Note: This is one of my most popular blog posts of all time, and I update it regularly.
This is a portrait Sabrina recently drew of Max wearing his headphones. They've become as essential to Max's wardrobe as shirts and shoes. As in, he won't leave home without 'em.
I get emails asking what kind of headphones Max wears. They're the noise-reducing Howard Leight Leightning Folding Earmuff. They run $16, with a Noise Reduction Rating of 28 (the highest rating for earmuffs is 31). But they're kind of priceless because they've been an incredible help to him and our family, too. He's more comfortable venturing to new places like museums and restaurants, and less likely to melt down. Like others on this page, they're adjustable. There's also this $8 version, which has a Noise Reduction Rating of 25. They don't completely block out noise (none of the ones listed here do).
We've never gotten the noise-blocking kind of headphones, as we want Max to be able to hear some sounds. But all of the noise-reducing ones here are pretty effective, and if you're flying, they can block out engine noise.
Snug Safe n Sound Kids Earmuffs come in a wide variety of colors and, at $15, are a good deal. (Noise reduction rating: 25). They fold up really small, plus they have a five-year guarantee. They seem to best fit kids under age 6. Lots of wins here!
I know a bunch of parents who like Baby Banz Hearing Protection Earmuffs for kids ages 2 to 10 ($26; Noise Reduction Rating: 21). They look cool and muffle loud noise without shutting out all other sounds. Also available for kids ages 0 to 2: Baby Banz Infant Hearing Protecting Earmuffs.
The Califone Hearing Safe Hearing Protector earmuffs for toddlers to tweens (noise reduction rating: 25) may be a bit cheaply made, but at a mere $8, you can keep them as a spare in the car should you (gasp!) leave the house without your child's usual trusty pair.
The new HearTek Kids Earmuffs Hearing Protection, which come with a travel bag, also get props from parents. Noise reduction rating: 27; cost: 15. They're comfy, and fit well—although a wee bit on the tight side.
We use these Skullcandy headphones, $22, to plug into Max's iPad—they're not noise-reducing, they're just for listening to videos and music. But we limit their usage because he could happily spend hours watching Disney Cruise videos on YouTube.
The first headphones Max ever got were the 3M Peltor Junior Earmuff (Noise Reduction Rating: 25); they worked well but over time the wire got bent out of shape so we decided to try other ones. They're from a dependable brand, come in three colors and are good for juniors ages 13 and up and young adults (Max, however, was wearing them when he was around 9 and he has a small head)!
Max still gets wary at the sight of crowds, but the noise-blocking earmuffs are amazingly comforting. It's not just that they block noise; he's comforted by the slight pressure on his ears. In fact, they've given him so much confidence that sometimes he takes them off when we're out.