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Emily Platt
Associate Editor

The Best Baby Headphones to Protect Your Little One's Ears

Hear from an expert why baby ear protection is so important, plus what to look for when shopping for infant headphones.

You strive to keep baby safe and sound, whether they're resting in their nursery, seated in the car or crawling around at home. But there's one important measure you might be forgetting: investing in infant ear protection. Baby headphones shield children from disruptive and harmful noise, which is more prevalent than you think. Keep reading to learn all about infant headphones, straight from an audiologist, and which are our picks for the best baby headphones out there.

In this article:
Why do infants need baby headphones?
When should infants wear baby headphones?
The best baby headphones

Why Do Infants Need Baby Headphones?

"Children are more sensitive to loud sounds than adults are, so headphones can keep your child comfortable, but they can also help protect children from noise-induced hearing loss," says Michelle Neidleman Kennedy, AUD, an audiologist and clinical assistant professor in the department of otolaryngology at NYU Langone Health in New York City. The best baby headphones work by reducing noise, which not only prevents ear damage but can even "allow baby to sleep while in a loud environment, so they won't miss a nap or be overwhelmed by the sounds," Neidleman Kennedy says.

When Should Infants Wear Baby Headphones?

Any noise above 85 dBA (a measure of loudness) poses a risk to baby's health and calls for baby headphones. "Noise-induced hearing loss can occur after only a few minutes without hearing protection," Neidleman Kennedy says. For that matter, you should consider getting ear plugs for yourself, while you're at it. "If your child needs to wear headphones, it's also too loud for you or your older children, so consider wearing noise protection as well," Neidleman Kennedy says. "Adults can use foam ear plugs or get custom noise plugs that are conformed to their ears." There are several common environments that are usually super-noisy. The average sporting event, for example, can be 105 dBA or higher. Other potentially dangerous environments include (but aren't limited to):

  • Large events like weddings, concerts and parades
  • Busy environments like restaurants
  • Public transportation like airplanes and subways

Unsure if a place is too loud for baby's ears? Neidleman Kennedy recommends downloading a sound level meter app for guidance; Decibel X is free, highly-rated and available on iOS and Android devices. When in doubt, play it safe and opt for ear protection.

The Best Baby Headphones

Ready to buy baby ear protection? The best baby headphones have a few key features you’ll want to keep an eye out for. "Parents should look for headphones that can be adjusted to fit comfortably and snugly over their child’s ears and head," Neidleman Kennedy says. In addition, "there are noise reduction rating levels on headphones, which reflect how much the headphones are lowering the noise level. The higher the number, the more noise reduction. Parents should select headphones with an NRR rating of close to 30 dB." Last but not least, stick to earmuff-style headphones and save earplugs for adults. Here, five baby ear protection products that fit the bill.

Photo: Courtesy Baby Banz

Baby Banz Earmuffs Infant Hearing Protection

Neidleman Kennedy likes Baby Banz headphones because of their noise reduction rating, their padding, their price and the color options. These infant headphones offer an NRR of 31 dB and are available in a wide range of solid shades and prints.

Age: 0 to 2 years old
Buy it: $25, Amazon.com

Photo: Courtesy Ems for Kids

Ems for Kids Earmuffs

Neidleman Kennedy also recommends Ems baby headphones for similar reasons. These baby earmuffs are lightweight but durable, fold up nicely and claim an average dB reduction of 21.

Age: 6 months+
Buy it: $26, Amazon.com

Photo: Courtesy Ems for Kids

Ems for Kids Bubs Hearing and Noise Protection Baby Earmuffs

Ems for Kids also makes baby headphones with stretchy fabric in lieu of a classic padded headband. These infant headphones have an NRR rating of 22 dB and are billed as the world's smallest hearing protection earmuffs, perfect for young babies. Bonus: Like Baby Banz, the bands comes in cute colors and prints.

Age: 0 to 18 months
Buy it: Starting from $28, Amazon.com

Photo: Courtesy Little Llama

Little Llama Baby Hearing Protection Earmuffs

Searching for more affordable infant ear protection? Try these adorable baby headphones. They come in pink or blue, are adjustable to ensure they're snug but not too tight and offer an impressive NRR of 28.7 dB. Plus, their great rating on Amazon proves other parents love them.

Age: 6 months to 4 years old
Buy it: $14, Amazon.com

Photo: Courtesy Toennesen

Toennesen Baby Ear Protection Reduction Earmuffs

These baby headphones tout an NRR of a whopping 34 dB. They also come in three versatile colors: blue, pink and silver. They're compact for convenience, cushioned for comfort and will grow with your child for over a decade.

Age: 1 month to 12 years old
Buy it: $16, Amazon.com

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, some of which may be sponsored by paying vendors.

Published February 2019

Plus, more from The Bump:

7 Tips to Get Baby to Sleep While on the Go

How to Survive Your First Outing with Baby

Ear Problems in Babies

PHOTO: Lesley Mango