Only what you need for your baby. Really. (OK – and some fantastic things you don’t that are pretty cool.)
See also A Word on Toys
Mobiles are awesome. Period. Get at least one for your baby for above her crib. And maybe another one for above her play area. And one for above her changing mat. And then you’ll need several others anywhere else just in case. All right, scratch that. But do get at least one.
Mobiles aren’t rocket science purchases. There are only a few categories and even fewer guidelines. The market seems to divide itself into ultra-light mobiles that move in natural airflow, heavier battery-powered ones that tend to be designed specifically with infants in mind (e.g. teddy bears, lullabies), and ones that are all-out disappointments because they’re too heavy with cuteness to move but also don’t have motors. We chose the former plus an intermediate Euro lane.
The primary-colored, Calder-ish mobile from CB2 that we hung above our changing area was an early and continuing hit. First, the movement won her over. Then she noticed the colors. Then she pushed herself up and tried to eat it, which has left it a little off kilter, understandably. CB2 discontinued ours, but if you like the abstract design lane, Flensted makes some excellent similar ones as well as a huge selection of mobiles more firmly in the kid lane. Flensteds are very light, so they move in the slightest breeze and a lot of their numerous designs will still be interesting for your child when s/he’s a little older. I really like them, especially the translucent butterflies, which are lovely hung in a window.
Firmly in baby territory are the Haba offerings. I am an unabashed fan, as is Astrid, of Haba’s toys, including their whimsical but not saccharine mobiles. I had my heart set on the Mobile Blossom Butterfly which has peculiar, happy butterflies that rattle and crinkle and can be pulled off safely by the baby and reattached by you (magnets, not magic). However, it was briefly unavailable, so we bought the Balloon Music Box mobile (sadly, now discontinued) which plays light music when the balloon is lowered and gradually ascends with Linus (my name, not Haba’s), the little elf passenger. Excellent entertainment all around, and the music didn’t drive me nuts. (The Blossom Butterfly arrived sometime later – a little too late for Astrid’s full attention at eight months – but I stand by how perfect it would’ve been in her first six months.)
I looked at and almost bought a cute infant mobile – North American Bear Company’s musical duckies – but most of this category are (rightly) only recommended for up to three months, which is a pretty short timeframe. I skipped it and was not sorry. Yes, for a month or so, I did wish we had something that moved and maybe played music above her crib so I could leave her for more than a minute and a half, but that phase passed pretty quickly. (If you have your heart set on an adorable infant mobile, do get a battery-powered one. Most cute plush mobiles are too heavy to move on their own, and mobiles that don’t move aren’t, well, mobiles. As such, they won’t be interesting to your baby, so skip the decorative cheap ones and spring for the batterie’d models.)
Caution: Be careful about placing any mobile within reach of the baby – strings and bits and pieces are not a good mix with little hands and mouths. Hang it out of reach and only let your baby play with it when an adult is present.