There is some debate over whether crib mobiles are good for babies or not. So, what are the pros and cons of having a mobile over your baby’s crib?
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When my baby was little, she really enjoyed looking at the mobile that hung over her crib. I would often see her gazing up at it, seemingly mesmerized.
Mobiles are a popular baby shower gift, but there is some debate over whether they are actually good for babies or not.
So are crib mobiles good for babies? Overall, crib mobiles can be beneficial as they can help babies develop their vision and cognitive skills, and they can also provide a bit of stimulation and keep babies occupied.
But while there are potential benefits of mobiles, there are also some risks associated with them if not used correctly. So keep reading to learn more about mobiles, how to use them safely, and some of their potential benefits and risks.
Benefits Of Using A Crib Mobile For Your Baby
Benefit #1 Mobiles Help Babies Develop Their Vision
One of the key benefits of mobiles is that they can help babies develop their vision. Most babies are born with underdeveloped eyesight.
In fact, until three months old, babies are not able to see further than 8 to 10 inches away from their face!
Eye development is incredibly crucial in those first months because newborns will only have their eyes to explore the world for a while.
Their eyes are their main window to the outside world since they cannot reach and grab things by their hands or crawl yet.
High contrast objects are highly recommended for babies in the early months as they are easier to focus on.
You can take advantage of that by choosing a crib mobile that has high contrasting colors and patterns and let your baby look at it while they’re lying in their crib.
Babies experience tremendous improvements in their visual abilities in the first year of life and crib mobiles can help stimulate that development. In particular, mobiles can help with the development of binocular vision, which is the ability to use both eyes together.
This ability is typically acquired around 4 months, that’s when babies start having depth perception as well.
When babies look at mobiles that have toys moving slightly around, they are using their eyes in a very different way than when they are just looking at things straight on.
This can help stimulate the development of their vision as your baby learns to follow objects that are moving with their eyes.
Benefit #2 Mobiles Can Help Babies Develop Cognitive Skills
Mobiles can also help stimulate the development of babies’ cognitive skills.
Cognitive skills include the development of babies’ memory, language, reasoning, and thinking.
When babies look at mobiles, they are learning how to process information that they are seeing: colors, sounds, movement, and shapes.
This can help a lot with the development of their cognitive skills.
It may seem to you like a rather passive activity. But looking at the bright colors of a crib mobile and processing the movement of toys hanging and twirling above their heads, are tasks that trigger multiple regions in your baby’s brain and lead your baby to grasp basic concepts of movement and colors.
The sounds that the crib mobile makes are also a great way to engage your baby’s brain in the early months of life.
Additionally, Hearing soft melodies has a calming effect on babies as it reduces stress levels by releasing healthy doses of the “happiness hormone”, endorphin.
Tracking objects with their eyes can also help babies with developing their cognitive skills.
When babies track objects with their eyes, it can help them better understand what they are seeing.
Benefit #3 Mobiles Can Provide Stimulation and Keep Babies Occupied
Mobiles can also provide some stimulation and keep babies occupied. When babies are looking at mobiles, they are engaging their minds and seeing new things.
This can help keep them stimulated and interested in what is going on around them.
This can be a great benefit for you as a mom, or dad (whoever is on baby duty) as it gives you a moment to go to the bathroom or make a cup of coffee while your baby is fully distracted and in a safe space!
Keep in mind though, that while crib mobiles can provide some stimulation, they can also cause babies to become overstimulated.
When babies are looking at mobiles, they are taking in a lot of information all at once. This can be too much for them to handle and can lead to them becoming overwhelmed.
If your baby gets overwhelmed for whatever reason, you can try reducing or removing the potential sources of noise and stimulation for a while, and ideally, give them some quiet time in a familiar setting until they have calmed down.
You can for example try wearing your baby in a baby wrap and talk to them in a soft voice to soothe and calm them. Babies feel most safe and secure when they are close to their parents.
When to Stop Using the Crib Mobile?
It is recommended that you remove the crib mobile when your baby is able to get up on their hands and knees, or at 5 months old, whichever comes first.
This is mostly to prevent your baby from reaching the mobile and pulling on it.
Rather than removing the mobile altogether, try hanging it high enough that your baby can’t reach it even in a standing position.
Also, If your baby becomes fussy or agitated when looking at a mobile, you may want to stop using it.
Babies will let you know if they are getting too much stimulation, and you should always listen to their cues.
But don’t toss your beautiful crib mobile just yet. Moving the mobile over to the changing table instead of hanging it over the crib could be a game-changer.
If your baby hates diaper changes, a mobile will provide enough distraction and stimulation to make those diaper changes much more peaceful.
How to Use Crib Mobiles Safely
Now that we’ve covered the key benefits of using mobiles for babies, it is important to be aware of the potential risks associated with misusing crib mobiles.
These risks include your baby reaching and grabbing the mobile, ingesting small pieces that could pose a choking risk, and getting tangled up in loose strings.
Here are some safety tips to implement to get the most out of your crib mobile:
Position the Crib Mobile Correctly
Don’t hang the mobile too close to the crib. Place it high enough that your baby can’t touch it or reach up and grab it.
You can try hanging the mobile from the ceiling or the wall instead of from the crib railing if you are worried about your baby reaching it.
Be Aware of Loose Strings
If any strings hang down from the mobile, make sure to cut them off so your baby can’t grab them.
Loose strings could potentially wrap around your baby’s limbs and pose a risk of strangulation.
Additionally, make sure that the strings used to attach toys to the frame of the mobile do not exceed 7 inches in length.
Check for Choking Hazards
Make sure that the crib mobile has no small pieces that can detach and fall in your baby’s crib.
The toys hanging from the crib mobile should also be large enough so that they don’t pose a risk of choking to your child.
Any pieces composing the mobile should be at least 1¼ inches (3 centimeters) in diameter and 2¼ inches (6 centimeters) in length.
Watch for Overstimulation Cues
If your baby starts to get fussy or agitated while looking at the mobile, it may be time to stop using it.
An overstimulated baby can seem upset, move in a jerky way, clench their fists, or kick with their legs. Watch for these cues because these are signs that your baby is telling you to get them to a calmer, quieter space away from the overwhelming experience.
While overstimulation is normal for a baby, it shouldn’t be frequent as it may be a sign of something else.
If this is your case, it’s a good idea to talk about this issue at your next pediatrician’s visit.
Crib mobiles are a great way to keep your baby stimulated and engaged.
They can provide a moment of peace for mom or dad, and can be used safely when positioned correctly and with caution taken of loose strings and potential choking hazards.
When your baby is able to get up on their hands and knees, or at 5 months old, whichever comes first, it is time to remove the crib mobile or make sure it’s completely out of your baby’s reach.
Until then, enjoy the benefits of a peaceful baby and some much-needed distraction!
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