Do I Need a Baby Monitor?- A Simple Guide
Should I get a baby monitor? It’s a question that is often asked by parents of young children. The answer to this question will depend on the type of family you have, the age of your kid(s), and their ability to sleep through the night without supervision.
A baby monitor can be an effective tool for some families simply for peace of mind when they are unable to be in the same room with their child during nap time or at night. For some people, a baby monitor is not necessary at all. Here is your guide to deciding if you need a baby monitor.
Table of Contents
What is a baby monitor?
A baby monitor is a two-piece communication system that you use to see your child when in a different room. Some baby monitors allow you to only hear your baby, while other baby monitors allow you to hear and see your baby. And some baby monitors connect to wifi and allow you to see your child no matter where you are.
You do not need a baby monitor if:
- Your baby is sleeping in the same room with you
- You’re living in a small space where you’ll easily hear your baby
- You can use your security system cameras as a baby monitor
You need a baby monitor if:
- Your baby sleeps in a separate room where it’s harder to hear them
- You want to see your baby while you’re away
- You want to know if you need to go in or leave your baby as is
- You plan to be outside and want to hear your baby
- You’re sleep training
- You’re making the transition to a separate room
- You like assurance that your baby is safe
- Your kids are older
- You’re a deep sleeper
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Things to consider when shopping for a baby monitor!
Where will your baby sleep?
When shopping for a baby monitor consider where your baby will be sleeping. Will your baby be sleeping in a bassinet in your room? If so, I promise you will hear their every move. If your baby is going to be in a different room, you may have better peace of mind if you can hear and/or see your baby on a monitor.
Are you a deep sleeper?
If you’re a deep sleeper, you will greatly benefit from having a baby monitor, especially if your baby will be sleeping in a different room. You will want to hear if your baby is crying, especially if something happens like they vomit, or get an arm or leg stuck in the slats of the crib.
How old is your baby/child?
Are you awaiting the arrival of your baby, or is your child older? This will make a difference as you’re shopping for a baby monitor. There are certain features you want with an older child, such as the ability to talk back and forth with your child, that maybe isn’t as important to you with a baby.
Will you get plenty of use out of a baby monitor?
Similar to the previous question about how old your child is, how long will you plan to use your baby monitor? Months, years? Also, will you only be using the baby monitor for one child, or will you be using it for multiple children? All of these things will need to be taken into consideration as you decide what type of baby monitor you want to buy, which features are important to you, and how much you want to spend on a baby monitor.
How to buy a baby monitor for your needs:
Types of baby monitors
Basic Audio Monitor:
A basic audio baby monitor can only transmit sound. Some audio baby monitors allow the same function as a walkie-talkie system. Most will allow you to see the level of volume in your baby’s room with a color indicator changing from green towards red.
Digital Baby Monitor:
This is similar to a basic audio monitor except that it uses a different frequency to transmit the signal.
Video Baby Monitor:
A video baby monitor independently communicates with itself without the use of wi-fi. These baby monitors will allow you to see and hear your baby as long as you’re within the indicated range for the monitor.
Smart (wifi) Baby Monitors:
A smart baby monitor, also known as a wifi baby monitor connects to the wifi in your house and transmits the video through the internet, generally onto your smartphone. A feature people like about wifi baby monitors is that you can see your baby anywhere you have internet capabilities. If you choose to buy a wifi baby monitor, make sure you opt for a brand that has extra encryption technology so that someone can’t hack into your baby’s monitor.
Health & Movement Baby Monitors:
A health and movement baby monitor will often monitor your baby’s heart rate, oxygen level, as well as their sleep pattern.
Radio Frequency Monitors vs. Wifi Monitors:
A radio frequency baby monitor transmits information back and forth between two pieces of the baby monitor over a wavelength specific to that hardware. This would be the camera and the receiver. When out of range of one another, they cannot communicate. A wifi baby monitor connects to your home wifi and transmits over that source. As long as you have wifi, you’ll always be able to see your baby.
Features of baby monitors
choose a baby monitor with a different frequency than other items in your home such as a cordless phone or other wireless products. You also want to inspect the baby monitor to see it’s safety options if transmitting over wifi.
When buying a baby monitor, you’ll want to make sure you check to see if the handheld monitor must always be plugged in, or if it has a battery and can be used wirelessly.
Number of Handsets:
If you have an upstairs, you may want to choose an expandable baby monitor system that allows you to add cameras and handsets. This will allow you to have the cameras and handsets you need on each level of your house instead of constantly having to look for the handset.
Day Vision AND Night Vision:
It’s important that your baby monitor supports night vision. You’ll want to be able to see your baby at night equally as much as during the day. As you begin sleep training your child, night vision on a baby monitor is a key part to your success.
Sound Activation Feature:
Another great feature available on some baby monitors is that the screen will come on when you baby makes noise. This will indicate that your baby is awake or crying and you’ll know to check on them. It’s a great feature to have at nighttime.
Sound Level Indicator:
Similar to the sound activation feature, another great feature of baby monitors is the sound level indicator. Basically it’s a range of sounds from green (quiet) to loud (red). It’s great when you’re trying to figure out just how loudly your baby is crying. I often leave the baby monitor on silent because I don’t enjoy the background noise of the fan. This allows me to rely on the color indicator.
How much do baby monitors cost?
The price of baby monitors ranges from about $20 to $400. That is a huge range, but clearly, there are a lot of things that will increase the cost. As you add features to a baby monitor, you can expect the cost to go up as well. Just remember, you often get what you pay for!
How to use a baby monitor safely?
NEVER put the baby monitor on the crib
You should NEVER attach a baby monitor to the crib. This can become a HUGE safety hazard because of the cord attached to the camera. You should always attach the camera to a wall and then safely secure the cord to the wall out of reach of your baby. The wall you put the camera on should not be the wall behind your baby’s crib UNLESS you can run the cord up the wall in a way that there’s no possible way your baby can reach it.
Keep power cords out of reach
As mentioned above, you always need to make sure that the cord to your baby monitor’s camera is always out of reach of your child. It can be a fatal mistake to make, so just be sure the cord is safely secured away from your baby’s crib.
A baby monitor is helpful, but not YOU
Although baby monitors are incredibly helpful and offer a huge level of convenience, it’s important to remember that a baby monitor does not replace you. You still need to be completely aware of what your baby is doing as well as checking on them every so often to make sure they’re safe. Never rely completely on a baby monitor to keep your baby safe.
Know the limitations of your baby monitor
You’ll want to make sure that you’re always within a safe range for your baby monitor to work. This becomes less of an issue if you choose a wifi baby monitor. Similarly, you’ll also want to check on your baby monitor’s battery level before venturing away from your baby.
BABY MONITOR BUYING GUIDE
Where will you be using the baby monitor?
When shopping for a baby monitor, think about where you plan to use your baby monitor. Will you only use it at your house, or will you need a baby monitor that travels easily? Will you only use it in your bedroom at night, or will you be using your baby monitor to keep an eye on your baby while outside? Think about all potential ways you could use your baby monitor as you shop for the best baby monitor for you.
Do you want sleep stats and health monitoring?
Some baby monitors offer health stats like oxygen levels, heart rate, and sleep stats. It’s important to note that although helpful, none of these devices are medical-grade, or should be relied upon to reduce the risk of SIDS. Here’s an article with more information about SIDS.
What are the display quality and screen size?
I didn’t realize how much I would like a larger screen on a baby monitor until I bought my second baby monitor. It is so convenient to be able to have a larger view of my kids, as well as a zoom feature. And, what I’ve noticed about baby monitors with larger screens is that the clarity is often better than smaller monitors. If this is an important feature of a baby monitor for you, be sure to check the screen size, the display quality, as well as the quality of night vision for each baby monitor you’re considering.
Will you travel with your baby monitor?
If you plan to travel with your baby monitor, you’ll want to make sure that you’re able to easily remove it from the wall and reinstall it. We take our baby monitors with us on vacation every trip to ensure the ability to see our kids when in unfamiliar spaces.
How far away will you be from your baby?
Another important feature of a baby monitor is how far away you plan to be from your baby. You need to be certain that the baby monitor you plan to buy supports that range. There’s likely a big difference between the range of your room to your baby’s room, versus your backyard to your baby’s room. Think of all possibilities before choosing a baby monitor.
Does it offer two-way communication?
Will you need to be able to communicate with your baby or child? This may come in the form of a conversation with your child, but it may also come in the form of being able to sing to or shhhhhh your baby.
Does it have a good battery life?
The battery life of a baby monitor is a super important feature. You want to buy a baby monitor that lasts for more than a few hours without a power source. Sometimes people shop for baby monitors that will have a battery that lasts more than a few hours. Know the battery limitations of your handheld baby monitor before you buy it.
Does it tell the room temperature?
To be honest, this feature isn’t a make or break for me, and here’s why. The baby monitor I purchased most recently does have a temperature display. But, what I noticed is that it doesn’t always correctly display the temperature. I know this because we have a different temperature display in the room. The temperature on the baby monitor is usually within 3 degrees of the correct room temperature. As long as you’re good with that, then having a baby monitor with a temperature display can be convenient for you.
Does it have an out of range indicator?
Unless you’re using a wifi baby monitor, having a baby monitor with a range indicator is really important. As you leave the supported range of your baby monitor, you need to know this. It wouldn’t be good if you think you’re listening for your baby, and in reality, the monitor is out of range and you won’t hear your baby at all.
Does it have a low battery alert?
Much like the range indicator, make sure your baby monitor has a low battery alert. Although incredibly ANNOYING, the baby monitor I’m currently using has a really loud beeping sound it makes when the battery is low. It’s loud enough that it wakes me up at night. This is especially helpful when you forget to plug it in to charge it, or when you’re using it a lot during the day.
Does it have sound/music available?
Some people like to have baby monitors that make soothing sounds or have a music option. As mentioned above, you can expect that adding a feature like this will increase the price of your baby monitor. But, for many, having a baby monitor that can do it all is worth the cost!
Can you add more than one camera to the system?
You may be wondering why someone would want a baby camera that is expandable. You may want more than one camera or handheld monitor if you’ll be on multiple floors of your house, or if you have several children in different rooms. These are called expandable baby monitor systems. We have an expandable baby monitor system with more than one camera. This allows us to see our kids who are in different rooms all on the same handheld system.
How many handheld devices do you want?
If you’ll be moving around your house, you may want to consider a baby monitor with more than one handheld device. Having more than one handheld device is super convenient when you can keep one upstairs and one downstairs and not have to constantly search for the baby monitor.
Can you adjust the camera’s view from the handheld device?
A newer feature of baby monitors is the ability to zoom in and out, as well as pan around the room. This is a higher-tech feature that isn’t available on all video baby monitors. You can expect to find these features on some of the more expensive video baby monitors.
Will you use the monitor after your baby grows up a bit?
We like to hear our kids at night, no matter their age. The biggest thing I appreciate is being able to hear my kids cry, or worst-case, puke. Although neither are things I enjoy, I would rather hear them in their room than to have them come into my room puking everywhere.
How much interference will you have?
I know most people are using their cellphones as a home phone, but if you still use a cordless phone or any other device that transmits a radio frequency in your house, you’ll want to keep this in mind as you search for the best baby monitor. If there are too many devices on one channel, the quality of the monitor will be compromised.
If buying a wireless monitor, is it encrypted?
When buying any kind of baby monitor that shares a frequency, you’ll want to make sure the baby monitor is encrypted. This is important for the safety of your baby as well as your privacy.
Does the baby monitor have a return policy?
And last, but actually the most important, does the baby monitor you’re considering purchasing have a return policy? You may find that when you get your baby monitor all set up, that it doesn’t work right, doesn’t meet your expectations, or you simply don’t like it. If you’ve spent $200 on a baby monitor, you don’t want to be stuck with it. Be sure to check the return policy of the baby monitor, and know how much time you have to return it to the store.
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