Yoto Mini Review: a Must-Have Audio Player For Kids

In this Yoto Mini review, I’ll tell you why I am just as in love with this little device as my kids are! I’ll also explain how we use it around the house, for travel, and routines. Finally, I’ll compare the Yoto Mini to the original Yoto player and explain why we chose the Mini for our family.

I am a huge fan of music players for toddlers (we have many in my house!), but my top recommendation if you have a 3-10 year old would be to buy the Yoto Mini.

Child listening to Yoto Mini player wearing Yoto headphones.

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Overview of the Yoto Mini Player 

The Yoto Mini is a handheld, screen-free audio player. Kids can safely and independently listen to stories, music, podcasts, yoga, meditation, games, and more without needing an internet connection or visual stimulation. 

Yoto Mini Infographic. We're Loving Yoto Mini!

How the Yoto Mini Player Works

Insert an audio card into the card slot on the Yoto Mini and listen. It’s that easy!

Kids can use the two buttons to pick the track and volume level. The 1×1 inch pixel display shows icons representing different audio books and tracks. They can connect headphones using the headphone jack, or you can pair Bluetooth headphones.

Of course, many hidden features allow parents to fully customize their child’s listening experience, but the basic controls make it perfect for younger children to operate independently.

Yoto Mini with wired headphones and Sesame Street and Peppa Pig cards.

Yoto Mini vs. Original Player 

The main differences between the Mini and the original Yoto player are:

  • Size: The mini is smaller, about the size of a smartphone, while the original is larger at 5.5 x 3.5 inches.
  • Battery life: The mini has a battery life of ~15 hours compared to ~8 hours for the original.
  • Charging: Both Yoto and Yoto Mini 3rd Generation players use USB-C cables to charge (prior Yoto original models had a charging dock). 
  • Price: The mini costs $69.99, while the original costs $119.99.
  • Night light feature: Only the original Yoto can be flipped over to function as a night light. Although parents can set wake and sleep hours from the Yoto app for both. 
  • Pixel Displays: Both have pixel displays to help younger kids associate audio tracks with icons. The display on the mini is about 1.25 inches, and about 5.5 inches on the original. 
  • Room Thermometer: The Original has a room thermometer that alerts parents via the parent app if the room is too hot or cold. This feature is common on baby monitors, too, so I don’t consider it a deal-breaker for choosing the Mini.

When to Choose Mini Vs. Original

Choose the Yoto original for younger children ages 0-2. They will benefit from the nightlight feature and larger display for a few more years.

Choose the Yoto Mini for older children ages 3+ who can operate the device independently OR if you are looking for a music player specifically for travel (for any age). The Mini offers more flexibility (at home, on the go, etc.).

Our Winner 🥳
 
3.5
3.5
N/A
$119.99$99.99
Size:
2.7 x 2.7 x 1.5 inches
Size:
4.3 x 4.3 x 4.1 inches
Battery Life:
15 hours
Battery Life:
8 hours
Charger:
USB-C
Charger:
USB-C (3rd Generation and up) OR Charging Dock (Older Models)
Pixel Display:
Yes
Pixel Display:
Yes
Night Light Feature:
No
Night Light Feature:
Yes
Room Thermometer:
No
Room Thermometer:
Yes
Best For Ages:
3-10
Best For Ages:
0-2
Portable:
Yes
Portable:
No
Our Winner 🥳
3.5
N/A
Size:
2.7 x 2.7 x 1.5 inches
Battery Life:
15 hours
Charger:
USB-C
Pixel Display:
Yes
Night Light Feature:
No
Room Thermometer:
No
Best For Ages:
3-10
Portable:
Yes
3.5
$119.99$99.99
Size:
4.3 x 4.3 x 4.1 inches
Battery Life:
8 hours
Charger:
USB-C (3rd Generation and up) OR Charging Dock (Older Models)
Pixel Display:
Yes
Night Light Feature:
Yes
Room Thermometer:
Yes
Best For Ages:
0-2
Portable:
No
02/24/2024 06:32 am GMT

How I Use Yoto Mini with a 4-Year-Old 

  • Quiet Time: We bought the Yoto Mini with Quiet Time in mind. He’s transitioning to dropping his only nap. He happily goes to his room and does at least 2 hours of quiet time daily. He’s always excited to listen to his Yoto.
  • Clean Up: Yoto has cute built-in timers. You can program one of the buttons to use a timer. We use the “Clean Up” timer that encourages them along the way.
  • Teeth Brushing: Another timer that we use often.
  • Bedtime: After crawling in bed, we allow our son to listen to his Yoto until “bedtime.” You can set bedtime hours on the parent app. I wish there were a way to “warn” children that it’s almost time to stop listening. He sometimes gets upset when it abruptly turns off.
  • Movement and Activities: We got a drawing card in the starter pack that he has started listening to. There was also a movement card in the “24 Days of Christmas” freebies that encourages little ones to get up, dance, stretch, and even do yoga and meditation!
  • Listening: Of course, we use our Yoto for listening! My son’s favorite cards are:
    • Daniel Tiger
    • Paw Patrol
    • Peppa Pig
    • Bob The Builder (we did this through a MYO card)
    • Sesame Street

Parent App

The parent app is the heart and soul of the Yoto player. You can customize your child’s Yoto to suit your family’s needs. Here are some of the cool things you can do in the app:

  • Play Anywhere: Your Yoto content is all saved on the app and can be played directly through your phone or cast to any device. This means if you forget your Yoto–no problem! You can still play all of your content. Or worse–your child forgets their favorite card–you can “send” the audio from the parent app to play on the Yoto or any other nearby device.
  • Shop: Shop for new cards or browse the current month’s Yoto Club offerings.
  • Make Your Own: Create playlists with MP3 audio saved on your phone. Then, link those playlists to any blank “Make Your Own” (MYO) card. You can also link radio stations, podcasts, sleep, and ambient sounds.
  • Set Alarms: Wake your sleepy head up with gentle sounds, or choose the upbeat Yoto Radio to get their morning going.
  • Set Day and Night Modes: Choose when your child’s day starts and adjust the display brightness and max volume limit. Choose when your child’s bedtime is and control what they can do from bedtime until morning (including nothing!).
Yoto Mini with Lansing wireless headphones.

Yoto Parent Hacks

  • Customize Your Buttons: Set buttons to play timers, radio stations, or podcasts. Then, you don’t have to link a MYO card. You can save your MYO’s for other content.
  • Set Brightness to Zero: If you want a screen-free experience, set your daytime and nighttime brightness to zero. Parent-to-Parent: I think the small pixelated icons, track number, and volume allow my child to operate the Yoto more independently than if there were no screen.
  • “Turn Off” at Night: If you want your player to be completely unusable, set the nighttime brightness to zero and the max volume to zero. Nothing will play. These are the settings we use at my house!
  • Recover Lost Cards: Since your content is stored on the app, you can still link all of the content to a MYO card if you lose a card physically. It’s still a bummer because you won’t have the cute Yoto artwork for the original card, but it’s better than being gone forever!

Types of Cards

Yoto isn’t just for playing music! There are dozens of other types of audio content available for free and to purchase:

  • Story Cards: Listen to audiobooks of your child’s favorites or discover new ones. They have everything from classic fairy tales to modern heroes. They even have sleepy bedtime stories.
  • Music: Whether you’re listening to the Beatles, Beethoven, or your favorite Kids Bop album, there are cards just for you.
  • Podcasts: The Yoto Daily Podcast is one of a dozen Yoto-created, kid-friendly free podcasts.
  • Radio Stations: From music to knock-knock jokes, a dozen commercial-free radio stations are available free on the app.
  • Classes: Learn to draw, bake, and even speak another language.
  • Meditation and Mindfulness: Help over-stimulated children find calm, peace, and balance.
  • Tutoring: Get help on tricky subjects from phonics to math.
  • Games: Play games against yourself or the Yoto.
  • Yoto Website: Their content is continually updated, and they develop new ways to engage little ones through audio.
PAW Patrol: Pup Pack – 6 Kids Audio Cards
$34.99
  • Each card features a character (Rubble, Marshall, Chase, Skye, Rocky & Zuma).
  • Each card has two stories and a quiz.
  • 3 hours total runtime.
02/23/2024 01:02 am GMT

Review of Features and Benefits 

Audio Card Playback 

  • High-quality audio production: The stories are read by people, with character voices, music, and more. 
  • Wide selection available: From classical music to modern hits.
  • Cards are durable: They are even sturdier than a credit card; we haven’t had any problems with bending or breaking. 
  • Bluetooth capability: Play your cards from anywhere with the Yoto Mini and Yoto app. Listen through Bluetooth headphones, connect your Yoto to a Bluetooth speaker, play directly from your phone, or even cast from your phone to any device (like your car!). 

Screen-Free Entertainment 

  • A great alternative to iPad/screens
  • The display is not interactive or distracting. You can also set it to turn off after a few seconds, so children only see the display while switching tracks or volume.
  • It lets children’s imagination flourish without visuals. Let your little one design the story in their head and watch their imagination soar. 

Portability

  • Smaller size, perfect for quick card rides, as an airplane toy, for trains, and on road trips.
  • Long 15-hour battery life.
  • You can play cards offline once downloaded.  
  • You can connect to headphones, so you don’t have to worry about making noise in crowded spaces.

Educational Listening 

  • Exposure to new stories, languages, music, and concepts. 
  • Instills a love of reading and listening at an early age. Encourage the use of podcasts and educational content for learning and development
  • Content options: stories, books, music, podcasts, radio, jokes, physical activities, games, meditation, white noise, ambient sounds, and classes: drawing, yoga, cooking, etc. 

Yoto Radio and Podcasts 

  • Radio provides unlimited free music: Radio stations for every age. 
  • Podcasts are updated daily or weekly to provide new age-appropriate content. You can even add your favorite podcasts. 
  • Radio and podcasts require wifi or downloading to the device before use. 

Ability to Create Your Own Content 

This is one of the best features of the Yoto. You can create your own cards with your own playlists.

  • Blank cards let you record or upload anything
  • You can upload your own audio files purchased elsewhere.
  • Adds personalized touch for a minimal cost: let friends and family record stories and songs in their voices. Constantly change up your library for free after buying the initial card. 
  • Create a read-along: If your little one isn’t old enough to read but loves books, you can record yourself reading a book, and the app has a convenient “turn the page chime” that you can hit to signal turning the page. Your child will love “reading” their books independently. 
  • Remake your MYO as often as you’d like. Think of them as a mixed tape that can be infinitely recorded over. 

I love MYO cards so much that I’ve written a whole post on how to make Yoto “Make Your Own” cards

Yoto Benefits for Parents

Parents, rarely are there toys out there that are just as beneficial to the parents as they are to the kids… Enter Yoto! 

  • Independent Play: Let your child listen and play, move, draw, do homework, sing, dance, or snuggle on the couch or in bed… Without you!
  • Quiet Time: Yoto is a perfect quiet time activity. Don’t fear the quiet time; embrace it!
  • No Screen Guilt: You don’t have to worry if your child listens to their Yoto for too long, or feel guilty for too much screen time in one day. Consider Yoto educational–the more, the better!
Yoto Mini & Make Your Own Card

A portable audio device for children (I recommend 3+). Listen to audiobooks, stories, podcasts, radio, music, meditation, and more. The possibilities are endless with an infinitely changeable Make Your Own (MYO) card, and daily free content through the Yoto app.

Durable, Kid-Friendly Design

Despite the fact that my son is very active and prone to dropping and throwing things, I haven’t been worried about the Yoto Mini breaking. It’s also small enough not to cause too much damage if he were to throw it (gotta love those toddler tantrums).  

The design is made with kids in mind. The pixel display is just the right size to allow them to see the time, volume, track number, and pixelated character associated with each card, and the buttons are just the right size with a satisfying “click” as you push or turn them.

Bonus: It only took my child a few hours the first time to understand the buttons and functionality to use it on his own!

Accessories to Consider

We are still getting acquainted with our Yoto Mini, so we haven’t branched into accessories yet (other than headphones). There are a few accessories available that we’ll consider purchasing down the road:

  • Yoto Mini Adventure Jacket: A silicone sleeve to protect the Yoto (although I think it’s perfectly durable without). The jackets come in different colors (helpful if you have more than one Yoto), and have a wrist strap to make it easy to hold on to.
  • Card Case: Keeps cards organized as your library grows. The cards are an investment!
  • Headphones: Let kids listen without disturbing others. Use Yoto’s corded or Bluetooth headphones or any other headphones you’d like.
  • Travel Case: The travel case comes with storage for cards AND headphones, making it a great idea for long trips.
  • Extra Cards: Expanding your library is as simple as using MYO cards or listening to podcasts and radio; however, additional cards make great presents and rewards for children. 

Pros and Cons 

✅ PROS ✅⛔ CONS ⛔
Safe: No camera, microphone, or ads.

USB-C Cable: No special charger needed. Easy to replace. They are readily available at almost any store. 

16GB Internal Memory: Once your cards are loaded, you no longer need Wi-Fi to play your content. 

Unlimited Free Content: Including seasonal stories, daily podcasts for all ages, white noise and ambient sounds, and kid-friendly curated radio stations. 

Make Your Own Card: Any mp3 audio can be easily added to a Make Your Own Yoto card (MYO).

Bonus: you get 1 free MYO card with your player. Additional MYO’s are less than $3 per card. 
An Investment: The players are quite expensive, and there is a continued cost to the cards. However, cards make great presents for friends and family, and with the included MYO card, you can always have new content available.

No Bedtime Warning: It would be great to alert children that bedtime is approaching or allow parents to “extend” bedtime to allow a child to listen to a track completely.

Cards and Yoto Club 

I stumbled upon the Yoto Club after purchasing the Yoto and immediately signed up!

It’s $9.99 per month or $99 per year. Each month, you get to pick two cards from a selection of their library (bringing each card to around $5). As a member, you also get 10% off all other purchases (yes, this can be stacked with other coupons!!) and free shipping all the time.  

If you don’t see a card you want, you have two options:

  1. Roll over your credits to another month.
  2. Choose MYO card(s) for that month. 

Great Gift: The Yoto Club would make an AWESOME gift from friends or family members!  

The downside of the Yoto Club is that not all cards are available. They do update their card selection once a month, but there may not always be new cards that you want. 

Yoto Mini FAQ’s 

How does the Yoto Mini work?

Children place physical cards (preloaded with content) into the Yoto player. 

What can the Yoto Mini do?

It can play audio of any kind: audio books, podcasts, music, radio, white noise, recordings, etc.

Can you connect headphones to the Yoto Mini?

Yes. You can connect any headphones (wired or wireless) to the Yoto Mini–even if they aren’t the Yoto brand. 

Can you use the Yoto without wifi?

Yes. Yoto requires wifi for the initial setup and downloading of the cards to the device. Once downloaded, the cards can be played with or without wifi. Some of the content (like radio stations and podcasts) requires wifi. 

Can I connect to our home speaker system?

Yes, using the parent Yoto App, you can stream your content (no cards needed) to any Bluetooth-enabled device. 

What kind of cards are available?

The list of card types is so long! They have audiobooks, stories from your favorite characters, activities (like baking and yoga), mindfulness and meditation, music, radio stations, podcasts, chapter books, novels, and educational content (like phonics, math, science, history, languages, and more). 

How many cards would I need to purchase upfront for enough variety?

I think 3-5 cards, plus the starter MYO card, would be plenty initially.

Can I create my own Yoto cards?

Yes! Yoto MYO (Make Your Own) cards are one of my favorite features. I love them so much that I created a guide on making MYO cards. The blanks are reasonably priced (about $3) and can be used and re-used infinitely. 

How much do Yoto cards cost?

Cards cost anywhere from $3 to $12 each. You can buy them individually, in packs, or through the Yoto Club. 

Are there good bundles or starter packs to buy?

I do not recommend the “starter bundle.” It is geared for all ages and, therefore, means much of the content isn’t relevant for any given age group. Instead, I would look for a bundle of MYO cards or cards from your child’s favorite character. 

Do the cards get damaged over time?

No. The cards are very durable. Unless children are chewing on them or purposely bending them, I wouldn’t expect any damage to occur. 

What if I lose a card?

All of your cards are backed up to the Yoto app. If you physically lose the card, you can still stream it from the app to the player. You can link that content to a MYO card if you want it to be on a physical card.

What is the Yoto app?

The Yoto app is designed for parents. You can browse your existing library, radio stations, and podcasts, purchase new cards, create recordings, and manage playlists for MYO cards. You can also set limits like daytime and nighttime volume. 

Is the Yoto Mini safe for children?

Yes. No cameras, screens, microphones, or ads are associated with Yoto players or content. Their content is curated for specific age groups (listed on the card). If you create MYO cards, be mindful of the content you’re loading for your children. Always preview the content and use commonsensemedia.org to check for sensitive or upsetting topics you might not have thought of. 

How durable is it? Will it withstand drops?

The Yoto Mini is very durable and will withstand occasional small drops. It is not waterproof. Use a silicone jacket to protect against repeated drops and spills. 

Is the sound quality good?

Yes. The sound quality is very good. 

What are some alternatives to the Yoto Mini?

There are tons of music players for toddlers and children that I recommend. The closest alternative would be the Toniebox (we also have this). 

What are the shipping costs and times?

Shipping costs and times depend on where you are buying them. If buying from Target or Amazon, expect their standard shipping times and costs. If you buy directly from Yoto, shipping is always free for Yoto Club members or orders over $40. We have experienced shipping times as fast as 2 business days and as slow as 5 business days. 

Is tech support available?

Yes, but only via email. Their friendly and knowledgeable support helped me resolve my connectivity issue in about 10 minutes. The only downside was that they weren’t live on chat. You have to email them and then wait for them to reply. 

Is there a good return policy?

Yes. You can return any card or player within 60 days of purchase for any reason. You have to pay for the shipping cost. It will be minimal for cards (it should just cost 1 stamp) but will be more for players and accessories. 

What is the Yoto Club?

It is a way to build your Yoto card library quickly. Pay $9.99 per month or $99 per year. Each month, choose two cards that ship for free. Card selection is limited but updated frequently. Enjoy free shipping and a 10% discount on all other purchases.

Final Verdict: Yoto Mini is a Must-Buy for Parents 

We’ve only had the Yoto for a few weeks, and I can’t imagine life without it. I see so many positive benefits for my child now and limitless possibilities in the future.

I think it’s an awesome screen-free device that teaches children they can be entertained through audio and their own imagination. They can also learn to rely on modern sources like podcasts and audiobooks for education and self-development.

The device lets parents customize the experience, from curating content to parent permissions. It’s a set-it-and-forget-it model that I am thrilled with.

This is a must-buy toy for older toddlers to give them independence and allow them to entertain themselves in a safe environment.

Jacqui headshot

Jacqui

Author

Hi, I'm Jacqui, founder of Mommy Maker Teacher and mom of two toddlers. With a degree in education, 12+ years of experience as a K-12 teacher and curriculum developer, and courses in childhood psychology and language acquisition, I share research-backed parenting tips and advice. I provide helpful content for moms on all stages of motherhood - from trying to conceive and pregnancy to postpartum, breastfeeding, and parenting.