For my fellow mom friends out there searching for “screen-free” toddler entertainment, you may have come across two storytelling devices, The Toniebox and the Yoto Player. These (somewhat similar) devices are essentially box speakers that play audio books, music, and more and are simple enough for a toddler to control on their own.
I’d seen the Toniebox and Yoto Player pop up across mom blogs and kid-focused Instagram accounts for the past few months and was pretty intrigued. I’m no stranger to screen time for my toddler. Sometimes, you need to plop your kid in front of the TV to get some things done, and there’s no shame in that. However, when my 2-year-old started chanting “I want a show!” on a regular basis, I started to brainstorm other ways to occupy her time.
And that’s what brought me to Tonies and Yotos. Parents raved about these devices and how their kids gravitated toward them over television shows (seemed impossible to me!). But I was ready to give it a try. It was hard to decide which one to get. On the surface, they seem extremely similar and are both priced at $99.99.
If you’re on the fence about adding one of these toys to your home library of activities or can’t decide which one to get, here we’ll break down the unique attributes of each device, plus the one I ultimately decided to get.
Cost Comparison: Tonies vs. Yoto
I already mentioned the starting price is exactly the same at $99.99. However, you can’t only buy the device, you will also need to buy Tonies (action figures that play the content) for The Toniebox or Yoto Cards (which are what plays content on a Yoto player). And here’s where the big price difference comes in.
We’ll start with Tonies, as it’s very simple—they are all the same price at $14.99. It doesn’t matter what content is on the Tonie; they are all $14.99. There are a variety of Tonies and they play things like songs, stories, and more. The run time of each Tonie ranges from 16 minutes to 50 minutes. The only Tonie that is less than $14.99 are the Creative-Tonies, which are $11.99 and do not contain any content—you record it yourself (90 minutes of recording time).
Yoto Cards have a much wider range of cost and run time. Yoto Cards start at around $5.99, with many around the $10 mark. You can also buy sets of cards for $30+. Run time ranges hugely, with some cards containing 10 minutes of content and others with over four hours of content! And for comparison’s sake, you can also buy blank Yoto Cards to record yourself for the price of $19.99 for a pack of 10 (100 hours max of recording time per card—I can’t even wrap my head around how much content that is).
As far as bang for your buck goes when it comes to content, Yoto is the big winner. You will spend less on cards and get far more content.
Types of Content
Both devices offer a wide variety of content types, including songs, stories, things like mindfulness practices, and more. If your child has a particular interest, they will probably be able to find something they love on each. As the mom to a Disney princess-loving toddler, I quickly discovered both have Frozen content.
Tonies come in five different categories: education (things like National Geographic Kids: Penguins), mindfulness, nap time, songs, and stories. The biggest offerings are with songs and stories, while the other categories feel a bit limited (like only two offerings in the mindfulness category).
Yoto Cards are available for all types of stories (including classics, pre-school favorites, seasonal stories, and more), a wide range of music, podcasts, radio, sound effects, activities (like learning words in different languages, math, letters and sounds, mindfulness, and movement.), and make-your-own cards, where you can record your own content. It truly does feel like the content offerings are endless and there are plenty of cards appropriate for toddlers and much older kids as well.
In terms of variety, I would say Yoto is the winner in this category.
Ease of Use and Enjoyment
While neither player is particularly challenging, they are different in how they are used. For the Toniebox, you simply put the toy on top of the player. The volume button is easy to use as well.
For the Yoto Player, you insert a card in the top. There’s also a volume button and a matching button that allows you to fast forward through chapters or go back. It can be a bit challenging for little kids to know which of these buttons are used for what. The Yoto Player has a few more offerings than what the Toniebox has. The Yoto Player does have a screen that shows static images (though I’d still consider it a “screen-free” device), has a clock, can be used as a night light, and even offers a white noise setting.
Both devices are well-made for little hands, but the Toniebox wins in terms of fun and ease of use thanks to the characters. The cards with the Yoto Player simply aren’t as fun as a Frozen or Sesame Street figurine. With fewer bells and whistles, the Toniebox is a bit easier for younger kids to navigate.
Longevity of the Player
I can’t personally speak to the durability of the devices but do believe they both have a long lifespan in terms of quality. I recommend adding the Adventure Jacket to the Yoto Player if you have a not-so-gentle child. The Toniebox is already padded.
It’s also hard to know exactly how long your child will want to use the device for. All kids and their preferences are different, of course. Both devices are geared toward children 3 years and up.
After closely reviewing the offerings of each device, my guess is that the Yoto Player is likely to entertain your children for more years overall when compared with the Toniebox. There are only five available Tonies in the 6+ age category, whereas Yoto has over 100 cards available in the 8-12 age category. Because the Yoto Player has more cards and more activities available with much more content geared toward older children, Yoto wins in this category.
So, Which Player Should You Get? (Plus My Personal Experience)
It’s hard to say which one is “better” and it really depends on the interests and attention span of your children. If you’re looking for something with cute little figurines that a toddler would love, you might want the Toniebox. If you prefer more content that will grow with your child (at a better price point), the Yoto Player may be best for you.
We have the Yoto Player and I’m happy with our choice. The attention span of my toddler is a bit limited at the moment, so we don’t typically get through a ton of content before she’s off and running to another activity. However, I think when she’s a bit older, she’s really going to use it a lot and love it. I’m also glad I have the Yoto Player because there are lots of cards that fit her budding interests and I’d be a little disappointed with the Tonies to spend $14.99 for each Tonie when there isn’t a ton of listening time offered with each character. In terms of offerings and the amount of time we’ll spend using the device over the coming years, the Yoto was the right choice for us.
Whichever player you choose, you’re likely to have lots of fun with the content and it really is a great screen-free way to keep kids entertained when mama needs a break.
Shop Both Tonies and Yoto