A common question among new parents is whether or not they need a baby monitor and if baby monitors are worth the money.
Baby monitors are popular because they allow you to check on your little prince or princess without having to enter their room, but they do also have some disadvantages as well.
So let’s take a look to help you decide if a monitor is right for you and your baby.
What Is A Baby Monitor?
A baby monitor (or baby alarm) is a radio system used to remotely listen to sounds made by a baby or infant.
Basic versions have audio only, while more advanced baby monitors also use a video camera to clearly show a picture of your baby on a receiver, even if they are sleeping in a dark room (these are often knows as a baby cam).
Baby monitors can be one-way or two-way, the latter meaning you can not only hear your child, but you can also speak back to them if you wish.
There is no set age regarding when to stop using a baby monitor, but many parents like to pull the plug – literally and figuratively – when their child is between three to four.
Are Baby Monitors Safe?
If you are considering buying one, then you’re probably wondering if baby monitors are harmful or emit harmful radiation.
There is no research that proves that baby monitors emit signals that are harmful to babies.
However, if you are worried about radiation then two things you can do are:
- Place the monitor as far away from your baby’s bassinet or crib as possible.
- Turn the monitor off when it’s not in use.
Are WiFi Baby Monitors Safe? Can Baby Monitors Be Hacked?
It’s important to remember that a baby monitor that is W-Fi-enabled is similar to any other device in your home that’s connected to your WiFi network.
In theory this means that baby monitors can indeed be hacked.
To help stay safe and reduce the chances of your baby monitor or baby cam being hacked there are certain precautions you can take, including:
- Ensure you use a strong and secure WiFi password.
- Limit (or even better avoid) broadcasting the video feed outside your own private network (for example avoid accessing via public Wi-Fi).
- Update the firmware for your router and camera regularly.
- Disable remote access to your router and camera.
- Unplug the device when not in use.
Are Baby Monitors Necessary?
Some parents find that baby monitors are extremely useful and as necessary as a stroller or high chair, while others would classify them in the nice-to-have but not essential bucket, along with items like a changing table, diaper pail or bottler warmer.
Factors like the size and layout of your house, privacy concerns, budget and how comforting you find being able to see and hear your child all play their part in whether a baby monitor is useful and worth it.
To help you deicide if a baby monitor is right for you and to make the best possible decision, let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of baby monitors.
Pros of Baby Monitors
Good For When Baby’s Room Is Far Away
The AAP recommends that your baby sleeps in your room – but not in your bed – for at least the first 6 months.
After this newborn phase ends, most parents move their baby into their own room, and depending on the size and layout of your house, this could be quite far away from your own bedroom.
If your baby’s room is on another floor or well down the corridor, you may struggle to hear them if they are crying in the night because something is wrong or if they’ve woken up earlier than usual, so using a baby monitor is a great way to overcome this distance issue.
One of the biggest advantages of baby monitors and baby cams is that you can know for sure when your baby is awake and fighting sleep, and when they are asleep.
This enables you to assess how well they are sleeping – for example by seeing how long it takes your little one to settle and fall asleep during a daytime nap.
It also means you won’t need to go into your baby’s room and disturb them to check if they are still asleep during those times when they’re having a longer than usual nap.
If your baby sometimes wakes up briefly between sleep cycles before settling again, you’ll also find a monitor with a camera to be particularly useful because you’ll be able to tell if they’ve gone back to sleep, despite making some noise and crying.
Useful When Traveling or Out To Dinner
If you have a Wi-Fi enabled monitor, you may well enjoy the piece of mind that comes from being able to see how your baby is getting on when you’re on a date night and your little one is being watched by a babysitter.
Additionally, if you are on a family vacation you might want to keep a closer eye on your little on given the unfamiliar surroundings, so being able to see and hear your baby in these circumstances could be particularly useful.
Cons of Baby Monitors
False Sense of Security
One disadvantage of using a baby monitor is that it can give parents a false sense of security.
According to the AAP, nothing beats the real thing, by which they mean baby-monitoring technology should never be a substitute for directly supervising your baby and taking sensible safety measures.
It’s also important to be aware that there is no evidence to suggest that using a monitor decreases the chance of SIDS.
Negatively Impact Your Sleep
When you use a baby monitor you’re likely to hear every little sound that your baby makes, even if white noise is playing in their room.
This can lead to mom and dad having a worse night’s sleep, which is the last thing that a tired parent needs!
It’s clearly important for parents to have a break and use their precious downtime to try and reenergize, but this can be difficult if your sleep is disrupted by hearing each and every sound your baby makes.
Able To Be Hacked
As we mentioned above, baby monitors can be hacked, either by pranksters trying to disturb you and your baby, or by criminals who may want to check when you are not at home or to steal personal information they may hear over the monitor’s microphone.
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