Safety At Home – Baby Monitors

Determining What Makes The Best Baby Monitors

When you have a baby, knowing that all is well especially when your baby is out of your sight is so, so important. Hearing a baby breathing gives so much peace of mind. A baby monitor is a logical appliance or device to consider purchasing to allow you to continually be aware of your baby without having to physically go to the baby’s room every ten or fifteen minutes.

Is Baby Sleeping Peacefully or Is He or She In Distress?

Having a baby monitor that will alert you to any sound that might indicate that something is wrong – that something is not as it should be – is critical if you are to be able to relax for a few hours having rocked and cradled your baby to sleep, laid her or him gently in the cradle, and then stepped away as quietly as possible, closed the door to the bedroom, and headed to the family room, the kitchen, the bathroom, or your own bedroom.

How Many Locations Do You Need Monitors For?

Immediately you realize that unless you are ‘wearing’ the monitor so that the monitor goes everywhere with you, you might feel that you need to have more than one ‘parent unit’. ‘Parent unit’ is the term that is most often used for your listening (and watching) unit. Do you need a ‘Parent Unit’ for every room or location in the house that you typically move between? Does any baby monitor system you are considering provide the capability to move ‘Parent units’ around easily, and if they do, to what extent? Do you need a system that supports just a single ‘Parent unit’ or, do you need a Baby Monitoring system that allows for 2 monitors, 3 monitors, or 4, 5, or more?

Not everyone’s needs are the same, of course, so what is the best number, or what is the minimum number, will be dependent on the individual situation. If you have a small 2-bedroom apartment, a baby monitor system with only a single monitor that you can easily pick-up and move from room to room might be perfectly adequate. On the other hand, if you have a tri-level home with 4 or 5 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms (not counting en suite bathrooms), a reception room, a family room, a study, a dining room, and a kitchen, you are definitely going to need more than one monitor.

At a minimum, you’d probably like to have at least one on each of the two levels that the baby’s bedroom is not on. However, finding baby monitoring systems that support multiple parent units (listening/watching units) isn’t so easy. Portable units, including those with belt-attachable pouches, are, however, widely available.

What Is The Layout of Your Home?

How open-plan the layout of your home is will also impact how many monitor locations – rooms or areas where having an active listening parent unit might make sense – you have. In open-plan layouts, one monitor strategically placed can often be heard in multiple locations, but when the study has a closing door, and each bathroom, of course, will have a closing door as will each bedroom, and maybe the main floor where the reception room, family room, dining room, and kitchen will also feature some parts – such as the kitchen and the dining room – that have closing doors even when all of the other areas are open plan. The bottom line is that you might feel that just one monitor on each of the two levels that the baby’s bedroom is not going to be sufficient, and when you count them up, it could be that you are looking at five or more quite easily, almost definitely more if a laundry room or even a garage needs to be equipped. Of course, strategic planning and placement of monitors can help keep the number required down, and easily-moved monitors can also help. But what if you took the monitor from the kitchen into the laundry room and you forget to bring it back into the kitchen? That it would be annoying to have to make a trip to retrieve it is one thing but to miss a critical noise simply because you’re in the kitchen and don’t hear that noise because the monitor is still in the laundry room could have serious consequences.

Do You Need Sound-Only, or Sound & Video?

Sound-only systems are simple and straightforward and are relatively inexpensive. Video systems require a camera in addition to sound monitoring, and can also be fairly straightforward but will be more expensive.

Choosing The Right Video Options

The video component can, however, be more complex involving such items as interchangeable lenses so that you can locate the monitor unit in any convenient location appropriate to the crib, for example, and by selecting the right lens option will cover the viewing area that you want. A wide-angle lens option is good for many situations, but not all situations, so having interchangeable lenses that include a wide-angle lens will provide the most versatility.

The ‘parent unit’ of a video system – which, of course, includes sound (audio) – can, in some systems, be your cell ‘phone; which has both advantages and disadvantages, or it can be a custom unit, meaning, if you are choosing to carry it around the house with you, you are now carrying both your cell ‘phone and the baby monitor unit around. The custom unit accommodates babysitters, whether family members or otherwise, better than choosing to use your cell ‘phone.

The video component brings into play options for recording and also considerations for low lighting, aka Night Vision which uses ‘invisible light’ infrared LEDs; a feature that you may or may not be interested in since many parents want to have a night light in the baby’s bedroom that is left on all night.

If using your cell ‘phone interests you, being able to check on you baby from anywhere at any time is a possibility. However, you might not want to be watching or even listening on a full time basis especially if you are at social events, but being able to check-in and even talk to you baby from a remote location might well be something of interest to you.

How Many Video Cameras Do You Need?

If you are interested in being able to see your baby in their crib only, which is the most obvious place to want to monitor, a single camera is all that you need. Even if you want to occasionally watch your baby in a location other than their crib, then you can always move the camera. But that, in a 2-level or 3-level home might be less than convenient. A second camera might be a justified investment so that the video camera that is set up to watch your baby in their crib is never moved, and the second camera can be designated as ‘the portable’ one, the one that you move from room to room, and the one you take with you on vacation.

Important ‘Must Haves’ Of Baby Monitoring Systems

Battery back-up: If the ac power goes out, you don’t want the baby monitor to be dead. If you choose battery operation, that’s fine, but it’s on you to make sure the batteries get checked and replaced so that they don’t die. Systems that operate from ac power and which include rechargeable batteries overcome both concerns – power outage and dead batteries. Check on the amount of operating time on standby; 12 or more hours is probably adequate unless you live in an area that has a history of longer outages. Systems that operate from ac power and which include rechargeable batteries also allow you to disconnect from the ac power and take the baby monitor outside although, if it is using Wifi for connection to the Baby Monitoring unit (the one in the baby’s bedroom), there will be a limited range, such as 1,000 feet.

Wireless Operation: Wireless connection from the Monitoring device to the monitors you listen to avoid running wires, and that avoids costs as well as installation work. Most systems use Wifi connections.

Adequate Volume: Volume is measured in decibels (dBs). The decibel range for a normal human speaking voice is around 70 dB. When a person is talking in an elevated voice, which means about double their normal speaking voice volume, the decibel range is around 76 dB. An individual who talks very loudly would typically have a decibel range of around 82 dB, meaning about four times their normal human speaking voice. [Source:]

Looking for a baby monitor that assures at least 76 dB, and preferably 82 dB volume capability, is a good guideline. Even when the technical specifications don’t give you a decibel rating, testing it out and comparing the volume level on maximum to your own vice or some other person’s voice at normal, elevated, and ‘very loud talking’ levels will provide sufficient information about the system’s adequacy.

Video Options: You’ll find various video options to understand and choose from. Some baby monitoring products with video are WiFi-based and some of which are Non-WiFi. Some video options will provide remote control of Pan Tilt Cameras; others don’t. Most video baby monitoring systems with video include a wide view (wide angle) lens, but not all do.

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