Looking to limit screen time for your little one? I discovered the perfect solution through a gift– a music player for toddlers! It’s an awesome way to keep my child entertained without relying on screens. Watching my little boy dance and sing to his favorite tunes is pure joy!
Pro Tip: A kid’s speaker is an investment that grows with your child, evolving from nursery rhymes to pop hits and podcasts. Use it during bedtime and quiet time for soothing stories and sleep tales.
I got the Tonie player as a gift, which is simple and durable (perfect for independent play). But there are other options too! Check out my shortlist of the top toddler music players based on recommendations from friends and my own research. Plus stick around to the end where I tell you which player I would buy if I had to do it all over again.
Say goodbye to screens and hello to musical fun!
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Considerations for Choosing the Best Music Player
Before looking at my list, there are some things that you might want to consider when looking for a toddler music player.
An important feature that I never would have thought of before owning the Tonie was having a durable design.
The first time my kid launched that red box across the room, I was pleasantly surprised to see it bounce off the wall and continue playing like nothing ever happened 🙃!
It’s important to find a music player that is lightweight and has a durable design. Unless you keep the music player out of reach–which I highly recommend you don’t do (you want your little one engaging with the music)–consider the music player as just another toy.
It will get thrown, hit, chewed on, drooled on, and of course, spilled on.
Absence of Small Parts
You don’t want your music device to have exposed small parts like earbuds, knobs that can be removed, corded headphones, a removable memory card, or a battery compartment that isn’t secured with screws.
Of course, you want to make sure the device itself isn’t a choking hazard for small children, especially if you are choosing a portable mp3 player that is a small handheld device.
Any little device that can fit through a toilet paper tube is a choking hazard.
You want to choose a speaker that has a child mode, child lock, or another volume limiter to protect young children.
The World Health Organization says to keep the volume to 70 decibels or lower to protect your little one’s ears, especially if they are listening for a long time.
If your music player doesn’t specifically say how loud the max volume is–or if you’re a little neurotic like me and want to test it for yourself 🙃–you can download a free decibel meter to your phone and place it next to the speaker at full volume.
- Features suitable for younger toddlers: For a child ages 1-3, a speaker that has simple on/off controls, up/down volume, and physical tracks, characters, inserts, CDs, etc. for changing music is best.
They might not understand how to control the music player until they are closer to 3. That being said, my little guy loved exploring the little buttons on the Tonie even before he really understood how to use them.
- Features suitable for older toddlers: For older toddlers ages 3-5, a speaker that also can skip songs and has an internet connection for streaming or doubling as a Bluetooth speaker is great.
Ease of Use
Take it from me, once your kid gets a taste of the power of controlling their own music, they aren’t going to want your help anymore!
That is a blessing and a curse because too many controls can make it difficult or impossible for your child to play music on their own. Each toddler develops differently, so look at the control options carefully and determine what your child’s ability level is.
In general, you want to look for a simple user interface that is suitable and easy to use for little hands so that they can operate the speaker independently.
Audio Quality and Control
Most speakers for young toddlers will have good sound quality. It’s not going to compete with your professional surround sound setup, but it will get the job done. If you have older kids that might use this music player as well, you can certainly look for players with higher volume control and digital signal processing (DPS) for voice recognition or noise cancellation; however, I haven’t included any players with that advanced technology in this list.
When picking a device, storage is key! You’ll want enough room for songs, stories, books, and podcasts. For younger toddlers, 50-100 songs are plenty, but as they grow older, they may want entire albums or podcast series. So, consider the internal storage of the speaker you choose, or the storage of the cards or discs that come with them.
Battery Life and Rechargeability
The Tonie’s battery life is amazing. I have only ever had to charge it a handful of times. Having a rechargeable battery is a nice feature if you have little ones because you don’t have to worry about a cord (strangulation hazard) or a plug (electrocution hazard).
With that, it is important to look for players with extended playtime so that you don’t have to take the speaker away mid-session to recharge.
For younger toddlers, I’m not sure that these are necessary, but for older toddlers, you may want Bluetooth connectivity for wireless playback, a headphone jack for personal listening, and even a microphone for audio recording.
Some additional features that are pretty self-explanatory are:
- FM radio
- Alarm clock
- Parental controls
- Child mode, child lock, or kiosk mode
Pro Tip: Music players are some of my kid’s favorite toys, but if you’re looking for specific toys and activities for babies and toddlers, check out my toy and activity guides for 4 months, 9-12 months, and 14 months.
Top Music Players for Toddlers
Meet the Tonie – the original music player gift that rocked my toddler’s world! It’s a red box-shaped speaker with a magnetic top where adorable characters “sit.” Simply place a character on the speaker, and the music starts playing.
The controls are super fun – tap the sides to go forward or back – perfect for little hands. Volume controls are pinchable, even for the tiniest fingers. Plus, the box is lightweight and padded on all sides, ideal for energetic toddlers. There is even a headphone jack on the top of the speaker for headphones as your little one gets older.
Parents, get ready for Creative Audio Characters. Record your voice, download free content, or transfer your own audio tracks – the possibilities are endless.
Best of all, Tonie doesn’t need Wi-Fi after the initial setup, so take it with you wherever you go. Just a heads up – Tonie only works on 2.4GHz Wi-Fi networks for the initial setup. Get ready to groove and play with the Tonie – the ultimate music companion for your little one!
Introducing the Yoto player!
The Yoto Player is super simple to use but has a bunch of cool features for parents.
You buy audio cards that play music and songs. You can listen to your favorite characters like Disney, Pixar, etc. Kids put the card in the card slot to play them.
There are simple control buttons to skip songs and adjust the volume. There is a pixel display that animates the audio without being a screen. There is a headphone jack for older children.
Parents will enjoy the Bluetooth connectivity to play music just like a regular speaker, blank mixtape cards to upload their favorite songs to (or record their favorite stories to in your own voice), kid-friendly podcasts, kid-friendly radio stations, and the beloved sleep training nightlight.
This player also has a night light feature built-in which is really cool. If you’re looking for night lights or light bulbs for your nursery, check out this post.
Yoto Mini Player
The Yoto mini has all of the same features as the Yoto player but in an adorable hand-held version. The Yoto Mini player is perfect for traveling on an airplane with a baby. If you’re looking for other airplane travel toy suggestions, check out my full post and packing list 🛩️🧳 .
My family members have these players and they can’t get enough of them. They will quietly sit and listen to their books and songs during quiet time at home while mom grabs a cup of coffee and kicks her feet up with her own book.
Jooki Music and Stories Player
Get ready for the perfect blend of Spotify meets music player designed just for kids. Jooki connects these two platforms seamlessly.
Like the Tonie and Yoto players, Jooki uses physical tokens that magnetically attach to the device, playing different songs and stories. But here’s the twist: Jooki’s tokens are fully customizable by parents.
There are no pre-set tracks or stories here! Simply create a playlist on Spotify and associate it with one of the colorful tokens or characters. Tokens are great for slightly older kids (associate playlists with colors), while characters are perfect for little ones (associate songs and stories with characters).
Say goodbye to constantly buying new characters like with other devices. Plus, Jooki supports wireless headphones for added convenience. With 8 hours of playtime on a single charge, the fun never stops!
This might be the simplest player for the youngest listeners– no Internet required! Juce place of of the 5 pre-loaded magnetic discs onto the base, and play begins!
The device may be bigger than expected, but it’s perfect for little hands to hold and with play. Click the disc pictures to change tracks. And guess what? there’s a feature that parents love: language controls. Choose from 8 languages, and the device transforms into an educational device as well.
With its sturdy design (though it might be thrown far with the handle by energetic kids like mine 🤣), this player is a winner. It includes stories, favorite songs, lullabies, and even white noise options. In addition to the 5 pre-loaded discs (a generous starter kit), you can buy other disc sets as well.
Remember, the player runs on batteries, so rechargeable batteries are a smart investment (these are the ones we use at my house).
While there’s a headphone jack, this player suits those under 3 best, who likely won’t use headphones (that’s just my take).
eKids Portable Mother Goose Mini Boom Box
If you’re not sure if your child will enjoy a portable speaker, this is a great idea to try one at a low price point. There are only 7 built-in songs, but it does have a play/pause button and a dial with a display to choose the song. Your little one can experience music and have control over what they are listening to, without having to break the bank with a fancy player that they might not necessarily use.
Echo Dot Kids
Amazon’s kid-friendly smart speaker, designed with older children in mind, offers a range of features. Parents have complete control through the parent dashboard, including setting usage limits. The device includes a one-year subscription to Amazon Kids+ for access to books, games, and educational content. The subscription can also be used on other devices for ebooks, games, movies, and TV shows. Kids can interact with the Echo Dot, asking Alexa questions and playing their favorite music. The “drop-in” feature allows parents to make announcements, while kids can make phone calls to approved contacts, promoting independence.
Parent-To-Parent: I think this device would be suited for older kids that don’t need content filtering as much as young toddlers, especially with the Alexa features.
Fisher-Price Classic Record Player
Experience a wave of nostalgia with the classic Fisher-Price record player! As I researched for this article, memories of playing with this toy at my grandma’s house came rushing back.
This player may not be fancy, but it’s an instant hit with kids for the tactile and sensory nature of the discs and player. It includes 5 double-sided records, giving you a total of 10 songs to enjoy.
Conveniently stored in the player with a handle, simply pop on a disk, slide the record arm, and let the music play!
Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Remix Record Player
A new take on the old classic… But is it as much fun? I don’t think so. In fact, the only reason I included it on the list was to hopefully deter you from buying it in the place of one of these great others.
That being said, it’s a great toy for infants to learn sounds that grows with them.
There are volume and speed switches for the child to control. The disc spins to play different sounds and songs. Parents can adjust the speaker through 3 stages as the child develops. Overall this is a great music player for a baby under a year but isn’t as sensory or interactive as the classic player.
VTech Rock and Bop Music Player
This is a budget-friendly portable CD player that’s a great way to introduce kids to music on the go! While it technically has a screen, its price point is hard to beat, and the screen is minimally distracting (IMO).
Be mindful of the optional headphones and their cord.
The player comes preloaded with music to practice numbers, letters, colors, and more. the controls might take some practice, as they’re not distinct from the song buttons.
For a similar price point, I personally recommend the eKids Mother Goose Mini Boombox, which offers better user-friendliness and a more engaging sensory experience. However, if you want the option to use headphones or see if your child will wear them, this one is worth considering.
Leapfrog Let’s Record Music Player
This little device lets kids record their voices and songs, adding a personal touch to their music experience.
While the music selection is somewhat limited, the player comes pre-loaded with educational content, songs, and stories, making learning fun.
Here’s a surprise: it also doubles as a portable Bluetooth speaker. Parents can stream their kids’ favorite songs directly to the device.
eKids Cocomelon Karaoke Machine
Finally, let me introduce you to my son’s favorite music device, the Cocomelon Karaoke Machine.
Warning to parents: there are many Cocomelon Karaoke players out there, but this one stands out with its amazing features. It is a slightly higher price than some of the others, so make sure to compare the features closely if you are considering a cheaper model.
It comes with 24 built-in Cocomelon classic songs and a built-in mic for singing along or simply listening to the music.
The microphone has two modes and allows you to sing with the music or use it all by itself.
Plus, it’s Bluetooth enabled, allowing you to play content directly from your device. The controls even work with Bluetooth content, so they can play or pause through your curated playlist.
With a long-lasting rechargeable battery, the music doesn’t have to be interrupted for charging.
I must admit, this device is a bit complex for a 3-year-old. It has many buttons and settings that can be frustrating for my son without assistance. But despite that, my son happily plays, sings, and listens for over 30 minutes at a time, which is a big win.
Just keep in mind, the microphone cord is not removable and stretches longer than 6 inches, posing a strangulation hazard for younger children. I always supervise my 3-year-old when he’s using it.
Final Thoughts on Music Players for Toddlers
Any music player is beneficial for your child’s development, allowing them to experience music without relying on screens.
Physical buttons and controls engage their senses and provide a fun interactive experience.
Personally, I would choose the Yoto player if I had to buy one again. It offers the original player for home use and sleep training, as well as a portable option for on-the-go.
While the Tonie is similar, the Yoto has additional features like a night light and mini player. Both products offer customizable cards and characters, eliminating the need to constantly purchase new ones.
I hope this list has been helpful! If you have a baby and want to introduce them to music, don’t forget to check out my lullabies for babies.