Wondering whether baby monitor radiation is safe or which baby monitor EMF levels are acceptable? This comprehensive guide will give you all the information you need to know about the risk of baby monitor radiation, the low-emission monitors, and some EMF shields you can use to protect your little one. Let’s start with some basics.
Baby Monitors and Radiation – Overview:
- Whenever your digital baby monitor is powered on, it emits a burst of microwave radiation – both the camera/baby unit and the parent units emit radiation.
- If you decide to purchase a digital baby monitor, make sure you place it at least 20 centimeters / 8 inches away from your baby. FCC recommends that all baby monitor devices be placed at least 8 inches from your baby.
- The developing brain of your baby is very vulnerable to microwave radiations
- There are studies that indicate a connection between Radio Frequency (RF) radiation and the development of cancer in human beings. In 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified wireless devices such as phones and baby monitors as possible “carcinogen” (Link to WHO report).
- This guide explains the potential effects and the steps you can take to be safe. When you consider buying a baby monitor, we HIGHLY recommend you go for low emission baby monitors or hard-wired zero-emission baby monitors to minimize the potential dangers to your baby. As we’ll explore in this article, baby monitors cause radiation because they use radio frequency’s electric field to transmit sound and video signals.
This guide is quite large and below are some links to different sections of this article. You can navigate to any sub-topic you are interested in:
- What is baby monitor radiation?
- Effects of baby monitor radiation
- Low-emission baby monitors
- Low-emission analog baby monitors
- Hard-wired baby monitor by D-Link with Zero Emission
- Smartnova Baby Monitor, with 97% less radiation
- Further Guides on:
Baby Monitor Radiation & Safety Guidelines For A LOW EMF Nursery
What is radiation?
According to the National Cancer Institute, Electric and magnetic fields (wholly referred to as radiation) are the invisible energy produced by electrically charged particles.
This means that as the signal (audio or visual) is being transmitted from the camera/baby unit to the parent unit, radiation occurs. The electric field is produced by power/voltage that pushes the signal and is measured in volts per meter (V/M).
Watch the CBS video below showing how radiation emitted by a baby monitor wilted flowers in an uncontrolled experiment.
FCC Regulation of Baby Monitor Radiation Levels
The FCC requires any electronics manufacturer to subject their devices through independent testing and submit the results including EMF exposure level. When I first learned that baby monitor emits radiation, I remember looking up the safe exposure limit but in 2019 not much has changed (unfortunately since 1996) and here is what you should know:
- FCC has a set EMF radiation level limit that bay monitors are required to not exceed. However, companies are required to submit their own report through an approved, independent EMF testing lab.
- The current set EMF limit for baby monitors is 4W/Kg and that hasn’t changed since 1996.
Is 4W/Kg limit safe radiation for your baby?
There is really no right level but it is important to note that the US Government (through FCC Agency) barely regulates emissions in wireless devices. Most European countries have considerably lower limit levels. Switzerland, for example, prefers local network (LAN) and require local schools to main exposure levels within 100 µW/m² which is more than 100 times what we allow in the US.
The laxity to take EMF regulation seriously is partly attributed to limited research to conclusively make the case that baby monitors are dangerous or can cause cancer. Generally, the US has been friendly to telecommunication brands such as Motorola, Samsung, Apple, and others that have invested significant amounts of money in cutting-edge communication technologies.
We have analyzed some of the latest research on baby monitor radiation, including the effects of devices that use the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies. The other devices that use 2.4 GHz frequency band include cordless phones, wifi routers in your home, and microwave in your kitchen.
How Radiation Level Is Measured:
The FCC gives guidelines on how a baby monitor should be tested including:
- The energy emitted when the baby monitor camera is a few meters from the baby. For example, the EMF level when the baby monitor is 6 ft away.
- The energy emitted when the baby monitor camera transmits signals using various energy levels within the same frequency band. For example, emission levels when baby monitor frequency is 2.400 GHz vs when 2.480 GHz frequency is used.
Radiation is measured using a Specific Absorption Rate (SAR).
Below is FCC’s definition of Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) from its website.
“SAR is a measure of the rate of RF (radiofrequency) energy absorption by the body from the source being measured – in this case, a cell phone (and a baby monitor). SAR provides a straightforward means for measuring the RF exposure characteristics of cell phones to ensure that they are within the safety guidelines set by the FCC. ” –FCC Guide
Here is an example of SAR Report for Motorola baby monitor brand.
The FCC requires that baby monitors comply with Class B digital devices regulation guidelines applicable to most wireless devices (part 15 of FCC rules).
How is SAR calculated and how did FCC arrive on 4W/Kg as the EMF exposure limit level?
The rate is a time derivative of the incremental energy absorbed or released for every incremental mass contained in a volume of elements with a given density.
Below is the formula:
The EMF levels for some of the best baby monitors such as Owlet and Infant Optics DXR 8 emit 0.7w/Kg and 0.221w/Kg respectively. This is way below the 4w/Kg limit set by FCC but is 0.7w/Kg the best and safe?
The answer to the best level lies in understanding first the harmful effects of radiation:
List of Potential Harmful Effects of Baby Monitor Radiation
To understand the harmful effects of baby monitor radiation, we relied on research by the experts including those at the Environmental Health Trust led by Dr. Devra Davis, a renowned advocate for wireless device safety.
1. Baby monitor link with cancer
Wireless devices potentially cause cancer. According to a study that was published by researchers including Dr. Gandhi, RF radiation can be linked to the development of cancer including Leukemia and tumors. The study concludes that there is an increased risk of brain, vestibular nerve, and salivary gland tumors when there is prolonged exposure to RF radiation. There are several other studies that claim to have established a link between RF radiation such as those of baby monitors to cancer.
Consumer Reports recommended in 2015 that nobody should keep a phone in their pocket. Cell phones use the same frequency as most digital baby monitors. We recommend safety mounting the camera away from your baby to limit radiation exposure.
This takes us to the next question that we’ll also seek to answer:
Do baby monitors cause cancer?
A section of reputable scientist dispute the conclusion that RF radiation is a carcinogen. Some of the latest research on baby monitors as a cancer-causing device are not entirely conclusive but it is possible that the effects of RF radiations have not yet manifested. Like any other EMF radiation, it can take quite some time for its effects to manifest.
Dr. Davis mentioned in one of her lectures the example of radiation during WWII in Japan. While the bombing and radiation happened in 1945, it took another 4 decades or so before the effects of radiation manifested. In comparison, we’ve only used wireless devices as household items for less than 20 years.
There are several respected scientists such as John Boice, the President of the National Council on Radiation Protection & Measurements who argue against associating RF radiation to cancer. He argues that there is no evidence of an increased risk of brain tumors as a result of using wireless devices such as phones or baby monitors.
Scientists have argued that the main reason why babies are more susceptible to the effects of RF radiation is that they absorb up to 10 times the radiation that adults absorb. This argument is based on a study done in 1996 by Gandhi.
2. Evidence for Genetic Effects
According to BioInitiative.org, 87% of the studies indicated some relationship between radiation and long-term genetic effects.
The table below shows some of the effects of DNA being altered by RF radiation.
|What Radiations Can Do To Your Baby's Body||Resulting Disease or Disorder|
|Disrupt baby's immune function, stress protein, HSP||Brain tumors and blood-brain barrier|
|Reproductive and fertility effects||Sleep, neuron firing rate, EEG, memory, hearing behavior|
|Oxidative damage/DOS/DNA damage/DNA repair failure||Cancer(other than brain), cell proliferation.|
|Disrupted calcium metabolism||Cardiac, heart muscle, blood pressure, vascular effects.|
Should you be worried and not bother to buy a baby monitor at all? Not a great idea. It is possible that radiation can have some harmful effects on your baby in the long-term. It is also possible that the entire academic literature linking EMF to cancer is wrong and erroneous. I personally don’t like being on arguments about whether to believe the studies or not is productive. As I parent, I find it easier to follow the guidance provided to secure my baby.
Being cautious means that you are choosing the best course of action that you think is realistic and not against any normal guidance. For example, worry-mongering blogs would talk about LED bulbs as potentially dangerous but there is little evidence that an LED bulb hanging on a baby’s nursery would be harmful in any way. However, baby monitors with LED lights may impact your baby’s health if placed within 20 centimeters (8ft.). The trick is to follow the FCC guidelines and place your red or green LED-emitting baby monitor at a safe distance. The other is to go for low-EMF light LED baby monitors.
Pregnancy and Baby Monitor EMF Shields
Protective Belly Pregnancy Baby Blanket
For pregnant parents, an EMF shield can reduce the level of your unborn’s exposure to radiation. Below is an image of a shield manufactured by Radio Smart and retailing on Amazon for less than $100.
That may mean a lot, especially given the several ‘unknowns’ when it comes to the possibility of impacts EMF radiation may have on your baby.
The blanket is made of protection of silver radiation shielding fabric and it blocks radiation from cell phones, wifi, laptops 99.9% effectiveness.
You can also choose anti-radiation maternity wear such as the two below:
- Belly Armor Anti-Radiation Maternity Camisole
- Anti-Radiation Maternity Clothes Top Baby-Mom Protection Shield Dresses
Baby Monitor EMF Shields
The EMF-shield pregnancy wears above are actually pricy. But there are some good news.
You can get cheaper baby monitor and cellphone EMF shields such as the ones below:
Several parents have asked me whether the devices above, designed and appearing to be used to shielf EMF or laptop radiation would work to shielf the EMF of baby monitors. This questions has been answered severally in many forums. Here is a snapshot of one:
The best step you can take as a parent is to take precautions to reduce EMF radiation in your baby’s nursery. The US has the lowest bar when it comes to controlling RF-radiating devices and as such, you should assume that your baby is already exposed to radiation by other gadgets already. Secondly, the World Health Organization have formally announced this link between cancer and RF radiation. Probably, no point going against some credible institutions.
So what are some practical things you can do? First, go for the low-emission baby monitors.
Low Emission Baby Monitors
I have broken down our low emission baby monitors into two. The low emission video baby monitors and low emission audio baby monitors with analog baby monitors dominating our low EMF audio baby monitors.
|Bebcare Low Radiation Baby Monitor||Wifi||Check Price – Use 10babygear to get 10% off|
|Babymoov Zero Emission Video Monitor Camera||Non-Wifi||Check Price|
|BabyMoov Expert Care||Non-Wifi||Check Price|
|Philips AVENT SCD630/37||Non-Wifi||Check Price|
Low Emission Analog Baby Monitors
Which baby monitor has the lowest EMF emission? Safety 1st is one of the oldest baby monitor manufacturers and which is the lowest EMF emission baby monitor brand. It was founded in 1984 and has defined itself as the leading low emission analog baby monitor manufacturer and has since focused on only analog baby monitors. They manufacture baby monitors that utilize the 49 MHz frequency and below are a few of them.
|Name||Frequency||Number of Channels||Price on Amazon|
|Safety 1st Sure Glow Audio Monitor||49 MHz||4||Check Price|
|Safety 1st Crystal Clear Audio Monitor, White||49 MHz||2||Check Price|
|Safety 1st Sure Glow Audio Monitor||49 MHz||2||Check Price|
|The First Years Crisp and Clear Audio Monitor, 2-Receiver||49 MHz||2||Check Price|
D-Link Wired Baby Monitor works similar to a modern digital baby monitor. Think of any of the best baby monitors out there, Infant Optics DXR 8 or Arlo Baby? When you purchase DLink baby monitor on Amazon, it is designed to be a wireless baby monitor.
As discussed above, all wireless digital devices emit radiations and to make it radiation-free, we will need to set up a hard-wired baby monitor. Unlike other wireless baby monitors that rely on radio frequencies to transmit audio and visual signals, D-Link wired baby monitor depends on an Ethernet connection or home electric circuit. This is the genius of this device. That is why it does not emit any radiation.
Want to set it up? Watch below and follow the 3 steps :
In the 6-minute video below by August Price from Techwellness, she describes the steps you need to take to set up a wired, zero-emission baby monitor:
What you’ll need:
- DLink camera (This is a wireless camera that you can find on Amazon for $40). You can check its price today here (Amazon link). As soon as you buy it, make sure you disable wifi on the device by turning Wifi option off.
- An ethernet cable, preferably a shielded one (You can find one on Amazon for $12, the ones with the golden connectors are the best as they keep the magnetic energy within) You check its price on Amazon here (Amazon Link)
- 2 special DLink adapters
Once you have the DLink camera and the cables, follow the following 3 steps to set up your wired baby monitor:
- Step 1: Connect one of the two adapters with the Wifi router by plugging the cable to the wifi access port (in the router) and adapter’s port.
- Step 2: Connect the other adapter with the camera using the cable and plug the adapter into the home AC outlet in the baby’s nursery, the home wiring system. The other adapter in the parent unit plugs into the electrical outlet in your/parent’s room.
- Download Mydlink Lite app on your phone: https://www.mydlink.com/apps. It is free to download the app. Mydlink Lite App has been downloaded by more than 49,000 individuals and has a 3.8 rating on Google Playstore. There have been problems of the dlink cameras disconnecting but there is a consensus that dlink has improved its reliability. Does it match other smartphone apps such as those or Arlo Baby, Nest (Google Home) or Miku? Probably not but it is free if you plan to use one camera. If you plan on using more than one camera, you’ll need to use the dlink app on a tablet.
The Ideal Low Emission Video Baby Monitor – Smartnova Baby Monitor
Smartnova baby monitor is the lowest emission video baby monitor that claims to emit 97% less radiation compared to DECT baby monitors. Smartnova also has zero pulsing and guarantees 100% privacy just like our top non-wifi baby monitors that do not use the internet. However, Smartnova was not available on Amazon when we revised this post in July 2019. You can check availability here today (links to Amazon)
Electromagnetic radiations are as old as the universe. The sun itself emits electromagnetic radiation through the visible light. The electromagnetic spectrum is what made up of several waves of radiations including the radio waves which are used to facilitate communication. Over the last decade, a lot of research has been done on the effects and this BMC Report will seek to explain all you need to know before you buy a baby monitor?
Further Guide On Baby Monitor Radiation:
The electromagnetic field and the radiations occur naturally and some are man-made.
Visible light can cause skin cancer but not everyone can get skin cancer when exposed to visible light. So, what’s the trick to know the safe radiations and how can you keep your baby safe from these harmful radiations? In fact, visible light (which can cause cancer) have a higher frequency compared to radiofrequency.
EMFs are emitted by all the waves or frequencies that make up the electromagnetic spectrum shown in the diagram above. Visible light is an example of a spectrum that emits EMF naturally but baby monitors emit EMFs because they use radio spectrum and infrared spectrum. Whether analog or digital baby monitors use radio frequencies as they transmit the signal. They also emit EMF from the infrared light that enables a baby monitor to capture images at night or any low light condition.
Important Terms To Understand
Ionizing Radiation and Non-Ionizing Radiations in Baby Monitors
Ionizing radiations are emitted by higher frequency waves that have a shorter wavelength. Most ionizing radiations include gamma and x rays which emit high levels of ionizing radiations. Most baby monitors that operate in the lower frequency spectrum have insufficient energy to cause ionization. These radiations include electric, magnetic, radio waves, microwaves, infrared and visible light. They are all non-ionizing. Baby monitors utilize all these waves and are therefore non-ionizing and many proponents that argue that baby monitors are safe to ignore the fact that non-ionizing radiation could still have harmful effects on the human body.
Pulsing and Non-Pulsing Radiation in Baby Monitors
Pulsing radiation is common with digital baby monitors while low or zero-emission baby monitors are known to not pulse.
|Ionizing Radiation||Non Ionizing Radiation|
|Definition||Radiations emitted by high frequency waves which can lead to cellular and or DNA damage if there is prolonged exposure||Radiations emitted by low frequency waves such as radio waves of baby monitors. These radiation are generally perceived as harmless due to its lack of potency.|
|Forms of radiation||Ultraviolet (UV), X-Rays and Gamma||Extremely Low Frequency (ELF), Radio Frequency (RF), Microwaves and Visual Light|
|Source Examples||Sunlight, X-Rays and gamma rays||wireless baby monitors or wifi baby monitors|
House energy smart meters
Wireless (wifi) networks
|Baby Monitors||Do not release ionizing radiations||Baby monitors release non-ionizing radiation|
Types of EMF Radiations Emitted By Baby Monitors
Infrared radiations are emitted by all baby monitors that have night vision functionality.
Some of the best baby monitors that have received acclaim from several parents such as Infant Optics DXR 8 emit radiation in two ways, while it sends radio signals from the camera unit to the parent unit and when the camera unit illuminates the baby using 8 infrared LED lights that are positioned next to the camera. The Infant Optics DXR 8 also has a low light sensor that emits a green light. See the picture below showing the 8 LED lights that emit infrared radiation, critical for night vision.
There are four infrared LED light emitters on the right and four other on the left in the camera unit of an Infant Optics DXR 8. The top middle LED light senses low light/night time and activates night vision that turns on all the 8 sides LED lights of the infant optics DXR 8. The lower middle green LED light just indicates that the baby monitor is powered.
5 – Low light sensor
4 – Infrared LED lights
3 – Power Light
Aside from the infrared light emitted by most baby monitors such as the Infant Optics DXR 8 shown alongside, most baby monitors that have night vision emit infrared radiations.
Microwave Radiations In Baby Monitors
Apart from the EMF radiation emitted by infrared light, the baby monitor also emits a burst of microwave radiation when they are turned on. Their speed of emission is high as 100 emissions per second, even when they are on standby mode. Some research has shown that a baby monitor placed 1 meter from the crib emit almost the same level of radiations as a cell phone tower 150 meters away. Remember that the baby unit and the parent unit both emit the microwave radiations as long as they are powered on.
Infant Optics Baby Monitor Radiation
Infant Optics DXR 8 emit microwave radiation and infrared radiation.
The highest SAR value disclosed for Infant Optics baby monitor is 0.221 W/Kg which is way below the FCC limit of 1.6 W/Kg.
Other tests done on Infant Optics indicated that Infant Optics is not necessarily a low emission baby monitor but its emission is at acceptable limits.
Motorola Baby Monitor Radiation:
Motorola baby monitors are digital baby monitor and they emit microwave and infrared radiation. Motorola brand that is owned by Binatone Telecom PLC disclosed that all the brands on sale meet the minimum requirement set by FCC.
Below is a disclosure indicating Motorola baby monitor radiation including MBP36XL, one of the non-wifi baby monitors we reviewed at BMC.
Owlet Baby Monitor Radiation
Owlet operates in the frequency range of 2.402 to 2.48 GHz and uses 40 channels and GFSK modulation while transmitting data from the wearable pulse oximetry.
The table below shows the results of the tests that Owlet Care submitted to FCC as it sought its approval to sell Owlet in the mass market. As the table indicates, Owlet passed the EMF level test as required by the FCC regulations part 15. The tests were done under low, medium and highest frequency band that Owlet operates.
You may be wondering whether all baby monitors emit microwave radiation, so let’s answer that question:
Which Baby Monitors Emit Microwave Radiations?
All wireless baby monitors that use 0.85 GHz to 5.0 GHz frequency bands emit microwave radiations. The following classes of wireless baby monitors emit EMF radiations at different levels:
DECT Baby Monitors – DECT baby monitors were developed in response to interference that made the 2.4 GHz frequency band not suitable for communication devices as the interference-limited communication in some devices. DECT means Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications and was developed in Europe before being adopted in the US later.
FHSS Baby Monitors – FHSS baby monitors are those baby monitors that utilize spread spectrum in the 2.4 GHz frequency band allowing it to limit interference and static. FHSS stands for the Frequency-hopping spread spectrum. These baby monitors have signals that hop from one sub-frequency as they transmit the signal from the transmitter to the receiver.
Wifi Baby Monitors – Wifi baby monitors are those baby monitors that utilize 2.4 GHz frequency band and transmit the signal over the internet enabling the transmitter to transfer the signal to an unlimited range, so long as there is an internet connection.
All the baby monitors above emit the microwave radiations in order to function. Several measurements have been taken on the levels of emission of different baby monitors and some emit up to 100,000 micro-watts per square meter. There are several mothers who have uploaded videos showing how flowers have wilted because they were exposed to EMFs.
Measuring Microwave Radiations On Baby Monitors
You can use a simple radio frequency meter to measure microwave radiations or infrared radiations of any baby monitor. The readings on the meter are voltage per square meter or microwatts per square meter.
Microwave Radiations in DECT Baby Monitor
DECT baby monitors are those that use the 1.9 GHz, frequency band. These baby monitors have less interference compared to those in the 2.4 GHz band but they still emit dangerous microwave radiations. The video below shows how to measure the radiations emitted by e DECT baby monitor. When you power on the device to detect EMF radiations you hear the “rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr” sound which basically indicates high levels of emission.
Microwave Radiations in FHSS Baby Monitors
FHSS baby monitors are a class of baby monitors that utilize the 2.4 GHz, frequency band. An example of FHSS baby monitors in this band is the Infant Optics DXR 8 and the Eufy Spaceview baby monitor. In the video below, a mother shows the measurement of microwave radiations of an infant Optics DXR 8
The parent unit of the Infant Optics DXR 8 emits radiation at 5000 microwatts per square meter. The baby unit of the monitor emits 8000 microwatts per square meter when placed 6 ft. away. Most experts suggest that the radiations level be kept below 1000 microwatts per square meter and as seen on the video above most FHSS baby monitors that utilize the 2.4 GHz frequency emit high levels of radiations.
Microwave Emissions By Wifi Baby Monitors
Similar to baby monitors above, wifi baby monitors emit high levels of radiation.
RF Exposure Limits Chart Per Country
|Bioinitiative Report (Outdoor) 2007||0.1 μW/cm²|
|Bioinitiative Report (Indoor) 2007||0.01μW/cm²|
Should You Still Buy A Baby Monitor?
Although there is sufficient research to showing the harmful effects of radiation on a wireless baby monitor, some medical practitioners argue that there is little to worry about and that radiations do not cause brain tumors. A radiation oncologist advises parents that they should not worry about microwave emission unless “unless perhaps you were in the path of a multi-megawatt microwave beam, in which case they might cook you. But as far as I know, there is no likelihood that this danger even exists”
One of the most common phrases used the baby monitor marketers is “There is no evidence to support EMFs having health effects.” This is basically not true. Some of the reasons those arguing that baby monitor radiations are not dangerous to use the fact that most baby monitor radiations are non-ionizing or the pulsing and non-pulsing radiations in baby monitors.
Are Voice-Activated Baby Monitors a Solution?
There have been innovations to reduce the levels of baby monitor emissions and Europe took a lead in requiring manufacturers to only manufacturer baby monitors that only get activated by voice or noise. Wifi baby monitors and the other groups we’ve discussed above, the FHSS and DECT baby monitors emit a burst of microwave radiations when they are powered on. In other words, as long as they are powered, they emit microwave radiations. Voice-activated baby monitors ensure that the baby monitors only emit radiation when a child makes noise or cries. If the baby is breathing normally while asleep, the baby monitor emits minimally or does not emit radiation at all. This is very important as it reduces your baby’s exposure to radiation. Regardless, voice-activated baby monitors still emit microwave radiations and this is when it gets tricky. Some parents have actually resorted to buying analog baby monitors that have minimal features and operate in the lowest frequency.
Comparison of Radiations for VOX and Non-Vox Baby Monitors
Below is a list of baby monitors with the voice-activated feature but still emit high levels of radiations:
|No.||Baby Monitor||Emission||Voice Activated|
|1||Levana Jena||3.74 v/M||No|
|2||Summer Infant Baby Pixel||2.66 v/M||Yes|
|3||Motorola MBP36S||1.96 v/M||No|
|4||Project Nursery 4.3||1.93 v/M||Yes|
|5||Philips Avent SCD630||1.91 v/M||Yes|
|6||Infant Optics DRX 8||1.89 v/M||No|
|7||iBaby Care M7 Wi-Fi||1.42 v/M||Yes|
|8||Nest Cam IQ Indoor Wi-Fi||0.9 v/M||Yes|
The table above does not show that voice-activated baby monitors emit low levels of radiation.
Possible Solutions for Parents?
Now that we know voice-activated baby monitors are not necessarily emission-free, which baby monitors release the lowest levels of emission? Baby monitors with the lowest frequency and the longest wavelength emit the lowest levels of microwave radiations. Some of the lowest frequency baby monitors are analog baby monitors that emit frequencies in the 49 MHz frequency band. Most baby monitors operating in the 49 MHz frequency are considered more secure as they emit less radiation. Check the list above.
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