run out of womb

... learning how to be a mum from scratch

Wednesday 8 July 2020

Tonies: the screen-time-bashing hifi that your kids will love

 During lockdown, screen addiction got real. I gave birth to my third child on the day that schools were closed.. So some days, turning off Paw Patrol or trying to de-grapple an iPad from a toddler's paws involved the kinds of screams more usually heard in an abattoir. Or a banshee meet-up. Or foxes making sleep-shattering midnight, er, love. Screen time addiction is real.

But then we trialled a kids' gadget that gives them the time they need to chill out (often solo!), but still use their imagination. Step forward the Toniebox - like a foolproof hifi for kids, so they can listen to music or stories (including ones you can buy and others that you/grandparents/friends record, and read out). Here's what we think about it:
The box itself is super simple: a really robust cube, which you can buy in a bunch of different colours, for around £70. It has two 'ears' on the top for volume (which has a controlled max), and, on the face of it, that's it. Then there's the 'Tonies' - chunky animal and people figures that magnetically attach to the top of the box; once one is on, it plays its song or stories. Knock it off, and it stops. Tilt it one way to rewind, the other to fast forward. So simple that my three-year-old easily operates it himself. 

It has an in-built speaker or you can add headphones, and you plug its charging block into the wall to charge it up, which lasts for hours of audio. It looks retro (no blinking buttons here) and calming rather than flashy. My three-year-old loves the song Tonies - there are loads to choose from, including nursery rhymes and more old-fashioned fair tunes - whilst my five-year-old will lie on his tummy listening to its audio books for ages. Stickman is a favourite, and he'll often follow along with the book that we have too. 
The Creative Tonies - where you can record a tale of up to 90-minutes long via an app - are especially fantastic right now. Far-away relatives or friends can upload their own voice reading made-up stories or old favourites, and your kids can listen to them whenever they want. It's a lockdown must-have. The night-time lullaby Tonie is a hit too, with classical - and classic - tunes to send your kids off to sleep.

After a month of testing out the Toniebox, it's become a household favourite. I love that my kids will relax on their own whilst concentrating on the stories.

Like the Lunni, which I'd say is pitched at older kids than the Toniebox, this new audio gadget would be an ideal present for a sibling of a new baby - it gives the new siblings something to focus on, solo. My only objection is that single Tonies are expensive, at around £15. They're super robust and - despite each one being hand-painted, they'll survive any chewing, throwing or toddler attacks (we've, er, checked) but they do cost considerably more than physical books or downloads. 

You can buy the Toniebox from its own store (currently on offer with a free Tonie per purchase), from Amazon or from John Lewis and other toy shops. It's aimed at 3-8 year olds but my youngest is already enjoying it. It's really robust as well as light too so not like the toys/devices you buy and have to shield in bubble wrap or not let your kids carry.

Toniebox sent us a device to review but we've bought lots of Tonies to play - rest assured we're seriously gobby and only rave about things we really love.


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