Auto Mobile: Do-it-Yourself Baby Mobile for Cars

Photo of the Auto Mobile tether running across the ceiling in the backseat of a car. Soft toys dangle from two chains, each dangling in front of a different child, one rear-facing and one forward-facing.

The Auto Mobile by Kicky Pants is a baby mobile frame for your car’s ceiling. It’s a tether you suspend across the backseat, secured to the handholds above opposing windows.

You hook a regular plastic baby ring around the tether and dangle whatever baby toy you wish. Your toys of course must be hookable with the sort of rings commonly found on baby play mats. The product comes with three starter rings and a sheath for the tether is available in one of nine fabric designs.

The tether appears to be adjustable for any car, with you trimming excess Velcro on either end or folding it over in case you’ll be using the tether in more than one car.

I can’t say I care for the name (just try googling "auto mobile" and see what you get).

Key questions for the Auto Mobile are how much toys naturally jingle suspended from plastic rings, and to what degree the mobile is distracting to the driver. Our existing mobile (a different type with dangling parts held close to the ceiling) occasionally requires opening a window to create a breeze, but is not a distraction.

If you leave the toys out of reach of your child (e.g., use it as a true mobile, not a toy leash) it also has the potential to make car crashes slightly safer. Every loose object in a car is a projectile, so the fewer things smacking your baby, the better.

Mostly, this product looks promising for your ability to swap out toys, and to serve two kids at the same time, rear or forward facing.

I didn’t use any backseat gadgets with our first child, and accordingly our daughter required the other parent to sit with her, otherwise trips became a cry fest. With our 4-month-old boy, we use a different ceiling mobile coincidentally also called "Auto Mobile."

Mobiles are baby magic, easily grabbing and holding our son’s attention in the car and at the changing table.

The Auto Mobile by Kicky Pants is $20 at Innovative Baby and What Every Baby Needs.

Samples of eight fabric patterns available for the Auto Mobile.


9 Responses to “Auto Mobile: Do-it-Yourself Baby Mobile for Cars”

  1. Tanya says:

    I have an auto clothes rod in my car that I hang toys from. It was only $5.00 and it works great. I use soft toys in case we are in a crash. My 19 month old loves it.

    July 23rd, 2008 at 6:35 am

  2. Uta says:

    Great idea. I might try this with a simple bungee cord for any long trips. Thankfully, most shorter rides, the boys (1 + 3) are pretty content looking out the window or making each other laugh. Love your blog.

    July 23rd, 2008 at 7:30 am

  3. AJ says:

    I have a couple concerns about a metal clothes rod in a car crash. First, some unhook simply by being lifted up. Second, if the car’s frame crumples/dents near a handhold, I’d worry about the clothes bar breaking / snapping down onto the baby.

    The same goes for a bungee cord to a lesser degree, a metal hook suspended with elastic-like tension that snaps free in a crash.

    My wife suggested using rope, but I’m doubtful she could secure it tightly while withstanding the tugging of an infant (if the toys hang low enough).

    I’d have to see an Auto Mobile, but my impression is the tether is composed of two long strips of Velcro covered by a fabric wrapper.

    July 23rd, 2008 at 7:36 am

  4. Carole says:

    It strikes me that this would be easy enough to make on your own. And yeah it might be distracting to the driver – but no more than having a kiddo or two in the back seat already does.

    July 23rd, 2008 at 11:28 am

  5. Kendra says:

    A great idea, but it does seem ridiculously easy to replicate for far less than $20.

    We recently rigged up a rope “slide” contraption for a road trip, you could certainly do the same thing across the back.

    July 23rd, 2008 at 11:51 am

  6. AJ says:

    Kendra, that’s an interesting setup. How did you secure the loops that go around the handholds?

    July 23rd, 2008 at 12:02 pm

  7. Kendra says:


    My hubby is man of many talents, one of which is the ability to tie knots. He tied it for me and said he just used a square knot, tho there may be other knots that work better. There actually books out there on how to tie various knots, we have one titled “The Handbook of Knots”.

    Does that help, or knot? (yuk yuk yuk)

    July 23rd, 2008 at 6:25 pm

  8. AJ says:

    Okay. I couldn’t see the knot, just the loop, so I was curious whether you used another method. Boy Scouts aside, I wouldn’t trust the average person to tie a knot that won’t slip, unless they go overboard tying a bunch of knots on top of each other.

    July 23rd, 2008 at 6:29 pm

  9. Kara says:

    Instead of using rope, how about nylon webbing? You can buy it by the foot and any side release buckles you need at REI.

    July 25th, 2008 at 1:18 am

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