As a new parent, you might imagine baby monitors as an indispensable item in your list of to buy items. However I cannot recommend this as a must have as I will explain below.
You will not need a baby monitor if
1. You plan to co-sleep with your baby
2. You live in a small apartment even if you are not co-sleeping
3. Your baby’s nursery is close to your bedroom
4. Your baby is loud enough to wake you when he or she cries(my baby’s cry could be heard by my neighbours across the road)
Over and above all this you need to ask yourselves whether your 24 hr monitoring of the baby is adding to your anxiety level or whether it is providing you the sense of reassurance needed to feel more at peace. These are intensely personal questions and must be answered by yourselves.
My Two Cents
If you are overly anxious about the baby I would suggest that you have the babies in your room till they are 3-4 months or even later. This will allow you to respond quickly to their needs and will also allow you to disconnect and have a decent sleep when you know they are sleeping as well. Having a baby monitor is like having a cellphone with notifications on all time – so you can see a constant stream of messages, emails etc all in all resulting in a very disturbed sleep. Every movement, every moan or fussing can be magnified to such an extent that you wake up feeling so tense that it takes much more time to fall back to sleep. These noises are common as the baby shifts between sleep cycles and hence a reaction on your part is not always beneficial and might end up waking the baby, which in turn will end up disturbing your sleep. Thus, if you respond to every little fuss or cry, you may inadvertently get in your own way, because your baby will not have the opportunity to learn to fall asleep on his own.
That said, there are situations where a monitor is indispensable – such as
- When the baby is not loud enough to wake you up or if the nursery is not close enough to your bedroom or other rooms, that the sound could alert you.
- Some babies have medical conditions that require parents to check in frequently.
- The fear of SIDS is one of the biggest fears that haunt parents as they navigate the first few months and to help alleviate some of the fears – there are monitors that detect movement and alert you in case of no movement for a certain period of time.
Here is a rough overview of the different types of monitors available ( there may be more but these are all that matter)
- Audio Monitors – Most audio monitors have lights as well as sound – the light intensity increases with the loudness of the sound, even if you have set the volume at low.
2. Movement Monitors – These monitors are different in the sense that they are meant primarily to monitor the breathing patterns in order to alert the parent in case anything is amiss.
3. Video Monitors
Then there are combinations of these such as audio/movement monitors video/movement monitors.
Few Things to Consider
Audio or Video or Movement
Now the next question is – should you buy audio monitors or video baby monitors. Sound only monitors are enough if you are monitoring the baby directly on most occasions, either by co-sleeping or by having the nursery very close to your bedroom. However I recommend using a video monitor because it has many benefits.
1. The biggest advantage is that a video monitor allows you to avoid reacting to each and every noise coming from the baby. Some of those might be just the baby shifting positions etc and it is a great help to know before making the move. Sometimes they might be just fussing half asleep and the sound of the door opening may just wake them up completely.
2. If you have many kids and you want to keep watch over them then video monitors allow you the flexibility to install cameras in different rooms while monitoring through a single monitor. Today’s advanced video monitors typically use up to four cameras per unit
3. Also, if more than one child occupies the same room, a video monitor removes the guesswork of determining which child is in distress.
4. Two of the most popular functions for parents are the ability to keep the child’s caretaker under surveillance and watching one’s pets. Top shelf baby video monitors can store images online or to hard disk, depending upon model and manufacturer. An added benefit is of course that a record of baby’s development can be saved for posterity.
Video monitors can give you a quick silent look into baby’s world without getting out of bed and without disturbing the baby unnecessarily. Th choice of movement monitors is not cut and dry – most parents may not consider them but some definitely do and there are some good options there.
Analog or Digital ?
I could devote the entire article to this topic or I could try and explain the concept in a few words. Since this is a busy parents guide – the latter option makes more sense, doesn’t it?
All monitors consist of two main components – transmitter which transmits the sounds, videos etc from the nursery and the receiver which receives and displays for the parent. The transmission occurs in the form of airwaves. Analog monitors transmit the waves in discrete electronic pulses whereas digital monitors encrypt the signals into packets while sending- analog is the way most signals were transmitted in the past but today most signals are transmitted digitally. With analog monitors there is a big security risk since it is not encrypted, and the signals can be caught by other similar monitors in your neighbourhood and vice versa. With digital signals the only issue is of interference from other digital signals emanating from your gadgets. Another issue is that digital signals are sometimes too weak to permeate think brick walls. They are also more expensive on account of using more modern technology.
Overall for sercurity reasons I would recommend digital especially if you are living in a crowded apartment setting. In a suburban house, the chances of someone picking up your signals are too small to be noteworthy.
Best Audio Monitors
- VTech DM221 Safe & Sound Digital Audio Baby Monitor – This is undoubtedly the best value for money sound monitor – with features like voice activation, 2 way talk to baby, and a nightlight, in short packing a lot of features without compromising on sound quality and keeping the price low enough. There are some concerns with the DECT technology used by this monitor – you can read more about it here.
- Angelcare Baby Sound Monitor, White – This is an analog sound monitor and does not use the DECT technology used by VTech – which is subject to controversy as it relates to radiations. Interference free and with a longer range – this is a good choice if VTech is out of question due to radiation concerns.
Best Movement Monitor
- Snuza Hero SE baby movement monitor – Only movement monitor I recommend since this is not dependent on images but is actually placed on the diaper and detects real movements. It will alert you immediately if the baby’s movements are weak or fall to less than 8 movements per minute. It will even vibrate if necessary to rouse the baby gently. Warning will alert you to the fact that your baby’s movements have stopped for 15 seconds on three occasions. If no further movement is detected for another 5 seconds, an alarm will sound to alert you.
Best Audio/Movement Monitor
Best Video Monitor
- Infant Optics DXR-8 Video Baby Monitor With Interchangeable Optical Lens, White/Biege – The best seller as far as video monitors go and not without reason. The digital wireless transmission covers distances up to 800 feet in open areas (outside) and 150 feet in enclosed areas (inside).One of the most appealing aspects of this baby video monitor is that you can add up to four cameras to the system. This means that you can monitor four rooms simultaneously, or capture different angles of the same room. With infrared night vision, you’ll even be able to see your baby when the room is dark.
This one works on the 2.4 GHz radio frequency band which is popular amongst many household items and therefore could lead to noise interference , Digital technology is controversial with regards to radiation – but the same fears are true for any cell phone. You want however want to keep you baby safe from these radiations.
There are a plethora of baby monitoring apps available but I would not recommend any of them due to the following reasons
- The functioning of the app depends on wifi – which is problematic.
- You need to keep a phone or ipad at all times in the room to serve as tthe eh camera – which means that they will not be available for you.
- You need to keep the phone in close proximity to the child – again not recommended at this age.