Setting up a nursery is a common ritual for expecting parents and parents often integrate hanging mobiles into the decor. Mobiles are a playful and often beautiful way to decorate the area over a crib or changing table. Mobiles are more than attractive, they can be useful tools for a baby's development. There are many mobiles available for purchase, however, and we think getting creative and intentional about nursery decorations is a great idea. Here we offer ideas on how expectant parents can skip the store and make a unique DIY mobile for their baby's nursery.
Benefits of DIY Mobiles
The benefits of mobiles are well-known. Mobiles can soothe babies by providing a familiar sight, stimulate and entertain them, and help with physical and cognitive development. Tracking the mobile movement can help your baby gain control over eye movements and strengthen eye muscles and help them strengthen head and neck movements. Reaching for their mobile can help your baby coordinate hand-eye coordination, understand distance, and increase spatial awareness.
A DIY mobile offers other benefits beyond the baby's enhanced experience. Parents can save money by using items they can find around the house or natural resources you can find just outside your door. Creativity and a personal touch add some magic when preparing your baby's nursery, and it can be a great way to connect to the baby before he or she is born. DIY mobiles are also a more environmentally friendly option over store bought mobiles which manufacturers often make out of plastic.
There are things to keep in mind when making and using a DIY mobile. Use non-toxic materials that not subject to off-gassing. Ensure that the DIY mobile is out of reach and secured firmly to avoid the baby grabbing the mobile or it falling onto them. This means you will have to move the mobile up as the baby grows and pulls up or sit up. Last, avoid choking hazards by attaching all items on the mobile securely and consider using items that are too big to fit through a toilet baby holder.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that baby sleep in their parent's room for up to one year of life to protect against SIDS, so avoid the temptation to use a mobile to entertain baby alone in their own room.
The DIY Mobile
Now onto some ideas for great DIY mobiles! We have outlined general instructions for several DIY mobile ideas. Instead of offering specifics, we outline the basics of each idea and encourage you to add your own personal touches. Use your nursery themes and color pallets to inspire your inner crafter! We have also tried to only include mobile ideas that most people can easily make at home with materials on hand, or materials that are readily available at the local craft store.
Each set of instructions includes materials lists, expected costs, and images when available. Keep in mind you will probably hang these mobiles from the ceiling which will require safe mounting with a Sheetrock anchor and screw, and or finding a ceiling beam to attach a solid hook to.
Flat Paper Mobiles
Flat paper mobiles are relatively simple to create and they turn out looking like professional decor.
Less than $5 if you buy all the materials.
- 1Decide what shapes you want your DIY paper mobile to feature. Some ideas include flat paper animals such as birds, geometric shapes such as circles, triangles, or squares, or stars and moons. We recommend sticking to one theme with one or two shapes. Choose paper colors that match your nursery's color scheme.
- 2If you are going to paint your embroidery hoop or wooden dowels, now is the time to do so. Set them aside to dry while you complete the remaining steps.
- 3Outline and cut out your shapes. We recommend making your cutouts for your DIY mobile at least 2 inches across so they will be easily visible to the baby and simple to mount. Make a template from one piece of card stock or cardboard and then use it to trace your outline before cutting as this will help keep your cutouts uniform.
- 4Plan your layout. Once all pieces are cut out, decide their order by laying them out flat in ordered rows on a table. Then stack each row in order top to bottom. You will need as many rows are you plan to hang from
- 5Set up your sewing machine. Use a thread that is visually appealing and matches your color palette and ensure that your bobbin and top thread are the same. Set the sewing machine to a straight stitch (the longer the better to avoid tearing your paper) and use a new needle if possible.
- 6Sew rows by taking one stack of paper cutouts and sew them into rows of objects with a space in between. We used two inches of space between two-inch circles for our model. Keep sewing in between your paper pieces so you have one continuous line of thread attaching the row of cutouts.
- 7Prepare the frame. Attach four equal lengths of string to the top of your embroidery hoop or the ends of your wooden dowels. Tie them together at the top and attach one long string. This is how you will hang your DIY mobile from the ceiling. Hang it somewhere temporality to make attaching the rows easier.
- 8Tie each row made in step six to the prepared embroidery frame or wooden dowels. You will want to leave enough space between the rows so they do not bump into each other and get tangled.
Hand Sewn Variation
Instead of sewing your shapes flat on the sewing machine, you can hand sew them by sewing right through the center of your shapes, knotting before and after each shape. This turns the shape to face the baby and allows you to stack more paper shapes onto a row. Imagine five hundred circle punches of different colors!
Folder Paper Variation
Do you know how to do folder paper arts such as origami? Stringing your folder paper animals, flowers, geometric shapes, and other objects into rows is another great variation of the flat paper DIY mobile.
Felted animal DIY mobiles are sweet and easy to make. See the link below for some free felt templates to help guide you or just get creative by making your own templates.
Less than $20 if you need to buy all materials, excluding glue gun.
- 1Use templates to cut out and assemble the exterior of your felted animals. You will layer different colors of felt to create details such as eyes, arms or wings. Use your glue gun to attach these pieces.
- 2Once you have a front and back of your felted animal created to your liking, sew the right sides together using your sewing machine (alternatively, hand stitch with a straight stitch or blanket stitch using embroidery floss). Leave a 2 cm opening at the top of the animals.
- 3Turn your animal right side out and stuff firmly with the cotton fill. Finish closing the 2 cm hole you left open for filling.
- 4Hand sews the tops of the animals to corresponding ribbons of your choice.
- 5Using the florist wire, attach your natural wood sticks to each other until you have a “tree” to your liking. Be sure it has horizontal branches your animals can hang from.
- 6Using at least three or four ribbons, attach four equal lengths to the top of your natural wood pieces. Tie them together at the top and attach one long ribbon. This is how you will hang your DIY mobile from the ceiling. Hang it somewhere temporality to make attaching the animals easier.
- 7Tie the loose ends of the ribbons to the branches as various increments so that the felted animals hang below the branches. You can tuck an animal or two up in the tree as well!
Use stuffed felt shapes and geometric frames, or stuffed stars hung from a wooden moon for easy variations of this DIY mobile.
Ribbons on a Hoop
This is possibly one of the easiest and most beautiful DIY mobiles we experimented with. This variation is also sweet for a baby shower or other before baby ceremony where friends and family can all help with the tying bit.
Less than $5, depending on your ribbon choice. A good deal of large fabric stores have bins where you can purchase scrap ribbon at very low prices.
- 1Decide which ribbons you want to use, as any styles, colors, and materials will work. We recommend thinner ribbons, less than one inch wide, as these knot and hang better.
- 2Cut your selected ribbons to varying lengths. We have had success making this DIY mobile with ribbons from 12 inches to 40 inches. Consider how high your ceiling is because you want the ribbons to stay out of the baby's reach as he or she grows.
- 3Prepare the hoop. Using at least three or four ribbons, attach four equal lengths to the top of your hoop. Tie them together at the top and attach one long ribbon. This is how you will hang your DIY mobile from the ceiling. Hang it somewhere temporality to make attaching the ribbons easier.
- 4Tie ribbons on to the embroidery hoop. You can do this one of two ways. Tie the ends of the ribbons to the hoops so that the end bit sticks up top, or use our favorite method of tying the middle of the ribbons to the hoops so that both ends hang down. Tie as many ribbons as you like to the hoop. Some parents continue tying until they cover the hoop while others like to have space between ribbons.
Yarn Ball Mobile
This is another easy DIY mobile, and one that knitters will love. We all know many knitters have a yarn stash of epic proportions. This is also a great way to get rid of that yarn you bought years ago and have not yet found a use for.
Varies. Cost of yarn and needles varies a lot depending on whether you are using up your stash or purchasing new. If you already have knitting supplies on hand, this one can be free.
- 1Prepare the needles. Cross needles at the center and secure them with well-knotted yarn. Using two long pieces of sturdy yarn for each needle, attach equal lengths to the ends of the needles and join them at the top. Attach one long piece of yarn to this joint, which is how you will hang your DIY mobile from the ceiling. Hang it somewhere temporality to make attaching the balls easier.
- 2If you are using the optional foam balls to save on the amount of yarn you must use, wrap your yarn around the foam until the foam is invisible. If you want to use straight up yarn balls, skip this step.
- 3Secure the end of the yarn well by knotting it, but leave enough length to attach it to your needles. Tie the various balls of yarn and different intervals and levels to the knitting needles. This step will require some careful balancing.
Now all that's left to do is hang your new DIY mobile over the crib or changing table. We hope you have fun preparing your baby's nursery and that these DIY mobiles offer ideas and inspiration for decorating the special space. Share this article with other expecting parents or integrate DIY mobile making into your baby shower to keep your creativity thriving.