When you have a newborn baby, you want to make sure your child is safe at all times. You can keep your watchful eye glued to your baby at all times while you’re awake, but what about at night when you’re lying down for some much-deserved rest? Or what about if you are out and have left the baby with a sitter?
A top-notch baby monitor is a solution to many of the anxieties that parents feel. A high-quality device will help you keep some peace of mind and more rest! If you are a new parent, the idea of shopping for a baby monitor can be entirely overwhelming. There are so many products on the market with millions of different features and it’s hard to know what is important in a product and what is not.
Night vision, in-ear monitors, movement sensor pads, room temperature gauges, cameras… the list is endless to make sure that the baby room and your baby are always safe and secure. That’s why we’ve created the Ultimate Baby Monitor Guide: To help you make an informed decision about your child’s safety.
What Is the Function of a Baby Monitor?
The ultimate function of a baby monitor is to help busy parents know when their children are awake while outside of the immediate hearing distance of their child. The radio system allows the caregiver the flexibility move around a house while a child sleeps and knows exactly when the baby wakes up and needs attention.
Because of this, baby monitors are extraordinarily important in helping new parents maintain their sanity! However, with so many options out there it is easy to lose sight of the real reason you want this piece of technology and get distracted by the bells and whistles available. If you aren’t careful, you run the risk of overspending on a device or buying one that doesn’t quite meet your needs.
When buying a baby monitor, it’s important to think about the purpose of the device and how it will fit into your home. A baby monitor should do two things for new parents:
1. Increase Your Independence
Before baby monitors, parents were confined to the house while their child napped. They also had to constantly check to see if the baby was awake, often disturbing their child’s slumber. With the invention of the baby monitor in 1937 though, this all changed. The first “radio nurses” gave parents much more freedom and flexibility in their lives.
Sometimes you simply can’t be on the lookout for your baby’s cries. Whether you’re vacuuming in a room across the house or reading a book on the porch in the afternoon sun, you have to do things that normal adults do every day regardless of whether there is a child sleeping or not.
These activities are important. Some, like vacuuming or washing dishes, you simply need to do to maintain your household. Others, like reading or watching TV, help you relax and enjoy life. If you don’t do either of these kinds of activities you will end up even more stressed out, something no new parent needs more of!
The idea of “independence” is given a whole new meaning in the digital era. Now, parents can check in on their baby while they are out at dinner with a few taps on their smartphone with monitors that integrate with apps and web platforms.
2. Give You Peace of Mind
In the pre-baby monitor days, parents were also stressed at nighttime over a fear of not hearing their baby’s cries. As a result, babies often slept in the same room as their parent's so worried moms and dads could hear when the child woke up.
While you obviously love your child, personal space is also important. Sleep and alone time are crucial for your ability to relax and recharge your batteries so you can be the best parent possible for your child. Having a baby sleep in the same room isn’t always convenient or private and baby monitors help you maintain that same peace of mind while also giving you space to sleep comfortably.
Whatever Monitor You Buy Should Fulfill Both of These Functions
No matter what brand or model you get, when shopping for a monitor you should consider the needs and actions of your family. If you feel like a given monitor won’t give you more independence and peace of mind, there is definitely a better option out there for you.
What Are the Different Types of Baby Monitors?
When shopping for baby monitors it can be surprising to see the number of different types available on the market. Ultimately, there are three different types of monitors: Audio, Video, and Motion-Sensing.
Audio vs. Video vs. Motion-Sensing
Now that we’ve covered what the pros and cons are of battery operated monitors vs. plug-in monitors, it’s time to understand the importance of audio and visual features. The most important feature of any baby monitor is the audio.
Since the ultimate goal of a baby monitor is to alert you to your baby’s cries, this feature should be front-and-center in your search. The video is an added bonus that adds a sense of security in the minds of many parents. It’s easy to understand why, too.
The ability to actually see your child, even when you are not in the room, is very comforting and with night vision and high-definition lenses, you can see your baby at any time of day in a crystal-clear picture. While a video is a nice option, it isn’t an essential feature that your monitor should have. In fact, video monitors can drain the power of the device faster, meaning more time spent charging.
An additional feature that some monitors have is a motion sensor that alerts you when there is movement in your child’s room. While this is a fun add-on for many parents, it isn’t necessary. In fact, in-home motion detectors are often triggered by benign things, like your dog or cat wandering into the room!
Baby Monitors Come with Two Different Pieces, The Baby and Parent Components, Both of Which Require Power.
Often, these are powered through an electrical cord that plugs into your wall outlet, running on your home’s electricity. The baby unit is typically attached to the cord since it is meant to be stationary, while the parent units, meant to be more mobile, are typically plugged into a power source to charge overnight or feature rechargeable battery units.
Another Option Is Completely Battery-Powered Units That Are Cordless.
If your baby unit is powered through an electrical cord, it is of the highest importance that you ensure that the cords are safely secured away from your curious child. There have been cases of infant strangulation in the past, but this most likely will not be a problem if you are proactive in ensuring your baby’s safety.
Cordless baby monitors offer a solution to this potential problem, but they run the risk of running out of battery in the middle of the night. If you choose to go cordless, you will need to plan ahead and ensure that your monitor’s battery life will last throughout the night.
Now That You’ve Decided Which Type of Baby Monitor to Go With, What Should You Be Looking for in Your Research?
The range is probably the most important factor to consider in your baby monitor research. Longer ranges mean that you have more freedom to move around your house and property while your baby is resting. Most manufacturers will display their “open field” range on their packaging as a marketing scheme, but this number really does not mean much for the purpose of caring for your baby.
This “open field” range is the distance that the monitor will work if there are no obstructions blocking the child and parent units. In reality, there could be many obstructions between you and your baby, depending on how many walls are between you and the room your child is sleeping in. Baby Gear Lab ran several tests on a number of different monitors and found that the average range was 90 ft through 5 walls, a number that should work for the majority of homes.
In short, the ranges displayed on packaging are not actually a great indication of how much distance you can put between yourself and your baby, so you should definitely read reviews of any product before you buy it. It is important to note, though, that sound monitors generally have a longer range than video monitors.
Hearing your baby clearly is the entire job of the monitor, so we can’t recommend high-quality sound more. You should look for monitors that have automatic sound correcting functions, otherwise called a sound activation feature.While not absolutely necessary (you can get by without it), spending the extra money to get this option is well worth the price. This feature helps filter out background noise and static, automatically adjusting your monitor to accommodate sounds like a car alarm going off down the street or the house settling.
When the monitor detects these minor disturbances, it tunes them out, sparing you the alert over background noise and allowing you to continue sleeping. However, the monitor also recognizes your baby’s cries and automatically tunes back into them, often amplifying the noise so you are guaranteed to wake up.
Battery life is not usually a major complaint amongst customers, but it is something to consider in your purchase. Because parent units can be charged while in use at nighttime, they often don’t ever actually run out of battery.
Inevitably, though, there will be a day that you put your baby down for a nap only to find that you accidentally forgot to charge the device the night before and now have an empty battery. A longer battery life can help reduce the frequency of these mishaps.
InterferenceWireless baby monitor systems use radio frequencies that are designated by governments for unlicensed use. So while you won’t be picking up your local police report through your monitor, it is possible to experience interference from a number of sources outside of your home such as cordless telephones, wireless toys, and even microwave ovens.
To reduce interference, you should use a digital baby monitor, specifically those using Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) systems. DECT monitors will be more resistant to interference than any other type of monitor, ensuring your family’s privacy.
Some monitors offer the cool feature of two-way communication, meaning that you can hear your baby, but your baby can also hear you. This is a relatively new feature on the market, and it’s something we recommend.
If your baby cries when you leave the room, this feature can help you softly lull your baby into a gentle sleep without disturbing the child by picking her up or setting her down. With many models offering this feature at reasonable prices, we think it is well worth finding a monitor with this feature to help cool your fussy baby to sleep late at night.
Choosing the right baby monitor for your family does require some time and consideration on your end, but this is one device that has a high return on the time invested. A baby monitor will help make your life as a parent easier and give you extra assurance that your baby is safe and happy in your home.
Baby monitors also have the added benefit of being used for more than just making sure your baby is asleep. Whether you buy a top-of-the-line video camera or a simple audio monitor, these devices can be used throughout your child’s life to keep track of them while they are out of eyesight. They can be used in your older child’s playroom as they get older to ensure safety or help mediate fights that might break out amongst friends.
So, whether you choose a video monitor with all the bells and whistles or a simple audio monitor that gets the job done, we know that this is a purchase that you will be using for a long time. By making sure that you weigh the needs of your family, you’ll be able to take care of your child from anywhere in your home.