Choosing a theme and decorating your baby’s nursery is part of the excitement in preparing for your new addition. A mobile above their cot which matches the decor perfectly may be the finishing touch their room requires. However, co-ordinating the colours and concepts can sometimes distract you from ensuring that the environment you are creating for your baby is safe. One of those items that should be investigated is a mobile over your baby’s cot. Is it a safety risk for your baby?
Hanging a mobile above your baby’s cot is safe as long as they are unable to reach and grab it and that you adhere to specific safety guidelines. It is also important that the mobile does not have any detachable pieces which could be a choking or strangulation hazard.
Understanding more about them and how to use them safely is helpful in maintaining a safe sleeping environment for your baby.
What IS THE PURPOSE OF COT MOBILES?
A cot mobile is designed to provide your baby with entertainment by using different objects to look at, movement, music and in some cases bright lights. A mobile which uses red, black and white is preferred as these are the first colours your baby will see.
Healthychildren.org also points out that when purchasing a mobile, it is best to look at it from below as this is the view your baby will have. A mobile is there to be seen and heard and not to be touched by your baby.
What are the risks associated with using a cot mobile?
As with most baby equipment, there are some safety risks attached to using a cot mobile. Knowing the potential dangers of a device will help you identify what to look out for. Using a mobile incorrectly can result in the following injuries:
If the mobile is not securely attached, it can fall onto your baby.
- This can lead to strangulation, suffocation or them becoming caught up in the mobile and unable to move (entrapped).
- Less severe injuries such as bruises and scrapes can also occur.
- A mobile falling on your baby can give them a huge fright which can be unsettling for both of you.
- This can potentially wrap around your baby’s neck causing strangulation or around another part of their body and cause injury.
Although sustaining serious injuries from a cot mobile are not common, it is always best to prevent them from happening at all.
Is it safe to hang a mobile above a baby's cot?
According to the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) using a mobile above your baby’s cot is safe. They do however provide certain guidelines which should be used so that a safe sleeping area is maintained.
What are the safety recommendations when using a cot mobile?
To minimise the risk of injury to your baby, it is important that:
The mobile is securely attached to either the crib, ceiling or wall. Mobiles can also be used over changing mats or changing stations.
- The installation instructions provided by the manufacturer must be closely followed to ensure the mobile is correctly assembled.
- Regular inspection of the screws is done to make sure they are still tight and in the correct position.
It should be checked regularly for loose parts or pieces that could result in a choking hazard.
There are no detachable parts.
The strings used in the mobile are not longer than 18cm.
- Strings which are longer pose a strangulation risk.
- If you are using an antique or homemade mobile, measure the strings to ensure they do not exceed this length.
The mobile must be removed once your baby is able to roll, get up on their hands and knees, sit-up or are 5 months of age.
- It should be removed during this time as your baby will be able to reach and grasp the mobile.
- Whichever of these milestones is reached first is when the mobile must be removed.
Where should a baby mobile be placed?
The placement of a mobile contributes significantly in maintaining your baby’s safety. To help figure out the safest place to hang the mobile, the following should be taken into consideration:
A newborn baby is able to see items best when they are between 20 to 30 cm away from their face.
- This makes balancing your baby’s ability to see and benefit from the mobile whilst making sure they cannot grab it.
- If your baby does not appear interested, you can lower it slightly while still making sure it is out of their reach.
Do cot mobiles help babies sleep?
There are mixed reports as to whether using a mobile in your baby’s cot helps them fall asleep or delays their sleeping.
For some babies a mobile can lull them into a deep sleep whilst others are entertained and stimulated by the music which delays their sleeping. Trialling a cot mobile and watching how your baby responds should be your guiding factor as to whether you should use one or not.
One mom shared that using a mobile helped when they transitioned their baby from sleeping in a co-sleeper in the same room as them to his own cot. Her child did not like lying on his back in his crib, which is the safest way to sleep, and so the mobile kept his attention long enough for him to start enjoying his cot and get used to lying on his back.
What are the pros and cons of using a mobile?
- Some cot mobiles provide white noise which is known to help your baby sleep.
- Mobiles provide visual stimulation by gaining their attention which helps them focus on an object and track a moving object.
- Mobiles encourage your baby to reach out and grasp. This helps develop eye-hand coordination as well as eye-foot coordination.
- Mobiles can contribute and help establish a routine.
- Mobiles can keep your baby entertained for a while after they have woken up.
- Mobiles used with a changing station can keep your baby distracted allowing you to change their nappy or clothes.
- Things such as bright lights can overstimulate your young baby especially before they sleep.
- There are safety risks if they are not installed correctly and the recommended guidelines followed.
- They can change the purpose of a cot from sleeping to playing.
The decision about using a mobile or not is one which should be made according to the needs of your baby. If a cot mobile assists your baby in falling asleep or encourages them to engage and move then it is safe to use provided you follow the above-mentioned recommended guidelines.
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