The first few months of a baby’s life can be very stressful for parents. Many first-time parents do not realize that babies need attention round-the-clock. You do not only need to feed them and attend to their other needs, but also keep them entertained. Thankfully, there are many innovative toys like baby mobiles that can stimulate and soothe your child while you catch some precious moments of rest.
Babies are easily engaged by the colors and shapes of the toys on a mobile. These toys do not only comfort them, but also aids in the development of their brains and gets them started on their journey to learn about the world.
Baby mobiles are a classic. As a matter of fact, a nursery is considered incomplete without them. With that said, if you are looking to buy a mobile for your child, this article was created for you. We will look at everything you need to consider before buying one.
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What is a baby mobile?
A baby mobile is a simple structure that is made up of several toys attached to strings, which are connected to a sort of beam or hoop. Baby mobiles are built based on the principle of equilibrium, so the weight of the toys balances each other. Most mobiles are designed so that the toys can rotate around freely in a clockwise or anti-clockwise motion. Modern mobiles can also move up and down. However, some mobiles are designed to remain more or less stationary. Mobiles that can rotate are either powered by the wind or a motor. Motorized baby mobiles are more trendy because all you need to do is plug them. On the other hand, wind mobiles require the flow of air to spin them, and so they are not always practical for use in a nursery.
There are generally two types of baby mobiles; crib-mounted mobiles and ceiling-hanging mobiles. Ceiling baby mobiles are older than cot-mounted mobiles. However, crib mobiles are more popular today due to the difficulty of hanging up and taking down ceiling mobiles. Also, crib mobiles can support more weight so they can hold more fancy toys.
Origin of baby mobiles
The history of baby mobiles can be traced back many decades ago. Sculptor Alexander Calder, who gained fame in the 1930s and 1940s, is credited with being the inspiration for baby mobiles.
Calder created innovative, colorful sculptures which have movable parts that are put into motion by touch, currents of air or mechanical motors. Calder received several honors for his work including a United Nations Peace Medal. The United States Mint also issued a limited-edition one-half ounce gold medallion to honor this artist.
While Calder created the foundations for what is known as mobiles, many other artists refined the idea over the years to result in what we know today as baby mobiles.
Benefits of getting a baby mobile
New-born babies spend most of the time laying on their backs. Without any form of stimulation, your baby is likely to just lay down looking up to the ceiling, and most likely feeling bored. A mobile engages your child’s brain and keeps him/her feeling calm. But apart from entertainment, there are other benefits of buying a mobile for your baby. The following are some of the top benefits.
- Helps to develop baby’s motor skills: Most babies are fascinated by the moving toys on a mobile. The act of following the toys around with the eyes helps your baby to gain control of his/her eye movement, and it goes a long way to strengthen the muscles responsible for this. This also applies to head movement. Babies are forced to turn their heads to keep track of the moving toys on a mobile. In so doing, the baby learns to control his/her head movement.
- After gazing at the moving toys on a mobile and being mesmerized by it, the next thing babies usually do is reach for it. It is not advisable to put a mobile within reach of your baby. However, the simple act of reaching for them helps your child to develop hand-eye coordination. It also allows your baby to gain awareness of distance.
- Aids in Brain Development: The visual stimulation from mobiles (the movement of toys as well as their different colors, shapes, and sizes) can contribute to the brain development of your child. By gazing at a mobile, your baby learns to differentiate different colors and shapes. This forms a basis for an understanding of his/her environment as your baby grows up. A study by neuroscientist Audrey van der Meer from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) shows that the brains of babies develop more specialized neurons when their senses are stimulated. According to the study, children who are exposed to different forms of visual and sensory stimulation tend to grow faster than those who are not exposed to them. Van der Meer explained that the brains of babies are in a malleable state, so it is crucial to provide avenues for your child to learn. In this way, mobiles work just like games to promote your baby’s brain development.
- It is not only toys and the movement of mobiles that can trigger the brain development of your child but also music. Some mobiles play lullabies. This sound does not only comfort your child but also helps him/her brain to learn about the concept of sound. We all know about “the Mozart effect,” which holds that classical music can promote the development of the IQ of unborn children, but this also holds true for newly born babies. What’s more, since mobiles comfort children and help them to sleep, it aids in the growth of their brain. As you may know, proper rest is vital for the development of a healthy brain.
- It comforts your baby: One of the most important benefits of mobiles is that they help to improve the appearance of the nursery and soothe your baby. Mobiles contribute to creating a soothing ambiance for your child. This keeps your baby calm and relaxed even during brief moments when you may not be physically present with him/her. While this may seem like something trivial, it can go a long want to make babies feel comforted and “at home” in their nurseries.
What to consider when getting and installing a mobile for your baby
So, we can all agree that baby mobiles are essential. However, it is essential to install your baby mobile according to the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid accidents. Here are several things to keep in mind when buying and installing a baby mobile in your nursery.
- It is not advisable to allow the hanging toys on a mobile to be within reach of your baby as this could strangle your child or lead to choking if small parts baby puts it in his/her mouth. Also, ensure that your baby has a clear view of the mobile. And it is best to hang it where your baby spends a lot of time, such as over his/her crib.
- The distance between your crib baby’s crib and the mobile is another thing to consider. Newborns have a visual range of about eight to 12 inches. This means if you hang the mobile too far, your baby may not be able to see it clearly. Also, newborns tend to gaze in one particular direction more. These are all things to consider when installing your baby mobile.
- Contrary to popular opinion, brightly colored mobiles may not be the best for babies. Newborns can only see black, white, and gray during the first few weeks of their lives. Therefore, your baby may not appreciate the colorful mobile that you buy. It is best to invest in a mobile that has contrasting colors such as black and white or bold and dull colors since the difference between the colors will be more noticeable to your child.
- Some babies respond better to complex mobiles with toys that move in different directions. While simple mobiles that move in one direction can get the job done, getting complex omnidirectional mobiles can be more visually stimulating for your child.
- To increase the chances that your baby will love the mobile you buy, try to get one that has toys that your baby likes. For example, if you find that your newborn is drawn to a fish toy, you can get a mobile that has fish toys on it.
- Although baby mobiles can be useful for newborns, they stop being effective at a certain age and can pose a risk to your child. It is recommended that you take down the mobile when your baby is 5 months old and starts to stand on his/her hand and knees. Around this age, babies tend to put things in their mouth. Taking down the mobile or moving it entirely from your baby’s reach eliminates the possibility of potential accidents if your child gets hold of the toys hanging from it.