Having a baby monitor allows you to easily keep an eye on your baby while also giving you the freedom to do things around the house or get a good night’s sleep. There are several types of baby monitors out there that offer different ways for you to monitor your little one. With these monitors, you’ll know if it’s time for a diaper change, if your baby is being fussy, or if they’re ready to get out of their crib. Baby monitors are also great because they include features that let you connect them to wireless devices, so you can monitor your little one wherever you go.
With so many options at your disposal, it can be hard to find the right baby monitor for you and your family. There are so many things to consider that it can be a bit overwhelming. In this buyer’s guide, we’ll discuss the different types of baby monitors out there as well as the features to consider when looking for one. We’ll also review some of the frequently asked questions regarding baby monitors so that hopefully by the end of this article, you’ll feel well-informed on baby monitors and which kind is right for you.
Do You Need A Baby Monitor?
If you’re about to have your first child, you’re probably scrambling around trying to make sure that you have everything you need in time for the baby’s arrival. For sure, you’ll need diapers, a car seat, and a crib, but how do you know if you’ll need a baby monitor? Some people claim that they aren’t necessary while others say that they couldn’t live without one. Let’s take a look at a few factors that’ll help you determine if a baby monitor is necessary for you and your family.
Where the baby sleeps
If your baby sleeps in the same room as you, having a baby monitor probably won’t do much for you. But, if your little one sleeps in another room, or you’re transitioning them from your room to their own, a baby monitor will help you maintain that constant watch on them while they sleep.
Depending on what type of baby monitor you choose, you can see and hear if the baby wakes up, or you can simply check on them without having to get out of bed. Also, if you’re a deep sleeper, or you haven’t gotten a good night’s rest since your baby came home, then a baby monitor is perfect for you. For the parents who are heavy sleepers, you’ll be alerted when something happens in your baby’s room, so you won’t have to worry about sleeping through their cries or sleeping with one eye open. And, if you can’t sleep through the night because you’re constantly checking on your little one, a baby monitor will allow you to keep an eye on your baby without having to sacrifice so much of your sleep schedule to get out of bed and walk to their room.
Checking on your baby without disturbing them
If this is your first baby, then you’re probably always checking on them to make sure that they’re breathing probably, that they’re sleeping peacefully, and that they’re snug in bed. A baby monitor will let you do all of this from anywhere in the house without the risk of waking them up. We all know how hard it can be to get a baby to sleep and how frustrating it can be for them to wake up from the tiniest noise. If you had a baby monitor, it would eliminate the chances of you waking up your little one while still giving you the freedom to check on them as much as you want.
Keeping an eye on your baby while you run errands
Some parents can’t do the things that they need to do because they’re constantly worrying about their baby. Simple errands like walking your dog, making a quick trip to the grocery store, or picking your children up from school can become long, taxing tasks if you’re worried about your little one or if you have to take them with you. A baby monitor will give you the freedom to do the things you need to do while keeping an eye on your baby. Depending on the type of baby monitor you have, you can either bring it with you or connect it to your wireless device. This way, you don’t have to wake up your baby for a short trip or drive yourself crazy worrying about them while you run your errands.
Family members that live far away
If you have family members that live far away, giving them access to the baby monitor feed, depending on the kind you have, will allow them to check-in and see the baby whenever they want. This can also be ideal for single-parent households.
Pros & Cons of Using a Baby Monitor
Three Major Types of Baby Monitors: Audio Monitors, Video Monitors, and Wearable Monitors
Baby monitors come in different forms and offer different features that let you monitor your little one in various ways. Listed below are the three main types of baby monitors that are available on the market today.
Audio-only monitors are typically the most inexpensive baby monitors. They’re sound-only monitors that allow you to listen to your baby while they sleep. Audio-only baby monitors are designed to cancel out background noise, such as the air conditioner so that it only picks up on the noises coming from your baby.
Typically, audio baby monitors are equipped with tiny LED lights that light up when your baby starts to cry or make noise. The more the lights flicker indicates how loud your baby is being. This feature still works even if the monitor is set to the mute option.
Audio-only baby monitors are a simple and cost-effective way of keeping an eye on your little one while they’re sleeping.
Video monitors usually include sound as well, so you’ll be able to hear and see your baby whenever you want. This type of monitor is great because you’ll be alerted when your baby is getting fussy, and you’ll be able to look and see what’s causing the fuss. Having visual access into your little one’s room will help you determine if something is seriously wrong or if they’re just having a little cry.
If you have more than one child, video monitors will let you watch all of your children at the same time. As your child gets older, you’ll have the ability to check-in on their playtime to ensure that they’re not doing anything harmful or against the rules.
Some video monitors are equipped with a touch-screen feature that lets you zoom in on your baby and change the camera angle to get a good look into your child’s crib. They also have a night-vision feature so that you can get a clear look at your baby even when the lights are off.
Additionally, some video monitors allow you to connect to your wireless device, so you can see your baby whether you’re at work, on an errand, or leaving them in the care of someone else.
Wearable monitors, also known as movement monitors, are designed to track your baby’s breathing and movement levels. If your baby hasn’t moved for more than 20 seconds, the monitor will let you know, and you can see if everything is okay with your little one. It also tracks your baby’s oxygen levels and heart rate, which can alert you to any serious medical conditions going on with your baby.
However, over the years, there has been some debate as to whether or not movement monitors can help detect SIDS. As of today, there hasn’t been anything that proves if these monitors can detect and prevent SIDS deaths, and there have been a lot of controversies lately on if movement monitors do your child more harm than good.
Most Important Baby Monitor Features To Consider When Buying A Baby Monitor
A baby monitors range is one of the most important features that can make or break if it’s the right choice for you. The range on a baby monitor will determine how far away you can go away from your little one without losing connection to their room. Typically, you’ll want to find a baby monitor with a wide enough range that you can move throughout your house freely and still be connected to your baby.
The kind of range a baby monitor has depends on what type of monitor you choose. In general, audio monitors tend to have the best range, while video monitors and wireless monitors arguably have some of the worst ranges. Depending on the brand you get, a baby monitors range can vary from 600 to 2000 feet.
It’s important to keep in mind that various factors including the thickness of the walls, electric wirings, and wireless connections can all affect the quality of a baby monitors range.
Most baby monitors use wireless systems to transmit signals, but some can be operated using the wiring in your house. Wireless systems work using radio frequencies that are designated by the government. The main problem with this is that interference from other wireless networks and broadcasting systems can disrupt the signal of the baby monitor. To combat this issue, some monitors use DECT which is primarily used to operate cordless telephones.
With wireless baby monitors, there’s also a risk of your monitor being hacked by people with ill-will intensions. Because of this, you must set up your monitor securely to lower the chances of your baby monitor being hacked.
Security (can’t be hacked)
It’s very unfortunate, but there’s a lot of stories out there of baby monitors being hacked by people with little to no hacking knowledge. You mostly hear these stories on wireless, no internet baby monitors, and there’s not too much that you can do to prevent them from being hacked. However, if you’re using a baby monitor that connects to the internet, here are a few things you can do to make sure that your baby monitor is secure.
As it was mentioned above, video/audio baby monitors allow you to watch and hear your baby at the same time. Some of these baby monitors are equipped with features that let you control the camera and keep an eye on more than one room. Video/audio baby monitors typically have a wall-mount or tabletop camera so that you can get a clear view of your baby.
Number of receivers/parent units
Most baby monitors only come with one monitor and one parent unit (the receiver) which means you can only see into one room at a time, and if you’re moving throughout the house, you’ll have to take your parent unit with you. Carrying your parent unit can be annoying, especially if you’re doing things in different rooms. You may also find that the battery life of a single monitor/parent unit baby monitor gradually gets worse the more you use it. That’s where two-room baby monitors come in.
Baby monitors with two receivers let you see into your baby’s room in the two rooms that you spend the most time. With a double receiver monitor, you eliminate the hassle of carrying your parent unit from room to room. Or, they can be used so that each parent can check in on their little on whenever they want.
Most baby monitors will either have non-rechargeable batteries or an electrical cord for the receiver(s) and the unit in the baby’s room. Baby monitors, for the most part, are on all day, and it’s very common for the batteries to burn out quickly the more you use them. When you’re looking for a baby monitor, you’ll want to find one that either has rechargeable batteries or an electrical plugin. You might also want to consider finding a two-room baby monitor to reduce how long you use each monitor.
First, it’s important to note that the frequency/interference you experience depends on where you live and the electronic devices that you have in your house. There are two main types of interference. The first type is caused by the distance and number of walls that separate the unit in the baby’s room from the receiver(s). As the distance and number of walls increase, the weaker the signal becomes, and the stronger the interference gets.
The second type of interference is caused by other radio frequency devices like wireless telephones or devices that may be coming from your neighbor. To avoid this problem, you should look for a baby monitor that doesn’t operate on the same frequency band as the wireless devices in your house.
Baby monitors come in all different shapes and sizes. The point of a baby monitor is to watch and listen to your little one whenever you want from anywhere in the house. Because of this, you’ll want to find a monitor that isn’t going to be a hassle to carry around.
An out-of-range indicator can either be an audio or visual indicator that alerts you when you’ve gone beyond the monitor’s range limit. Without this feature, you’ll only have the sound of static to indicate when you’ve gone out of range. You might want to consider buying a baby monitor that’s equipped with this feature so that you don’t have to rely on static or white noise to tell you that you’re out of range.
The clarity of a baby monitor is how clear the sound comes from your baby’s room. If you have a visual baby monitor, the clarity would refer to how clear the image comes in. Having the sound or image come in super clear doesn’t necessarily need to be the best feature on a baby monitor, as long as you can hear your baby’s cry. That being said, it’s nice to have a baby monitor that transmits a crystal clear sound/image.
The downside of having perfect clarity is that you can also clearly hear the static coming through, and without a feature to filter out this noise, it can be a bit overwhelming.
Sensitivity (adjustable sound sensitivity)
The adjustable sensitivity gives you the power to filter out background noise so that the baby monitor zones in on the baby’s cries and tiny noises. What’s great about this feature is that when the baby starts to cry, the noise is amplified to wake you up so you can check on your little one. With this feature, you can also adjust the sound so that the monitor remains completely quiet until your baby starts to fuss. This gives you a better opportunity to get some decent sleep.
If getting a better night’s rest is important to you, then this is a feature that you’ll want to look for in your baby monitor. The static that comes through the filter can be very bothersome and prevent you from getting the sleep that you need. But, with the adjustable sensitivity filter, you can reduce that noise to a quiet hiss, and when there’s a loud noise in your baby’s room, the baby monitor will come to life, and you’ll immediately be alerted.
Sound-activation (silent until activated)
Sound-activation is one of the many names the adjustable sensitivity filter goes by. As it was mentioned above, the sound-activation feature lets you reduce background noise to silence so that the baby monitor is only honing in on your baby’s cries. With this feature enabled, you’ll be able to rest in absolute silence until the monitor is activated. This means that if your baby starts to cry or if there’s a loud noise coming from your baby’s room, the baby monitor will spring to life and amplify your baby’s cries.
So, if you’re wanting a baby monitor that’ll help you get a better night’s rest, then you should find one with this feature.
A low-battery indicator is a visual warning that the batteries in the receiver are running out. This can be a useful feature that alerts you when it’s time to replace the batteries. Without it, your monitor could die and become useless until you buy more batteries for your receiver.
Sound-activated light (when the device detects noise)
A sound-activated light detects when your baby is making noise and lights up according to how loud your baby is. The louder the cries, the more the monitor lights up. Even if the monitor is muted or the volume is turned down real low, the sound activated light will still go off when your baby starts to cry.
This feature can be incredibly important if you want to monitor how your baby is doing, but you don’t want the noise from the baby monitor to disrupt what you’re doing.
Monitor size (parent unit)
Akin to the receivers, parent units come in different shapes and sizes, and the size of the display screen varies as well. Typically, monitors with larger display screens have higher resolutions which in turn offer a clearer image. This doesn’t mean that smaller monitors will have a lower quality image.
Many baby monitors come with a night vision feature that lets you look into your baby’s room when the lights are off. Without this feature, you wouldn’t be able to get a clear image of your baby in a dark room. Some baby monitors even come with a night light feature that you can activate from the receiver. The night vision feature also lets you control the brightness on your screen so that you’re getting the best image possible.
If you want to be able to check in on your baby without risking waking them up with a bright light, then look for a monitor with a night vision feature.
The temperature sensor simply monitors the temperature in the baby’s room. For babies, the ideal room temperature to keep them comfortable is 68 to 72 degrees. This adjustable sensor will alert you if the temperature rises or drops. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that this feature is a necessity, but it is a great way to keep track of your baby’s comfort level.
Motion sensors are designed to alert you when your little one makes an unusual movement, such as rolling over from a nap or moving around in a crib. Some baby monitors come with a movement sensor that will let you know if your baby hasn’t moved for more than 20 seconds. Also, some people believe that this can help detect SIDS, but as it was previously mentioned, there’s not enough evidence or hardcore proof to back this up.
If your baby is a quiet little thing that doesn’t make a fuss when they first wake up, then this feature is perfect for you because it will let you know when there’s a lot of movement happening in your baby’s room. It will also alert you if your baby is no longer in their crib, which could prove to be an important safety feature.
Sound sensors will alert you when your baby starts making noise. What’s great about sound sensors is that, for most models, the sound doesn’t have to be turned up for you to know if your baby is being fussy. Most baby monitors equipped with a kind of LED light system that’ll light up and grow brighter as your baby gets louder.
Expandability (add cameras)
Expandability refers to the number of cameras that you can add to your baby monitor. This feature is particularly great if you have more than one child that you want to keep an eye on, or if there are multiple rooms in the house that you want to monitor. For many baby monitors, cameras can be mounted in different areas of the house, so you can watch over people and rooms from all kinds of angles.
Connectivity (connect to tv)
Some baby monitors give you the option of connecting your baby monitor to the TV and VCR/DVD. This allows you to monitor your baby on a bigger screen. You can either connect your baby monitor to the TV using WIFI or an AV cable. Also, if your TV has a picture-to-picture feature, you can watch your baby and TV at the same time. While I wouldn’t deem this feature as a necessity, I think it’s nice being able to enjoy my movie/TV show while also keeping an eye on my baby. If this feature interests, you can find some basic instructions on how to connect your baby monitor to your TV here.
Volume control (easy to access)
The volume control on your baby monitor should be easy to find and easy to use. If the baby monitor you jump through a bunch of hoops to access the volume control, then you should probably look at a different model. You can research the brand and check out reviews to learn if the volume control is easily accessible.
Cords (risk of strangulation)
Making sure that power cords are out of reach of babies and children should be a primary safety concern when you purchase a baby monitor. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) requires that power cords be placed at least 3 feet away from your child’s crib. Any baby monitor with an electrical cord must have a label on the cord to remind you to keep it 3 feet away from your baby. If it doesn’t, do NOT buy it.
There were two strangulation deaths caused by the electrical cord on a baby monitor that prompted a major recall on Summer Infant Video Baby Monitors in 2011. It may seem like a good idea to place your baby monitor on the rails of your baby’s crib or super close to them so that you can get a clear picture, but you should NEVER place your baby monitor and cord in the crib or your baby’s reach.
Talk-back (can talk to baby)
Some baby monitors are equipped with a talk-back feature that uses an intercom system that lets you speak to your baby from different areas in the house. Getting your baby to fall asleep without you holding them can be a taxing challenge, but sometimes they can get by on just listening to your voice. With this feature, you’ll be able to eliminate the need for standing over your baby’s crib to lull them to sleep.
If you have older children, you can also use this feature to talk to them without having having to stop what you’re doing. It’s a very convenient feature that saves you time and energy when you want to communicate with your little one(s).
Lullabies (built-in music)
There are a few baby monitors that are equipped with built-in lullabies that will sing your baby to sleep using the talk-back feature. The lullabies will either already be programmed into the parent unit, or you can connect your phone to the monitor and control the music from there. While this isn’t a primary necessity, it’s a beautiful feature to have that’ll help your baby fall asleep peacefully.
Baby Monitor FAQ’s
The first baby monitor was known as the Zenith Radio Nurse, and it was produced in 1937. Eugene McDonald, the president of the company known as Zenith, manufactured the product after the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby, a widely known kidnapping that rocked America at the time. McDonald built the Zenith Radio Nurse with the hope that it would prevent similar incidents from happening again.
McDonald created the baby monitor using radio equipment, microphones, and speakers with the help of Japanese designer Isamu Noguchi. Although it wasn’t commercially successful, the Zenith Radio Nurse paved the way for modern baby monitors.
The cost of a baby monitor depends on which type you choose. Audio-only baby monitors are the cheapest and they’ll usually cost you anywhere from $10 to $100. For audio/visual and other kinds types of baby monitors, you could find yourself paying anywhere from $50 to $250.
At the end of the day, when you stop using your baby monitor is completely up to you. For some parents, if your baby sleeps peacefully throughout the night, you can ditch the baby monitor when your little one is about 6 months old. However, some parents like to hold on to their baby monitor until their child is old enough to sleep in a big kid’s bed and get you if they need you. Again, determining when it’s time to let go of your baby monitor is a completely individual thing, and it’s solely up to you.
Baby monitors are super easy to find. You can find them at almost any of your local retailers or online. There may even be a hand-me-down baby monitor that you can get from family members, but I wouldn’t entirely recommend doing that.
Baby monitors are a very convenient way of keeping an eye on your little one from anywhere in the house. They provide a way to get a good night’s rest for you and your baby, and they give you the freedom of running errands and completing tasks around the house all while keeping a watchful eye on your little one. Some baby monitors even give you and family members the ability to check-in on your baby from far away.
Some parents would argue that baby monitors aren’t necessary, but that’s a personal opinion. Only you can determine if a baby monitor is necessary for you and your family. Hopefully, after this article, you feel well-informed on the different types of baby monitors available for you, as well the what to look for when searching for a baby monitor.