Advice on what to look for when choosing a baby monitor plus the opportunity to purchase a range of digital, video and sensory baby monitors.
A good baby monitor allows you the flexibility to move around the house whilst your baby is asleep or safely playing safe in the knowledge that you will be alerted if your baby needs you. Baby monitors typically consist of 2 units; a transmitter to be positioned near the baby and a receiver to be carried with the parents. There are a huge variety of baby monitors available, however they can be broadly defined into 3 categories.
- Audio Monitors - These are the most common form of baby monitor and simply transmit any sound baby makes to the parent's receiver. They are particularly useful during the night if your baby sleeps in another room. Many audio monitors have a moving light display which allows you to monitor sounds that baby makes with the volume turned down.
- Video Monitors - These work on a similar principle to audio monitors but allow you to see your baby as well as hear them - this can be incredibly reassuring. Video monitors consist of a small camera to be placed near your baby and a hand held monitor fitted with a small screen on which baby's picture is displayed. It is also possible to transfer the image onto a computer or television screen. Some video monitors have an infra red function which can be switched on at night to allow you to see your baby in the dark.
- Sensory Monitors - These are designed with three components; a transmitter, a receiver and a sensory pad which is typically fitted under your baby's cot mattress. The pad works because of its ability to pick up very subtle movement and so can warn you if baby ceases breathing. Sensory monitors are usually programmed to go off after a period of 20seconds without movement (although check individual products for details).
Within these three categories a range of different features are available. These include the option to use rechargeable batteries or a mains adapter, nightlight functions and temperature monitors. Some baby monitors allow you to play music or talk back to your baby via the monitor when you are in another room. Additionally, some are available with two or more receivers so they can be left in different rooms of the house.
As baby monitors use radio waves to transmit sounds, it is possible that the signal will be disrupted by interference from microwaves, cordless phones and concrete walls. Additionally, this use of radio waves also means that it is possible that if neighbours are on the phone or using a baby monitor themselves, the may be able to pick up your signal. For this reason you should never have private conversations when you are in the same room as an active monitor.
Many people find a simple audio monitor to be perfectly adequate, however if you require added reassurance or if your baby has a higher risk of cot death, you may choose a more advanced model.