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Baby monitors: Do you need to buy one?

Do you need a baby monitorThe short answer is no.

You don’t NEED a baby monitor and they aren’t a ‘baby essential‘ but, depending on your circumstances you might find one useful.

Here we share our tips on when a baby monitor would be useful and what to look for if you’ve decided to buy one for your nursery …

Types of baby monitors

  • Sound monitors allow you to hear baby from another room/outside.
  • Sound and video monitors allow you to hear as well as see your baby while they sleep.
  • Movement and sound monitors come with pads that go under the mattress and sound an alarm if no movement is detected within a certain period of time (usually 15-20 seconds).
NB: You can also buy/rent breathing or apnoea monitors but these are generally a medical device that your doctor or hospital may recommend for premature infants or those with serious health issues. When we refer to ‘baby monitors’ in this article we are not including specialised breathing monitors.

When is a baby monitor useful?

The SIDS Safe Sleeping Guidelines recommend that babies sleep in the same room as their parents for the first six to 12 months so you probably won’t be needing a baby monitor if your little one is literally within reach every night.

But there are still reasons a baby monitor could be handy:

  1. You have a big, long house. Maybe your baby will be having naps at one end of the house while you’re busy cleaning or looking after the other kids down the other end. In this case a monitor could help you hear the baby when he/she wakes up.
  2. For casual use – when outside, entertaining or holidaying. A baby monitor could be handy to have even if you only use it occassionally. Maybe you’ve got a big gardening project to work on in the backyard or perhaps you’re hosting a barbecue out on your deck one night. If you have a baby monitor you can get on with gardening or socialising without having to check baby every five minutes.
  3. For peace of mind. A baby monitor can be a source of reassurance and comfort to some parents and having one is preferable to sitting up all night watching your baby sleep. However, there’s no scientific evidence that electronic baby monitors can help prevent SIDS and concerned parents should first make sure they’re familiar with the SIDS & Kids Safe Sleeping Guidelines.

What to look for when buying a baby monitor

Here are some handy features that you might want to look out for when choosing the best baby monitor for you:

  • Sound range, sound quality and sensitivity
  • Sound indicator lights – these lights ‘show’ that your baby is making noise (useful in a noisy room or if you need to volume turned down)
  • Option for both mains and battery power in both units – in case of blackout or if you want to use in the garden/camping etc.
  • Baby room temperature monitor – if you think it would be useful to know the temperature in baby’s room as well
  • Clips on the parent unit – so you can clip it to your belt/pants if you’re moving around the house
  • Smart phone compatibility – some monitors can be used with your smart phone connected to wi-fi or 3G.
  • A night light – some monitors can double as a night light
  • Volume control on the parent unit
  • More than one frequency to chose from (reduces interference)
  • Talk-back facility
  • Low-power or out-of-range warning lights

Related links:

Read parent reviews of baby monitors

What you really NEED: A guide to newborn essentials

Image credit: nyul/123RF Stock Photo

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One comment so far -

  1. Baby Monitors are important in today’s life. As we have many other work and this system can help a lot. Using these monitors we can easy do our other work and also keep a watch on the movement of the baby.

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