When my daughter was born a good friend of ours gave her a cot mobile. It consisted of 4 fluffy, pastel coloured animals, and when you wound it up they rotated to the sound of a lullaby. My daughter didn't pay much attention to it until she was around 3 months, then she would watch it and chatter away to the animals, but only if we activated the mechanism to make it rotate. Then, the mechanism broke so it became pretty useless.
So, when I became pregnant again I was looking online for a new cot mobile. I came across the multiple award winning Infant Stim Mobile and knew it was the one for us!
When a baby is born their vision is pretty blurry. They are fascinated by high contrast images because they can actually see them! When both my two were little they would often stare at the door frames in our living room (white paint against a dark coloured wall created a high contrast line) and they were both mesmerised by a picture we have on the wall of a brown swirly tree against a white background. It was such a sure fire way of calming my daughter down if she was distressed that "take her to the picture" became a regular phrase in our house! So when I spotted this mobile I knew that it was a must have!
It retails at around £20 to £25, but I was lucky enough to pick up a second hand one from Amazon for £12. Therefore I cannot comment on how well it was initially packaged. The construction of the mobile is very basic. The arm comes in two pieces which slot together. It is then fitted to the side of the cot using a large plastic screw and nut type fastening which is on the base of the arm. The fitting is very secure and it is highly unlikely that baby would be able to adjust it. The mobile itself has two arched sections, one of which threads through the other to create cross (as you can see from the photo above). Another piece is then suspended from the centre of the cross creating 5 points for the images. This whole section is then hooked on to the arm of the mobile. The fact that the mobile comes in several sections means that it is easy to dismantle and put back in the box to store away between babies!
The Infant Stim comes with 20 interchangable cards, 12 round and 8 square. Each card has a different high contrast image on each side, these range from very simple high contrast (black & white!) to more complex images made up of a combination of bold colours. The images include abstract patterns and animals/insects/faces. The cards either have a hole in top and a tab at the bottom, or a slit in the middle. Push the tab of one card through the slit in another card, then hook on to the mobile using the hole! You need 10 cards for the mobile to be complete. The idea is that you use mainly black and white cards when your baby is newborn, then, as their visual ability develops you can swap some of the black and white cards for coloured cards. Eventually they will have a visual feast of colours to look at!
The way the mobile is designed means that when baby is laid beneath it they have 5 images directly facing them. My son was utterly mesmerised by the images. I am afraid the first 6 months of my sons life are a bit of a blur! So I cannot tell you at what age it became apparent that he could focus on the mobile, my guess would be around 5 - 6 weeks. I have strong memories of him lying in his crib having a good old natter to the images whilst I would get myself and my daughter ready in a morning. As he got older he would really chuckle and shout at them! As soon as it seemed he was tiring of it, I would swap some images around and once again he would be enthralled.
The mobile was also great for distracting him during nappy changes. We had a cot top changer and when he was laid on it he would be able to all see the vertical cards that he could not see when laid down.
Admittedly, the mobile is quite flimsy. The plastic arches you attach the cards to are very thin. The cards themselves are reasonably well made, but fixing them together is quite tricky and I did worry about damaging the tabs when I was changing them over. However, they had survived one previous owner before me, and I passed it onto it's next owner still in tact so maybe I was worrying unnecessarily!
Whilst I think the concept of this mobile is fantastic, the design could be better. Unfortunately there will be a lot of parents who wouldn't want this in their perfectly designed and colour co-ordinated nursery because it isn't pretty enough!