What is a baby monitor?
A baby monitor is a radio system used to remotely listen to or watch an infant. It can give you peace of mind, letting you move around your house while your baby sleeps. The nursery unit, equipped with a microphone (sometimes with a camera) is placed near the baby and it transmits the sounds (or the video) by radio waves to a receiver unit which is called the parent unit.
Although these devices have several features a baby monitor’s primary job is to transmit sounds from nursery. There are many different types of baby monitors which use different technologies, but the challenge is to find a baby monitor that really works 24/7. That means minimal interference from other nearby electronic products and radio devices, long battery life and no privacy issues.
When you’re choosing a baby monitor, there are several things to consider like features, range, and type of wireless technology used. So here we have summarized the most important features of baby monitors for you.
Types of Baby Monitors
A baby monitor with basic features will let you hear what’s happening in baby’s room, but some baby monitors offer lots of extra features. Some will let you watch the nursery and some will also let you monitor your baby’s heart beats or his/her movement.
Baby Video Monitors
Video baby monitors which are also called baby cams combine sound monitors with video. With baby cams you can watch your baby either by plugging the receiver into a television or from the LCD display on the parent unit. Some newer models also work on the Internet so that you can watch your baby from anywhere. Most video baby monitors today have a night vision feature. In these models there are infrared LEDs attached on the front of the camera allowing the user to see the baby in the dark. Video baby monitors with night vision capability will switch to this mode automatically in the dark. Video monitors are great devices, but you cannot watch the screen the entire time, so the most important thing to search for in a video monitor is again the quality of the sound and a visual sound level indicator.
Baby Sound Monitors
Baby Sound monitors are the basic baby monitors and available in both analog and digital models. Analog baby monitors are the least expensive and can still be a good value, but their range is a bit shorter than digital wireless monitors. Also other receivers can pick up the signal from your nursery, which means that your neighbors can get your signal too. Analog communication also suffers from interference from more devices other than digital ones.
Digital baby sound monitors give clearer sound, wider reception range, and less interference from radios and other electronics than analog models. They also encrypt and encode the signal so they suffer from interference less than the analog monitors. Also nobody other than you can get your signal. When choosing digital sound monitor, search for one with an out of range alarm, so that you will know if you are too far from the nursery.
Baby Movement Monitors
Baby movement monitors have movement sensor pads that fit under the baby’s mattress and detect the infant’s movements. They alert you when the baby is completely still for 20 seconds. Movement sensors add extra peace of mind, but experts warn that parents may gain a false sense of security from monitors with movement sensors.
Interference is the most common problem with baby monitors, especially with old analog ones. The main cause of interference is, when two or more wireless devices try to operate on same or very close radio frequency, the signals are mixed and the result is corruption of the signal. This corrupts the audio or video, and sometimes makes the signal totally unusable for the receiver. If there are houses with babies close to your house, they may have similar baby monitors that use the same frequencies. This can cause interference problems, and sometimes they may also hear (or watch) your nursery. The solution for this problem is using a baby monitor with digital wireless technology with added security features like encryption.
Baby Monitor Range
This is one of the important parameters when selecting a baby monitor. The range of a baby monitor limits the distance for you to travel with the parent unit and still receive a usable audio or video signal from the baby unit. If your house is small or if you will use the baby monitor from the next room, any baby monitor will work. But in case you live in a large or multi-story home, or you’d like to be able to take the parent unit outside to a large yard, you need a baby monitor with a longer range. One other thing to consider is the type of property. An important feature to look for is “out of range alarm” which makes sure that you are not too far away from the transmitter.
Baby monitors usually come with a baby unit for the nursery and one parent unit that let you listen to or watch the nursery. But there are models which let you connect to more than one baby unit. This is a really good feature if you want to monitor more than one room, or have more than one child.
Sound Activated Lights or Sound Level Indicators
For lots of parents this is one of the more useful features and one of the first things they seek in a baby monitor. Unfortunately, not every baby monitor has these light indicators. Baby monitors with this feature have LEDs on the parent unit. These LEDs light up when a noise is detected. This is very helpful when you’re doing something that prevents you from actually hearing your baby’s cries. Some models also show you the level of the sound. The louder your baby cries, the more the LEDs are illuminated.
Some models will also vibrate like the cell phones, to alert you to cries, if you turn the sound off.
Almost every digital baby monitor has a room temperature sensor that shows the temperature in the nursery. This feature will warn you when the temperature goes out of a preset range, so you will be sure that the nursery is not too cold or too warm for the baby.
What is DECT?
DECT is the short form of Digital Enhanced Cordless Communications. Baby monitors with DECT technology operate on a special uncommon frequency, 1.9 GHz, that is reserved for voice technologies and not very common. This makes these models successful in terms of interference problems and privacy issues.
Baby Monitor Safety
- Keep all of the cords, adapters and transmitters away from the crib or play area and out of reach of your baby.
- The cords can present a strangulation hazard to infants and toddlers if placed too close to your baby. So choose baby monitors with no cords, or minimal wires on the baby unit.
- Always keep your batteries recharged and fresh.
- Never solely rely on a monitor for your baby’s safety, take a peek in the room every so often.