The Yoto Mini Player Will Save Your Sanity When Traveling with Kids

It’s the Gen Alpha Walkman

PureWow editors select every item that appears on this page, and the company may earn compensation through affiliate links within the story. All prices are accurate upon date of publish. You can learn more about the affiliate process here.

yoto mini player reviewed alongside audiobook cards and headphones
Candace Davison
  • Value: 19/20
  • Quality: 19/20
  • Ease of Use: 20/20
  • Audio Quality: 16/20
  • Kid-Friendliness: 19/20

TOTAL: 93/100

Adulthood means living in constant contradictions, and parenthood is no different. We want a screen-free way to entertain our kids—but we don’t want to be the ones actively entertaining them every waking moment of their lives. Sure, there are toys and games and arts and crafts, but all too often, you get wrangled into the mix, and while often that’s awesome (quality time! Bonding!), sometimes you just need a minute.

I’d heard parents rave about the rise of kids’ audio players, which tell them stories or play songs—a child-friendly boom box, if you will. Some swore their children put themselves to bed using these devices, or when a friend came over, they’d pop in some Disney tunes and be entertained for an hour. That hadn’t been the case for me—until I tried the ultra-portable, smaller-scale Yoto Mini. It’s been a gamechanger, especially when traveling, and now I can’t recommend it enough to every parent I know.

yoto mini player reviewed alongside audiobook cards and headphones
Candace Davison

What Is the Yoto Mini Player?

The Yoto Mini is the pocket-sized version of the Yoto, an audio player that lets you pop in cards and play music or listen to stories for up to 20 hours per charge. While it doesn’t have the wireless charging capabilities, room thermometer or night light that the larger model has, it makes up for it in portability, clocking in at less than 3 inches by 3 inches in size. (It’s also 41 percent cheaper, costing $70 to the full-size Yoto’s $119.)

What Age Is the Yoto Mini Best for?

It’s advertised for ages three to 12, though kids four to eight seem to enjoy it the most. The controls are simple—just an on/off button and two knobs to control the volume and play, pause and skip tracks, making it fairly intuitive for little ones to figure out. 

card inserted into yoto mini and playing audiobook
Candace Davison

How Does the Yoto Mini Work?

Audiobook cards are sold separately, and when you get one, you’ll need a wifi connection to download the content. Once it’s downloaded, you can pop in a card at any time, and the Yoto Mini will recognize it and start playing the story or playlist.

Each Yoto Mini can hold roughly 350 hours’ worth of content in its 16 GB of storage, so you can collect a ton of cards and still have room to spare. (The brand notes that if you do fill it up, new cards will replace content you haven’t used in a while, but that content will still exist in your library and be available to listen to whenever you have wifi connection.) Despite having more than a dozen cards, we haven’t come close to reaching capacity yet.

The Pros:

  • It’s compact. Going anywhere with a kid involves packing too much stuff, so something that fits in your pocket is a huge plus. Add to that the fact that all of the cards could fit in a binder with card protectors—making them easy to organize and tote—and it easily won me over when compared to other audio players that use figurines to play stories. (While cute, keeping track of the figurine styles—and ensuring they don’t get lost amid Happy Meal toys and Barbie detritus—can be a pain.)
  • The cards are durable. They’re about as thick as a credit card, so they don’t break easily.
  • You can record your own stories too. The Mini comes with a Make Your Own card, which lets you add whatever you’d like to them, like the modern-day mixtape. (It can be cool to send ones to far-flung family members and have them record a story, then surprise your kids at bedtime with a love note from miles away.)
  • The Yoto Mini is reliable. Tablets and other tech have been glitch-prone, but the Yoto Mini seems to download content easily and work consistently. It’s gotten us through multi-hour road trips with ease.
  • New stories are released every month. There’s no shortage of options, whether your kid’s into Disney tales, the Splat the Cat series or even Bob Marley poems.

The Cons:

  • Collecting stories can add up fast. Particularly if your kid doesn’t like listening to the same stories over and over again.
  • You’ve got to remember to download new cards before you travel. Or set up your phone as a hotspot.
  • The audio quality isn’t the best. While the full-size Yoto features acoustically engineered stereo sound, the Yoto Mini is mono, so the music isn’t as robust. It’s not tinny or distracting though.
pulling out card from yoto mini
Candace Davison

The Bottom Line: Is the Yoto MiniPlayer Worth It?

If you travel frequently, yes. There are so many audiobooks to choose from, as well as a free daily podcast you can listen to, and the price is reasonable, compared to other tech for kids.

15 Things to Do on a Long Car Ride (Besides ‘I Spy’)

Want to know which buzzy products are *really* worth buying? Sign up for our shopping newsletter to uncover our favorite finds.

Why You Should Trust Us

PureWow is the best friend you never had when it comes to finding the best, most useful lifestyle products online. Founded in 2010, our company’s editors and writers have spent more than a decade shopping online, digging through sales and putting our home goods, beauty finds, wellness picks and more through the wringer—all to help you determine which ones are actually worth your hard-earned cash. From our PureWow100 series, which sees each and every item we test being ranked on a 100-point scale of awesomeness, to the painstakingly curated lists our fashion, beauty, cooking, home and family editors create as vertical experts, you can trust that our recommendations include some of the greatest items you’ll find on the internet. Whether you're looking for travel-size hair dryers you can take on-the-go or women’s walking shoes that won’t hurt your feet, we’ve got you covered.

The PureWow100 is a scale our editors use to vet new products and services, so you know what's worth the spend—and what's total hype. Learn more about our process here.

candace davison bio

VP of editorial, recipe developer, kitsch-lover

Candace Davison oversees PureWow's food and home content, as well as its franchises, like the PureWow100 review series and the Happy Kid Awards. She’s covered all things lifestyle...