yoto player with card booklet

Yoto Player Review: Is it Worth the Money for Little Kids?

I wanted to write this Yoto player review because it’s my #1 favorite kid gadget OF ALL TIME, and I don’t think most Americans know about it! This is NOT a sponsored post, I’m just writing this review because I love ours with every cell of my being.

Last fall, I was irritated because we had just gone through another CD player for our kids. They just don’t last anymore! This was the second CD player that had gone kaput after just a few months. And buying CDs just isn’t as fun as it used to be, and kids scratch them.

I knew I wasn’t exposing my kids to enough music, and my older daughter loves listening to stories of any kind. So I wondered if there was a screen-free alternative to buying CDs and using CD players. Further, my little boy was starting to really fight bedtime, so I needed a way to make bedtime feel more special, and reduce his separation anxiety.

Then, I stumbled upon the Yoto box and watched their adorable little video, which explains how the Yoto is used. I was immediately completely enamored with it, and hinted to Grandma and our kids’ aunt that I thought it would be a huge hit at Christmas.

It’s kinda pricey, but our kids share it, and they both enjoy it every single day, without fail. I’m actually thinking of purchasing a second one at our next birthday so they can both enjoy it at bedtimes!

Want more product recommendations for little kids? Here are more of our favorite educational toys and games!

What is a Yoto box?

This post contains affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission from your clicks. Check out my full disclosure here.

A Yoto is a screen-free and totally kid-friendly way to play music, stories, and lessons. It’s a little square box with two basic orange knobs and a slot for a card at the top. Music, stories and sounds are played (mostly) from little cards you purchase separately. Tiny kids can operate this box without help from parents or siblings.

Family members can also record on blank cards, making it a great choice for kids who are struggling with separation anxiety at night time. The front lights up with a little basic picture, depending on what’s playing.

It uses Wifi occasionally to download the contents of the card for the first time, but Wifi isn’t always necessary after each card is used the first time.

In addition to whatever cards the child owns, they can also listen to the Yoto radio by simply clicking the right knob, or click again to hear an ADORABLE daily podcast. These change each day just like a regular radio or podcast.

two orange buttons and the back of the yoto player box

What age is the Yoto player for?

My three year old can work this Yoto box all by himself, but he would have been perfectly capable at age 2!

My slightly mature 6 year old LOVES the daily podcast and radio station, and I imagine these included features would probably be popular until about age 9.

The cards are for babies up to about age 10 or 11. There are cards to learn baby’s first 100 words, and there are Shakespearean plays that are modified for kids. They have Ramona stories, nursery rhymes, Winnie the Pooh stories, and more.

Our three year old’s favorite is a Make Your Own card, which we filled up with audio of family members reading his favorite picture books, and silly songs I’ve made up for him. We even included audio of his baby sister laughing.

Basically, no matter how young or old your child is (up until late elementary school), you could find stories and music that would be exciting for them.

variety of cards for different ages shown

How do you use a Yoto player?

The Yoto rests on a little charging station, but if the battery is full, you can move it all around the house while kids play, tidy up, take baths, etc.

There is a power button on the side, which we almost never use. There is a left orange knob that adjusts the volume. The button to the right will allow a child to fast-forward if a card is in the slot, or if not, switch between the podcast and radio.

The cards are heavy duty, and can be put into the slot in any direction.

Looking for more recommendations? Check out my favorite educational t.v. shows for preschoolers!

How do you store Yoto cards?

We received the little binder with plastic sleeves for card storage. It’s shown below. The kids have done a great job keeping their cards in the sleeves because they love all the stories and music so much! We haven’t lost a card YET with this system.

yoto player with card binder open

What are the best Yoto cards?

Hands down, the best Yoto card is the “make your own” card, if you don’t mind doing a little work. Especially for kiddos with separation anxiety at night, this can be a fabulous tool. It’s also wonderful because you decide what to put on there – making it a great choice for any age. You just customize it to your child’s interests!

The Best Yoto Cards for Babies and Toddlers

Babies love Yoto, too! Here are my favorite choices for babies.

The Best Yoto Cards for Preschoolers

Preschoolers sometimes take a little longer to fall asleep, and begin leaving their beds. For this age group, I’ve chosen some slightly longer tracks to keep them in their beds longer. All are very calming.

The Best Yoto Cards for Kids 5-8

These are all wonderful collections for bigger kids. Most of these cards have hours of entertainment, because they’re chapter books or based on movies.

The Best Yoto Cards for Kids 9-12

These cards should all be great for kids with a slightly older sense of humor!

How do you record on a Yoto?

An adult will need to download the Yoto app in order to complete set up. The app also allows you to create your own cards! This is especially wonderful for little kids who don’t like to be separated at bedtime from their parents.

Yoto app as shown in the app store

Included in the app is a library of all your cards.

screenshot of the yoto player library

On the drop down menu, there’s a tab called, “Make Your Own.”

drop down menu in the yoto app featuring "Make Your Own" tab

Click “Recordings.”

Then, press the recording button, and begin singing, reading, or telling a story for the child. Collect lots of different audio from different loved ones.

screenshot of the press to record page

Click “Make Playlist from these Recordings.”

Order your playlist by clicking arrows. Then, click the three vertical buttons to the right of the playlist to bring up a menu that includes “Link to a Card.” Then follow the directions shown here. When your Yoto player shows a green check mark on the front, you’ll know you’ve done it correctly!

screenshot of card linking in the app

Does the Yoto require Wifi?

It uses Wifi for initial set-up, to access the daily radio and podcast, and also to download a card the first time you use it. You don’t always have to be on Wifi to play cards, though.

Is the Yoto player any good? Why is the Yoto player worth the money?

It’s my opinion that the Yoto player is one of the best toys and educational tools on the market for little kids, and that’s why I wrote this Yoto player review. I’m not sponsored by them. It’s a bit expensive, but it’s worth every penny.

One thing to consider is that individual cards aren’t very expensive. Every birthday, Easter basket, Valentine’s Day, and Christmas can be improved upon with a new card for less than $10. Even though the up-front cost is pricey, it gives you super fun gift giving options for years. You can purchase on Amazon, or there are even more options in the Yoto store.

The Yoto player is durable.

This is a heavy duty plastic box, and the cards can withstand tons of abuse. They are STURDY and can tolerate bending. The only way I can foresee messing this toy up is by accidentally dropping it in the bathtub. We have had to set a strict rule that the box stays on the bathroom counter during bath time.

yoto player in the bathroom

The Yoto player is the king of kid-friendly audio.

A two year old can operate this Yoto box and the cards that go with it. With only two knobs and one slot for cards, they can’t mess it up! Our three year old will sometimes bring his Yoto box into bed and change out cards while he waits to get sleepy.

The Yoto is a great screen-free alternative.

This is a great way to give your kids control over their audio entertainment without exposing them to yet another screen. They feel in charge, and they LOVE it. I don’t have to worry about their developing brains or be concerned about their safety.

Yoto grows with their tastes!

Not many toys work well for ages 2-10, but this one really does. The radio show has all three of my kids dancing together – ages 15 months to 6 years old. As your kiddo grows, you simply keep expanding their card library with age appropriate cards. My littlest one likes the First 100 Words card and all the nursery rhymes, while my oldest is listening to James and the Giant Peach and Shakespeare for Kids!

hand holding a durable yoto player card

The Yoto box is great to pass down from one kid to the next.

This is one of those toys where the longer you keep it, and the more your collection of cards grows, the more valuable it becomes. I am so excited to keep using this toy until my youngest is in late elementary school. When you consider hours of usage over time, this toy/tool is a no-brainer in spite of the price.

The free daily podcast requires no card.

The podcast is excellent. It’s a really adorable way for kids to start their day, and my six-year-old daughter loves tuning in as she dresses in the morning. They are less than ten minutes long.

Today’s episode opened up with the British podcast host telling kids about a show he used to love called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (hah), and then he told the kids all about endangered turtles. It even included a little quiz about turtles at the end!

Every podcast also ends with the podcast host doing birthday shout outs to kids around the world. I’ve already written to Yoto and requested a birthday shout out to my daughter, because she loves hearing those every day!

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