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Expectant Mom's Resource Center Manufacturers' Websites SHOPPING MALL Product Features

Product Features


The mobile is a standard baby product that hasn't experienced many dramatic changes over time. Its premise, to soothe babies with fluid motion and soft music, somewhat limits changes to the basic design of baby mobiles. Companies that hope to produce successful baby mobiles cannot afford to depart too dramatically from the norm. Nevertheless, there are some wonderful things being done with the features of baby mobiles.

New Basics
Movement and music are the essentials that anyone expects when purchasing a mobile. Classic "no frills" mobiles are still the mainstays in the market, but there are a couple of new functions that parents are looking for when they purchase a mobile: on/off switches and night-lights.

Battery-operated mobiles have certain benefits that appeal to parents more than traditional wind-up mobiles. Equipped with an on/off switch, a battery-operated mobile does not need to be rewound. It provides constant music and entertainment for the baby. This feature is particularly nice for babies who are light sleepers. With a battery-operated mobile, sounds caused by winding or frequent entry into the nursery to rewind a mobile can be avoided.

Night-lights are another new feature that is giving mobiles added value. If parents are trying to put the baby down for the evening, the soft glow of a night-light allows babies to enjoy the mobile even after "lights out." It is also a great feature for parents who, when walking into a dark nursery, can go right to the side of the crib without waiting for their eyes to adjust to the darkness or having to turn on a light.

Smart Design
In terms of design, anything that makes a mobile more interesting for the baby while adding to the charm of the nursery's atmosphere is a plus.

Some mobiles with successful design have the characters tilted at an angle so both the baby and the parent can appreciate them. A few mobiles gain a nice effect by hanging their characters at different lengths as well.

For newborns through at least nine months, the most important factors are colors and shapes, followed by the type and quality of music—if any is used. This age group is developmentally focused on palettes.

The quality of music is extremely important, and—in this case—tradition serves us well. The light, clear music box type tones are soothing and distinct to the child's discernment, and a light, regular rhythmic pattern produces the desired response of quieting and capturing the child's interest.

Another great feature suggested by most manufacturers is to snip off the mobile's characters once a baby has outgrown the benefits of a mobile. This may not be the case with every company, but many mobile manufacturers create enchanting characters with high quality fabrics that double very well as toys. The characters may be removed and the rest of the mobile discarded (if size, space, etc., of characters meet age appropriate safety standards). If this is plugged as a feature on a mobile's packaging or by the manufacturer, make sure the mobile has been tested according to the strict toy safety standards of ASTM F963 and/or EN 71. These tests are the benchmark for all toys sold in the United States and Europe. If a mobile's characters have been subjected to either or both of these tests, you can be sure they will make appropriate toys.

Smart Babies
There are plenty of cute mobiles to accommodate all tastes. Before launching into a description of what is "in," there is one exception to the cute rule that is worth noting — high contrast mobiles.

Scientific research has shown that babies who are given appropriate stimulation show sustained developmental advantages over babies in less stimulating environments. High contrast mobiles, with large black and white patterns, are perfect for giving newborns the proper stimulation they need. These "developmental" mobiles engage babies in a way that plush colored mobiles cannot. Research has found that newborns are more attracted to high contrast patterns than to color or brightness alone. High contrast mobiles encourage newborns to exercise developmental skills such as pattern recognition, eye/hand coordination, gross motor activity, and a sense of object permanence. High contrast mobiles also give infants experiences with cause and effect relationships. A word of caution: more and more high contrast developmental infant products, including mobiles, are appearing on the market. Many companies are using black and white patterns, but they are not following the research guidelines that make high contrast toys effective developmental tools for infants. Look for developmental products, mobiles or otherwise, that are marked "research correct."

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