Ever wonder what it would be like to have an extra set of ears, eyes or both? With the right baby monitor, it's as if you do! Whether the monitor is audio, video or a combination of the two, parents and caregivers can keep tabs on a sleeping child without being in the same room. Although monitors allow more freedom and flexibility, it's important to remember they're not a replacement for hands-on supervision.
how monitors work
Monitors are a set of small radio receivers. With audio monitors, the base transmitter is placed in the nursery near baby and the receiver portion of the unit can be carried with you or left in a primary location. Video monitors are also portable and require the receiver to be placed near you. It is important for you to test and establish the operating range of the monitor by testing the unit in different room combinations. Obstructions such as terrain, walls, and interference from other devices can cause static and an unclear relay of sounds from the baby's room. You may want to look for models that offer more than one frequency range to minimize this potential problem. If your unit will be in use for extended periods of time, you may opt to use an AC adapter to avoid frequent battery replacement.
Just what should you look for when shopping for monitors? Well, as technology has improved, so has the quality and range of baby monitor options. While more choices are always good to have, they also present a bit of a challenge: you have to do some research to find the monitor that's right for you and your family. We've put together some guidelines to help you make a well-informed decision.
audio baby monitors
If you opt for audio-only, you'll find that many come with lights that glow brighter as baby cries louder. You may like this feature because it makes it possible to know the urgency of baby's cries when you can't hear them, such as when you're showering, vacuuming or on the phone. One of the biggest complaints about baby monitors is that they often pick up interference or static from other electronic devices, such as cell phones or cordless phones. Often, an effective way to avoid interference on a baby monitor is to choose a digitally enhanced cordless telecommunications (DECT) monitor. Sometimes they are referred to as operating on a 1.9 GHz frequency. This type of monitor has less interference because it uses a newer, less congested bandwidth that the Federal Communications Commission approved for phones and baby monitors. Since there are fewer DECT monitors for sale, they tend to be more expensive. Other non-DECT digital monitors typically have less interference than
audio baby monitors (continued)
analog monitors. However, analog monitors are the most affordable. Analog monitors work best in sparsely populated areas. Before making your purchase, you should check to see which frequency your cordless phone or wireless network operates on to minimize any interference in your own home. Many analog baby monitors operate on 49 MHz, 900 MHz, or 2.4 GHz frequencies.
video baby monitors
If you're looking for the peace of mind that comes with being able to see baby on the monitor, you're in luck. An increasing number of video options are available. Video monitors may have either a small handheld monitor with audio that is easy to carry around or a larger screen that can be mounted or placed in another room in your home. Concerned about being able to see baby in a dark room? Look for a video monitor with night vision.
web-compatible baby monitors
Another high-tech way to keep tabs on a sleeping baby is by purchasing a web-compatible baby monitor. This model allows your computer monitor to double as a larger viewing option. It's also a great way for long-distance grandparents to get a peek at their new grandchild.
movement sensor baby monitors
Movement sensors alert you when baby has stopped moving for more than 20 seconds. Although the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends movement sensors only for certain at-risk babies, many parents say the sensor helps alleviate their concerns about SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
A common frustration among parents and caregivers is the short battery life on some baby monitors. One way to avoid this is to find a monitor with rechargeable batteries or one that can be plugged into the wall. A wireless handset is nice to have because you can carry it throughout the house or take it outdoors while your baby naps, but the convenience falls short if the batteries are dead. So, if you have a monitor that relies on batteries, be sure to stock up.
monitor safety tips
Do not use the monitor to justify leaving your child alone while he or she is at play. Parental or caregiver supervision is essential.
Do not place near water. As with any electrical gadget, monitors present shock hazards if misused.
Always follow manufacturer's instructions on placement and usage.
Protect monitor from direct sunlight or heat source.
Handle monitors with care to ensure quality.
Remember to place the baby monitor out of baby's reach.