Posted on 14th May 2012 @ 12:36
When I was a baby there were no baby monitors (unless you could afford a nanny of course)! There was also a lot less debate about how to deal with your baby during the night and at nap time. As my mum likes to say “we just got on with it”.
Nowadays, we have many ways to discuss and communicate with each other. Social networking, dedicated websites, discussion boards as well as the more traditional antenatal groups are available to expectant mothers. Although in many ways this is a godsend, giving us access to a wealth of advice and opinion; it can equally be confusing, giving us ‘information overload’.
Most parents start out with their new baby in their room. It gives you a chance to get to know each other, and makes it easy to quickly feed or change. It is reassuring for new parents as they can quickly respond to distress, perhaps meaning that other siblings don’t wake.
However, even if your baby sleeps in your room for the recommended six months, which many parents find hard (we got less sleep when ours were in with us as we woke to every snort and snuffle), chances are you will want a baby monitor from birth for their daytime naps.
So unlike poor me, who as a baby might or might not have been heard squawking from my pram in the garden in all weathers; we have the option to hear our babies, see them, and even monitor their breathing and movement should we choose to do so.
Even though a monitor will probably be high up your list of essential purchases for your baby, there are a bewildering number of different types on the market. Most recently video monitors have become common. I didn’t have the option of buying a video monitor when my first child was born nearly six years ago – so looking at all the options today – I wonder what I would buy now?
All monitors start with a minimum of two units. One unit is placed where your baby sleeps. This picks up and transmits the sounds he makes to your unit, allowing you to listen to your baby. A video monitor will allow you position a camera so that you can also see him.
As a general rule, the more you spend, the more features you will get with your monitor. But there is no point in spending more to have a feature you don’t need! However, beware spending too little and then finding you end up buying another monitor later on.
Some of the features that you will find on monitors are:
Analogue / Digital: An important consideration as digital monitors are usually more expensive. Analog baby monitors use frequencies that can be used by other electronic gadgets so can find themselves competing with phones or other monitors. So where you live may be central to your decision. Digital monitors have a stronger signal which is encrypted so won’t be picked up elsewhere and can be used over longer distances. However, both analogue and digital can experience interference though it’s more common with analog. Most monitors have a choice of channels so you can select the one with the least interference. Some digital monitors come on only when sound is detected rather than constantly streaming the sound.
Mains and battery operation: This lets you take the receiver off the mains charging unit and carry it with you round the house. Consider battery life too as some of them don’t last long if not on charge.
Talk-back facility: This allows you to talk into your unit, and your baby to hear your voice through the unit in their room.
Sound Light Display: The monitor uses lights to indicate the level of sound. The more lights that come on, the more noise your baby is making. Useful if you want to turn the audio down or off at times. If your baby often cries themselves to sleep you want to be aware of the noise but not necessarily share it!
Baby Unit Night Light: If you want to use the unit in your baby’s room as a nightlight as well as a monitor.
Sensor Pad: Some monitors come with a sensor pad that you put under your child’s sheet which monitors their breathing. They can work in different ways so make sure you consider what’s right for you. Some parents find they cause more alarm than reassurance because the alarm can be triggered (through no fault of the monitor) if your baby moves off or away from the sensor.
Temperature Sensor: Shows the temperature of your baby’s room allowing you to adjust their bedding layers appropriately.
Video Capability: Many options are available from a simple small unit to a large display that can be used as a digital picture frame later on. It is also possible to send the signal from a video unit to your smart phone. Video monitors are (obviously) designed to be used in low light but may have different qualities of ‘night vision’. Picture quality is also variable so check out reviews and opinions from other parents
You may also come across features such as remote control, lullabies, connection to MP3 players – but unfortunately none yet can guarantee a sleeping baby!
I know we went through about three baby monitors after our daughter was born as it’s often only when you use them that you realise the features that are really important to you. Had they been available I think I probably would have chosen a video monitor as there’s nothing more reassuring as being able to see your baby. But whether that reassurance justifies paying for a really good one is very much a matter of personal choice – just like whether you can manage that recommended six months of baby snuffling in your room!