:

  • Volume level limited at a safe 85dB.
  • Comfortable.
  • Long battery life.

Cons:

  • Sound quality is underwhelming.

JLAB Audio JBuddies Studio Volume Safe Headphones

JLab Audio JBuddies Studio Volume Safe, Folding, Over-ear Kids Headphones with Mic - Graphite/Purple Relative newcomers in the headphone for kid’s market, JLAB does a fine job making a good first impression with customers. Design-wise, JLAB will definitely attract young music lovers with their “Tron” inspired aesthetics. Incorporating bright neon colors that outlines a matte gray cover, it certainly looks cool, no doubt about that.

The JBuddies headphones are designed for children ages 6 years and above and utilize exceptionally soft earpads to provide optimum comfort for a child’s sensitive ears. However, the overall size of the JBuddies also allows it to be worn by adults. It uses tangle-free cables which are non-detachable, while this might seem like a disadvantage for wireless fans it does help make sure the volume limits stay in place.

The JBuddies has a volume limiter that keeps sound at a comfortable 80.9dB which is the recommended listening volume. I did record the volume level jumping up to 89dB when using my iPhone which is still within the relatively safe volume level.

Sound quality has much to be desired and in today’s wireless world, being limited by a cord is a deal breaker for some customers. That being said, with its price tag, overall solid construction, and safe audio level, the JBuddies headphone manages to build a reputation as one of the better headphones design for children.

Key Features:

  • Eco Leather cushion earpads.
  • Built-in volume regulators that keep sound around 85dB (89dB max).
  • Uses braided-nylon and tangle-free cord.
  • 30-day satisfaction guarantee.

Our Rating:

  • Sound Quality: 8/10
  • Bass: 8/10
  • Build Quality/Design: 9/10
  • Fit/Comfort: 9/10
  • Battery Life: n/a
  • Connectivity (Bluetooth stability): n/a

Who would this be good for?

Due to its considerably lower price tag, the JBuddies headphone is an ideal choice for those who wish to give their children a cost-effective, kid-friendly, and safe headphone to use.

Pros:

  • Good choice for children ages 6 and up.
  • Compact foldable design.
  • Volume regulator maintains the sound level around 85dB.
  • Comfortable.

Cons:

Not a good choice in a loud public area due to below average noise cancellation.


LeapFrog Headphones Review

LeapFrog Headphones, Green The LeapFrog headphones are marketed as an exclusive headphone for use with LeapFrog’s tablets and other gadgets. However, that is actually untrue as this works with any device that has a 3.5mm headphone jack. One thing I took away after checking out the LeapFrog headphone is how sturdy they are. This headphone was definitely designed specifically to be used by children as it looks like it can withstand rough use.

I also found the headphone to be slightly larger than other kid’s headphones on this list. I would recommend this headphone for children ages 7 and above as it appears to be too big for toddlers.

The headphone is marketed as having a volume regulator that keeps sound levels at a recommended 85dB

I suggest you make sure that the device this headphone is connected to maintains its moderate volume level. It features soft over-ear cushioned earpads which are quite comfortable to wear.

This is an overall good choice for a children’s headphone and is well-built to withstand more than a couple of drops to the floor. If you take additional safety precautions, the LeapFrog headphone is certainly a highly recommended headphone for children.

Key Features:

  • Comfortable earpads.
  • Compatible with all LeapFrog devices.
  • Well-made and sturdy construction.

Our Rating:

  • Sound Quality: 8/10
  • Bass: 8/10
  • Build Quality/Design: 9/10
  • Fit/Comfort: 9/10
  • Battery Life: n/a
  • Connectivity (Bluetooth stability): n/a

Who would this be good for?

If you are an avid fan of LeapFrog products then this is as a good choice as any for your child. It is well-made and does a fine enough job maintaining safe listening levels. I do advise that you make sure the audio device itself is playing music at safe levels due to the fact that the LeapFrog headphone volume regulator being a little finicky.

Pros:

  • Well-made.
  • Affordable.
  • Comfortable.

Cons:

  • Volume regulator tends to go past the 85dB limit and can sometimes even reach 91dB.

Budget Option: Sakar Children Peanuts Headphone with Volume Limiter

Childrens Peanuts Headphones with Volume Limiter (HP2-03080)
One of the many design options that range from cartoons to super heros.

Sakar has made a name for itself by making some of the most affordable child-friendly headphones on the market today. They also offer headphones that are designed using popular children’s characters like this one which is a Peanut inspired headphone.

In terms of audio quality, the Sakar headphone is your standard affair but with a volume regulator that keeps audio within the recommended 85dB level. The headband is adjustable to help get the best possible fit. Earpads are also quite soft and comfortable to use. They won’t squeeze your ears which is a common issue with cheaper over the head headphones.

This is a corded headphone that uses the standard 3.5mm audio jack making it compatible with smartphones and most music player devices. Don’t expect much in terms of audio quality here but it does a fine enough job in producing clear sound.

As a children’s headphone, this might be one of the better choices that come with an extremely low price tag. A good all-around choice for those seeking a reliable and safe headphone for their child. If you don’t want to spend much on a pair of kids headphones these are about as inexpensive as the come but quality cannot be compared to other pairs on this list like the Puro Labs (our top pick) which are in a totally different category. 

If you are looking in this sub-$20 category you may also want to compare to these headphones from Kidz Gear that are in a similar price range but actually tend to get higher ratings and offer a Limited Lifetime Warranty.

Key Features:

  • Volume limiter keeps sound around 85dB.
  • Comfortable, safe, and adjustable.
  • Designed specifically for children.

Our Rating:

  • Sound Quality: 8/10
  • Bass: 8/10
  • Build Quality/Design: 8.5/10
  • Fit/Comfort: 9/10
  • Battery Life: n/a
  • Connectivity (Bluetooth stability): n/a

Who would this be good for?

These colorful and child safe headphones are incredibly cheap but are dependable nonetheless. If your child is a fan of a certain children’s movie or television show then chances are you can find a Sakar headphone that has that as its main design theme.

Pros:

  • Price
  • Comfortable design.
  • Volume limiter keeps sound at safe recommended levels.
  • Dozens of colorful and vibrant designs for kids to choose from.

Cons:

  • Sound quality is nothing special.
  • Lifespan and durability questionable.

Volume Limited Headbands for Kids

CozyPhones Kids Headphones Ultra-Thin Speaker Headbands Review

CozyPhones Kids Headphones Volume Limited with Ultra-Thin Speakers & Super Comfortable Soft Fleece Headband - Perfect Children's Earphones for Home and Travel - IVORY PANDA In terms of comfort, few can match up to headphones that utilize the headband approach. The CozyPhone Ultra-Thin Headbands are like sleep aid headphones but are designed for children. There won’t be any issues about ears hurting as this type of headphone wraps around the head like a sweatband and does not squeeze the child’s ears when worn.

CozyPhones Kids Headphones Volume Limited with Ultra-Thin Speakers & Super Comfortable Soft Fleece Headband - Perfect Children's Earphones for Home and Travel - IVORY PANDA The CozyPhone headphone is made from a soft fleece material and comes with a 1/8-inch speaker placed inside the headband. The speakers are so small that you barely notice them there. This type of headphone is ideal for children that have sensory issues and is incredibly lightweight and comfortable to wear.

It also comes with a 36-inch braided cord and is compatible with any device or smartphone that uses the standard 3.55 mm audio jack.

Key Features:

  • 1/8-inch speakers.
  • Made from soft fleece material.
  • 90dB volume limiter.

Our Rating:

  • Sound Quality: 8/10
  • Bass: 7/10
  • Build Quality/Design: 9/10
  • Fit/Comfort: 10/10
  • Battery Life: n/a
  • Connectivity (Bluetooth stability): n/a

Who would this be good for?

This headphone is designed and suited for children with special needs or sensory issues. It is quite comfortable and can also be worn when lying down.

Pros:

  • Incredibly comfortable to wear, even during sleep.
  • Designed for children who have sensory issues.
  • Washable, durable, and lightweight.

Cons:

  • Not stretchable.

CozyPhones Paw Patrol Headband Headphone Review

Paw Patrol Kids Headphones by CozyPhones - Volume Limited with Ultra-Thin Speakers & Comfortable Soft Fleece Headband - Perfect Children's Earphones for School, Home and Travel – CHASE Another CozyPhone headphone, this time with aesthetics designed for animal lovers. It also uses stretchy fabric headband this time around which significantly improves overall comfort. The drivers are stitched into the headband and are installed directly over the ear area.

When it comes to the design, the Paw Patrol headphone is definitely livelier and perfect for toddlers. I did find the headband to be quite warm after half an hour of wearing them which might make this uncomfortable to wear for children during hot summer days.

The sound quality of the speakers is above the recommended 85dB as they regularly hit the 95dB during my tests. This makes me doubt whether this one can be perfectly safe for children. You can circumvent this issue by simply keeping the volume level on your device at mid-level.

Key Features:

  • Nickelodeon-inspired, fun, and kid-friendly design.
  • Comfortable, lightweight, and washable headband fabric.
  • 36-inch durable braided cord.

Our Rating:

  • Sound Quality: 8/10
  • Bass: 7/10
  • Build Quality/Design: 9/10
  • Fit/Comfort: 9.5/10
  • Battery Life: n/a
  • Connectivity (Bluetooth stability): n/a

Who would this be good for?

CozyPhone headphones are designed to deliver maximum comfort for children while keeping music volume at a relatively safe level. This is a Nickelodeon-inspired headphone and is designed for children with sensory issues and special needs. It is also a good choice for children who wish to listen to their music during sleep.

Pros:

  • Durable and comfortable fabric material.
  • Can be worn even when lying down.

Cons:

  • Volume limiter is set to 90dB which is slightly above the recommended safe level.
  • Speakers tend to move around inside of the headband. You will need to readjust it if that happens.

Buying Guide for Kids Headphones & Earbuds 

Earbuds for kids have been on the market for years from many reputable audio makers such as Etymotic Research and Logitech, because they realize the potential hearing risks associated with children listening at high volumes. More recently companies like Puro Sound Labs have come out with quality options and given parents and kids a lot more safe listening choices.

While many kids seem to prefer the comfort of earbuds since over ear or on-ear headphones can get hot and uncomfortable due to the bulky padding. Apart from that, on-ear headphones are heavier and not as easy to carry around or fit in backpacks.

However there pros and cons to each. Some adults and kids just don’t like the feel of an earbud jammed up in their ear canal and prefer an on-ear or over-ear headphones.

Kids have are experiencing an increase in time spent using technology whether it is for school or entertainment. No matter what the reason for use is, kids today are being exposed to high volume levels.

If you are looking for safe earbuds or in-ear earphones for your child, we’ve reviewed the top selling earbuds for kids and come up with the following short list of safer options. The main feature we were looking for was a quality volume limiting function. After that was comfort (especially for smaller ears) and durability, since we know that kids gear just gets more abused and exposed to more wear and tear. Apart from that, sound quality was definitely a priority criteria for rating.

Portable devices are engineered in a way that generates high power output to the headphones, therefore regular headphones can sound louder than 85 decibels. This noise level is dangerous to a child’s ear drums and can cause harmful effects.

How To Keep Your Kids From Potential Hearing Damage

  • Open design earbuds don’t isolate noise well, so if you kids use this type of headphones they may have to crank up the volume to hear the sound clearly which can be very dangerous. This type included with the purchase of a many smartphones.
  • Tell your kids they should keep the volume down below 60% of the maximum level.
  • A good rule of thumb: If you can hear sound from their earbuds, the volume level could cause permanent hearing damage.
  • Limit the time kids are exposed to earbuds by not allowing them wear earbuds for more than 2 hours during the day and max 60 mins at a time.

Related posts: Potential risks with earbuds in ear headphones

 


Previous picks | Discontinued

4. Ultimate Ears for Children

Update: July 2018 | These have been discontinued by manufacturer

These budget earbuds for kids by Ultimate Ears do not isolate ambient noise as well as Etymotic Research ETY-Kids5, but they still work for limiting the loudness. They are comfortable, lightweight, and come with a nice transparent silicon carrying case and an array of eartips for kids’ ears. These kid-friendly earbuds are durable and come in colors your kids will surely like.

Adding a volume limiting feature to the Ultimate Ears doesn’t sacrifice audio performance. They sound clear and offer a good bass response. The treble is nice without distortion, which provides a balanced tone over all ranges.


5. JVC HAFR36B Marshmallow

Update: July 2018 | These have been discontinued by manufacturer

The Marshmallow earbuds are not for hearing protection, since they cannot limit the volume level like the four earbuds mentioned above. They are very small and suitable for kids ears with comfortable, soft ear-tips. If you choose to use these earbuds, or any earbuds without a maximum volume cap, remember to set and lock the volume level of the device that your children use. This are could still be a good option, for example if you have a volume limited device, these are a smaller profile and fit for petite ears.

 

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