🛍️ Product reviewed: Yoto Player (3rd Generation)
⏰ Tested it for: Two months
⭐ Rating: 4/5
💸 Reasons to buy: It’s a great screen-time alternative, will be enjoyed by your kids for years to come and is ideal for travel
✋ Reasons to avoid: It's not cheap - particularly when you start stocking up on the story cards
Like most parents raising a child in today's tech-obsessed world, each day I do battle with a screen. The "Mummy, can I watch TV?" question is asked multiple times a day, leaving me forced to get creative with distraction methods and fun alternatives. Easier said than done when your child's teetering on the edge of hysteria after a nap-free day at nursery and your brain's mush after work.
When talking through this dilemma with fellow parents, a number suggested the same solution: an audio player for children. It eliminates the screen factor, they assured me, but provides little ones with the same storytelling and song they get from TV shows. Sounded ideal. Anything to give my exhausted husband and I a few uninterrupted minutes to wash up/make dinner/get the house in order.
I did my research and discovered that while there are a few leading varieties, the top-rated seemed to be the Yoto Player. Aimed at 3-12 year olds, it seemed to be a product that would grow with my daughter (aged three) and that certainly seems to be the case. While she's too young to get to grips with a lot of the features, I have no doubt she'll enjoy discovering them over time.
💸 Reasons to buy
What immediately appealed was how safe the player seemed to be. No camera, no microphone and no ads. Upon trying it for the first time, both my daughter (aged three) and I were thrilled to discover the true wealth of audio options available, including music, activities and - the main appeal - over 1000 stories.
The stories, which include everything from the Julia Donaldson library to Elmer, Peter Rabbit and Disney tales, are played by inserting seemingly unbreakable cards into the player - an ideal way for children to take control of the content they consume. Each story comes on its own card - but they need to be purchased separately so costs can stack up.
It's a very basic bit of tech - but that's the beauty of it. There are only three buttons (an on/off button and two orange dials allowing kids to switch between book chapters and change the channel to listen to the free daily podcast or Yoto radio (which we frequently have on in our house due to the great mix of music it offers).
The home screen displays the time and an image gives you an idea of the weather and the in-built speakers mean you don't have to faff about with hooking it up to anything. Other useful features include a night light, 'ok to wake' clock, room thermometer and white noise and sleep sounds, so it's perfect for keeping bedside.
There are various other add-ons, including child-safe Yoto headphones ideal for travel, a case to store your Yoto cards in and a so-called adventure jacket: a silicone case with a handle that you slide the Yoto Player into, so your child can carry it around with them.
✋ Reasons to avoid
This isn't a cheap toy. While it's designed to last children for years due to the wealth of stories suited to various age groups, the Yoto Player is an investment.
The latest, 3rd generation edition will set you back £99.99 and while it includes some free audiobooks and the in-built podcast and radio, you'll likely still want to buy other audiobooks which can range in price from £5.99.
A more affordable Yoto Mini (£59.99) is an option for those who don't want to spend quite as much.