Mini Yoto cards are key for toddlers on the move
By Helen Wright
Kids even as young as two crave independence, and it’s wonderful to watch them play in their own world. Entertaining kids on the move can sometimes be a challenge (if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I like to pack light and I hate carrying loads of kid stuff around!). Even books, which I do encourage, can be heavy to lug about when travelling, so I was pretty excited to discover Yoto Cards can now be played on a Mini Yoto Player, ideal for a toddlers day out!
What is a Yoto player?
When we travel with our kids, we usually pack educational toys, puzzles, books and Duplo, but like most parents, we also rely on the Kids’ Amazon Fire tablets to keep them entertained too. They are active, outdoorsy children, so we don’t mind a bit of screen time to keep them occupied, but on long journeys, flights and other extended periods, I have been looking for a suitable alternative. Discovering the Yoto Player now comes in a mini size was ideal because it was exactly the sort of thing I was looking for.
The Yoto Player is a wireless speaker, designed for kids to play audiobooks and music independently. It works by plugging individual Yoto Cards into the top of the Yoto Player to start listening, a bit like we had to do with cassette tapes in our Sony Walkman! As well as the Yoto Cards (which are purchased separately, although you can buy a starter pack that contains the player and seven cards) the Yoto player has its own child-friendly radio station and podcasts, plus white noise and soothing sleep sounds. The cute cube is controlled with two chunky buttons on the front and no touch screen or internet-based search.
Just launched: The new Yoto Mini to play your Yoto Cards on the move
Why are Yoto Cards ideal for travelling with toddlers?
The original Yoto Player launched last year, but new for 2022 is the Yoto Mini player, meaning your kids can now take their Yoto Cards on the move, which is a fun development. The smaller version of the player has a headphone port, so kids can enjoy ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’ over and over again and the grown-ups can be spared (maybe). It’s very light, portable and the cards can be stored in a little wallet or box. If you run out of Yoto Cards on the move, you can also download new cards via your smart phone on the Official Yoto app and transfer them to the Yoto Player via Bluetooth. So you don’t need to worry about running out of stories – which can come in very handy for traffic jams and flight delays!
How do the Yoto Cards play without wifi?
This part requires parents and carers to be a bit organised. For such a simple gadget, the Yoto Player Mini is pretty nifty. Initially you will need a WiFi connection to set up Yoto Mini. When the Yoto Cards are inserted into Yoto Mini, they download the content from the Yoto server. Once Yoto Cards are downloaded, the Yoto Mini player can then be disconnected from the WIFI for use out of the house.
As well as on longer journeys, the Mini Yoto is great for the other family trips we often take. We love visiting theme parks (check out our posts on Disney, Peppa Pig World and more), which can sometimes mean spending time standing in line. So the mini Yoto Player is perfect to whip out and play a few stories on while we wait (especially now they have cute packs of Disney Yoto Cards!) I have also used the Yoto player for more mundane day-to-day activities like going to supermarket to help prevent Isobel getting bored and climbing out of the trolley!
How much storage does the mini Yoto player have?
Despite being much smaller that the original Yoto player, the Yoto Mini has the same playback feature with a large 16gb (around 350 hours) worth of storage! So, even on a long-haul flight, your mini travellers won’t run out of cool stuff to listen to. 350 hours equates to around 150 cards! That’s plenty to keep them going.
You can pause the audio by removing the card. The Yoto Player also remembers your place, so if listening is interrupted, it will pick up where your child left off the next time the same card is inserted.
How long does battery last?
The Yoto Mini battery will last around 20 hours when WiFi is disabled and slightly less when it is connected to WiFi – around 15 hours when the Yoto is being used for streaming or playing downloaded content. The higher they have the volume, the more battery life the Yoto Player will use. Before you head out, aim to charge the device fully for 3-5 hours to make sure it is fully charged.
What if my kids lose the Yoto cards!
My immediate thought when I got the cards out of the box is that after a week, I would probably only have half left… There is obviously a risk that these cards can get lost, but using the accompanying (parental) Yoto App, everything in the kids’ library is mirrored with a digital copy. So even if some of the cards get lost down the back of the sofa, kids will still be able to play their favourite stories.
The Yoto app can be controlled via your smart device. As well as keeping the yoto card data safely stored digitally, the app also gives parents the ability to change the controls and settings. You can also check how much charge the mini player has left (the device itself has no indicator).
Using the player with the app allows you to play and pause stories that have previously been purchased (either digitally or on Yoto cards). It means that you do not need to pack the whole card collection if you are out and about. However, without the physical cards, you do need a wifi connection to play downloaded stories. The app can store data for multiple devices, which is great if you have more than one child (and player).
Disney Yoto Cards and more: What Yoto cards are available?
There are so many Yoto cards to choose from now, there is something for everyone. Whether you are a classic story lover (The Famous Five) or a Julia Donaldson fan (The Gruffalo) or prefer more modern stories, like The Boy Who Grew Dragons, the Yoto Cards come in packs starting from £15.99. There are also non-story cards, such as alphabet learning cards, music cards and fun lessons (like how to Beat Box). You can buy Yoto Cards individually, but it does work out more cost-effective to buy a pack in the long run.
Everybody got very excited recently because Yoto announced they would be releasing Yoto Cards of the Disney Classics, from Frozen to Pinocchio, as well as Disney Pixar stories like Toy Story and Monster’s Inc.
The packs of Yoto Cards make great gifts. They come packaged in a cute, eco-friendy box so they are perfect to wrap up for someone (and small enough to post). Obviously the Disney Yoto Cards are perfect if you are planning a trip to the Disney Parks. If you have to queue up for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (for example), the kids can kill time listening to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs! Genius.
The only downside to the Disney Yoto Cards is they are story-only cards, and don’t contain music. According to Yoto, this might change in the future, but for now it’s best to manage your child’s expectations that they will be hearing the same magical stories, but without the songs.
Is the Yoto Player easy for kids to use?
The Yoto Player is aimed at kids aged 3 to 12 years old, although Isobel, who is two, has no problem using it. It’s primarily operated by slotting in the card and using the buttons on the front to adjust the volume. Both kids enjoy the independence of using it without needing an adult to help.
Reducing their screen time when we travel has been the real bonus of having the Yoto, but the other great perk is that the Yoto Cards are ideal for Finn as he suffers with travel sickness in the car and the mini player allows him to be entertained on the road for long journeys (without me having to listen to the Fun Squad or Paw Patrol songs!).
Yoto Cards are great for at home or away
The really nice thing about the Yoto Mini Player is that we can use it at home too. There is a larger player available, but the mini one is loud enough to enjoy at home too and Finn sometimes listens to songs or stories when he is playing or doing crafts.
What are the downsides to the Yoto player?
One negative of the Yoto Mini Player is that wireless headphones can’t be used and there is no double headphone port. This means that the kids either have to share (and ultimately, fight) over it or parents have to buy one each. Of course, you can play the sound out loud but then the grown ups have to listen too!
The Yoto Mini has a daily podcast and radio show on it but this can only be used when connected to WIFI, so it isn’t really a function that we utilise. The other downside is that the cost of the Yoto Cards does add up. Some of the Yoto story cards cost a lot more than a traditional book. However, for using when travelling (and so therefore not wanting to lug around a suitcase of books), it’s a great little screen-free gadget, that my kids love.
What do you use when you travel with our kids? Come and join the discussion on Instagram
MORE POSTS FROM PASSPORTSTAMPS.UK
How we did a road trip with our baby
What happened when we toured America in an RV?
The ONLY items you need for traveling with a baby
How much does Disney World REALLY cost?
The BEST all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean for kids
Why more parents should travel during maternity / paternity leave
My solo trip to Lisbon with Isobel
A complete guide to planning Disneyland Paris