Yoto player on a child's desk

The Yoto player and the Toniebox audio player are both popular music systems for children. So, which one is a better choice for your family: Yoto vs. Tonie? Read on to discover the main differences between the Yoto player and the Toniebox audio player.

Earlier this year l was searching for a music system for my little ones. I wanted something screen-free that allowed them to play music and listen to audiobooks independently. Up until this point, my children had been using a music CD player. While it was great for independence with music, it didn’t work as well with audiobooks and lacked many of the features available with newer music systems now.

music cd player in a child's Montessori schoolroom

Ultimately, my search for the best music system for little ones came down to two options: Yoto vs. Tonie. If you’re in the same position, here’s a quick breakdown of each of their features, followed by a side-by-side comparison, and which one we eventually chose for our family.

What is the Yoto Player?

The Yoto player is a portable card-based music system for children. Its child-friendly design includes programmable audio cards, a family-friendly radio station and podcast, and an okay-to-wake nightlight and clock. With just two buttons, children are able to quickly learn how to control the volume, switch tracks, listen to the daily podcast, and play the radio. The Yoto player’s charging station includes a magnetic base so little ones can independently recharge the Yoto on their own.

Yoto player sitting on a child's desk, with the nightlight on.

The silicone adventure jacket, sold separately, is available to help protect the Yoto player from accidental bumps and dings. Available in 7 different colors, it’s easy for you to outfit your child’s Yoto in their favorite color.

Yoto Player Features

  • Yoto Cards, featuring stories, music, and activities
  • Yoto Daily podcast
  • Child-friendly radio station
  • “Make Your Own” Yoto cards
  • Nightlight
  • OK-to-Wake Clock

Yoto Player Age Range

The Yoto player is recommended for children ages 3 and older. While it is appropriate for children younger than 3, but they may need more assistance in operating the Yoto player.

Yoto Story Cards

Reminiscent of cassette tapes, Yoto cards are available for stories, music, and activities. You can purchase Yoto cards from the Yoto Card Store, which allows you to filter and sort cards by content type, recommended age, and audio length. To save money on card purchases, Yoto offers bundle sets as well as a monthly subscription service called Yoto Club, which allows you to choose two cards per month and also grants you a 10% discount on all products and free shipping.

Yoto story cards and music cards in the Yoto card case

What is Yoto Daily?

Yoto Daily is a podcast for children. Each day it features a little snippet of news or a fun fact and oftentimes a little game to play. Both my children enjoy listening to Yoto Daily shortly after they wake in the mornings.

Yoto Mini

Yoto Mini is a miniature version of the Yoto player. It has all the same audio functionality the full-size Yoto does, but the Yoto Mini does not have a nightlight nor does it have a charging station. Instead, the Yoto Mini includes a USB power cord that parents can use to charge the device when needed.

We gifted our nephew a Yoto Mini for his 5th birthday, and its small size is absolutely adorable. Without reservation, I’d 100% recommend a Yoto Mini for your family if you’re on-the-go a lot. In fact, it’s also a little more affordable as well, starting at $69.99.

Yoto Accessories

Yoto offers several accessories for its classic audio player and the Yoto Mini, including the following:

  • The silicone adventure jacket carrier is offered in 7 different colors and will help protect your Yoto player from damage. Adventure jackets are available for both the Yoto Player and the Yoto Mini.
  • Both a card case and a card pouch make for easy Yoto card storage. The Yoto card case holds up to 64 cards, all arranged in a way that makes it easy for little ones to find the card they’re looking for. The Yoto card pouch holds 20 cards, but its small size and “pack-ability” make it a great travel accessory for any young Yoto fans.
  • Card magnets are a fun way for children to display their favorite Yoto cards, provided you have a magnetic surface readily available (refrigerator, SVENSÅS Memo board, magnetic white board, etc.)

What is the Toniebox Audio Player?

Like Yoto, the Toniebox is another portable music system designed for little ones. Rather than cards, the Toniebox offers small character figurines called Tonies that play music or stories. Its child-friendly features include a button-free design and a water-repellent fabric covering to help protect against damage.

Since it has no buttons, operating the Toniebox is definitely a more kinesthetic activity compared to the Yoto player. Bending the ears adjusts the player’s volume, tapping the side of the fabric cube moves between songs and chapters, and tilting the Toniebox allows you to fast forward or rewind.

Toniebox Features

  • Tonies, featuring audiobooks and music
  • “Create Your Own” Tonies
  • Six fun colors to choose from, with headphones to match
  • Button-free design for little ones
  • Water-repellent fabric covering

Toniebox Audio Player Age Range

The Toniebox audio player is recommended for children ages 3 and older. However, children under the age of 3 can also enjoy the Tonies with proper adult supervision according to their website.

Tonies

Tonies are small figurines used to play music and stories. You may purchase Tonies on the official Toniebox website. Little ones will enjoy incorporating the Tonies in other forms of play, so you’ll definitely need to keep track of them. Otherwise, you may end up with a few missing Tonies here and there. The average price for a content Tonie is $14.99, which is more expensive than an equivalent Yoto card. Creative Tonies are $11.99, compared to a bundle of 5 “Make Your Own” Yoto cards for just $14.99.

Creative Tonies are available for any families wishing to record their own custom audio, although it is limited to 90 minutes in length. By comparison, this is significantly smaller than what’s available through “Make Your Own” Yoto cards.

Toniebox Accessories

Toniebox offers the following accessories:

  • Creative Tonies allow you to record up to 90 minutes of your own content. Record yourself reading a favorite bedtime story, grandparents singing your child’s favorite lullabies, or you could even get your children to create and record their very own original story.
  • The Toniebox is available in 6 different colorways, and each color has a matching set of headphones you’re able to purchase for quiet times.
  • In order to facilitate portability, Toniebox offers several carrying cases, including character bags.

Yoto vs. Tonie: A Side-by-Side Comparison

Yoto

Tonie

  • Cost: Starts at $99.99
  • Recommended Age: 3+
  • Audio Method: Yoto cards
  • Battery Life: 6-10 hours
  • Create Your Own: Yes, up to 100 tracks or 500MB maximum total file size
  • Headphone Jack: Yes
  • Bluetooth Speaker: Yes
  • Power Button: Yes
  • Nightlight: Yes
  • Charging Station: Yes
  • Educator Discount: Yes
  • Pay Over Time: Yes
  • Guarantee: 2-Year product guarantee, for defective items only
  • Cost: Starts at $99.99
  • Recommended Age: 3+
  • Audio Method: Tonie characters
  • Battery Life: 7 hours
  • Create Your Own: Yes, up to 90 minutes of audio content.
  • Headphone Jack: Yes
  • Bluetooth Speaker: No
  • Power Button: No
  • Nightlight: No
  • Charging Station: Yes
  • Educator/Military Discount: Yes (20%)
  • Pay Over Time: Yes
  • Guarantee: 100-Day Happiness Guarantee

Yoto vs. Tonie: What is the difference between the Yoto player and the Toniebox audio player?

On the whole, the Yoto player and the Toniebox are excellent music systems for children. They both foster independence and support the development of fundamental language arts skills, screen-free of course!

However, there are a few significant differences that a family should consider when trying to decide between them. Here are the ones that stood out to our family the most:

Age:

While the Tonies are cute and are sure to appeal to younger children, my older child is now at the age where she may feel the figurines are too ‘baby-ish.’ Conversely, the Yoto cards remain popular with all her elementary-age friends. For this reason, I would recommend the Yoto player for families with school-age children.

Price:

Yoto definitely wins in the price category, especially when you factor in the Yoto Club membership and card bundles, including the “Make Your Own” cards which are available for $14.99 for a pack of five or $24.99 for a pack of ten. Conversely, Tonies cost $14.99 and $11.99 each.

Content:

At this time, Yoto offers much more content geared towards older children ages 8-12. In comparison, the Toniebox, with its attractive figurines and shorter story lengths, does seem to market itself more towards children under 6 years of age and its content offerings definitely reflect this.

Audio Length:

Again, Yoto is the clear winner here. Each Creative Tonie is limited to just 90 minutes of audio. While this works for shorter stories, it’s not feasible for full-length chapter books. Personally, I much prefer each audiobook be on its own card, rather than split among several Tonies.

Storage:

Yoto cards are pretty easy to store, whether you opt to use the specially designed card case or pouch, or simply a spare wallet or bin lying around your home. In contrast, Tonies would require a slightly larger storage bin as they cannot be stored flat. Furthermore, I imagine you’ll have to keep greater tabs on the Tonies to make sure they don’t get lost.

Durability:

Frankly, I think both music systems are pretty durable. I’ll give Toniebox a slight nod in this category though because its product includes a water-repellent fabric cover. While Yoto offers a silicone adventure jacket carrier for added durability, it comes at an additional cost.

Features:

Yoto includes both a nightlight and an OK-to-Wake feature for little ones. Additionally, it has bluetooth capability if that’s a priority for you. While these weren’t a game-changer for us, it’s important to note that none of these features are currently available on the Toniebox.

So, Which Player Should You Get? Yoto vs. Tonie?

As mentioned above, we chose the Yoto Player for our family earlier this year and have absolutely no regrets about our decision. Since both my children are now school age, I appreciate the Yoto still has plenty of room to grow, so to speak. However, families with younger toddlers may value the Toniebox more because the little figurines are sure to be quite attractive to them.

Nevertheless, the greater affordability of Yoto cards, including the “Make Your Own” cards, was a key factor in our family’s decision. Furthermore, I appreciate not having to worry about limited audio length time with the “Make Your Own” Yoto cards, an important consideration when your children are primarily listening to longer chapter books. For me, the 90-minute audio length restriction on Creative Tonies was a major dealbreaker.

At the time of purchase we also opted to become Yoto Club members, and each of my children really enjoy picking out a new card each month and expectantly awaiting the package’s arrival. As a Yoto Club member, we also receive free shipping on all orders. Certainly, this makes it easier to order Yoto cards, especially as gifts to other family members. Both my nephews are now Yoto fans, too.


Whichever music system you ultimately choose, both the Yoto player and the Toniebox are excellent gifts for little ones. If you’re looking for more gift ideas for kids, listed below are some of our favorites.

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Yoto Player

The Yoto Player is a screen-free, portable audio system designed for kids that features music and audiobook cards, a daily podcast, a child-friendly radio station, a nightlight, and an OK-to-Wake clock. Featuring an abundance of content for children up to age 12, its longevity makes it one of the best gifts for kids.

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Toniebox

The Toniebox is a screen-free, child-friendly audio system that plays music and short stories. Its bright colors, button-free design, and attractive figurines are sure to be a hit with kids under the age of 6.

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Yoto Mini

The Yoto Mini includes all the features families love about the Yoto Player, with the exception of the nightlight and the charging dock. Its smaller size makes it ideal for families on the go, and it’s slightly more affordable than the Yoto Player.

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