Parenthood can be an eye-opening, fun, scary, and stressful experience all at once. As a parent, you incessantly worry about your infant’s well-being and safety. That is quite normal and expected. However, you don’t necessarily have to let it interfere with your daily routine and tasks.
One of the devices that may offer you peace of mind is baby monitors. They allow you to keep an eye on your precious kid without compromising overall productivity. You may run errands, get a few projects done, or enjoy some time outdoors and still track your child’s progress.
How to choose the right baby monitor
To get the best out of a baby monitor, you first need to choose the right one. That is the tricky part. There are vast numbers of different baby monitors in the market today. If you dive into purchasing one without the relevant information, you may end up with a useless device.
As a newbie in the baby monitor market, you may face various conflicting factors: Do you need an audio or video baby monitor? Is monitoring the room temperature and baby movements necessary? Do you need a device that can also track your infant’s temperature, heart rate, or oxygen level? What is your budget? The questions are endless.
However, when it’s all said and done, all the monitors available out there can be simply classified into:
- Audio baby monitors
Most people are familiar with this type. They, basically, handle sound transmission to a receiver close by you from the nursery. These monitors typically come with a limited range and fewer special features.
- Baby vitals monitors
If you want ultimate monitoring, these units may be a good choice for you. They are high-tech devices that rely on either wearables or sensors to monitor factors like the baby’s heart rate, breathing, movement, and much more.
Be very careful when choosing a baby monitor of this type. Some units lack video and sound features incorporated, so pay close attention.
- Audio-video baby monitors
These monitors are more popular than ever in this modern era, thanks to an included handy camera that allows you to visually monitor your baby, as well as get any sounds made. Some of them have night-vision enabled, while others even let you see the entire nursery.
What to consider
Consider the following factors as you shop for the right baby monitor:
- Analog vs. Digital
The difference between analog and digital baby monitors is analog units incorporate data encryption during signal transmission to the receiver, while digital ones encrypt the sound. That is one of the reasons analog monitors are cheaper.
However, beware that analog baby monitors are more susceptible to hacking or encountering interference from cordless phones. To avoid such problems, try digital monitors or analog alternatives with a 1.9GHz band.
- Wi-Fi vs. Non-WIFI
Some units available today use 3G/4G networks or Wi-Fi. Better yet, you can even pair some with your smartphone for easy monitoring when your baby is home alone with a sitter while you handle other tasks. They are called Wi-Fi baby monitors.
Non-WiFi baby monitors, on the other hand, don’t support Wi-Fi use. They are ideal for any remote location with a poor internet connection.
- Range of reception
Reception is a very important feature to factor in. For example, if you have a large house, any baby monitor with a limited range of reception may be ineffective.
Also, note that concrete walls may interfere with reception.
- Receiver features
There are a few things about receivers you need to consider. First, ask yourself whether you need more than one receiver. Plus, if you plan to carry it around as you undertake other chores, factor in size and portability. And, if the tasks you usually handle are noisy, consider a receiver with additional modes of notification apart from the sound default option.
- Battery life
Experts recommend battery-operated baby monitors because they tend to be cordless. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) occasionally receives reports of cases of strangulation. These usually get caused by unit chords that got left within the infants’ reach.
How to choose the best baby monitor
After settling for a unit type that seems right, next is choosing the best out of the available options. This is a crucial stage that ensures you purchase a reliable baby monitor.
You may find that most monitors promise excellent range, clear images and sound, and exemplary life. But, when put through an actual test, most of them fall short by more than a mile. To get the best option, consider the following:
- Ensure it has sound or video clarity by testing it in different areas at home. Check for fuzziness, crackles, or any indicators other devices are interfering with the transmission.
- Shop for a unit that supports a range more than 250 feet from the nursery without the signal getting compromised. Most of these units undergo testing in open areas, so the range provided by manufacturers may not work within closed walls.
- Factor in the type of property where you live. If you live in an old house, chances are higher the walls are thick and signal transmission may be a problem. Modern homes, on the other hand, typically have thinner walls, so transmission is more effective.
- You don’t want a baby monitor that will give out on you when you need it most. That is why checking battery life is necessary. Also, consider a unit that comes with rechargeable batteries for convenience.
- Your baby’s security is paramount. Check whether the monitor you are about to pick has data encryption and how secure the cameras are.
- If you are choosing an analog baby monitor, go for models with a frequency of at least 900 MHz. This will reduce static interference and increase audio clarity.
- Find a model with a prominent “low-battery” light.
- Pick wireless devices – wires present strangling hazard in your baby nursery
- Look for a model with a sound-activated light. Learn why we recommend voice-activated monitors here.
How to pick up a baby monitor for apple and android devices – Wi-Fi baby monitors
Monitoring your baby is now much easier since you can use your smartphone to this end. Developers have availed a slew of handy, new apps that you can get if you want to use your gadget as a baby monitor.
One of the outstanding benefits of a phone-based unit is it allows you to check on your infant anywhere, any time. And, although there have been cases of hacked monitors recently, they are few and rare.
Our in-depth 10 Best Monitor Apps of 2021 (iPhone and Android) article has everything you may need to know about the best available baby monitor apps for any of your mobile devices.
How to choose a non-Wi-Fi baby monitor
If you feel a non-WiFi baby monitor is an ideal option, make sure you check:
You may prioritize safety and security in non-WiFi baby monitors by opting for a unit that uses FHSS transmission.
- Battery life
This is essential. Imagine getting stuck with a monitor that shuts down the moment an outage occurs or a few minutes after you step out of your house. To avoid such an unpleasant scenario, always go for an option with a minimum of 2,000mAh.
We highly recommend non-WiFi baby monitors that can transmit visual and audio signals for not less than 700 ft. Those are very handy, especially if your house is large or you need to carry the parent unit a bit further from the nursery.
- Quality of sound
Opt for a unit that has excellent sound quality, especially if you live in a noisy neighborhood. And, if you have a hearing impairment issue, try to find one that has light alerts.
We have discussed non-Wifi baby monitors on our comprehensive
How to choose an audio baby monitor
Audio baby monitors, unlike their streaming counterparts, are usually less expensive and easier to use. That is among the many reasons some parents opt for them. When buying an audio baby monitor, the first and most important question is whether an analog or digital unit suits your preferences.
In addition, pay attention to these features:
- Sound quality
Audio baby monitors rely on sound. Therefore, this cannot be compromised at all. Some models come with a receiver that offers continuous sound, while others have a silent function. You can pick between either according to your personal preference.
Avoid units that have lots of white noise or static. Always settle for one with crisp, clear sound.
- Alert options
Some audio baby monitors incorporate various alerts systems as well as the audio feature. For example, some use blinking lights to alert you of any movements in the crib. Some also include a silent feature that you can use whenever you are working or entertaining.
If you anticipate moving around a lot, try a unit with a vibration alert feature.
- Extra features
Extra features such as monitoring your baby’s vitals may be necessary if you need extra reassurance. If this is the case for you, look for a baby monitor with additional features, like a temperature gauge, two-way talkback, and movement sensors.
A baby monitor can only guarantee your peace of mind if it works properly. And, although there are numerous factors you need to take into consideration, everything boils down to your preferences and convenience.
Consider all the factors we have outlined above, and you may end up with the right baby monitor. And it goes without saying, make sure you’re buying a reputable product from a reputable vendor.
I am Ashley Davis, a mom of three kids and the editor here at 10BabyGear. I have been a parent since 2011 and have been doing full-time consulting as a baby sleep expert since 2019. When I am not researching or testing the next baby gear hitting the market, you’ll find me teaching my toddlers a trick or two – especially over the last few months with the lockdown. I hope you’ll find my guides and reviews helpful as you make your next purchase decision. If you have any questions, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.