The baby monitor is an important part of a first time parent’s life, especially in the early months. It’s important for a baby to know that care is just around the corner when they get upset and it’s also a helpful thing to have to make sure that your child is sleeping peacefully and without anything obstructing their breathing in any way.
As can be expected with most baby products, there are a countless number of baby monitors out there and each claim to bring something unique to the table. When it all comes down to it, there are bells and whistles you may never need and there are features you could end up paying for that you’ll never take advantage of. When purchasing the right baby monitor, ask yourself a few questions before grabbing one from Best Buy.
Do I need video or not?
Those clunky walkie talkie monitors of the 90s have been replaced in large by video baby monitors. You can still buy a handful of audio-only monitors and they are much cheaper than the ones with video included. However, this is one advance in technology that’s worth the extra cost. If your baby is a noisy sleeper, it can be hard to distinguish whether they are awake or asleep when they transition through sleep cycles. My daughter makes so much noise that even now, in the middle of the night, I’d swear she’d be awake only to find out that she was fast asleep. If your child is also a sleep talker, laugher or screamer, a lack of video just adds to the problem.
You should consider an audio only monitor only if you live in a smaller space like a 1 or 2 bedroom single floor condominium or apartment. The closer quarters may allow you to listen in better and check on the baby yourself more often. For those in houses, video is the way to go since you may be on the other side of the house from the baby’s room with not as easy of access.
How far is the base going from the crib?
The size and dimensions of your baby’s room should factor a bit into the type of monitor you get. If you’re not able to place the base camera close enough to the crib, you should invest in a baby monitor that has really crisp night vision features. The Levana Mylo 5″ Touchscreen Video Baby Monitor is a good example of one that pays attention to this detail. Besides the massive 5 inch screen, it has a 12 foot range for Night Vision. Considering that a lot of baby monitors start to go fuzzy on their night vision after about 3 feet, this means you can position the base on top of a bookshelf or on the other side of the room if need be.
One more thing to consider is angling and how the base will factor into that. Unless you have an absolutely perfect placement (which few of us do,) your base will have some flexibility. Look toward a baby monitor that has the ability to pan, tilt or zoom in different directions in order for you to get the right shot of the crib.
Do I need to go smart or not?
Smart baby monitors are a new twist on the old technology but you don’t necessarily need one. Smart monitors basically consist of the camera out of the box and then have you use a phone or tablet as the monitoring piece itself. Software tends to have notifications that tell you if the baby is stirring or awake so that you don’t have to tune in all the time. It’s helpful in a sense but it also means that you can’t use your phone or tablet for much else, especially during infancy days when baby sleep cycles are short and you may find yourself having to go in every hour or two. A smart baby monitor with two-way voice communication may be the right fit for a parent who works out of town and wants to do story time or chat with the little one prior to bedtime. I would really recommend that if this is the route you choose that you consider one that comes with a local communicator too like this Motorola Digital Video Baby Monitor with Wi-Fi that you can only find at Best Buy. It blends the best of both worlds so that you don’t always have to rely on a smartphone app and neither do caretakers or babysitters.
What else do you need from your baby monitor?
Call this part of our discussion the mixed bag. Some manufacturers out there decided that the base functions of a baby monitor weren’t enough and have started branching out features in an attempt to make theirs the most unique possible. You may or may not need some of these features. Here are some of the features I’ve come across with my personal thoughts.
- Helpful: Two Way Communication. I think two way communication is a fantastic feature for any baby monitor to have, especially when your child is old enough to speak. I’ve used it in the past to comfort my crying daughter until I was able to come in the room and I’ve also used it to tell to stop jumping on the bed (a lesson she learned quickly!) My wife and I have also used it in the past to communicate needing help for baby accidents and things of that nature before. A definite must have in my opinion.
- Helpful: Room thermometer. This is really helpful in the infant stages. Babies sleep best in room temperatures between 16-20 degrees celsius. Babies up until the age of around 3 months also do not and cannot do anything to control their own temperature. This is where you run the risk of overheating. Once they are 3 months or so, their bodies can produce sweat and they have that ability to help control their temperature.
- Helpful: Long battery life. Baby monitors can be really hit or miss when it comes to battery life. The video monitor we have now cannot even last one night without being plugged in. There will inevitably be a few sleepless nights or nights where you fall asleep on the couch and forget to plug your monitor in and your wakeup call is your baby screaming at the top of its lungs at 2 AM because it’s hungry and has been awake for 20 minutes wondering where the bottle is. If you look at something like the Levana Lila Digital Video Baby Monitor, it has people like you and I in mind with a staggering 72 hour standby time. That’s far and away the longest standby battery life that I’ve ever seen.
- Not helpful: Sleep and feeding timers. I don’t have much to add outside of wondering why this would be a helpful feature on a baby monitor and not something like a smartphone where you could take it with you outside the house.
- Neutral: Multi-camera support. Some units nowadays come armed with the ability to add more cameras to it at various points of the house, effectively turning your baby monitor into a mini in-home security system. You even see this on fairly basic, straight-forward models like the VTech VM333 Video Baby Monitor. I could see this being helpful perhaps if your baby has beds or naps in different rooms of the house or you have twins that sleep in separate rooms. However, I can’t see many other cases where you’d need monitors in different rooms if you’re blocking stairs and access ways with baby gates like most parents do.
- Neutral: Cloud Storage: There are products that function as both a baby monitor and an IP Camera. Some other cameras also come with cloud storage capabilities with the promise that you won’t miss important moments in your baby’s life. While I’m a huge fan capturing special moments in your child’s life (as the 50 GB of videos I’ve taken off on phone can attest,) I don’t know that waking up from a nap is a special enough moment to keep permanent film of. Granted, many of these cameras do come with two-way communication too which I personally feel is a must, so there is that to consider.
Ultimately, the right baby monitor is the one that fits your long term outlook best. For example, you won’t need video when baby’s sleeping in a bassinet next to your bedside the first few weeks. However, you’ll probably need it when you start the crib transition. You may like the idea of a smartphone-only controlled baby monitor but what if your babysitter doesn’t have one or does and can’t figure out the technology (I’m looking at you mom and dad) at all?
Still, at the end of the day, there is a baby monitor out there for you and I hope this blog has steered you to it!
During Best Buy’s baby event, find the perfect monitor to call yours along with hundreds of other items to spruce up your nursery, feeding time or changing area. Click here to look at what’s available.
Featured baby monitors in this blog included:
Motorola 2.4″ Screen Digital Video Baby Monitor with Wi-Fi – White/Grey
Levana Mylo 5″ Touchscreen Video Baby Monitor w/ Zoom/Pan/Tilt & 2-Way Communication
VTech 2.8″ Video Baby Monitor
Levana Lila 2.4″ Digital Video Baby Monitor with Two-way Communication & Camera