I was excited when the opportunity to review the Yoto Player became available to me. I had viewed Yoto options in the past as gift ideas for the kids around birthdays and Christmas, but I hadn’t yet made the plunge. I think we all would have benefited had I done so sooner!
The unboxing gives all the modern kid vibes with fun colors and prints. In the box, we got the Yoto player, its magnetic charger, 5 player cards, and the addition of a carrier sleeve. Initially, the setup process felt a bit complicated. My husband was helping me and agreed that it wasn’t the easiest to figure out. Yoto tries to make it clear and simple and has the Make-Your-Own card as an instructional card to start out with. We took about 15 to 20 minutes to set it up. I haven’t seen other people find it difficult, so maybe it was our issue. We were happy we decided to do so before the kids woke up. Once we downloaded the app on each of our phones and listened to the instruction card, the magic began.
Once your cards are loaded and your player is connected to your phone, you can start the discovery of all it can do. Spoiler alert: It can do a lot! One button will adjust your volume while the other adjusts the chapters of your book of choice, or if no card is inserted it will automatically start playing the Yoto daily podcast. The buttons are easy for the kids to twist and press, and my girls have memorized the twist order much faster than I have. At the top, there is an opening for the audio cards to be inserted, easily and swiftly. The outer shell design is purposely simple, meant for little fingers. They can only choose to listen to their card audio or the podcast. There is no voice recognition, no touch screen, no camera, and no wifi access for your littles. You have overall control of what they do with their Yoto from there. Once you’ve chosen which cards they can listen to, they can swap them in and out as they please.
The cards are an extra cost. I’ve linked the starter bundle that has a Yoto player and a set of starter cards. Yoto has a monthly subscription you can purchase which allows you to choose two audio cards for $9.99 per month. This is the best bang for your buck, as most cards sold individually will cost $10-12, depending on the series. If you want your child to have the freedom to pick and listen to their audios without your assistance, cards are a must. We will probably be investing in a card carrier as we add more cards to our collection. At the moment, my kids have a hard time keeping them in one place and knowing exactly where each card is located.
That being said, let’s talk about the app. It has a ton you can utilize without having a lot of audio cards. You can set special timers for your kids whether they’re brushing their teeth, cleaning up the room, or working on homework. They have audios for meditations and guided visualization. There are audios of natural sounds with fun added features like their enchanted forest audio, taking you through the woods with some magical creature sounds along the way.
There are story snippets and a variety of podcasts. Some podcasts are available in different languages, which is fun for our bilingual family in encouraging our kids with more Spanish. They will feature different sample cards on the app each month. This month had a recipe card that led my six-year-old daughter to spend two hours whipping up banana pancakes with the brilliant guidance of Yoto (and my husband’s supervision, of course).
For nighttime, the player can be sat on its face to shine a low nightlight. This can be done while it is connected to the magnetic charger base. It also has several options for nighttime audio on the app or white noise. On my phone, I can set a timer for how long their story or bedtime noise will play to them, without having to go back into their room to turn it off once their asleep. This function I found helpful tonight as my daughters wanted to listen to Bedtime Stories with Peppa Pig as they drifted to sleep. I was able to see how far they were in the chapter from my phone, tapping it off when I left they were done.
I find the sound to be great for a child-designed device. For normal at-home use, the volume settings are perfect. If we were playing near a loud street outside, it may be hard to hear. The player is solid. It was clearly designed for little children. Our kids have already dropped it several times with no concern. Though I would highly recommend purchasing the sleeve, as it has a handle for the kids to hold onto. Without the sleeve, it wouldn’t be a single-handed carry for a child. Besides, they have a ton of fun colors for your child (or you) to choose from.
Yoto has put such great thought and parent/children considerations into this player. This proves to be a good, fun alternative to screens. To my children’s dismay, they lost their screen time privileges this weekend but in its place spent hours listening to stories and being creative with their Yoto. That is a huge joy for this mama! I know that this Yoto player will be well-loved in our home.
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