Giving a speaker to your child opens up a world of exploration through music and audiobooks. They can listen to tunes while playing, share their favorites with friends, and hold dance parties in their bedrooms. Stories and podcasts will take them to new worlds, both real and imagined. And when it’s time for bed, they can drift off to soothing sleep sounds, lullabies, or sleep stories. I’ve tried a string of different speakers with my kids over the years and found them fun, helpful, and a great way to cut down on screen time. These are our favorites. 

Check out our guides to the Best Bluetooth Speakers, Best Smart Speakers, Best Wireless Headphones, and Best Headphones for $100 or Less for more.

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  • Photograph: Amazon

    Best Overall

    Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition (4th Gen)

    This Alexa-powered smart speaker covers all the bases with support for music and audiobooks, alongside a world of kid-friendly extras included in the free year of Amazon Kids+ (usually $3 per month). Sound quality is solid, Alexa is responsive, and you can connect your music streaming service. This Kids version comes painted as a tiger or panda, and Kids+ provides age-appropriate games, Audible books, and educational skills. The parental controls are great, and I appreciate extras, like the ability to broadcast when it’s dinnertime.

    There’s a physical button to turn the microphone off, but you still might be uncomfortable with the idea of letting kids loose with a smart speaker. The content filters worked just fine, but if you want to be certain your kids won’t access something you don’t approve of, you must micromanage. If you’re a Prime subscriber and your kids have Fire tablets, this speaker is easy to recommend, but you can also use it as a regular Bluetooth speaker and stream any content from your phone. Older kids will be better served by the standard fourth-generation Echo (8/10, WIRED Recommends), which offers superior sound quality and still supports parental controls.

  • Photograph: Tonies

    Best for Young Kids

    Tonies Toniebox

    Designed for ages 3 to 7, the durable Toniebox is a squishy cube with ears that double as volume controls. It’s built to withstand tumbles, spills, and hugs, and you can leave your kids alone with it without worry. The Toniebox plays stories and songs connected to different characters or “Tonies,” triggered when your child places the relevant figurine on top of the speaker. There are many Tonies to choose from and tie-ins with familiar favorites like Paddington Bear, Disney, and Pixar movies like The Lion King and Cars, and many popular kids characters.

    It is Wi-Fi–connected, with content downloaded to the speaker when a character is placed on top, but there’s no danger of your child accessing anything they shouldn’t. You can also buy Creative Tonies to record up to 90 minutes of your own audio or have grandparents read stories to your kids. The hand-painted figurines are super cute, but they’re expensive, and you can expect tears if any go missing. Kids have the capacity to listen to the same thing over and over, and Tonies don’t offer a great deal of content. They are generally less than an hour and can be as short as 16 minutes. The lack of additional content or Bluetooth connectivity limits the appeal.

  • Photograph: Yoto

    Best for Older Kids

    Yoto Player

    the Yoto Player (7/10, WIRED Recommends) is similar to the Toniebox, but some important differences make it more suitable for older kids (it’s aimed at ages 3 to 12). It has a cute pixelated clock display on the front, with a day or night image that tells kids at a glance whether it’s time to get up yet. Content is a bit more mixed, and kids can play different books by inserting cards into the slot on the top. There are audiobooks from popular authors like Julia Donaldson and Roald Dahl, and prices are similar to Audible. You can also buy a pack of 10 blank cards and record your own content.

    What elevates the Yoto Player is the inclusion of kid-friendly radio stations and a daily podcast. There’s even a sleep mode that plays a mix of lullabies, classical music, and sleep sounds, and it’s easy enough to use that your child can switch it on themselves if they wake in the night. The speaker comes with a circular wireless charging base, so there’s no need to fiddle with cables. The additional Bluetooth support gives the Yoto Player a little more versatility.

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