If you are looking for a Christmas gift for your child between the ages of 3 and 12, we have a great proposal for you today. It’s the Yoto Player or Yoto Mini, which is a portable audio player without a screen.
The Yoto Player and Yoto Mini are similar to modern-day Walkmans. When you insert a card into your device instead of a CD, you can play stories, music, podcasts, and activities like yoga or baking. You can choose between his two devices: the original “Player” and the new “Mini”. As you might imagine, they are very similar, but the mini is a smaller, more portable version. Today I’m reviewing the Yoto Mini, but much of what I’m talking about applies to both devices.
Both Yoto players are award-winning devices inspired by Montesori parenting.
My kids have been using the Yoto Mini for just over a month and they love it. My kids are 7, 6, and 3 and they all love using it.
- My daughter Alba (3 years old) loves nursery rhymes and Peppa Pig stories.
- Joseph (age 6) likes listening to fun, factual stories to learn about dinosaurs, animals, space, and more.
- George (age 7) listens to podcasts every day and loves Marvel and Star Wars stories.
it’s rare that I have a toy that all three of my kids enjoy using. As well as being fun, many of the cards are educational and are an attractive screen-less device that allows you to skip the iPad.
A similar device is the Toniebox. I also reviewed: Toniebox review
There are over 700 cards to choose from on your Yoto device. In addition to history and nature, there are also cards to help young children learn about math, language, phonics, and more. There are also cards to help get your child to bed and get them moving, as well as a topical children’s podcast discussing weekly headlines from around the world.
The card is the same size as a credit card and is easy to insert into your device and start playing. It’s easy for even young children to select and change cards, and choosing what to listen to is a fun and visual activity. You can listen to the card through your device’s speakers or plugged-in headphones.
There are kid-friendly buttons to increase the volume (the speakers are surprisingly good for such a small device!) and to skip forward or backward through content. It also has Bluetooth so you can connect it to your phone and use it as a speaker for music and content on your phone.
You can also connect Yoto Player to an app on your parent’s phone or tablet and control the device from there. In fact, you can save all the Story Cards you have within the app and play them directly from the app, so leaving home without your child’s favorite stories won’t be a disaster!
Distraction-free (and screen-free!) audio
What I love about the Yoto device is that there are no distractions at all.
There are other devices that play audio for kids, such as cell phones, tablets, and handheld game consoles, but they also have a myriad of other features that keep kids hooked and turn them into screen zombies.
i’m not at all against kids having access to tablets, but at least in our house we need to make sure we monitor screen time or they’ll end up sitting and playing on their iPads all day long. If I leave my kids to listen to audiobooks on their iPads, they’ll definitely get distracted and end up playing games or watching YouTube. We also like to avoid screens at bedtime, so listening to audio can be a great alternative on those nights when you’re not quite ready to fall asleep.
The Yoto player does nothing except play your audio card. And since they’re cards you’ve already purchased for your kids, there’s no risk of you going out and coming back to find your kids listening to something inappropriate!
WiFi free audio!
Another big advantage of Yoto Mini is that it doesn’t require Wi-Fi to use. Wi-Fi is required for initial setup and the first time you play with your new card, but is not required after that.
The Yoto Mini
I chose the Yoto Mini because it’s small, portable, and travel-friendly. The price is also very affordable at £59.99 and the battery life is amazingly long at 20 hours!
Would you buy a Yoto Mini or a Yoto Player?
I will 100% buy Yoto Mini. The audio quality is great and the small size makes it easy to use at home or on the go.
The larger Yoto player has some additional features, including:
- night light
- Magnetic dock for easy charging
But since most kids probably already have a night light, I think the portability of the Yoto Mini makes it a better option.
I’m really impressed with the variety of audio cards available and love that they include activities and learning as well as stories. I ordered baking cards to make rainbow biscuits. It’s narrated by Great British Bake Off winner John White, so I’m looking forward to letting my eldest son try it. I’ll let you know how it goes!
Some cards look quite expensive, while others seem like a bargain. The price of the cards doesn’t seem too bad when you’re buying one or two, but they get expensive when you stack them up.
You can join Yoto Club for £9.99 a month, or £8.25 a month if you pay annually, and get two new cards every month, plus 10% off on additional cards. This is actually very good value. I pay a monthly subscription to Audible (Amazon’s audiobook service) for my adult audiobooks, and I pay £7.99 a month. That way you get one book a month, so I feel like £9.99 a month for two children’s books is reasonable.
Make your own card
A very nice card feature is “Create your own card” which allows you to record your own audio and save it to the card. I haven’t actually done this yet, but I imagine it would be nice if a loved one could record a bedtime story.
Yoto cards to encourage independent reading
If you want to encourage your child to read independently, we recommend purchasing Yoto cards for books they already own. I ordered a Roald Dahl card and a Julia Donaldson card. This will be a Christmas present for my sons, so they can read it along with the audio.
For now, I’m just singing and dancing for Alba alone!
Are the Yoto Accessories worth buying?
Yoto has a mini travel case and a mini adventure jacket. Both are really nice accessories. The jacket is a nice colored silicone jacket that is non-slip and protects your device. It’s high quality, protects your device, and keeps all your cards neatly organized in a travel case.
I like accessories, but they’re not absolutely necessary. I found the Yoto Mini Travel Case to be actually larger than I needed it to be. Smaller non-Yoto branded cases are also available on Amazon, like the ones below…
The Yoto Mini is of high quality and can handle some bumps and drops without the help of an adventure jacket. However, the jackets come in a variety of colors, so they look great and help kids customize and identify their devices.
You need to think about where you will store your cards. The card pouch can hold 20 cards, but without the travel case, you’ll probably lose your cards!
Yoto Mini Review: Our overall thoughts
I was really impressed with Yoto Mini and the huge selection of cards available there.
I’ve found it to be perfect for long journeys by car, train, bus, plane, etc., or when the kids are bored while waiting.
I love that there is an incredible variety of cards, and many of them are both fun and educational.
If your child already uses a tablet, you might not be particularly excited about an audio device like this. We have a very high-tech house (I’m a nerd), so my kids have access to a lot of devices, but when given the option to play with anything, the Yoto Mini isn’t the device they would choose.
That being said, sometimes you don’t have a choice. We don’t allow screens before bedtime, and we don’t have screens in the car because our two kids get car sick.
The Yoto Mini is very convenient for my second daughter Alba, who often has to wait in the car for long periods of time during school runs. Her older sons come from school at different times, so she often waits for them in the car, which is perfect for that situation. She sometimes asks to bring her iPad to school, but because there’s no Wi-Fi, she can’t use it right away and gets frustrated. And I don’t really like her walking around the schoolyard with her 400 pound device!
I love this toy because all three of my kids can use it. Sure, this can be difficult if everyone wants to use it at the same time and listen to different things, but it’s nice to have a toy that actually gets used a lot and isn’t just gathering dust in a corner is a good thing.
How does the Yoto Mini compare to a Toniebox?
There’s also the Toniebox, which rivals the larger Yoto players.
Read more: Honest Toniebox Review
Toniebox is similar, but instead of cards, you place small toy characters on top of the box and play audio. Kids love these little characters, so they’re a nice novelty for younger kids, but there aren’t many Tonys for older kids.
I think the biggest difference between Yoto Player and Toniebox is that Yoto cards offer more variety and are better suited for older kids.
Tony (which is the name of the toy figure that stores the audio) is an adorable and fun toy, but the story is best suited for younger children.
If you’re buying for a child over 4-5 years old, I think you’ll choose Yoto Player, but if you’re buying for a baby or toddler, Toniebox will be more interesting.
Is the Yoto Mini or a Toniebox better than a smartspeaker like an Alexa or Google Nest?
Sometimes in my mind I wonder if I need a smart speaker for my kids when I already have things like Alexa and Google Nest in my house?
In fact, there are Echo Dots around the house (they’re great and cost just £17!) If you have an Amazon smart speaker, you can play audiobooks via Audible. It’s also a little cheaper if you’re an Audible member. Rather than buying Tony’s or Yoto cards. You can also use the Audible app on any device (like your phone or tablet) to take it on the go.
We’ve been using Alexa to play stories for years. If you’re in the car, stream the story from your car’s speakers through the Audible app on your phone. This means we’re all hearing the same thing, which usually doesn’t matter.
There are also drawbacks to using Alexa. It is not portable and must be plugged into an electrical outlet. It also needs to be connected to WiFi, so it can only be used at home. Also, since the kids can’t see the audiobooks we download (no physical cards or toy Tony), they forget what we have and wear something on their own. I realized that I can’t do it. They can look at my phone and see what I bought, but that doesn’t mean I let my kids have my phone and they can play games or watch YouTube on my phone. Back to the topic of wanting to do something!
Why buy a Yoto Mini?
If you want to avoid screen time for your kids, the Yoto Mini is great and I 100% recommend it.
If you want to listen to audiobooks that are fun, creative, engaging, and educational, that’s great. There is a surprising variety of cards available.
if you’re very relaxed about screen time and don’t mind your kids playing on their iPads, game consoles, or tablets, listen to Yoto Cards rather than watch YouTube or play Mario Kart. It’s probably hard to convince kids.
If you’re on a budget, choose an Amazon smart speaker and an Audible subscription for cheaper audiobook listening. Smart speakers also don’t go away as you grow up, you just use them in different ways as you grow up.
If you’re buying for a baby or toddler, the Tonibox is a better option, as the Tony makes it more appealing to young children.