Baby mobiles, whether ceiling or crib mobiles, can be a great way to calm and entertain your little one while they’re still very young.
If your baby struggles to settle in their crib on their own, a mobile can be a great way to distract them from your absence.
Or, if you simply want to pop them safely in their crib while you get a couple of chores done in the meantime, a mobile gives them something to look at and get some entertainment out of until you’re back.
However, baby mobiles can also be a serious safety risk if you don’t know what to look for. For this very reason, it’s crucial to choose one that’s safe, and easy to fix and position correctly – all of which are aspects we’ll be covering in this article.
Before we get into all the details, though, let’s take a look at what baby mobiles are and why you might want to buy one for your little one(s).
Best Baby Mobiles – a Quick Look at Our Top 7 Recommendations
- Tiny Love Meadow Days Take Along Mobile
- Tiny Love Soothe ‘n Groove Mobile
- SHILOH Baby Crib Battery-Operated Musical Mobile
- Tiny Love Starry Night Mobile
- Manhattan Toy Wimmer-Ferguson Infant Stim-Mobile
- Tiny Love Animal Friends Take Along Mobile
- Nurture Smart Crib Mobile
Note: When clicking on any of the above links, you’ll go to the product listing pages on Amazon, where you can read further information, see current prices and read customer reviews.
What Exactly is A Baby Mobile? And What Does it Do?
A baby mobile is a decoration that hangs above your little one. Typically, it’ll have a large central section and several smaller pieces that dangle down on strings.
If it attaches to the crib, it will probably be battery-operated so that it operates on its own; if not, you’ll need to give it a gentle tap to set it spinning or swaying.
A baby mobile is not a toy, though, and you should never treat it like one. Mobiles are not created to be touched by your baby, as there’s often one too many small parts involved that your baby could choke on.
As well as potentially being a lovely part of your nursery decor, baby mobiles can either sooth babies or engage them. Think about it this way: slower ones are for soothing, while faster ones are for entertaining.
How Old Should Your Baby Be to Use a Mobile?
Baby mobiles are best for very young babies and can be used from birth, as long as they’re fixed securely and well out of the baby’s reach.
Once your baby can push up onto their hands and knees, which will probably happen at 4 – 6 months of age, it may be time to stop using the mobile if it’s attached to the crib, as they could potentially grab for it.
If you have a baby mobile that’s attached to the ceiling, you may be able to continue using it for a bit longer.
Chances are, your child will lose interest in the mobile as they grow older. With time, they’ll feel more interested in their toys, as they can touch and do all sorts of things with these rather than simply look at them.
As long as the baby mobile is definitely secure and impossible for them to reach, though, you should be fine to continue using it for as long as you want.
What Are the Benefits of Baby Mobiles?
You might wonder if a baby mobile is just yet another unnecessary thing that new parents are encouraged to buy: after all, do you really need one?
While baby mobiles certainly aren’t an essential purchase, they do nonetheless have a number of important benefits to offer both you and your little one:
Helps Your Baby Develop Stronger Muscles
Your baby will move their eyes to follow the gentle motion of a mobile, which helps to strengthen the muscles that control eye movement. In certain cases, this may even help these muscles to develop properly.
Once they’re a little older and start to gain more head control, they’ll also turn their head to follow the mobile – again, strengthening their muscles and promoting good muscle development.
A little further down the line, they’ll “discover” their hands and begin to reach up toward the mobile. (Obviously, it’s crucial that you keep it fixed out of their reach.)
This helps them to develop their hand-eye coordination and may also help with their spatial awareness as they realize that the mobile isn’t actually within their reach.
Soothes Your Baby to Sleep
Let’s face it, what new parent out there doesn’t want their baby to settle calmly to sleep? If anything, they never seem to fall asleep quickly enough!
If you have to spend a lot of time rocking or patting your baby to sleep, or if you have to feed them to sleep and then very carefully transfer them to their crib so they don’t wake up startled, a baby mobile might be just what you need.
Babies will be distracted and soothed by the gentle motion of a mobile, and this can help them self-settle to sleep without you in the room.
Entertains Your Baby for Short Periods
While your baby isn’t going to lie happily awake in their crib for hours on end staring at their mobile, it can still buy you a few minutes of much-needed respite.
If you’ve got to get some chores done, or even simply answer the door, popping your baby in their crib with a mobile to keep them entertained can often be the easiest solution. That way, you know they’ll be completely safe.
A bright, engaging mobile might be enough to hold your baby’s attention while you deal with whatever needs to be dealt with and then get back to them with your undivided attention – a win-win for everyone.
What Should You Look for When Choosing a Baby Mobile?
When you’re thinking about buying a mobile for your baby, you’ll want to consider the following important standards, features and criteria:
Fixes Safely to the Crib or Ceiling
There are two key types of baby mobiles which you can choose from (and we’ll be taking a look at these in more detail in a moment): crib-mounted and ceiling-mounted.
Whichever of these two types you opt for, it needs to fasten very securely, so that there’s no risk of it falling on your baby.
This is especially crucial for large, heavy crib mobiles that could really hurt your baby if they were to fall.
So, whichever type you choose to buy, make sure that the baby mobile you’re considering is easy to fix in place.
While most baby mobiles will be constructed to be consistent with best practice guidelines, it’s important that you double check this first and don’t assume it’s a given.
This is especially true if you’re buying a handmade or antique baby mobile.
For instance, strings should be shorter than seven inches so that they don’t pose a strangulation risk.
Baby mobiles shouldn’t include any small, detachable parts: if anything looks like it could fall off into the crib, then don’t use the mobile there. You could always position it over a baby changing table instead – somewhere where you’ll be supervising your baby the entire time.
If you have a mobile that you previously bought and used for an older child, or a mobile that’s been handed on to you by someone else, do some research and make sure that it has not been recalled.
One V-Tech model was recalled in 2018, for instance, as some parents reported the clamp cracking and the mobile falling into the crib.
Fits Well With Your Nursery Decor
While this isn’t as important a consideration as safety standards are, you’ll still probably want to choose a mobile that matches reasonably well with your nursery decor.
That could mean matching a theme – perhaps a mobile with knights in armor for a “castle and dragon” themed nursery, for instance.
This is more important when choosing a ceiling mobile than a crib mobile, as the ceiling mobile will likely remain in place for quite a bit longer.
Crib mobiles tend to be fairly blocky plastic, too, rather than the tasteful wooden designs that you can get for ceiling mobiles.
Some battery powered baby mobiles can play music, which may or may not be a desirable feature for you and your little one.
Keep in mind that with these types, you’ll almost always have the option to use the mobile without the music, though.
If you do want a baby mobile that plays music, it’s worth getting to know what kind of music your baby reacts the best to, and getting a baby mobile that can play to your (and their) advantage.
It’s also worth it to get something that plays music you at least don’t hate, or else – it’ll drive you crazy!
The same few tinny notes playing on repeat might be fine for your baby, but might well be less than pleasant for you!
Looks Interesting to Your Baby
This is something that parents don’t always think of – but your baby won’t have the same view of their mobile as you do!
A baby mobile that looks lovely from the side, as you walk into the room, won’t necessarily look at all the same from underneath.
When you’re thinking about buying one of these things, lift it above your head and check that it still looks interesting and engaging.
If all you can see is the unpainted underside of little figures, then you might want to consider buying something else, as it likely won’t look anywhere near entertaining to your baby.
What Types of Baby Mobiles Are There?
There are two key types of baby mobiles out there for you to choose from:
- Crib mobiles (which are pretty much always motor powered).
- Ceiling mobiles (which are made of very light material that moves in the slightest breeze).
Let’s have a look at what each is–similarities and differences alike–and in which cases either of the two options is more suitable.
Crib-Mounted Baby Mobiles (Motor Powered)
Crib-mounted baby mobiles, as you might expect, attach to your baby’s crib.
They normally lock onto the top bar of the crib, using a strap or a screw system, and dangle around 18 inches above your baby’s head.
These mobiles often have the option to play music, and some are specifically designed so that there’s a “music player” part with buttons positioned in the crib for your child to interact with.
This could be a blessing or a curse, depending on how occupied it keeps your child and how much you like (or loathe!) the music.
Crib mobiles are made from a variety of materials, often with hard plastic for the main parts (the music player, the part that fixes to the crib, and the long “arm” that holds up the mobile itself). The dangling decorations are often fabric.
Some crib mobiles are designed so that once your baby gets too big for you to safely use the decorations, you can remove these and instead project a light show onto the ceiling.
There are also versions that can clip onto car seats and strollers as well as cribs, if you want something that’ll sooth your child while traveling.
Most use batteries, though some are wind-up. You may find yourself having to return to the room to wind them quite frequently, though, so it’s definitely a good idea to check with other parents about their experiences with using these.
The main drawback of crib mobiles is that they don’t tend to look so attractive (to adults, at least) as ceiling mobiles.
With that being said, they may well be very engaging and interesting to your little one, and that’s all that really matters. After all, you’re buying a baby mobile for them to enjoy, not for you!
Mobiles that dangle from the ceiling aren’t motor-powered – instead, they’re normally made of very light materials (fabric, thin wood, or thin plastic) that can move at the slightest breeze.
Obviously, you don’t want to risk them falling on your child! Even if they’re light enough not to hurt them, the parts aren’t safe for babies to handle or chew.
You can get ceiling baby mobiles in a huge array of different styles and materials. You’ll probably want to choose something that fits in with your nursery decor, too, especially if you’re anticipating leaving the mobile in place for many months to come.
Ceiling mobiles can be fairly inexpensive, and can last a long time. Even older children might still enjoy having a ceiling mobile, as long as the design isn’t too “babyish”.
They may not buy you much rest time, though. If there’s no breeze in the room, you’ll need to give the mobile a nudge to get it going, and you may well have to do so again every time it stops.
Some ceiling mobiles are also designed with adults rather than babies in mind. They might look great in the nursery, but they could be boring or not stimulating enough from a child’s perspective far beneath them.
Best Baby Mobiles – A More Detailed Look At Our Top 7 Recommendations
Now that you know all about the benefits that baby mobiles have to offer your little one(s) – as well as the peace of mind you get out of it – let’s have a look at some of the best baby mobiles available nowadays.
Tiny Love Meadow Days Take Along Mobile
This easy-to-attach mobile can be fixed to your little one’s crib, stroller, play yard, car seat … you name it!
If you’re going to be outside the house with your little one a lot, or away with them frequently, this makes for a great choice to create a consistent bedtime or naptime routine for your little one.
Or, you could simply use it as a good option to keep them entertained while in the car or the stroller.
The mobile itself is bright and cheerful, with three smiling soft fabric characters hanging from plastic “petals” that are decorated with different black and white designs underneath.
Many manufacturers don’t really consider how their product looks from a baby’s perspective, so this is a lovely plus that the manufacturers of this crib mobile thought about.
Besides providing great visual stimulation, the mobile can play up to 30 minutes of music–plenty to get your little one off to sleep.
Unlike with other crib mobiles, you won’t have to keep going in and out of your baby’s nursery every five minutes to restart the music. The mobile rotates, as you’d expect–and you can set it to rotate whether or not the music is playing.
- Designed to catch the attention of even the youngest of babies.
- You can set the mobile rotating with or without the music playing.
- Battery life is good, so you won’t need to constantly change the batteries.
- You can move the mobile around easily (e.g. from crib to stroller).
- Reasonable price.
- You may find it fiddly to get it to “grip” tightly enough when fixing it in different places.
- No volume control–sometimes, you may find the music is a little loud for settling your child to sleep.
Tiny Love Soothe ‘n Groove Mobile
This option grows with your little one: you can start off by using it in the crib, then remove the mobile part so that the main unit can be used as a music box by your toddler.
The mobile part itself has soft brightly colored animals that rotate.
As it’s designed primarily around its musical features, it has a wide range of choices here: six different options with a total of 18 different melodies.
You can pick from calm sleepy time music or more energetic playtime music–which means there’s something suitable for all times.
There are two good speakers, and you’ll find the sound quality is a lot better than that on many other similar products.
This crib mobile also incorporates a gentle nightlight–very useful for checking on your baby during the night, especially if you don’t want to purchase a separate nightlight for the nursery.
It fixes to the bars of your little one’s crib using a locking nut, so it should be safe and secure once in place.
- Lots of different songs to choose from, with different styles to suit bedtime, playtime, etc.
- Sound quality is a lot better than that on many other crib mobiles.
- You can keep using the main unit as a music box for your toddler to play with, long after they’ve lost interest in the mobile itself.
- Fixes securely to the bars of a crib–good for peace of mind!
- Bright animals catch your little one’s attention.
- Includes a nightlight (though you can still play music even with this off).
- You may find it makes a “click” sound, or that the motor noise can be a bit loud at times.
- Can only be attached to a crib–so, not the best option if you’re looking for something to attach on a play yard.
SHILOH Baby Crib Musical Mobile
If you want to put together your own crib mobile, then this is a great option to consider.
It’s not a mobile itself (so the name might seem a bit misleading!)–instead, it’s a rotating music box that you can hang your own mobile from.
You could also use it to replace part of another mobile.
There’s a hole at the top and bottom where you can attach it to the “arm” part of a mobile, and where you can dangle the mobile itself from the box.
Unlike many other similar options out there that play music, this music box has a volume control that can be turned up and down (not just a choice between two or three set volumes, or no option to turn the music down at all).
There’s a good range of different songs to choose from as well, so you and your little one won’t be hearing the same thing over and over again on a loop until it feels like your brains are about to explode.
You can skip between them using the “forward” and “back” buttons, too.
- Great sound quality, compared with many other crib mobiles on the market.
- Full volume control so you can play the music at exactly the volume you want (or turn it off completely).
- Wide range of music–including the usual classical options, but also some Disney songs!
- Rotation can be turned on and off, so you can use this as just a music box if you choose to.
- Could easily be used to extend the life of an old mobile.
- Auto shuts off after 30 minutes. but you can hit “play” again to hear the next 30 minutes of songs.
- It’s only a music box, and it doesn’t include attachments for the mobile itself or to fix it to a crib.
- Batteries may need replacing quite frequently, which requires removing a screw.
Tiny Love Starry Night Mobile
This mobile comes with a cute “canopy” above it, and you can project a moon and stars onto this canopy to help soothe your little one at night.
If you want to, you can remove the canopy and the toys altogether to create a music box that projects straight onto the ceiling–or you can use it as a nightlight, with the canopy still on.
There are nine different songs you can switch between, so you won’t get too sick of them. They play for a total of thirty minutes.
You can adjust the volume up and down, too, to find a level that’s perfect for your baby (and for you).
It’s designed to fit on most cribs, and you could even attach it to a stroller if you want to. It comes with dangling fabric toys–a yellow moon and yellow stars–that your child can watch as they spin.
- Volume control allows you to get the music to just the right volume.
- Nine different tunes that play for thirty minutes–you don’t have to continually press the button to put these back on.
- Grows with your child, and you can remove the canopy and mobile to project lights directly onto the ceiling.
- Screws securely onto the bars of your little one’s crib.
- Easy to change the batteries.
- Dangling toys are all rather similar, and don’t look like they’re of very high quality.
- Underneath of the carousel isn’t decorated, so you’ll need to use the light projector if you want your little one to have something to look at.
- You may find the mobile sometimes moves jerkily as it rotates.
Manhattan Toy Wimmer-Ferguson Infant Stim-Mobile
This crib mobile has a clever design with ten double-sided interchangeable cards that you can add and remove as your little one grows.
These have high contrast graphics – spots, lines, circles, and so on. They’re labeled by age to suggest the best ones to use as your baby’s vision develops.
You can even raise and lower the mobile so that you can have the cards close to your baby when they still can’t see very far.
It’s designed to fix onto a crib, though there’s also a clip-on travel version you could use. So, if you’re likely to be moving it around a lot, you might want to pick that one instead.
There’s no music box or batteries–it’s just the mobile itself and the arm that attaches to the crib.
If you want a traditional mobile that you set gently spinning by touching it, rather than one that incorporates music, lights, or similar, then this could work brilliantly for your little one.
- Designed to hold your baby’s attention and help them develop.
- Clever use of black-and-white and high contrast color patterns that you can switch around.
- Doesn’t have batteries that need changing or anything else complex.
- Could potentially be used with a third-party music box (see the SHILOH Baby Crib Musical Mobile we talked about in this list).
- Light enough to spin with a fan blowing gently on it.
- Simple, classic option that doesn’t have the very bright look of other mobiles.
- Hanging length can be adjusted easily.
- Some people might deem it a little pricey for something that is essentially a plastic arm plus a hanging mobile with cards.
- Most suitable for younger babies, not the best out there for older ones.
- You might find that the cards can fall off quite easily at times.
Tiny Love Take Along Mobile
If you want something that you can take with you wherever you go, then this is a great option to consider. It has a clever folding design and attaches to pretty much anything that comes to mind.
There are three connectors: a clamp for play yards and cribs, a clip to attach to a stroller canopy, and a strap that can go round the handle of a car seat.
Like most mobiles, it has bright fabric characters and can play music. You can’t adjust the volume, but it’s not overly loud–plus, you can turn the music off if you just want the animals to rotate.
It’ll play for a full 30 minutes, so you won’t have to keep setting it going.
It spins more slowly than some other options out there, which you’ll likely find helpful if you’re using it to soothe rather than to entertain your little one.
It’s particularly well suited to younger babies.
Compared to many other crib mobiles, it’s also a fairly budget-friendly option–partly because it’s smaller than non-portable alternatives.
- Great portable option that’s easy to fix to lots of different things (play yard, crib, stroller, car seat, etc).
- Music isn’t too loud, it’s gentle and soothing.
- Batteries last a good while, so you won’t need to constantly change them.
- Durable and lasting, even if you move it around a lot.
- No volume control for the music–your only options are “on” and “off”.
- Although it can be attached to a car seat, it’s not really meant to be used in a moving vehicle.
Nurture Smart Crib Mobile
This mobile definitely isn’t the cheapest option out there, but it’s designed by medical professionals and is used in lots of major children’s hospitals.
Unlike most crib mobiles out there, it doesn’t have any detachable parts that can fall off into the crib, which means extra safety for your little one and less chances of suffocation.
It’s strong and durable, and designed to be easily cleaned and disinfected. This is crucial if you have a preemie or a little one who’s vulnerable to infections.
This also means it’d make a great option for a daycare setting, where you might want to use it for multiple infants over a period of potentially years.
It offers not only music, but also some other options that aren’t common at all with mobiles–including white noise and womb sounds, plus wave sounds that you too will probably find relaxing for yourself!
You can set the timer depending on how long you want it to operate for, which means you can have it going for up to an hour to ensure your little one’s asleep by the time it turns off.
As well as projecting lights and offering both black-and-white and color pictures, this mobile has a mirror that your baby can look at.
- Designed by medical professionals to offer the best comfort and stimulation for your little one.
- Offers lots of different options: projection, a mirror, different types of images, different sounds, and more.
- Easy to clean – you can disinfect the whole thing too.
- Strong and durable, making it a great option if you’re planning to have more than one child, or if you run a daycare (or similar).
- If your little one was in the NICU and had something like this, buying one for home will help keep things familiar for them so that they won’t have to get used to something entirely new all over again.
- Can only be fitted to a crib (not to a play yard or anything similar).
- Not a budget-friendly option, can cost multiple times more than other crib mobiles on the market. It’s way more advanced than most others, though, which justifies the price-tag for many parents.
How Many Baby Mobiles Should You Buy?
You might well only want to buy one mobile to position above your baby’s crib, but some parents like to have more than one for different purposes.
For example, you might have a ceiling mobile hanging in the nursery at home, plus a portable clip-on mobile that you can attach to the stroller when out of the house with your little one.
Or, you might have a crib mobile attached to your baby’s crib plus a ceiling mobile dangling over the changing mat to distract your little one during diaper changes.
How to Use Baby Mobiles Effectively and Safely
Despite all the benefits they have to offer both you and your little ones, baby mobiles do pose some safety risks, so it’s really important to be careful about how you use them.
Make Sure Crib Mobiles are Firmly Attached
Crib mobiles need to be firmly attached to the top or bars of the crib – whether that’s with a strap, a clip, or something that screws them into place.
To do this properly, make sure you read and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines carefully, as different models of baby mobiles might have different instructions to follow.
Once you’ve attached a crib mobile, give it a good tug to make sure there’s no way it’s going to come loose and slip into the crib – or, even worse, fall onto your sleeping little one.
It’s a good idea to get in the routine of checking it every time you pop your baby down for a sleep. This only takes a second to do, but it’s very important – as it could prevent a nasty accident.
Choose Mobiles With Short Strings
Modern baby mobiles should meet modern safety standards, with strings no longer than 7 inches.
Older models, though, may not match up to these safety standards – and handmade baby mobiles might not, either.
If you’re making your own baby mobile, don’t be tempted to have very long, dangling strings. Instead, try to stick with 7 inches as an absolute maximum.
Make Sure the Decorations Can’t Fall Off
While ceiling mobiles will likely be high enough that there’s no risk of even a toddler reaching them, it’s really important to make sure the decorations can’t fall into the crib as well.
It’s more dangerous than you might imagine, as a loose string is all it takes for part of the mobile to end up within your baby’s reach.
Before putting the mobile up, tug gently on the decorations to make sure they’re firmly attached. You might want to check it every so often, too, to ensure that everything is still well fixed in place.
Remove a Crib Mobile Once Your Baby Can Push Up
If you’re using a crib mobile, then it’s likely to be within your baby’s reach once they can push up onto their hands and knees, at the age of around 4 – 6 months.
At this point in your baby’s life, and for their own safety and well-being, you should remove the mobile so that there’s no risk of them getting hold of the decorative toys.
With some baby mobile models, you can take off the “mobile” part and continue to use the rest as a music player and light projector. This could be a great option if you’re concerned your little one will miss their mobile after it’s gone.
Wrapping it Up
Baby mobiles can be a lot of fun for your little one.
Whether that’s as something soothing and relaxing to watch, or something entertaining to explore in the form of pressing the music buttons – one thing’s for sure, it’s a whole lot of fun!
They can also be a gorgeous addition to your nursery. Choosing the right ceiling mobile could make a wonderful central focus point that helps tie together your nursery’s theme or colors.
By choosing the right baby mobile and using it safely, you’ll be able to let your little one enjoy watching it without any worries.
You might also decide you want to get a second one to position above your changing mat, or even a clip-on mobile that can easily be attached to your baby’s car seat or stroller for some much needed on-the-go entertainment.
Whatever works for you, momma!
Product photos: © Amazon.com
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