Monitor your miracle with love! Parents always want to know that their baby is safe. A baby monitor is the perfect way to keep tabs on your child from another part of the house. You can choose from audio, video, and movement monitors—or a combination of some or all of them—and select the various features that are important to you. Some monitors can even be used for years to come to monitor your children, your home, and your property.
Types of monitors
Baby monitors have entered the space age, with many different monitors available to track a number of different signs: noises, motion, and movement. The style you choose may depend on how far away from your baby you are during the day or night or simply how closely you want to monitor your baby.
Audio baby monitors
These monitors broadcast your baby’s gurgles, sighs, and cries so you can hear what‘s going on even if you’re in another room or outside watering plants. Make sure the audio monitor you select can be turned off in case you don’t want others to hear a conversation.
Video baby monitors
Monitors that allow you to see your baby are attractive to parents who need a little extra reassurance of their baby’s welfare. Look for a wireless baby monitor that includes a high-resolution camera, and infrared technology so you can see in the dark. If you plan to use it outside, you’ll need a wall mount option and a weather-resistant camera. The great thing about baby video monitors is that you can use them even after your baby has grown. They can be used to monitor your pool, your children playing in another room, and even to see who’s at the door before you answer it.
These monitors are reassuring to parents whose babies have battled an illness or who simply want to know that their child is healthy—even from four rooms away. BeBe Sounds, the company known for its prenatal baby heartbeat monitors, is a leader in this technology. A sensor pad, typically placed under the mattress, tracks baby’s movements and alerts parents if no movement has occurred for a specified period of time, usually 20 seconds. Look for a model with a sensitivity adjuster so you can minimize false alarms. If it’s important to know that your baby is being monitored at all times, select a product that automatically switches to battery power in case of a power outage and that emits a “tic” sound intermittently to let you know it’s still working.
Features to consider:
Most parents want to have the option of portability with their baby monitor—at least with the receivers. This means that if mom or dad is working in the garden during baby’s nap, the receiver can be clipped to a pants pocket and run on battery power. One that operates solely on battery power, however, means that you’ll go through a lot of batteries. For the best of both worlds, choose a product that can operate with a battery and that also can be plugged into an outlet.
Number of monitors
Some monitors are available with two or three receivers, which is convenient if both parents want to be able to hear baby. Multiple receivers also come in handy so that you always have a fresh receiver when the other is being recharged.
Your lifestyle and how you’ll use the monitor will determine the range you choose, but a good rule of thumb is a range of at least 200 feet. You’ll usually pay more for a greater range, and if you’ll use it, it’s worth the investment. But if you intend to stick pretty close to baby even when he’s sleeping, 200 feet should be fine.
If you have a cordless phone in your home, pay close attention to the frequency of the baby monitor you choose. If your phone and the monitor operate on the same frequency, you’ll run into performance problems. Digital monitors prevent this problem and also protect against interference from close neighbors who use a baby monitor too.
The usefulness of a model that lights up when your baby cries—the harder he cries, the more it lights up—depends on your lifestyle. If you work at home, for example, and don’t want a baby’s shriek to interrupt a business call, it might work well for you. Likewise, if a grandparent who’s a little hard of hearing will be watching the baby, he or she might feel more secure with the light-up model. A monitor with a vibrate setting can accomplish the same thing.
Some baby monitors come equipped with an intercom that parents can use to transmit the sound of their voice to baby, calming her until they can get to her room, or allowing mom and dad to sing her back to sleep from the comfort of their bed.
Look for models with a volume control so you can adjust the sound based on what you want to hear—and what you don’t.
A monitor with multiple channels allows you to search for the channel with the least interference for your particular environment.
The Bottom Line
Baby monitors help parents know that their baby is safe even when they’re not in the same room. Choose the type of monitor that provides the security level you need, and make sure your selection includes features that make it convenient and practical for your everyday use.
Our Mom Expert
Caron Webber, 37, is the mother of five children, ages 2 to 12.
“I have what my husband refers to as ‘mother’s ears,’ meaning that I can hear my babies making noise from about three miles away. My bedroom is downstairs, and our kids’ bedrooms are upstairs, so we put a monitor in our first baby’s bedroom so we could hear him at night. I soon discovered, however, that no matter how low I adjusted the sound on the monitor that any normal grunt or gurgle from the baby would immediately jolt me awake. I had to turn it off completely at night because with my mother’s ears, I could hear him crying even from one floor away—with no monitor. Instead, we used our baby monitor more during the day. If one of our kids was napping and I was doing dishes, for instance, it alerted me that he or she was awake. My husband, on the other hand, needed the monitor at night when I was away because he doesn’t have ‘father’s ears!’”