As a parent, safety of our babies is of the utmost importance! As a new parent, one common area of concern is sleep safety. When our babies are in another room sleeping, we tend to worry about them, so a baby monitor is an invaluable tool for keeping an ear and/or eye on them.
There are three basic types of baby monitors available – sound monitors, video monitors and movement monitors. Each of these types of monitors come in a variety of prices and with a variety of features. What you should look for in each of these types of monitors will depend on your needs, your budget and possibly your comfort level with technology.
What Should You Look for in a Baby Monitor?
Audio monitors are the most basic type of baby monitor available, but many parents find that hearing their babies is all the reassurance they need, especially if budget is an issue. In general, audio monitors come as a set with one child unit and either one or two parent units. Usually, the child unit of an audio monitor set has a wall plug while the parent unit may have a wall plug, batteries or both. When looking for an audio monitor, you’ll want to think about how you will use the set. Do you only need to hear your child at night? If so, a set with a single parent unit with a wall plug may be sufficient for you. Will you also be carrying the parent unit with you as you go about your day during nap times? You may find it more convenient to have a set with more than one parent unit and/or battery power options. Another option that some parents are particularly interest in is the ability to speak to the child through the monitor, if this is something you want to be able to do, be sure to look for 2-way communication capabilities.
The other important things to look for in an audio monitor are the range, clarity and interference susceptibility of the sound quality. Most manufacturers will discuss these features in their product descriptions, but in real-life use, it seems some of their claims don’t always hold true. Just as with any product, the manufacturers are going to test their products under ideal conditions and as we all know, real life is not always ideal! For this reason, it’s very important to do a bit of research and look up user reviews to get a good idea if the claims for a particular model live up to the hype.
Audio monitoring is the most important feature of any baby monitor – a baby’s cries are what will first alert you that they need you – video can help you determine what is actually happening and how urgent the baby’s need is, but a monitor that has only video capability is not going to wake you up if baby needs you during the night if you can’t also hear their cries. With this in mind, you will want to be sure to evaluate a video monitor on its audio capabilities as well as its video features.
Some features you might want to look for in a video monitor are, of course, the clarity of the picture, the transmission range, Wi-Fi capabilities, night vision capabilities and usability beyond baby monitoring. You may find that a product that has good picture quality and Wi-Fi capabilities can be a long-term investment because you can use it to monitor your property after you are done baby-watching. One feature that many parents look for in particular in a video monitor is the availability of a mobile app so you can use your phone to transmit the video feed. Of course, you’ll want to do your research and read user reviews to be sure that the manufacturers claims hold true.
The first time of movement monitors consist of a sensor pad that slips underneath the baby’s bed to monitor movement and alert parents if the baby should stop breathing. The second type consists of a sensor that attaches to baby’s clothing and monitors breathing and movement. While these may seem like a miraculous necessity, it is a pretty controversial product because they can create a false sense of security since there are no scientific studies that these types of monitors reduce the risk of SIDs of sleep related death. They also may work to create the opposite effect – an increase in anxiety should the monitor alert the parents that their child has stopped breathing only for the parents to check on baby and find that they simply moved off of the sensor pad or somehow escaped or lost the wearable sensor.
If you are going to choose a movement monitor – you will of course want to evaluate its features. First of course, you’ll want to determine if the pad-type sensor or wearable sensor is more helpful for you. You’ll also want to check for features like Wi-Fi capabilities and mobile apps.
Of course the best monitor for your family is going to be the one that puts your mind the most at ease. If hearing your baby is enough to reassure you, then go for an audio monitor. If you like the idea of being able to see baby without having to enter their room, a video monitor may be a better choice for you. If you feel that being alerted to lack of movement would make you feel the most comfortable, then a movement monitor is the way to go. Whatever you decide, do you research, read reviews and pick the monitor that best fits your needs, your budget and helps you keep your little one safe.