Hearing protection isn’t something you take lightly. Young ears are sensitive and can be damaged easily. That damage could have life-long implications.
If your baby is exposed to loud activities, you should consider protecting their hearing, but even everyday activities can prove dangerous to a child’s developing ears (1).
While there are a wide variety of products out there, using our guide you should be able to find the best noise-cancelling headphones for your baby or kid.
Importance of Protecting Child’s Hearing
A child’s hearing is delicate; it’s all in miniature, which amplifies sound. What we might perceive as an acceptable level of noise, may be too harsh for little ears (2).
Excessive noise can damage fibers within the ear canal. If this happens, it will never recover — it’s irreversible. This could pose further hearing issues later on in life (3).
By limiting your child’s exposure to high levels of sound, noise-induced hearing loss is preventable.
When Is My Child Most Vulnerable?
There are some activities where your child is more likely to experience damaging volume levels. These include:
- Sporting events: The loudest recorded crowd roar at a basketball game clocked 130.4 decibels (4).
- Airplane travel: The noisiest part of air travel happens during take-off — a jet plane hits 120 decibels (5).
- Using headphones: To protect the ears, keep levels between 60 and 85 decibels. Many headphones could go all the way to 110 decibels (6).
Putting this into perspective, damage to hearing begins at 85 decibels — and that doesn’t account for what takes place due to repeated exposure (7).
To give you an idea when noise could pose a problem, here are a few other situations where noise-canceling headphones could be of use:
- Outdoor recreational activities.
- Music events.
- Firework displays.
- Watching TV.
- Busy city traffic.
- Finally, blocking out background noise, to provide peace, quiet, and focus.
Choosing the Best Hearing Protection
There are a handful of factors you may wish to look for when shopping for hearing protection.
- Safety Certifications: If the ear protection is being sold with the NRR (Noise Reduction Rating) label, it’s been thoroughly tested and approved by ANSI (American National Standards Institute).
- Noise Reduction Rating: The NRR is used to indicate how much noise (in decibels) is cut out by wearing hearing protection. The higher the number, the more sound they should block out.
- Comfort: Kids won’t wear anything for long if it irritates them. Check for padded earphones and soft materials, for a comfortable fit.
- Adjustability: Every child is an individual; the ability to adjust noise-canceling headphones and provide a snug fit can be invaluable.
- Aesthetics: Whether it’s lime green or baby pink, there’s a design out there your child might be drawn to.
The Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones for Kids of 2020
Now that you know the basics, you’re probably anxious to pick out the perfect pair of noise-canceling headphones. Here are some of my favorites.
1. Baby Banz Earmuffs
Small children are not able to remove themselves from offensive noises, unlike their older siblings. They may also inadvertently turn up the volume loudly, or hold noisy items close to their ears. Size is a critical factor when looking for suitable ear protection for children. This can be challenging, as might be encouraging your child to wear it.
These are a great choice for an infant. The slim and lightweight design means there’s a lot less bulk for your little one to wear.
While moms have enough baby stuff to carry around, adding these to your diaper bag shouldn’t send you into meltdown. They’re compact enough to fit into the smallest of spaces.
This headset has multiple safety certifications, plus a generous NRR of 31 decibels. All you need to do is make sure the cups fit snugly, to provide safe ear protection.
The headband is made of soft feel material, the cups are cushioned and also allow plenty of room for growing ears. All of this provides a comfy fit, which might deter your child from removing them while they still need to be worn.
- No interference when sleeping.
- Parents report they provide a great fit, even for smaller than average babies.
- Moms love how the padded headband sits directly on the head and the cushioned ear cups fully cover the ears.
- Babies younger than 3 months may not be big enough to wear these.
2. Decibel Defense
Sporting events can be ear-popping experiences. If you want your child to avoid the volume, noise-canceling headphones allow you to keep cheering on your team. The ideal sporting event ear protectors will have a higher NRR. If you’re attending outdoor sports during cooler weather, don’t forget to factor in how a hat fits with the ear protection.
Offering a whopping NRR of 37 decibels, these earmuffs could be a great option if you like to watch sport live and ultra-loud.
They provide hearing protection suitable for all ages, even through to adulthood. The earmuffs can be adjusted to fit any head size, which is also particularly valuable if you’re sharing them.
The headband is wide and comfortable, making it well-suited to extended periods of wear. The ear cups are also padded for additional comfort.
I love that these are both practical and fun. They fold away for simple storage and carrying, yet come in vivid, flamboyant colors that your kids will go crazy over.
- High NRR for great protection.
- Adjustable and suitable for all ages.
- Safety standards certified.
- Users report these headphones are very comfortable and provide incredible quiet.
- Easily worn with glasses.
- Some feel these headphones are great for high-frequency noise, but not so good for low-frequency sound.
3. Muted Designer Hearing Protection
Sensory needs and sensitivities can be difficult to work with. You may be looking to protect your child from everyday overload while also providing them with something they won’t object to. Look for ear protectors that minimize the assault of outside noises, yet give them the opportunity to enjoy everyday experiences.
These come in a variety of trendy patterns, including flamingoes and airplanes. In addition to the cute designs, it’s important to have something that’s comfortable; after all, your child may spend hours every day wearing them. These earmuffs come with a padded headband and soft ear cups.
Children with autism are often gifted with exceptional hearing. However, that gift can bring incredible sensitivity.
For many children with autism, the daily exposure to regular life can be overwhelming. If your child wears earmuffs to prevent sensory overload, you’ll want them to have something they look forward to wearing.
Besides being comfortable, these are safety certified and meet ANSI requirements. An NRR of 27 decibels means they should reduce the external buzz, while still allowing your child to hear and take part in what’s going on around them.
These earmuffs are highly adjustable — they’re perfect for your toddler, but can be used all the way through the teen years. This is another great feature for a child with autism, as change might be difficult.
They collapse for easy travel and packing. Your child shouldn’t have to miss out on fun and special experiences anymore, due to their sensitivity to sound.
- The padded headband and soft ear cups are designed with comfort in mind.
- Lightweight — users report they’re great for extended wearing.
- Great for daily use, as well as noise-level reduction at events.
- Tough and durable construction that can hold up to everyday use.
- Some users report they’re difficult to put on quickly, due to the headband tension.
- Some found the earmuffs were on the small side for older children.
4. HearTek Kids Earmuffs
I wish I could always pick up top of the range gear for my kids without batting an eye at the price tag. I know there are people who can — I’m just not one of them. The good news is safety doesn’t need to hinge on money alone. Even when working within a budget, you can provide your child with all the safety they deserve.
These are a great option if you’re looking to spend only a little while still getting a quality product. The HearTek earmuffs come in a variety of colors and patterns to suit your child’s preferences.
Comfort factor has been considered, with mounted ear cups helping to distribute the weight and pressure of the earmuffs evenly. They’re also padded, which is great for longer periods of wear. The cups are self-adjusting and give a great seal for protecting ears.
One of my absolute favorite features is that they collapse for easy packing. You’re usually out and about when you want ear protection, and this feature should make traveling convenient. They even come with their own bag.
The level of protection strikes a great balance between protecting hearing while still being able to hear everything that’s happening. If you’ve been waiting to try ear-protection muffs because you’re afraid you (or your child) will miss out, that’s not the case with these.
They’re perfect for loud activities like sporting events and parades, boast an NRR of 27 decibels, and are certified ANSI S3.19. These earmuffs are also made in the United States by a family-owned business, which I’m always happy to support.
- Comfortable and attractive.
- Easy to travel with.
- Safety tested and approved.
- Unable to adjust the width.
5. MPOW Kids Headphones
Technology can be invaluable when contributing to the development of our children, and iPads are a great way to get kids learning under the guise of fun. If you’re searching for a pair of ear protectors for your child’s iPad, you’ll need a set that’s durable and ready to be used while on the go.
These ones from MPOW are fun and attractive for your child but also offer volume capping, at a safer level of 85 decibels. You shouldn’t need to worry about your kids pumping up the volume louder than they ought to.
This headset is the on-ear type and also wired, however, the cables are sturdy and made to withstand the abuse they might experience in the hands of a child. They’re durable, and have been designed to bend and twist.
If you have children fighting over the use of the iPad, the shared audio jack should put an end to any arguments. Volume control is also easily accessible and simple to use. They can watch their favorite show together while you grab some precious quiet time.
Compatibility is another plus. They’re geared to work with a wide variety of tech platforms, including cell phones, tablets, and computers.
- FCC-approved volume control.
- 18-month, worry-free guarantee.
- Made with food grade materials.
- Sizes run smaller than average.
- Limited color options.
6. Fnova Earmuffs
When children grow up, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll make better choices. Kids watching TV, or playing video games, are still susceptible to noise-induced hearing loss. Aside from looks — your older child will want a “cool” set of ear protectors — you’ll want to find a set that should keep up with your growing child’s activities.
They’re professional grade and boast an NRR of 34 decibels. This level of protection could be a good choice for preteens heading to their first concert and standing way too close to the speakers.
The colored accent on the ear cups is just enough to add a little personality. Teenagers who usually cringe at something that makes them feel like a baby may find these trendy.
As for performance, they’re solidly constructed, with two layers of noise-dampening foam and a hard plastic outer shell.
These earmuffs are adjustable and can easily fit a growing child. They’ll expand all the way to adult size. Swivel cups and a padded headband should spare you getting your head squeezed.
They’re collapsible and portable, plus tough and built with the intention of going the distance. The 60-day warranty means you should have time to put them through their paces.
- High NRR.
- Built to be long-lasting and to withstand serious use.
- Additional ear plugs (included) are required to gain the full NRR of 34 decibels.
- Users have said they don’t offer a good fit on above-average sized heads.
7. Vanderfields Earmuffs
Air travel is a challenge with small children. It might take everything you have just to get from check-in to your seat on the plane without losing anything — including your mind. When shopping for a travel pair of ear protectors, look for something that’s easy to pack and comfortable to wear — especially for sleep.
These earmuffs are great for traveling since they’re so lightweight and compact. With today’s airlines, where space is at a premium and carry on items are limited, features like this could make all the difference in departures.
With an NRR of 26 decibels, they should reduce noise levels enough for your child not to be disturbed while sleeping.
The ear cups are padded to allow hours of wear, and adjustable for a closer fit. The lined headband should also add to comfort levels, even while resting on an airplane.
They can be used by children, teens, as well as smaller adults, and the variety of funky colors should also be a hit with the kids.
What I really like about them is that they dampen noise enough to take the edge off, yet they don’t block out sound completely. This means my child should still be able to hear me when I speak to them. Whether they actually listen or not is debatable!
- Light duty hearing protection.
- Attractive and fun.
- 90-day money-back guarantee.
- A few moms felt they weren’t a good fit for larger heads.
All of the above products can provide the hearing protection your child needs. But if I had to select just one for my child, I would want something that could take us from early childhood into the teenage years. With this in mind, my pick for the best headphones for hearing protection is the Fnova earmuffs.
They’re stylish enough to suit even the pickiest teen. The NRR of 34 decibels means they’ll remain effective throughout the loudest activities. Built with durability in mind, this is a solid choice.
Your hearing has to last you a lifetime. We owe it to our children to provide the safest childhood experience they can have — and that includes protecting their hearing.
Do you have a hearing protection system in place for your baby? Or have you had a great experience with something we’ve missed here? We’d love to hear about it. Drop us a comment below.