My daughter loved the ribbons as they did in fact distract her, and also helped to improve her hand eye coordination and visual development as, in the picture below you'll see, she would laugh and swat at the colorful and mysterious objects that reached out to her. The first day she merely stared intently at them, but before I knew it she was swatting at them and in no time at all her little fingers were wrapping around the silky ribbons and tugging and swatting away.
You can of course tie ribbons to anything that your baby can lay near during a play time, as well as the changing table if he needs distracting. As long as the ribbons are tied securely and are no longer than seven inches, there shouldn't be any worries. I also had wall decals that looked like butterflies, beside her changing table, and cutouts of fish with activities appropriate for her age written on them at a different time that both worked well for distractions! There's always a way to get things done in a calm and stress-free manner. Sometimes you just have to think outside the box!