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What’s The Thing That Hangs Over The Baby Crib? (All About Mobiles!)


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As a parent or soon-to-be parent, it’s easy to forget what you’re doing or thinking about. It’s overwhelming at times and the little things may just seem to slip your mind. The spinny thing that you are thinking about is a fantastic addition to the crib for various reasons.

What is the spinny thing that hangs over a baby crib? A ”mobile” is what you call the spinny thing that hangs over a baby crib unless you’re in the UK, then it’s called a ”cot mobile”. Although they can be a great source of visual stimulation and entertainment, special care should be taken to avoid them becoming a safety hazard.

Keep reading to learn how you and your baby can benefit from putting a mobile in or above their crib. 

Are Baby Mobiles Important?

While optional, many parents consider them to be an important part of their baby’s nursery and crib because of the entertainment and stimulation they provide.

You may not realize it, but the mobile you hang above or attach to the crib has outstanding benefits not only for the baby, for you as well. These mobiles are specially designed to calm, soothe, and educate your baby.

Here are some of the benefits provided.

Sensory Interaction & Development

Mobiles are a fantastic form of sensory interaction. They are supposed to stimulate your child’s brain function to help with neural development. Neural development is how your baby builds its nervous system and makes connections between their body, mind, and the outside world.

This starts during the early stages of embryonic development and continues into adulthood.  

Visual Stimulation

Babies spend much of their time trying to process what they are looking at. Hanging a mobile above their head aids in their visual stimulation. When babies are first born, their brain isn’t organized like an adult brain would be. The brain is still growing and as it does, it receives input from all five of its senses.

Providing constant visual input to the baby’s eyes, that specific part of the brain will thrive. The best way to do this with a mobile is to find one with light and dark contrasting colors. These provide the most powerful visual signals to the baby’s brain. If the mobile has moving parts, this will also help draw your baby’s eyes and help her to follow an object.

Motor Skills

If your baby is constantly looking at their mobile, they are beginning to recognize how it turns and moves. They will then begin to follow it with their eyes. As they are looking up at it, they may also begin to judge distances and spatial awareness.

After that, they will begin to reach up for it or reach for toys you put in front of them, allowing them to develop hand-eye coordination. This in turn will help with the development of their fine and gross motor skills. Once your baby can do this, however, you will need to remove the mobile from their crib or adjust it higher so they don’t pull it down. 

Sleep Aid

This is probably more for the parent than the baby.

Sleep is crucial, to both the parent and the baby. If neither one gets to sleep, both are grouchy and that makes for a very frustrating day, Mobiles that play music or white noise aid in relaxation and can help your baby fall fast asleep. If a consistent bedtime routine is created with the mobile involved, this can make bedtime much simpler.

No More Boredom

You may find yourself placing your baby in their crib just so you can get something done around the house. The mobile eliminated boredom that may cause your baby to become fussy, thus inhibiting your much-needed break. If you have a mobile that allows you to change the position of the toys, change them every so often to give your baby a scenery change. 

Is a Mobile Safe for Baby?

For the most part, yes.

A mobile, as long as it is properly placed, is safe for your baby to gaze at. They should be at least 16-inches away from your baby at all times. Once your baby has begun to sit up or stand, they may try to reach for it and pull it down or worse, pull the toys off and choke on them if they are small enough. Once they have reached this stage, remove the mobile. 

If they enjoy the visual stimulation, opt for a mobile that you can attach to the crib rails. These do not contain loose parts. Some of them light up to create a pattern on the ceiling and some may have moving scenery within a heavy-duty plastic casing. These can easily be moved around the crib. 

Where Do You Put a Mobile in a Crib?

While many pack n’ play-style cribs or bassinet might feature a mobile already built-in, it’s also common to purchase one separately and add it to a more traditional crib yourself.

As mentioned earlier, it’s suggested that a mobile hangs at least 16-inches above the crib mattress. If your baby has problems seeing it or seems uninterested, you can lower it just a little bit, but not to reach any lower than 12-inches above the crib mattress. Generally, they attach to the top of the crib railings. You can place them at the head of the mattress or on the side. Additionally, you can hang them right from the ceiling if the strings are long enough. 

Some models hang above, while other models can be placed in the crib with the baby. These are the ones mentioned above. They attach right to the side of the crib so the baby can touch it. They don’t pose a hazard since it’s a solid unit with or without moving parts inside the casing. 

Can You Hang Things Over a Crib?

Special care should be taken anytime you are thinking of hanging something over a crib because there is always a danger that it could fall down onto your baby.

With that said, there are many baby accessories that are designed to be mounted on the crib or wall that, when used properly, are generally safe to use.

However, you have to follow the safety guidelines that come with the mobile. Generally, you want to keep the mobile 16-inches or so off the surface of the crib mattress. This keeps them out of reach of the baby, especially as they grow. Once they hit 6-months or so, remove the mobile and opt for a stationary one that attaches to the side of the crib. 

As for anything else, it’s never safe to hang something over a crib that can easily fall. This could be pictures, shelves, and other items that may detach from the wall. 

At What Age Do You Stop Using a Crib Mobile?

It’s been mentioned quite a bit throughout, but it’s best if you stop using the mobile when your baby reaches 6-months of age or when they start sitting up or pushing up on their hands and knees. This is because they can now reach the mobile and pulling it down poses a choking or strangulation risk. Also, as mentioned, you can place a stationary one in their crib as a replacement, especially if the movement or light soothes them.

Joshua Bartlett
Joshua Bartlett

My name is Joshua Bartlett I run this blog with my wife Jarah. We have more than 11 years of parenting experience including three girls and one boy. I started this blog in late 2018 when I realized that I was dealing with baby-related issues on a constant basis…please read more about me here!