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I love this toy as it is one of the few musical toys whose music or sound effects don't have me looking for the volume control within 5 minutes. I actually bought it whilst pregnant and used to play it to my bump.
It is quite small so good for small hands although it is a little bit heavy so I wouldn't give it to a baby under 6 months to play with in case they hit themselves with it. It consists of a bright courful handle in the shape of a caterpillar which my son likes to chew on, a central disc which is pressed to start the music and a screen which lights up in time to the music and is decorated with musical notes.
The music that is played are all familiar classical pieces which are easy on the ear. Pieces are by Mozart, Chopin, Vivaldi etc. For example the William Tell overture or the Lone Ranger music if you prefer its other name, the four seasons both spring and summer etc. My son likes to try to catch the lights as they flash as the music is played. There are two volume settings so you can select the one that you prefer. The sound is not too tinny and there are no annoying voices.
This is a handy toy for using at home or popping into your bag when out and about to keep your baby entertained. Do keep a good grip on it however as I did once see a mother drop it onto her baby as she was getting him changed after a swimming lesson. Her baby was ok but did cry for a bit as you might imagine. I have quite small fingers so can fit all four through the handle but if you have bigger hands you might struggled to do this.
My son was is was newborn seemed to enjoy listening to the music and now he is 8 months he likes to play with this toy on his own and can press the disc to start the music playing himself. He does sometimes press it several times so it jumps to the next piece which can be a little irritating but on the whole this is one of the less annoying musical toys he owns. I have found the battery life to be good as they haven't needed replacing yet. My friend has twin girls who are 18 months and they like this toy too
Overall my recommendation is to buy it either for your baby or bump or as a gift for a parent or parent to be. The cost is below £10 and I got mine from Amazon for around £8. At the time of writing this review it is selling on Amazon for £8.47. Update - having looked at the amazon image for this toy it has been improved and the new version now has a handle with beads on it and the central disc is a bit more colourful.
What is it?
It's an ipod for babies! About the size of a real ipod the Baby Einstein version features a chunky, beaded, caterpillar handle, a screen that flashes different coloured lights and a big button in the middle to play and select tunes. There is a sliding on/off switch which allows the device to play at one of two volumes. There are seven music selections by the composers Vivaldi, Mozart, Rossini and Chopin. I do not know my classical music well enough to identify all the pieces, but three are Mozart's Eine kleine Nachtmusik, Vivaldi's Four Seasons and Rossini's William Tell Overture. Each is played for over 30 seconds. The ipod requires batteries to operate and these are included with the product. The battery compartment is closed by a single crosshead screw.
The manufacturer's intentions
Baby Einstein was set up in the late 1990s by a parent who wanted to develop toys that had a specific focus on bringing the arts and humanities to babies. The focus was to be on quality, fun and interaction: encouraging babies natural inclination to discover the world. The takealong tunes ipod is intended to promote musical appreciation, visual perception and auditory development and obviously to introduce baby to classical music.
This is a favourite in our house because...
We received this at Christmas when Baby was effectively 3 months. She had very little strength in her arms she was still able to press the button to make the music play. It was the first real musical toy we had and we learned that when Baby was distressed or pretending not to be tired, the music on this had an instant calming effect. There is sufficient variety on it not to become repetitive too easily and there is a lovely tone to it, so it does not grate on adults either. She has also enjoyed looking at the lights flash on it.
Feeding has been our big issue. Baby is fed by nasogastric tube. We have had input from Speech and Language therapists and done food 'swipes' to enable her to have the sensation of taste. More recently we moved on to tiny tastes from a spoon. The way she was sitting in her chair and often looking downwards made this hard to achieve. By holding the takealong tunes above her in one hand I was able to make her look up and sit up straighter and this helped the feeding; took us a little closer to regular feeding in its own way (I am sure we will get there in the end)... Other toys were used, but none had the power of the takealong tunes. So- I have a fondness for it from these earlier times, and I include this as part of the review in case it can be of use to others.
Now Baby is ten months and the takealong tunes still soothes her. She beams when she manages to make it play, is using 'Peter Pointer' to operate it now and has shown more interest in the beads on the caterpillar handle. These she twiddles and chews.
This is a great modern musical toy for a baby, great music, handy size and flashing lights to boot.