The number one favorite toy in our household is the Yoto audio player. I love it so much that I wrote an entire Yoto player review about it. And then I wrote another post about our favorite Yoto cards, too! (Spoiler – While we love all our cards, my favorites are the blank cards!)
So naturally, when my sweet sister-in-law gifted us with the Yoto Mini for our two year old’s birthday, I felt it necessary to write this Yoto Mini review .
It’s crazy to me that while most our kids toys’ get basically ignored or infrequently picked up, the Yoto is beloved by all our kids, at ages 7, 4, and 2. It doesn’t just get daily use, it gets used multiple times a day! We use it for bath times, clean-up, and bedtime. We even listen to the daily podcast during breakfast.
Honestly, our only struggle is trying to share the Yoto and Yoto Mini across three kids.
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What is the difference between Yoto and Yoto Mini?
Everything about the Yoto Mini is smaller, and that’s the main difference. The Yoto Mini is meant to be handheld even for little bitty hands. The box is 1.57 x 2.76 x 2.76 inches and only 9.6 ounces; whereas the original Yoto is a bulkier 4.3 x 4.3 x 4 inches and weighs 2.4 pounds.
Another difference is how it’s charged. The original Yoto sits on a special charger; whereas the Yoto Mini uses a standard USB-C, making it easier to juice up anywhere you go (including the car).
Because it’s a smaller product overall, the Yoto Mini has a smaller screen and clock. The images on the screen would be tougher to see from across the room. Here’s a picture of the screen while playing a bedtime song from “The Wheels on the Bus.” See how grainy the picture is? You get an equally grainy, but at least larger picture on the original Yoto.
You’ve got to remember that Yoto isn’t going for picture quality. This is a toy that’s meant to reduce screen time, not increase it!
Does Yoto Mini need WiFi?
The Yoto Mini works like the original Yoto in this way. You need WiFi to set up the Yoto Mini at first, and then Wifi is needed anytime a brand new card is put in. After any physical cards have been played through once, you never need Wifi again. That’s what makes the Yoto Mini so cool! Kids can listen the first time at home, and then easily listen to stories on an airplane, in the car, or anywhere that WiFi is normally a barrier to entertainment!
Of course, you’ll also need to use WiFi if you want to stream podcasts from your Yoto App. There’s a few podcasts available in the app and we don’t have the cards. I’m able to just play the podcast from my phone, and it plays through their Yoto speakers.
Battery Life for the Yoto Mini
Yoto Mini has a battery life of 20 hours, whereas the Yoto original has a shorter battery life of 10 hours.
How does Yoto Mini work?
The Yoto Mini works by using WiFi at first to set up and then download cards, and then little hands can simply put these cards into the slot for playback.
They can adjust the volume on the left knob, and move forward tracks or chapters with the knob on the right. My 2 year old has been playing with her Yoto since she was 18 months with no problem, because of the simplistic design. To stop the Yoto, kids can simply pull the card from the Yoto, and it will save their spot for next time.
The cards are like heavy duty credit cards, and they hold stories and music. You can buy excellent cards for any age group from toddlers up through about age 12. In fact, I even wrote a post about all our favorite Yoto cards for each age group.
The Yoto Mini only plays cards and podcasts from the app; it doesn’t have a nightlight or some of the other features on the original Yoto.
Kids can wear headphones with them, which makes it a great tool for long car rides or flights. At the same time, we use ours for daily use at bedtime and bath time.
If you’re interested in my review of the best Yoto cards (sorted by age group), I’ve got ya covered! I wrote all about our 27 favorite cards.
Does Yoto Mini need to be plugged in?
The Yoto Mini gets charged with a USB-C cable, and then it will hold a charge for 18-20 hours, depending on whether or not you’re using WiFi with it.
Yoto Mini’s Sound Quality
My husband and I both agree that the sound quality on the Yoto Mini seems slightly better than in the original Yoto player. I recorded this very short video so readers could have a listen. It’s not a comparison video, but I just wanted readers to have some idea of A) How a Yoto Mini sounds and B) How simply the buttons can be used to change tracks.
What age is the Yoto Mini good for?
The Yoto Mini is a wonderful toy for kids between ages 18 months and 12 years old. I have a more mature 7 year old girl who has always loved stories. I cannot imagine her giving up her Yoto obsession until she’s at least 12.
Most technology is not suited to toddlers, but there’s no “screen time” that requires mindfulness here. It’s the perfect toy for younger children because the cards are incredibly sturdy and not the least bit dangerous for kids who love to explore.
I actually love the Yoto Mini for toddlers because the yoto mini’s size is perfect for small hands. The only downside is that once in a while, the card slot will end up with a coin in it, but it’s large enough that you can usually dig things out with a paper clip.
The wonderful thing about the Yoto is how well it grows with kids. If your child has a tiny attention span, you can choose fun music and nursery rhymes, or super short stories to fill your collection of Yoto cards.
If you’ve got a voracious reader who is into chapter books, you can scoop up cards like the Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables, the Magic Treehouse Collection, or any of the Roald Dahl books.
Using The Yoto App
When you open your new Yoto or Yoto Mini, you’ll get instructions for downloading the app and getting started. The Yoto app has so many cool features. Here are some of the things you can do with your Yoto app:
- Play your entire library of cards from the app, without using the physical card
- Gain access to free podcasts and radio shows that can be streamed through the Yoto players
- Change the night light color on the original Yoto (not a feature of the Mini)
- Switch the sleep sounds on the original Yoto (not a feature of the Mini)
- Use the sleep training feature by adjusting sleep time and wake time on the original Yoto (not a feature of the Mini)
- Record stories and songs for use on a Make-Your-Own card which can be used on either player
- Use the Player Settings feature to control the maximum volume and several other features
- Manage multiple players for families that have more than one Yoto device
Why Do I Need the Yoto AND the Yoto Mini?
If I could only choose one player for our family, I’d probably choose the Yoto Mini. While it’s cool to have some of the nightlight and okay-to-wake features available on the original Yoto player, the portability and charging features on the Yoto Mini are just too excellent to ignore.
Our family goes on quite a few long trips. We fly several times a year to see family and also do a 4 hour drive to see my parents every 4-6 weeks. In an ideal scenario, all three of my kids would have their own Yoto Mini and share a great big collection of cards. I would love that, because they would be quietly entertained, getting smarter all the way, and it would cut down on their screen time.
However, the original Yoto is really great if you’re looking for one tool to do a bunch of features. Being able to use one device for both entertainment and sleep training is pretty special.
In our family, both devices get daily play, and I’m glad I’m not forced to choose!
Do I Need Yoto Accessories?
There are some fun accessories available for the Yoto player and Yoto Mini.
They are as follows:
- The adventure jacket for the original Yoto player
- The adventure jacket for the Yoto Mini
- Yoto headphones (Note: we have these ordinary ones we found on Amazon and they work great. You need the right size for the jack, which is 3.5 mm).
- A Yoto Mini travel case
- The Yoto card pouch
- The Yoto display protector
- A pack of 6 card magnets
- A spare charger for the Yoto
Full disclosure: we don’t currently own any of these accessories above, and we LOVE our Yoto player and Yoto Mini. We have an older zip-up carrying case for our cards that’s pictured throughout my post about our favorite Yoto cards. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find it anywhere for you guys. I thought it was a great product.
I can see how it would give me peace of mind to own the adventure jackets. I’ve seen my four year old drop our original Yoto on our ceramic tile, and I nearly cried. But the Yoto was totally unharmed. Am I tempting fate? Probably. But I’m also a cheapskate.
I think the card pouch would be handy enough for travel, but we really like the old model of being able to see everything in it’s own individual pocket and flip through them like you would a photo album. I think it’s less messy, too. If my kids just had a pouch, they’re young enough that they’d just end up scattered on the floor and never picked up.
Concluding Thoughts for this Yoto Mini Review
I absolutely LOVE the Yoto Mini. If you’re trying to decide between an original Yoto and a Yoto Mini, I’d probably choose the Mini, unless you’re super excited about the sleep training and nightlight features on the original model. I can’t overstate how nice it is that the Mini uses a standard USB-C charger, too!
There are so many toys that seem to never escape the bottom of our toy baskets, and yet the Yoto players, and all the cards, are used constantly. If I could only choose one toy for our family to use, it would be the Yoto Mini. Except, I’d like three of them, please!