When choosing a baby monitor there are two different types that you will come across: the good old-fashioned audio monitor that parents have been using for many years, but has now been updated, and the much newer video monitors , designed so you can see as well as hear your baby .
What baby monitor you choose really all depends on you as a parent. Stop and think about whether you’re the type of parent who is happy to just hear your baby or you would you have more peace of mind being able to both see and hear at the same time.
Audio Baby Monitors
For many years parents used the old wired analog audio baby monitors to hear their babies , but now with new technology, they have become wireless and offer even more useful features. Not only can you hear your baby, but can even talk to them through the two-way talk back feature available with specific models.
Audio baby monitors are prone to interference especially if you have other devices which run on the same frequency. However, on many models the monitor actually automatically scans the multitude of channels to ensure that you have interference free audio. Other features may include voice activation mode, sensitivity adjustment, nightlight, sound indicator lights and even lullabies.
The newest digital technology found in audio monitors, is Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT). DECT offers an interference free, encrypted transmission that’s not affected by other DECT systems, WiFi networks, blue tooth and other wireless devices.
However, there is some controversy surrounding DECT baby monitors . A few years back, UK based Consumer group Powerwatch urged parents to get rid of their DECT monitors because they found that babies were experiencing disruptive sleep, restlessness and irritability. These symptoms stopped when the monitor was taken away. This didn’t seem to happen with the old wired models or other analog or digital wireless monitors.
Video Baby Monitors
Times have certainly changed and now you can not only hear your baby, but can see what your little one is up to any time you want. For some parents this is a great feature as it gives them peace of mind, but others think it’s a waste of time and money.
Video baby monitors come with a parent unit which is usually portable so you can carry it around with you from room to room. Some you can even attach to your belt or waistband to be hands-free, allowing you to do things like gardening or washing the car.
Video screens come in different sizes, from a small 1.8″ screen to a huge 7″ screen, although I think around 3.5″ is perfectly adequate. You place the camera in your baby’s room on level surface like chest of drawers or shelf, so it doesn’t drop, at least three or more feet away from the crib for safety reason. Another option is to wall mount the camera with screws and bracket that is usually included. Remotely controlled, cameras can pan around the room, zoom in, tilt and even scan between rooms if you’ve got multiple cameras depending on the model.
Again, depending on the model, you can have additional features such as night lights, temperature sensors, voice activated alerts, sound light alert, lullabies and even be able to take snap shots. Perhaps the best feature of them all is the automatic night vision capability. As the light in your baby’s room gets low, the built-in LED lights on the camera allows you to have clear black and white vision.
Like audio baby monitors , video monitors are also open to interference. Not only that, there have been reports that parents can see other neighbors babies through their monitors , especially if they have one that is on a similar frequency. If you’re thinking of buying a video baby monitor then it would be useful to check out your neighbors to see if the have one and if so, on what frequency it transmits so you can avoid it. The good news is that frequency hopping and data encryption technology offers an interference free and secure signal. As you can imagine this technology comes at a price, but this may be worth considering for peace of mind.
What baby monitor is best: audio vs video?
On the positive side, audio baby monitors are generally cheaper and sufficient for your needs especially if you are in a small to medium sized house. Also some models offer the very useful two-way talk back feature so you can talk or soothe you baby without going into their room.
However, on the down side, there are concerns regarding the safety of the newer DECT monitors. Also, even though you can easily pick up your baby’s sounds, and talk to them through the two-way talk back feature, you can’t see what they’re up to without going into the room and possibly disturbing them.
Video baby monitors tend to be more costly, but not only can you hear your baby , but see them too. They are great for people with any size home, but especially if you have a home with more than one floor then you don’t have to be running up and down to check on your baby.
Screens come in a variety of sizes, the larger the screen, the more clearer you can see. Most monitors offer features such as automatic night vision and two-way talk back so you can both see and talk to your baby without having to go in the room.
There is the issue of your signal being intercepted by neighbors with monitors on the same frequency. If you really want security then you may want to consider a model with frequency hopping and encryption technology.
Both audio baby monitors and video baby monitors both have their positive and negative points. In the end it comes down to whether you are happy to be able to hear your baby only, or whether you will feel much more at ease if you can both hear and see them.