HABA Toys Information and Buying Guide
HABA is one of the oldest toymakers from Germany. Founded in 1938, HABA has continued to “stand up for the little guy” by making high quality toys and games for babies and young children. In a world where infant safety is more important than ever before, HABA toys are a great choice that will stand the test of time. These are the kinds of toys that are passed down for generations.
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More recently, HABA has expanded its award-winning line of wooden toys and traditional games to include children’s furniture and unique room decorations. These new offerings are still in line with HABA’s core mission, which actually can be seen in their name itself. In German, HABA stands for “high quality products and age appropriate materials.”
HABA also “stands up for the little guy” by supporting small businesses and partnering with boutique retailers rather than the Big Box stores. Clearly, this toy maker values traditional values, in its toys and also in its relationships. That’s why we love HABA!
Wooden Toys: the Naturally Green Heart of HABA
When HABA began in 1938 as the Habermaaß Company, its first product were colorfully painted building bricks. The bricks were made from maple trees harvested in the forests of Germany.
Wooden blocks became very popular during the Baby Boom of the 1940s, and in fact HABA’s most popular product is still their natural building blocks. Throughout their decades of success, HABA never stopped building their toys with quality hardwood like Maple and Beech.
Quality wooden toys are still one of the best ways to keep babies safe while they are having fun. Wood is naturally germ-resistant, which is why it is the perfect material to teeth with. Painted wooden toys use non-toxic water-based stains that are safe for long term playing (and knawing!).
HABA has gone a step further and passed the strict European Environment Standard ISO 1400, which insures active protection of the environment at every step of production. In their own words, “We assume responsibility for our environment.” We think this is important for any business operating today, and are delighted to share how HABA is naturally environmentally conscious.
Just as it was seventy years ago before “green” was even a buzzword.
HABA Buyers Guide
Now that you know more about HABA, here’s a quick breakdown of their most popular toys and new additions to the HABA family. As with all toys, always consult recommended ages before bringing something home to your toddler or young child, and consult your pediatrician if you have lingering questions or concerns.
Infant Toys and Teethers
Babies need to have safe toys around, no matter how vigilant parents may be! HABA’s series of infant toys and teethers are made of all natural materials. If your baby cannot keep her toys out of her mouth, these can be great additions to the playroom.
This classic wooden teething ring by HABA is a longtime favorite all over the world. Called the Kringelring, this teether is a flexible ring of painted Beech and Maple pieces on a sturdy cloth-covered elastic band.
All the primary colors are here too, creating a visually exciting toy that can later come in handy as an educational toy.
HABA also produces a wide assortment of clutching toys, which also can double as teethers. Clutching toys are best for infants 6 months to about 18 months. (After 18 months, toddlers are moving too fast to clutch on to anything!)
These toys are meant to be visually attractive and also familiar. Many clutching toys incorporate elements such as animals, plants, and friendly faces. We are particularly fond of the Pirate clutching toy, with its adorable compass mirror and cheerful red chime.
HABA’s most popular toys remain their wooden block sets. These toys often become family heirlooms because of their sturdy design and perennial interest by toddler and preschoolers.
Building blocks are great because they are popular with a wide range of ages, but HABA block sets are designed for different age groups in mind. Some block sets even interest elementary school-aged children as well as preschoolers!
HABA’s First Blocks, pictured above, are a great choice for toddlers 12 months or older. This colorful set of blocks is visually stimulating but also uses texture and sounds to captivate a baby’s attention.
As with all HABA toys, these wooden blocks are non-toxic. Check out the stringed wooden beads in the red block. These are the kind of details to look for that keep babies interested for long periods of time.
Other blocks sets, such as the HABA Discovery Blocks, are suitable for children between 12 months and 4 years old. We don’t have to remind parents how rare it is for a toy to be suitable for such a long spread!
Each block in this set has a unique offering to discover: one is a kaleidoscope, another has a mirror (a safety mirror of course), and the others make various sounds when touched or rattled. These blocks are great for toddlers, but slightly older children may incorporate them into other designs when building.
For older children, the Russian blocks or the HABA Pyramid blocks (shown here) really bring out children’s imaginations. It’s always delightful to build castles, and the foundational blocks make it easy for children to develop their own imaginary landscapes. We love the look, feel and smell of the untreated Beech wood used in these blocks, too. Refreshing!
HABA has other kits that include Medieval buildings, a Roman bridge kit, and even a leaning Tower of Pisa.
Games and Puzzles by HABA
HABA is now producing quality games and puzzles with the same philosophy in mind as their traditional toys: Children at play are children in their natural state. It’s our job as parents and educators to provide our children with toys that best match their curiosity and open-mindedness.
All of the classic baby puzzles made by HABA use natural beech and maple puzzle pieces. Some also have magnetic backings to keep the pieces snugly in place. Designs such as Sunny Land Puzzle (shown to the left) are great for two years olds. The pieces form a happy home scene but can also be used on their own in free play.
Other puzzles by HABA are truly original. Take for instance this delightful “puzzle” known as Indian Summer by HABA. Designed for babies at 36 months or older, this abstract puzzle helps children develop visual concepts such as symmetry, contrast and pattern recognition.
The best part is that there is no correct design in this wooden-framed tile-swapper, encouraging those artistic genes to activate. HABA suggests that 10 years is the age limit on this toy, but we have found ourselves pretty captivated as well!
Children’s Furniture and Decorations by HABA
HABA’s most exciting modern products are their whimsical line of children’s furniture and decorations. For example, who’s little girl could resist this Dream Gondala?
This daybed is a wonderful place for young dreamers three and up to read, nap, or imagine to their heart’s content, all behind a delicate veil. For older children, the veil can be removed and the wood-frame piece functions as a couch.
HABA has several more bedroom tents and mini-forts like the Dream Gondala that emphasize the values of imaginative play and daydreaming.
HABA has a new line of creative and fun bedroom rugs, too. This Labyrinth rug is just shy of four feet in length and width, providing children with lots of built-in adventures.
Three years olds may just love the pattern, but five year olds will delight in tracing their favorite doll or toy car in and out of the fun maze.
Now that HABA is widening its vision for a childhood full of play and imagination, it is safe to say that we can look forward to more unique toys and furnishings from this innovative company. In this modern era of a “throw-away” culture, it is refreshing that some toy makers still remember what is truly important: high quality toys that stimulate our children’s minds and senses, made from natural materials in a sustainable way, and are built to last.
In our book, HABA is leading the way of toy makers that combine the best of the old and the new.
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Update: For news about the September 2008 voluntary HABA recall, follow our link and find out if you are eligible for a refund.