It can provide a vital communication link between you and your baby and give parents peace of mind that everything is well with your little one, but what should you be looking out for when buying a baby monitor?
Ask yourself what you’ll use it for?
- Will you be using it in the garden or moving from room to room in your house?
- Do you plan on travelling abroad with your monitor?
- Do you want to be able to see, as well as hear, your child?
- How important to you are extra features such as lullabies, a temperature sensor and night light?
A recent Which? survey asked baby monitor owners what they believed to be the most important considerations when buying a monitor. The top five were sound quality, reception/range, price, general ease of use and portability of the parent unit, so think about these when looking at monitors.
Sound or video?
Most baby monitors are digital (rather than analogue), which means they won’t pick up any nursery sounds from other people’s monitors on the same radio frequency.
‘Many of the newest baby monitors on the market also offer video so you can see as well as hear your baby,’ say a spokesman from Which?. ‘The monitor comes with a small camera that you position to view your baby by day or night (using infra-red). The monitor is linked up to a mini screen on the parent unit.’ Some offer the option of linking the monitor up to your television and others don’t have a parent unit at all but work with your smartphone, tablet or computer.
"Many of the newest baby monitors on the market also offer video so you can see as well as hear your baby"
You’ll pay more for a video baby monitor than a regular sound only monitor, but it will let you see your baby, so if you’re one of those mums who has to keep popping into your baby’s room during the night to look at him, this could give you a bit more peace of mind (and some much-needed rest!).
Checking your signal and range
Test out the sound clarity on a baby monitor throughout your home as soon as you buy it. Most baby monitors have a variety of channels to use – useful if you live in a built-up area, which will be more susceptible to interference or static.
‘Digital signals may crop up on digital radios or on other people's monitors, but a digitally-enhanced cordless telecommunications (DECT) baby monitor are designed so that the only nursery sounds you can hear are those from your own nursery, not anyone else's,’ say Which?.
Test out the sound clarity on a baby monitor throughout your home as soon as you buy it
If you’re making a much-needed cup of tea in the kitchen and your baby starts crying in his bedroom upstairs, you need to know that your monitor will pick it up. The range of a baby monitor indicates how far you can travel with the parent unit (the transportable bit) and still receive an accurate signal.
‘With a top of the range baby monitor you'll be able to move the parent unit more than 80m away from the baby (or nursery) unit without losing signal, cheaper versions won't get much further than 20m,’ say Which?. It’s also worth considering your property. Older Victorian houses have thicker walls that can sometimes cause problems with the signal, whereas modern houses have thinner walls so the signal can travel more easily.
Baby monitor safety
When you’re installing your monitor in your baby's room, make sure any electrical cords are kept at least one metre away from the cot, crib or play area, so your baby doesn't inadvertently become tangled up in them.
Find out which baby monitors made the Mother&Baby Awards 2014 Shortlist.