Technology is such these days that most parents have a baby monitor installed in the baby’s nursery room. And while there isn’t a huge spectrum of different types to choose from, there are some significant differences. So let’s take a little bit of time and discuss the different types of baby monitors.
To start off with, there are really only two basic types of monitors — either audio or audio/video. And from there you can choose whether you want an analog or digital monitor. All monitors are made up of at least two parts, the transmitter, which is what you place in the child’s room, and a receiver. Depending on the model you by, you can find units that include up to four receivers. The transmitter and receivers communicate via a selected radio frequency band, transmitting the audio signal to the receiver, and again depending on the model, can also send a signal from the receiver to the transmitter. This is often called a Talk Back feature.
There’s quite a big range in price going from about $25 at minimum for a simple audio monitor and up to $300 or more for a full featured audio/video monitor. Some of those high end features include things like high definition color monitors, the option to set the receiver to an alert that vibrates, and night vision technology.
Audio Baby Monitors
Audio monitors are probably the most commonly used type of child or infant monitor. There are models that are available in either analog or digital and as explained above sound is transferred via radio frequency bands from the transmitter in the baby’s room to one or more receivers. Some of the more sophisticated or high end models will also transmit via Wi-Fi, 3G, or 4G networks. Meaning you can use your smart phone as a receiver, as long as you have the appropriate iOS, Android, or Blackberry app.
Prenatal Baby Monitors
For the most part, we are talking about the type of monitor that you would use for keeping an eye or ear on your infant or toddler, but it should be noted that there are prenatal baby monitors available as well. These will allow you to monitor your child while still in the womb, letting you hear, record, and perhaps even email their heartbeat, their kicks, and whatever sounds they make, like hiccups. And if you don’t want to make a record of these events, you have the option of just popping in a pair of earbuds and listening in real time. These are typically fairly simple devices that run on a 9 volt battery. It should be noted that these devices are not intended to be used as either diagnostic or medical devices.
Audio/Video Baby Monitors
If you prefer to be able to visually check in on your child, not just hear them, then clearly you want the audio/video type of monitor. This will likely cost you more, but will add a whole new dimension to your ability to ensure that your child is safe and secure. You typically have the option of either wall mounting a camera or setting it up as a tabletop camera. You would then position the focus of the camera to wherever your child lays down. Some of the higher end monitors will give you the option of cameras that can zoom and pan and/or tilt as well. This means you’re not limited to one stationary spot in which you can watch your child – instead, they will automatically detect motion and follow that around the room. Obviously, this would be a great feature for once your child is mobile.
A model with pan and tilt is not your only option for multiple views, however. There are monitors available that come with multiple cameras so that you can place them in either different positions within the nursery, or perhaps in different rooms around the house. Some also have the option of infrared night vision.
Breath or Motion Monitors
The purpose of these monitors is to let you know if your baby stops moving, or stops breathing. There are a couple brands on the market, such as the Nanny baby monitor and the Angelcare baby monitor. A sensor pad is placed underneath the mattress of the crib or bassinet, and it constantly monitors the baby for motion. Since babies are in constant movement while they sleep, these monitors will send an alert if motion stops for more than 20 seconds. While this type of monitor is typically used for children that were born prematurely, had a low birth weight or some other complications, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is a concern for any child. So many parents opt for this type of monitor.
Wired or Wireless Baby Monitors
Whether you choose a monitor that’s wired or wireless, there are pros and cons to each. Not having wires makes everything much more convenient since there are no limitations on placement, and of course you can carry a receiver around with you. And in terms of installation, a wireless set up is obviously going to be easier. But that doesn’t mean that having a wireless setup is going to be perfect. Even if you purchase a model is marketed as being secure, and free from interference, that’s not always the case. Your receiver can pick up transmissions from your next door neighbor’s house or something else nearby. Even changing the frequency or channel may not help. If the interference is coming from somewhere from within your own home, like your cordless phone for instance, solving the problem might not be too difficult. If the interference is from somewhere else, you may never be able to fix the problem.
Having said all that, if you already have a wireless network setup at home, and these days, many people do, then it probably makes sense to go with a wireless model. This way you can use your computer, your tablet, or smart phone as a receiver, depending on the model you purchase.
Clearly, there’s a lot to think about before purchasing a baby monitor. Hopefully we’ve been able to give you some help here. To give you some even more information, check out our page on baby monitor features.