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!
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.
I’ve just discovered W.A.T.C.H. (World Against Toys Causing Harm). This non-profit corporation was founded by Edward M. Swartz, a lawyer and child safety advocate, who has been warning against dangerous toys since 1968! In fact, the “10 Worst Toys List” has been going since 1973. Of course this year more than ever, parents are being vigilant about the safety of the toys they purchase for Christmas. This is the big year the toy world gets turned on its ear, and it’s about time! Check out the “10 Worst Toys List”, and for extra help in choosing safe toys, try W.A.T.C.H.’s “Toy Hazards to Watch Out For” list.
So you may be wondering why two days have passed since the massive Mattel recall, and you have heard nothing from me on the subject. I, who pass along info of toy recalls, I, queen of the anti-chemical baby world. Because I have been sickened to a level that sucks the words right off my keyboard. There was nothing I could say but unintelligible grunting sounds and maybe an occasional muttered epithet. Now I’m a little more composed. But only a little.Since the birth of our son, I’ve been more than concerned with the quality of baby toys. How do I know they’re safe? Am I to trust any little company that manages to get a toy on the shelves? I marked my paranoia up partially to that overprotective nature that plagues most new mommies. When choosing a toy for our son, I’d pick it up in the store, furtively look up and down the aisle to make sure I was alone, and then sniff the toy. Aha! I knew it! This one stinks. Put it back. My guess was that if it stinks, something is in there I don’t want a baby chewing on. Other than smell, I didn’t have much to go on.Now I’m even more in an upset. Getting all these recalls sent to my email, I was perfectly aware there was lead poisoning being pumped into our toy stores via China. But buying a toy that isn’t made in China? Next to impossible. And what makes it even worse is knowing a mega toy producer like Mattel wouldn’t even bother to do recurring quality assurance checks on what is being made in their name, thousands of miles away. How hard can it be to scrape a little paint off a toy and run a quick check? Mattel and Fisher-Price have built a business out of bringing pleasure to children, and their lack of concern for these children, their lack of foresight, shocks me.Three children had to go through the pain of perforated intestines after swallowing the magnets out of some of the toys before Mattel saw fit to do a recall. Add to this recall, toys decorated in lead. Which issue did they know of first? Why did they wait to collect two recall issues before letting us know?Bob Eckert, Chairman and CEO of Mattel, assures us in his press interviews that Mattel has the strongest safety standards IN THE INDUSTRY. I am not reassured. In fact, if that’s true, we’re all in trouble. I’ll be searching for more natural toys for Christmas. Or I’ll make them myself if I have to. I suspect that’s how most of you feel too, and that’s good. That means our toy dollars will go where we feel safe, and that will speak volumes to the toy industries. Maybe after all this, we’ll start to see more visible reassurances that our children’s toys are safe, and maybe then my sanity can be restored to be used for other worries. After all, driver’s training starts in a mere 15 years…For another article from a concerned mom, check out imperfect mommy’s post. It was very well said, and I couldn’t agree with her more!
Here are the latest recalls from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The first are some toys from Tri-Star which are posing choking hazards, and the other is a toy set from the Army & Air Force Exchange Service. Yes, more lead poisoning!
As promised, I’m passing along to you any recall information I get on babies’ and children’s items. I have a whole list of them for you today, so onward!
The first is a set of blocks on a Baby Einstein activity center.
Next are a couple of children’s rings, found here. These are a lead poisoning hazard.
Another item showing up as a lead poisoning hazard is an Anima Bamboo game. For more information, you can read about it here.
My gosh, all the lead hazards coming out! I’ve heard about it on the news lately, and it’s certainly showing up. Here’s another for children’s necklaces.
And finally, there is a recall on some Payless Shoe Source children’s clogs. Apparently these have a small piece causing a choking hazard.
So that’s it for now. If you don’t have any of these items floating around your house, maybe you know someone who does. Ask around or email this article on. For updates, subscribe to my blog in the box on the right.