Baby Jamz toys and music offer an update on the classics

Music World Entertainment and its founder Matthew Knowles — father of singers Beyonce and Solange Knowles — created ‘Baby Jamz’ to provide parents with hip-hop inspired toys and music for preschoolers and babies. The products are all musical in nature and feature singing by Solange herself, while Solange’s 3-year-old son Daniel Julez appears on all product packaging. The full product line was tested by our soon-to-be 4-year-old son Owen, and our 13-month-old Sam; Each item is available exclusively at Wal-Mart.

The Boppin’ Tunes Boom Box ($14.76) is a shape sorter with the added bonus of letting kids ‘mix’ three nursery rhymes — ‘Hip, Hop Buckle My Shoe,’ ‘Twinkle, Twinkle’ and ‘Wheels on the Bus.’ When a child fits the shape in its correct spot, the shape lights up and a short portion of the nursery rhyme is sung; When all shapes are in place, the nursery rhyme is sung in full, in order to motivate sustained play. A microphone on the side of the boom box allows for three ‘add-in’ sounds. Sam liked this toy quite a bit and plays with it pretty happily, especially the microphone buttons. Designed to look like a DJ, it’s a cute toy and we also liked it. My only complaint would be that because the shapes don’t stay securely in their respective spots (as they would with a traditional shape sorter), they’re fairly easy to lose, and once they’re gone the toy would be essentially useless.

The Move ‘N Groove Dance Mat ($19.84) was a little slow to catch on in our house. Owen loves to dance — he’ll dance in the aisles of the grocery store if the mood strikes — but he’s not really aware of the dance mat concept. We tried to show him how to use it properly, but he’s just not that keyed in yet to the idea of following the beat and using sound effects as an accompaniment. At the end of the day, he just wants to jump up and down and make noise. And he made plenty of noise with this toy! It features three nursery rhymes — ‘Bingo,’ ‘Mary Had A Little Lamp’ and ‘This Old Man’ — and seven dance-activated ‘spots’ on the mat for added hip-hop sounds. As a general rule, there’s not much order in Owen’s dancing, and there wasn’t much order to the songs he made with the dance mat. He enjoyed himself, just not really in the way I think the toy is intended.

The Mix Master Music Chair ($24.77) is designed for children ages 12-36 months. Sam and Owen both were intrigued by the chair, but what I liked most about it is the height. At 13-months, Sam isn’t really strong enough to sit in a chair on his own — but the Mix Master Music Chair is low enough that his feet still touch the ground, which in turn kept him relatively steady in the chair. A large musical note on the chair seat activates the music, and kids can change the song and sound effects by pressing light-up buttons on each arm of the chair. As with the dance mat, when being used by a baby or toddler, what you’re most often left with is a disjointed jumble of sounds and songs. But both kids like sitting in the chair and that’s good enough for me!

The Jingle and Jam Keychain ($8.88) and Funky Tones Cell Phone ($8.88) are two smaller toys that are perfect for when you’re on-the-go. The keychain, at first glance, isn’t unlike any of the other keychains on the market for babies, except that it offers three buttons which play hip-hop nursery melodies. Not many keychains can say that! The cell phone also plays three nursery rhymes — ‘Old McDonald,’ ‘Buckle My Shoe’ and ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb.’ Although the cell phone appears to have many smaller number buttons, in actuality the songs are activated by pushing one of two larger buttons. Both boys enjoy these toys, especially in the car, and they’re small enough to stash in a diaper bag or purse.


If you find yourself thinking that you can’t possibly sing ‘Wheels On The Bus’ one more time, and you’ve had a tired, boring rendition of ‘Old McDonald’ stuck in your head for days on end, the Baby Jamz Nursery Rhymes CD Volume 1 ($10.47) might be just what you need to break out of the rut. The songs are beautifully sung by Solange Knowles, and they’re so catchy that you really will find yourself bouncing around to nursery rhymes that never inspired you to dance before. All the standards are covered, from ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ to ‘Hush Little Baby’ to ‘Skip To My Lou.’ We take this CD with us in the car, Owen listens to it in his room, and wherever its playing I am never unhappy to hear it — which is rare for me when it comes to children’s music. If you have a budding dancer on your hands, or you’re just looking for something different, this CD is a must-have.

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