What is a Toniebox
In the simplest terms, a Toniebox is a screen-free audio box that plays music, “reads” stories, or plays messages. The Toniebox works in conjunction with individual “Tonies,” or characters that sit atop the box. The box itself is a roughly 5-inch cube. It is easy for little hands to hold and carry. The Tonies range in size but are all about 3 inches tall give or take. The box and the Tonies are magnetic allowing the characters to remain on the box if tipped or jostled.
The Toniebox is relatively new in the USA. It originated in Germany, expanded to other European countries, and celebrated its two-year US anniversary in October 2022. We got our toddler a Toniebox for Christmas 2021 after hearing about a half-price deal from a coworker and it was a hit from the beginning. (Toniebox offers great deals around the holidays, but I’m getting ahead of myself.)
How Does it Work?
The Toniebox runs on a rechargeable battery and, initially, Wi-fi, but once your box is “set-up” a Wifi connection is not needed. There is also a myTonies app that allows for parental control of volume, management of the individual Tonies, and the way you add content to the creatives. To use a kid can simply place the Tonie atop the box, pinch the ear and the content will play. My son was 2.5 when we got the box and quickly learned the features. The “ears” on the box also control volume (and parents can limit how loud it can go through the app), you tap the side of the box to skip to the next track and tilt the box to one side or the other for rewind/fast forward. There are coordinating headphones available as well. The box is color coded as well and easy for a kid to understand. Green-playing or ready to play, Blue-the content is loading, Red- the box needs to be charged. It is super simple for my kiddo to do on his own. He puts the Tonie on the box, pinches the ear and is good to go.
Call them characters, figurines or Tonies this is what actually has the content your kid will listen to. Each Tonie description includes a tracklist and what that particular Tonie teaches kids.
- Original Content Tonies: This content is mostly musical, things like celebration songs, counting songs with counting in multiple languages, adventure songs, holiday themes and nursery rhymes. (Bedtimes Songs is a favorite here). There are also Classic stories with things that are primarily in the public domain.
- Licensed Tonies: Content is often stories and music. (Think Disney, Paw Patrol, National Geographic, Sesame Street, Cocomelon, Daniel Tiger, books, and so much more!) We have a Lightning McQueen that my son got for his birthday. It has some songs and a story, while things like Paddington and Peter Rabbit are stories only.
- Creative Tonies. These are blank and you can load your own content. I like these for making personalized playlists or having parents/grandparents/important people read favorite books etc. This is all one through the myTonies app. One of my personal favorites is a GoNoodle Mindfulness creative that has interactive mindfulness related activities for my little one. We’ve done a few of these together and he always has fun.
How to use
An adult sets up the Toniebox on a wifi network and then load the content of the Tonie through the app. It is as simple as placing the Tonie on the box, pinching the ear and letting it play until it is uploaded. This can be done with the Tonie still in its original packaging and I like to do this before I give the Tonie to my son. Depending on the length of the content it can take seconds or a few minutes to load, but once all of the content is loaded you never need a wifi connection to play. Once fully charged the battery lasts a long time and the Toniebox can travel with you without needing to connect to the internet.
Some of the Tonies match with specific books so the child can “read along”. We’re a little young for this but I’m looking forward to that too. Some are “interactive” like Elmo and I hear my son responding to questions and dancing/moving along to the instructions. A lot of times I play classical music or the bedtime songs Tonies for my infant.
How to Gift/Get
I think the individual Tonies are a great/simple gift idea too. My son got one in his Easter basket this year, another as a birthday gift and will probably get another as a stocking stuffer. They’re also great suggestions for affordable gifts for others looking for gift ideas. Each individual Tonie is about $15 for the ones with content and $12 for creatives.
You can purchase a bundle that includes the box and several tonies or just the box and the playtime puppy. Then buy individual tonies as you like. Typically purchasing the bundle gets you some Tonies at a discounted price. There are some great deals on the box/bundle around Thanksgiving/Black Friday. That’s when I got mine. You can purchase directly from the US Tonies website, from big box stores like Target and Best Buy or from Amazon, but my favorite place to purchase is from smaller independent stores, in the Baton Rouge area you can find the Toniebox and Tonies at Cullens or My Little Sunshine.