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Baby Monitor Reviews - Options, How to Choose The Right One for You

Updated on November 20, 2016
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John uses his research background in Biochemistry & Physiology to develop review articles - pregnancy, babies, infants, children, teenagers

There are a wide range of baby monitors available to give parents peace of mind when separated from the baby. They range from audio-only listening devices, motion sensors with sensor pads and the more sophisticated video monitoring types.

This article provides some background information to help you decide what is right for you and your baby.

Each type of monitor has two units one for the baby's room and one for parents. Getting devices that are battery operated is a good idea do that they are both portable and can be moved around from room to room.

The sound-only devices are the cheapest and the video ones the dearest.

There are also apps for Android and Apple mobile devices that act as temporary baby alarms. If you have an old mobile it may be worth while adapting it as a dedicated alarm device.

Video Style Baby Monitor with battery operated portable units
Video Style Baby Monitor with battery operated portable units | Source
Sound Only Monitoring Baby Monitoring Devices
Sound Only Monitoring Baby Monitoring Devices | Source
High Quality Video Camera for a baby monitoring unit
High Quality Video Camera for a baby monitoring unit | Source

Main Types of Baby Monitors

There are three broad types:

Audio Devices

This is a very simple concept. There is a listening device in the babies room that transmits via a cable or via wireless signals to a monitor where the parent is located. If the baby or toddler wakes up and cries or make other noises you will hear them. allowing you to hear your baby.

Audio Devices with Motion Sensor Pads

These devices can be programmed as alarms for changes in the movement patterns of babies. If the baby does not move for a set period of time (usually 20 seconds) an alarm sounds on the receiver in the parent's room. The device can also be programmed to send an alarm when the baby wakes up and becomes restless.

Video Monitoring Devices

These devices come with a small monitoring video camera which can be set up in the child's room. Signals are transmitted to a receiver and parents can check periodically to see what the baby is doing. Some of the devices have night vision capability and so can show what the baby is doing even when the lights are turned off. Many newer models send signals that can be picked up on a computer, tablet or smartphone and can operate over longer distances when the parent may be outside or away from home.

Many of the devices offer a whole range of extra features such as:

  • room temperature gauge
  • sound-sensitive alarms with light signals when the baby moves around
  • a built-in night light
  • the ability to play lullabies
  • out of range warning signal
  • low battery indicator
  • talk-back facilities, allowing you to speak to your baby or toddler from another room

Types of Signal Recognition and Transmission Modes

Analogue Baby Monitors

These types are essentially out of date and have poor sound quality, and can get interference from radios and various electrical devices around the home. The digital ones are better.

Digital Baby Monitors

These units provide clearer sound than analogue devices and are less likely to suffer interference.

Digitally Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) Devices

These are designed to really focus the sound pickup on the baby or toddler and are less likely to detect extraneous sounds.

Testing Before You Buy

It is a good idea to borrow a friend's unit and to make sure it will work in your own home. The operation of the units can be affected by wall thicknesses and electronic interference. The size of the house, the location of the bedrooms, upstairs for example, and total distance between transmitter and receiver can affect performance. Beware, that the advertised ranges may be exaggerated and can apply to the maximum possible range under ideal conditions. Test the product for possible interference from electrical appliances such as older refrigerators, heaters, TV, radios, phones and possibly your Internet WiFi system.

Examples of What is Offered for Typical Devices of the Various Types

Analogue Audio Only - you can expect to get an intercom, sound monitoring, room temperature monitor and night light capability. The units are battery operated and so both you and the baby can be moved around the house, Range is generally good for most houses including multi-story houses and apartments with noisy environments. These are the cheapest units

Digital Sound Device with Additional Options - The better types have a transmission range of 50m indoors and 300m outdoors, and they also have an "out of range" warning signals. Many can play many different lullabies. They have temperature monitors and "talk back"features.

Movement and Audio Device - Typically these devices use a sensor pad that is placed under the baby and they can issue a warning if the baby is still for 20 seconds or more. The sensor pad has an adjustable range of sensitive settings. But, note that the sensor won't work on foam mattresses and other soft ones. The parent unit is mobile and rechargeable and most have an "out of range" alarm. Most have many extra functions such as room temperature. The sensor pad make these devices less portable than the

Video monitors - These devices either have larger fixed monitors or portable hand-held receivers with smaller screens. Most have infra-red night vision, so you want your child even at night. These devices also have night lights and two-way talk back and a night light.

All in One Units - These offer audio, video and sensor pad movement detectors so you can see, hear and and be alerted if there is no movement detected within the specified time interval.

Do you use a baby monitor?

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© 2013 Dr. John Anderson

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