Friday, 7 October 2011

How to hang mobiles

This is just a short post to accompany my series on infant mobiles in order to give some advice about hanging mobiles.  It is in response to Kylie's question (thanks Kylie!) about how to hang a mobile if you don't want to have a hook in the ceiling or have other constraints.

There are several different methods you can use (some slightly unconventional) depending on what suits your house or budget.

Here is a summary of the methods I recommend:

Michael Olaf mobile hanger

By far the best way to hang a mobile in a fixed position (i.e. above the bed or crib) is to use the Michel Olaf perfect mobile hanger.  It is clear plastic so very unobtrusive and it fixes to the wall rather than the ceiling. I have one of these above Henry's bed and it's marvelous.   It costs $12.

  • Simple
  • Unobtrusive
  • Easy to install (with 2 screws in the wall)
  • If you are outside of the US it's virtually impossible to buy them anywhere else so international shipping fees, as well as import tax, must be considered
  • Only suitable for very light mobiles (card stock and paper only)
  • Not suitable for use with any of the reaching or grasping mobiles or ring on elastic etc
  • Once installed the position is fixed so you may need to buy several for other rooms in your house

Wooden tripod toy hanger

This wooden tripod toy hanger from Michael Olaf is great for hanging mobiles or toys above a baby without the need for fixings in the wall or ceiling.  Many different items can be hung including the rings and bells on elastic that are recommended during the reaching and grasping phase.  The three wooden legs are held secure by rubber rings at the top and it can be adjusted to a variety of heights. It is easy to fold up and move from room to room as the child spends time with his family in different areas of the home.

I don't think that it would be too hard to copy this design if you wanted to make your own but you must be careful about the feet being non slip.  Perhaps you could also use an old camera tripod?

  • Can be used as a frame for a tent as the child grows up
  • Suitable for reaching and grasping activities
  • Not suitable for hanging mobiles that need lots of space to move around e.g the Munari mobile would not work with this
  • Expensive at $95

Hook in the ceiling

If you want to hang heavy mobiles then the best solution is to install a ceiling hook.  Of course this assumes that the hook is hung properly and securely with the correct fixings.  Here is a video I found to show how to install a ceiling hook.

The hooks are readily available at DIY stores and you can always ask for advice on how to choose the best one for your house.


  • Suitable for mobiles and toys designed to be grabbed and touched
  • Cheap to buy and install as long as you have the tools
  • Fixed position only

Floor lamp

This is the method that I will be using to hang mobiles from in my living room when I return home.  It basically involves the use of a floor lamp (the one shown is from IKEA) to hang the mobile from by using a slip knot around the head of the lamp (not the bulb).

The mobile can then be positioned in just the right place without any unsightly additional equipment.  Just make  sure that the lamp is stable enough to take the weight of the mobile and will not topple over.

  • No additional equipment needed
  • Very portable solution
  • Simple alternative to wall or ceiling fixtures
  •  Potentially expensive if you don't have a suitable lamp available

Hanging basket or shelf bracket

Using a hanging basket or shelf bracket can be a good compromise if you are unable to buy the plastic mobile hanger from Michael Olaf.  There are many different types of brackets to choose from (IKEA has a good selection) and they are easy to install.

It is important to choose a design that allows you to securely attach the mobile.  If securely fastened the bracket could support the elastic hanging toys and mobiles for the reaching and grasping phase.

  • Simple and easy to install
  • Cheap
  • Provides a fixed place to hang mobiles in one place
  • More unsightly than the transparent version from Michael Olaf

Umbrella bucket and fishing rod

OK, don't laugh at this one until you have tried it!  If you don't want any holes in the walls or ceilings and you want to be able to hang your mobiles in any room you could try this method.  Take an umbrella bucket (or a similar tall narrow bucket) and fill it with heavy stones so that it cannot b easily knocked over.  Then buy an old fishing rod from EBay or a charity shop and strip off all of the fixings except the metal ring right at the tip.  You could then paint or spray the rod in a nice colour to blend in with your home.  When you want to place a mobile above your baby just put the rod in the bucket (so that it goes right down to the bottom) and hang your mobile from the metal ring at the end.

  • Quite a cheap solution especially if you already have these bits lying around
  • Fishing rods are usually very strong so in theory you could also hang mobiles that are meant to be grabbed and touched (although this will depend on your set up)
  • No holes in the walls or ceiling!
  • The mobile can then be hung in any room and it is easy to get the position just right
  • A bit of preparation is required to get the fishing rod looking a bit nicer especially if you buy an old one

An existing light fitting

We have several ceiling lights above our bed and right now a Munari mobile is hanging from a light fitting (with the bulb removed).  I know that some might not be comfortable with this method but I decided it would be fine for this mobile as it is much lighter than the lamp shades that were originally hung from the same fitting.  The string from the mobile is tied in a slip knot around the hanging pendant.

I would not use this method for grasping toys but it works extremely well for simple mobiles when Henry is hanging out on our bed (which he does often).

  • No cost solution
  • Very simple
  • Suitable for lightweight mobiles only and not toys designed to be grabbed and touched
  • Fixed position only

What do you think? Do you have any unconventional ways of hanging your mobiles?  I'd love to hear about them.


  1. Thank you for all the great mobile info! Do you have any recommendations for how high a mobile should be above a baby's bed? I have one of the Micheal Olaf acrylic hangers and I am mounting it above a floor bed. Thanks!

  2. Here is how you can make a wooden arch toy hanger, like what can be sold on Michael Olaf.

  3. It needs to be at least a foot our of baby's reach, and once he or she can sit or stand up it is recommended to remove it or move it higher.

  4. This is the best post on this topic I've found. Thanks!

  5. According to the AMI Montessori training, mobiles should hang 10-12 inches away from the baby's face, and slightly forward so they can be seen from the side/front. That is as far as a baby can see when (s)he is born so any further away would just be a blur and defeat the purpose. By the time a baby is able to grasp, the mobile series has moved on to accommodate that, so the grasping mobiles are the same because they need to be in reach. The baby can kick them, too, though, so they can also be placed above the baby's thighs.
    Ideally they should *not* be placed over a bed because the bed is intended for sleeping, not playing. They should be wherever the baby spends time when alert and playing independently. We use a blanket on the floor in front of a low sideways-mounted full length mirror - but we don't actually have ours there yet. My well-meaning husband and best friend very sweetly installed the mobile hook while I was at work and they put it over her floor bed.
    I am thrilled to find a post about alternate ways to hang the mobiles, so we can get one in her play area without drilling another hole in our apartment!


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