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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Baby Jamz Toys - A Smash Hit or a Sour Note?

Music was a big part of my upbringing. In fact, I have a nice little setup in the basement where I can go plunk around and write my own electronic music. So for me, surrounding my son with various types of music is essential. That's why when I was asked to take a look at a couple Baby Jamz toys created by the father and sister of Beyonce Knowles, I said I would. The toys feature hip hop nursery rhymes sung by Solange Knowles, and are meant to inspire musical creativity. I decided to check out the Baby Jamz dance mat and their mix master chair, the two items they feel will be most popular.

The Mix Master Chair claims "kids can create several renditions of each nursery rhyme by pressing three different buttons that light up and provide hours of fun." I have to say I was disappointed to discover the sound effects aren't even in the same key as the songs. For those of you who may not know much about music, this means it hurts your ears to hear them played together. Children can't really "mix" tunes, either. It's really just a matter of pressing sound effect buttons as the song plays. The songs recycle three times each after pressing a button, with two verses each round - that means you hear it six times before the toy turns off. For a tired mom who has listened to lots of discordant noise all day, ouch!

The Dance Mat is somewhat better, and my son does like to hop around on it. The sound effects, while they aren't always on key with the songs, seem less offensive to my ears, and it's also not as loud as the chair. I found the songs more catchy on this one too.

So are the toys beneficial for teaching your children about music? I would say no to the chair and somewhat to the dance mat. There are three other toys in the line, however, and maybe those prove to be different. But since it turns out the toys are made in China and we've all had quite a scare as of late, I don't feel it's something I'm totally comfortable recommending to my readers. Although the chair has very little paint, the dance mat has quite a bit. However, I happened to get the toys a few days before receiving the Homax lead test kits that I blogged about yesterday, so I thought I'd test the two toys out. They both tested free of lead for the surface paints.

Overall, I guess I'm like a lot of parents out there lately - I'm leaning more and more towards the natural toys, and although I still have plastic toys in the house and some are even (gasp) battery operated, I'm getting more and more selective as time progresses. I'm still on the hunt for those musical toys, though, because my electronica may be a little amateurish, but when my BRILLIANT son gets older, I'll need a backup singer who plays the drums. Because mama can't sing, darnit.


Gruppie Girl said...

I wonder if the mat has PVC in it?

I have been trying to get rid of all of the soft plastic PVC toys in the house. What an impossible task!

Diane said...

I'm wondering if it has PVC too, gruppie! It can be daunting going through all our kids' toys for sure! The important thing is that we make changes one step at a time without feeling overwhelmed. Suddenly you can look back and feel good about all the changes that have been made! Sounds like you're doing just that.