Baby monitors are a relatively new invention yet they have quickly become an essential part of any parent’s baby equipment.
There are now many types available and this article summarizes the technology available and what a buyer should look for.
Baby Monitor Buyers Guide
What is a baby monitor & why do I need one?
It might seem like an obvious question these days, but baby monitors are a relatively new innovation. At the most basic
level they give the parent freedom from keeping a constant vigil at their baby's bedside (cot-side or Moses basket-side!).
A baby monitor normally consists of a transmitter and a receiver unit. The transmitter is placed near the baby and the
parent keeps the receiver unit. This way the parent can hear instantly if their baby needs reassurance while doing other
things around the house - or maybe catching up on some well needed rest!
Baby Monitor Types
Baby monitors now fall into three main categories. There are the traditional audio baby monitors. These alert the parent if
the baby starts to cry or seems restless or uncomfortable. Audio/visual baby monitors take this a step further by letting
the parent see and hear their baby. These consist of a camera unit with a microphone and a receiver unit with a TV screen
Lastly, there are sensor baby monitors (also called respiratory baby monitors). These offer peace of mind by immediately
alerting the parent if their baby's breathing becomes significantly uneven or even stops completely.
Audio Baby Monitors
Audio baby monitors fall into two further types: analogue and digital. Analogue baby monitors traditionally were subject to
lots of interference from other household items that gave off a wireless signal. While this still can be true of cheaper
analogue monitors, today most have more than one channel enabling you to select one that is interference free and
incorporate technology that lessens outside interferences such as the Philips Cordless Babysitter.
To guarantee an interference transmission and reception you will need a digital baby monitor. Remember that a baby monitor
is essentially a radio transmitter and receiver and digital radio (should you have one!) is superior to normal radio
reception. The higher-end digital baby monitors use something called DECT technology. This technology came from digital
walkabout phones and stands for Digital Enhanced Cordless Technology.
DECT monitors will select a channel automatically from 120 channels and often encrypt the channels to stop any
eavesdropping. Because of this technology these monitors are normally more expensive, but (like the Philips Digital Baby
Monitor and the BT Digital Monitors) they guarantee interference free transmission and often come with several useful extra
Audio baby monitors - things to look for:
•Number of channels
•Rechargeable parent unit
•Belt clip for portable convenience
•Light display on the parent that shows noise level even if the sound is turned down.
•Low battery indicator
•Night light on baby unit
•Two-way transmission - so you can talk to your baby from the parent unit.
•Temperature gauge - remember the ideal nursery temperature is around 18C (65F)
Audio/Visual Baby Monitors
A recent innovation - these monitors let you see and hear your baby. This gives obvious added benefits such as seeing if
your baby has come out of their blanket, or if they are sleeping in an awkward position etc. However, these baby monitor
may also be useful for older children so you can remotely check on them if they are playing by themselves in another room.
The range of audio/visual baby monitors can be limited by your house layout. If your house has normal partition (or stud)
walls then the range will be around the quoted 30m. However, if you live in an old house with solid internal walls the
range will be reduced - especially if the signal has to pass through several walls. This will not apply when you are
directly below or above a nursery as the signal only has to pass through a wooden floor (or floors) and should therefore be
AudioVisual Baby Monitors - Things to look for:
•Night vision - sounds obvious but some come without it! This is essential for night time viewing. All our
audiovisual baby monitors come with night vision.
•Number of channels - helps in finding the best channel but can also enable you to add extra cameras later.
•Standby mode - if you have a portable parent unit the screen can be draining on the battery. Some units such as the
Tranwo Gigaair automatically come out of standby
mode if you baby makes a noise.
Sensor Baby Monitors
Also called respiratory baby monitors these monitors consist of sensitive pads that go underneath your baby's mattress.
During the first year of life, infants can experience irregular breathing patterns or even stop breathing completely.
These monitors can alert when your baby's breathing changes due to a cold, high fever, or other illness. The
href="http://www.MonitorMyBaby.co.uk/Products/babysense.html">Babysense II will continually detect your baby's motion
and breathing movements, and set off a sound and visual alarm if breathing movements ceases for over 20 seconds or if the
breathing rate slows to below 10 breaths per minute.
REMEMBER, a sensor baby monitor is an added precaution and safeguard which can help peace of mind but it must be combined
with the important recommendations of "Safe Sleeping" (sleeping on the back, not overheating of baby's room, not smoking
around the baby).
Sensor Baby Monitors - things to look for
•Certifications - the Babysense II is currently
the only Household Movement Monitor to carry complete CE registration as a Medical Device and to comply with 93/42/EEC
Medical device Directive.
•Mattress type - some sensor baby monitors will not work properly with a spring mattress
•Mattress thickness - check your mattress thickness. Some are certified for thicknesses up to 12cm and some for
thicknesses up to 14cm.
•Mattress base - sensor monitors work best on a flat base. This should be no problem with a cot, however, if used in
a Moses basket you are advised to put the basket on a flat base.
About the Author
Sarah Cooke. Mother of two and Director of MonitorMyBaby - Baby monitor specialists a site specialising in all types of baby monitor.