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The toy that should be on every toddler's holiday wish list.
As a longtime parenting editor and mom of three, I've been through what feels like all the toys. In that endless lineup of plastic, tiny accessories and things with way too many pieces, one toy has stood the test of time and has me raving about it to all my parent friends (and strangers) as a total must-buy: the Toniebox. And with a $30 off Black Friday/Cyber Monday Amazon sale right now, it's, in my humble opinion, a no-brainer for holiday gifting.
I first got the Toniebox when my youngest was 2 years old in the thick of the pandemic. Cue two parents working from home full-time, other siblings on Zoom school, and one active toddler that had to be entertained. Unxboing the Toniebox in desperation, I'll admit I had low expectations—and was thrilled to be proven wrong.
It's a screen-free audio device designed specifically for young kids, which means they (yes, even at 2!) can operate the whole thing all by themselves. The Toniebox works by placing a physical character toy on top of it (don't worry, it has some magnetic attachment so they're not just toppling off) to turn it on and start playing the songs and audio stories associated with the toy. There's a ton of licensed characters caregivers can purchase (think every Disney Princess, Llama Llama, Paw Patrol, Peppa Pig, Wild Kratts, Toy Story and more) as well as more generic characters like a dog with a bunch of popular toddler songs on it or Little Red Riding Hood and other classic tales. There's even blank Tonies that you can record your own voice singing songs or telling stories on (bedtime hack, anyone?)
The genius part of this box? To pause, fast forward or rewind, kids firmly tap (ok, or it's a gentle hit) the soft-sided box. It took a few tries, but pretty soon my toddler was listening to her Tonies for hours happily entertained while the rest of us were stuck on our screens. It's been two years since then, and she still totes the box and her Tonies characters everywhere—even in the car. And, yes, there's a headphone jack so you don't have to listen to another iteration of Let it Go for the 100th time if you don't want to.
And anything that entertains a toddler for that long without you? Priceless.