Thursday, November 1, 2018

New Craft Love: Making My Own Silicone Teethers


With a little one in the house again my crafty eye has been turning to things to make for him.  My latest project obsession (which has become an addiction) is making silicone teething toys. It's just so fun creating our own designs & bead combinations and it's been totally worth it, because my little guy loves playing with them all.  

Beyond being great for teething, silicone teethers & pacifier clips are easy to keep clean and really hold his interest.  So many baby items can't be washed (hello ridiculous spot clean only instructions) and get gross right away from drool, spit-up and other baby made messes. Being able to do a proper hand wash with soap on them is ideal.  


I'd seen a lot of cute silicone bead teether, pacifier clips and necklaces around, but some of the styles seemed a little boring and buying just a few would've added up to a tidy sum.  So this momma did what I usually do - figure out how to make my own.  


I've made a number with different textures, colors and sizes to be appealing for my little guy's discerning eye.  I even made this seasonal one for fall, which may be my personal favorite.


I can also attach them to many of our modes of baby travel so there's less chance of them getting lost...


or falling on a dirty floor while we're out and about.


There's a lot of varying info out there on making teething items like these, some good, some a bit reckless considering they're meant for babies.  As a result, I'd rather not wade into liability territory by publishing any full tutorials for them.  Instead, I'm sharing some key factors I've found from many different places in the hopes that it'll help others be a bit more careful when DIY-ing this kind of thing, or even when buying them pre-made from small businesses. 


The most important part with making baby items is safety.  I did a lot of researching before I got started and have gleaned this info for making things as safe as I can.  

Silicone Quality 

I've seen a number of craft bloggers sharing that they made their own silicone bead teether & pacifier clips using materials they bought in bulk on Amazon or eBay.  Those product links don't show they've been third-party tested by the seller and don't have any certificates showing compliance with FDA or CPSIA requirements (confirming they are actually food grade and BPA & phthalate free).  I love a bargain as such as the next gal, but do you really want to cheap out on materials your baby is going to put in his/her mouth?  Maybe they're fine, but maybe they're not - is it worth the risk to save a couple of bucks?  Buy supplies (or finished teethers) from a shop that has all this documentation clearly shown.

Technique

I was also pretty shocked to see a number of tutorials, even on legit silicone bead supply sites that encourage buyers to even open their own teething item businesses, just stringing a bunch of beads on a cord and then tying it onto a clip or in a knot make it into a teething ring.  And with lengths that varied widely.  That all seemed really careless to me for something you're giving to a baby.

Knotting: for one, I make knots in between every single bead.  It takes more time and maybe doesn't look as slick esthetically, but I feel better knowing if one of these ever got cut or snapped, that all the other beads would stay in place, not become a choke-palooza or roll to the four corners of the Earth in a store or outside.


I recently discovered a technique (which required me using closed captioning + Google translate every 5 seconds to translate a Dutch video to fully understand), that was done with two strands of cording so that the knots could actually be pulled inside the beads as they were added so the knots were hidden.  It was trickier to do, but it gave the no-knot look and feels crazy strong.  There's no way this thing is coming apart.


Length: I also have been careful to keep the length 22cm or less, not including the clasp/clip.  European safety standards (which seem a lot clearer and more stringent) say a pacifier clip shouldn't ever be longer than 22cm to avoid being a strangulation hazard.  


Cording:  I always use strong nylon cord.  I've seen a number of places selling or showing how to make items using satin or grosgrain ribbon, but again, one of the safety standards in Europe is that whatever the cording material is, it should be able to withstand nearly 10kg of weight without snapping or breaking.  I haven't tested any basic ribbon to see if it actually can withstand something like a sack of potatoes or bowling balls weighing from it, but it certainly feels flimsier than the cording, so I'm not taking a chance. 


No Permanent Loop: I also use breakaway clasps on anything that has loop or ring shape. They make it easy to attach these to our stroller & bouncy seat belly bars and car seat, but give extra safety so little body parts can't get tangled up in them.


Lastly, which should go without saying, but I'm going to say it anyway, I only let my little one play with these items when fully supervised.  There's no way I'd leave anything in with him at nap time or when I can't see him playing with it.  

Now we have some great items and since I made them myself I know they have the safe features we need. I'm also trying other fun uses for silicone beads beyond baby which I can't wait to share too.  Stay tuned!  



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