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Toniebox review: kids put the colourful smart speaker to the test

A screen-free audio player operated using cute, kid-friendly characters - the Toniebox is certainly charming. We asked our parent-tester and her 5-year-old to put the Toniebox through its paces.

By Poppy O'Neill | Last updated Mar 23, 2023


With screens everywhere these days, many parents are looking for alternatives. Concerns about unsuitable content, adverts and the effect of screen time on children’s developing brains have made way for new and innovative devices that allow kids to listen to age-appropriate music, audiobooks and educational content without screens or access to the internet. 

If you’re on the hunt for a visually appealing but screen-free audio player for your child, the Toniebox could be the perfect choice. Regularly recommended by parents on the Mumsnet forums, the Toniebox comes up often in discussions about the best toys for 2-year-olds and 3-year-olds

But with plenty of cheap smart speakers available to pair with a parents’ smartphone, is it really worth investing in an audio player specifically designed for kids? We asked mum of two Bethan and her 5-year-old to test out the Toniebox. Here’s what they thought…

Our verdict at a glance

Price on writing: £79.95 | Buy now from Amazon

What we love

  • Easy for kids to operate
  • Characters make great gifts
  • Brilliant for bedtime stories
  • Robust
  • Portable
  • Good battery life

What to know

  • Skipping backwards and forwards can be tricky for kids
  • Characters sold separately
  • Expensive option

Toniebox: what is it?

a boy and his dad play with a toniebox

The Toniebox is a child-friendly audio player designed to engage children with storytelling and music in a fun and interactive way. It is a box-shaped device available in a variety of colours, and works with a collection of hand-painted figures called "Tonies" which are essentially characters that hold the audio content. Children simply place the Tonie on top of the Toniebox, and the audio content starts playing automatically. The Toniebox’s simple design is intended to be easy for young children to use.

With a rechargeable battery, it's great for on the go. Kids can touch the Toniebox’s ears to change the story or song or tap the sides to skip to the next chapter. The Toniebox uses WiFi to connect to the Tonies app on your phone during set up, but after that it’s operated using the Tonies figurines.

There are lots of Tonies to choose from, with well-known characters available from Disney princesses to The Gruffalo, and Peter Rabbit to Iggle Piggle. Overall, the Toniebox is a unique device that offers a fun and interactive way for children to enjoy audio content.

First impressions

We were impressed by how sturdy and padded the Toniebox is, it’s certainly built to be used by young children. The Tonies are chunky and a good size for little hands, and they fix to the top of the Toniebox with magnets. 

We tested the Toniebox Starter Set, which comes with the Toniebox itself, plus a charger unit, instructions and a creative Tonie already loaded with content. 

Read next: Yoto Mini vs Toniebox: which is the best screen-free audio player?

How child-friendly is it?

The Toniebox is made with toddlers and young children in mind. They can navigate through the story by tapping the sides and control the volume using the box’s “ears”, but our five-year-old tester found it difficult to operate and not as sensitive as it could be.

“Going back and forwards chapters or songs can be difficult for my son, having to bang the sides. It can need a good thump to work.”

There’s no extra content available on a Toniebox - just what’s on the Tonie being used. So there are no surprises and you don’t need to worry about your child finding their way online. 

Our parent-tester Bethan found the player to be very robust, and there are plenty of kids’ favourite characters available as Tonies to get them interested in using the player. Bethan kept the player on the charging unit at home mostly, as she found it most useful at bedtime and first thing in the morning for her five-year-old. Thanks to a seven-hour battery life, it can be taken out on trips too.

Best feature - the “Tonies”

a toniebox with an assortment of Tonies

For visual appeal, the little hand painted Tonies are a stroke of genius. Collectable and robust, toddlers and pre-schoolers love having their favourite characters and the independence of operating the Toniebox by themselves. 

“I knew my son would enjoy something tangeable to hold.”

Despite their fun looks, they’re not too stimulating and it’s easy to make selecting a favourite Tonie part of your existing bedtime routine. “We still read a story together, but then he puts on his current favourite tonie to fall asleep to.”

Read next: Shopping for a toddler? Check out our guide to the very best toddler toys for 2023. 

Will it last?

There’s no doubt the Toniebox is robust and great quality. It can take a lot of bashing and rough and tumble from a young child. However, while the cute characters will appeal to young children, older children might find them less inspiring. 


At £79.95 the Toniebox is more expensive than the Yoto Mini and Echo Dot Kids. Our parent-tester thought it was a bit pricey when combined with the Tonies, although she admits they do get a lot of use for it. She plans to pass it down to her younger child once it’s grown out of. 

Tonies are £14.99 each so it’s worth looking out for bundles and discounts. 

“They make a good gift for occasions... instead of too much Easter chocolate or a gift from sibling.”  

Where to buy a Toniebox and Tonies characters

Toniebox starter sets are available from Amazon, John Lewis and plenty of other online retailers. You can also purchase them from Tonies directly. Some of the best bundle deals can be found with the starter set, so it’s worth shopping around. 

Individual Tonies can be bought from lots of online retailers - here’s Amazon’s selection.

two children play with a toniebox

Final verdict: Toniebox review

Overall rating: 3.5/5

The Toniebox is a robust, well-designed audio player perfect for toddlers and young children. Our tester says it gets used every morning and evening and it helps her five-year-old drift off to sleep at night, and occupy himself in the morning.

“The Tonie characters are a bit pricey but we do use them a lot. I will likely pass it on to my daughter also and the characters my son grows out of. I see them both sharing it and us using it on long car journeys.”

However, both the player and characters are more expensive and with fewer features than the Yoto Mini, and we think the Toniebox has less longevity because of its younger look, so on balance, we’ve given the Toniebox 3.5 stars. 

About Mumsnet Reviews

All Mumsnet product reviews are written by real parents after weeks of research and testing. We work hard to provide honest and independent advice you can trust.