The life of a HABA pacifier chain

How a HABA pacifier chain is created – from the initial idea to a market-ready product

The anticipation of a baby’s arrival is the most wonderful joy. And it comes with many preparations big and small – including the subject of baby products. In addition to clothing, cribs, and strollers, pacifiers are a must. Parents always have one or several of them to hand – no matter if the little ones are at home or out and about. If their favorite pacifier gets lost or falls on the ground and gets dirty, tears are inevitable. Pacifier chains made of wood or fabric, which can be quickly and securely attached to the little ones’ clothing by a clip, are a simple remedy.

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Pacifier chains are not only practical everyday companions and beautiful gifts for a new baby, but also playfully stimulate the senses of the little ones.  The colorful wooden or fabric parts encourage children to grasp, thus providing their first haptic experiences. But it is also particularly exciting for babies to discover the acoustic elements such as bells or clattering plastic rings. In short pacifier chains are small but talented all around toys. However the development and production of a pacifier chain is far more complicated than it seems at first glance, because there are many months between the designer’s initial idea and the finished product that reaches the little customer’s home.

The complex process of developing a pacifier chain has to cover all of the following aspects:

  • Safety tests
  • Chemical inspections
  • High-quality wood
  • Made in Germany
  • Standards
  • Completely harmless
  • Solvent-free, water-based paints
  • Many years of experience
  • Baby products
  • Raw materials from sustainable cultivation
  • Child-friendly design
  • External test methods
  • Test, test, test
  • Fabric
  • Easy to fasten

How are the ideas for pacifier chains born?

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Lots of creative minds are at work in the HABA Design Department. They draw, design, tinker, test, and optimize again and again ... until the designers and product managers are satisfied with the designs for the new products. But before that can happen, a brilliant idea is needed to start with – and this is very different for every designer. “I get ideas when I play with children or watch how they use things, build and stack things, knock things over, or use things in ways other than intended. I learn a lot – especially how to keep a child’s eye on things, or to try to do so. I then incorporate this into my designs,” explains Mirka Schröder, who has been working in the HABA Design Department since 2013. Among other things, she develops products made of wood and fabric for the baby/toddler segment.

Test, test ... and test again

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On the basis of sketches and design drawings, the first samples are finally produced in-house. And already here the motto is: test, test, test. Mirka Schröder knows from years of experience: “pacifier chains are tough. They look so simple: a few figures and beads threaded together, done. Yeah, right! It’s hard to believe how many different tests a pacifier chain has to pass before it’s ready for series production.” The Design Department puts the samples through their paces to make sure they’re fun, but also safe, for example with template and impact tests. The samples are then tested extensively both by the strict in-house Quality Assurance Department and by external, independent testing institutes. Every HABA product therefore goes through several stages of quality assurance and is constantly optimized.

HABA on the outside means quality on the inside

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High-quality wood from sustainable forestry

At HABA we have a principle: toys are only as good as their materials and their workmanship. That’s why we’re careful to ensure high quality when selecting materials! And we constantly check their workmanship – both during in-house production and at our suppliers. This also applies, for example, to HABA fabric pacifier chains, which are developed by us in house and manufactured by long-standing partner companies who we have carefully selected and whose production sites we regularly visit. HABA wooden pacifier chains are manufactured exclusively at the company site in Bad Rodach.

We think that wood is one of the most beautiful and natural raw materials around. This is why wood products have been an indispensable part of the HABA range since the company was founded 80 years ago The robust beech wood that we use for our pacifier chains, among other things, comes from sustainable forestry in German woods within 150 km of our company site.

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Solvent-free, water-based paints and stains

In almost all toddler toys, shape and color form an inseparable unit – and the same goes for pacifier chains. The wooden elements featuring high-quality workmanship get their unmistakable appearance thanks to the bright colors and beautiful printed motifs. It goes without saying that we only use solvent-free, water-based paints and stains. “Toddlers explore a lot with their mouths. Toys are drooled and nibbled on. Everything has to be absolutely safe,” explains Matthias Löhnert, who is responsible for the quality assurance of HABA toys. “All HABA toddler toys – whether made of wood, plastic, fabric, or other materials – undergo strict in-house quality assurance procedures and external tests by technical inspection association TÜV Rheinland.

Safety is essential

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Trust is good, control is better, so the saying goes. We believe: many years of experience is very good, rigorous controls are indispensable, and maximum safety is essential. This means that HABA products have to endure a lot before they reach customers’ homes: chemical inspections, for example, but also template stress tests and mechanical safety tests.

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Template tests

Both the HABA designers and the staff of the in-house Quality Assurance Department conduct template tests. These ensure two things: firstly, that the elements of a product are so large that children under three cannot put them into their mouths and swallow them.

Secondly, they check that elements – such as the plastic clip on the pacifier chains – always have a diameter of less than 25 mm, so that there is no risk of suffocation even if they get into the mouth.

In addition, the inspectors naturally also ensure that the overall length of the products is selected so there is no risk of strangulation. In the case of pacifier chains, that means no longer than 22 cm. 

Soaking test and tensile test

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Before all other tests, a soaking test is carried out. The wooden toys or wooden pacifier chains are completely soaked in water 4 times for 4 minutes. There is a 10-minute break in between. “Every graspable part is then pulled for 10 seconds with a 10 kg tool,” explains Matthias Löhnert. “The standard actually only requires 9 kg for toddlers’ toys and pacifier chains. But for us, adding an extra kilo means extra safety. No small parts that can be swallowed may be released after all these tests.”

Impact and drop tests

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In the impact test, a weight of 1 kg is dropped onto the toy once from a height of 10 cm. When pacifier chains are tested, the same weight is dropped from the same height a total of 5 times. In the drop test, pacifier chains – and toys in general – are dropped a total of 5 times from a height of 137 cm. This means that HABA goes beyond the requirements of the European standard, which only stipulates a drop height of 85 cm, and complies with the stricter US requirements. Since both impact and drop tests are always carried out at HABA, the products have to withstand a lot.

Testing of saliva and perspiration fastness

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Essentially, all clutching toys, building blocks, and pacifier chains are tested by TÜV Rheinland LGA Nuremberg for saliva and perspiration fastness according to DIN 53160. “Internally, we monitor the requirements by soaking a cloth in saliva and sweat simulant and rubbing this several times with pressure over the polished wooden parts,” explains Matthias Löhnert.

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Compliance with the strict standards in force

In material and workmanship, our products comply with all European and national regulations for toy safety and also meet the US standards, more precisely the ASTM Standard Consumer Safety Specification on Toy Safety (F 963).

They comply with the European Toy Safety Directive (2009/48/EC), the requirements of the EU Directive on General Product Safety (2001/95/EC), and the EU Standard for Toy Safety (EN 71). Another important standard in the production of baby and toddler products is the Pacifier Holder Standard EN 12586. Every HABA pacifier chain is externally tested by TÜV Rheinland.

HABA pacifier chains feature clips made of high-quality, sturdy plastic that fully comply with the applicable standards. The clips have a diameter of less than 25 mm, which means that no additional ventilation openings are required.

Stroller chains, clutching toys, etc. – additional everyday companions for the little ones

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As you can see, the development of a pacifier chain involves much more effort than it seems at first glance. But also stroller chains or clutching toys, play gyms, or mobiles go through the complex production and testing process. But once they have survived this, they can devote themselves to their actual mission: accompanying the little ones in day-to-day life from the very beginning, entertaining them, ensuring a good mood, and putting a smile on their faces.