Baby monitors have brought a new level of comfort to parents, and in particular first time parents, helping to reduce the anxiety of putting their baby to bed in the first few months of their lives. Some families use them until their children are several years old (and in some cases until school age), whereas others prefer not to rely on them past the first few months of their child’s life. There are even still a minority of mums and dads that choose not to use a monitor system at all. While you might think that it’s a choice based on cost for families on low incomes, there’s little research that suggests a correlation.
What’s In The Box
When you buy a monitor, what comes in the package will vary depending on the type of system you buy. For example, premium units might include things like motion and movement sensors which are used to let parents know if their baby doesn’t appear to be moving. These have come about as a result of better understanding about cot death, or to give it the proper name, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). As with many things, the internet has made the knowledge much more common that our parents were aware of, and depending how you look at it, that could be a good or a bad thing. We’re more aware of when we need to call for urgent medical help, but it also brings out the hypochondriac in us!
Let’s focus on what you can expect to find with every video baby monitor system that we feature on the site, and probably in the stores on your local high street. There are two main components that you’ll be using, the base station and the parental unit.
The base station is what sits in baby’s nursery, watching over them and feeding the video and sound to you. That signal is beamed to the parental unit, using a wireless signal similar to that your computer might use to connect to your home broadband router to access the internet. The parental unit will feature a screen and a speaker to allow you to see and hear your child wherever you are in the house. Some units also include a microphone in the parental unit too, meaning that you can talk to your child from anywhere within the range of the system, without the need to go to your baby’s room. The quality of the cameras and screens are now much better than people expect when they buy the products, so we often hear parents talk very positively about the quality of the images.
In addition to the basic requirements of a video monitor system, you can also choose systems which use specific night vision techniques, often utilising infra red imaging to help you see your little one. All the units are designed to be used in dark rooms, but some will perform much better than others in the near dark conditions. Other common features include monitoring the room temperature and built in night lights. You can check the features of a given make and model of video baby monitor by referring to our in depth review pages about each product in the review section.
Keeping Your Child Safe From Strangers
It might sound a little odd to talk about strangers in the context of your baby sleeping, but one of the problems that parents became aware of in the early days of video and audio monitors was that security experts showed that the signal between the base stations and parental units could be intercepted. This came as a shock to many parents, who would never have considered that this could be possible. Today that seems odd in itself, as we’re all concious of using a secure connection on our home wifi, as we often use the internet for sensitive communications such as banking or sharing personal information, images or family movies.
In the same way, you’ll want to stop anyone you aren’t aware of from seeing the images of your child from the base station camera, and also the sound that it’s supposed to be sending to you. That’s achieved with data encryption techniques, either on the video, audio or both. As a result, you can be confident that everything possible has been done to stop anyone intercepting them, in the very unlikely event that someone tries.
You’ve Got The Power
Most monitors can be powered by either batteries or by plugging them into the mains. Some parents are surprised to see that the base station needs batteries as well as the portable parental unit. There’s a good reason that this is the case though, and it might not be what you’re thinking.
When asked, typically parents think the base station has battery slots so that it can be used in areas where there’s not a conveniently located socket, and that is true, but there’s a far more important function that the batteries fulfil. You need to be sure that you can react to an emergency situation, or even be there just for a cuddle when your baby wants you, even if there is a power cut. For that reason, it’s important to always use the monitor with working batteries in both sections, even when plugged into the mains. Remember that the whole reason for having a monitor, whether audio or video, is your child’s safety and well-being, so scrimping on a few pounds for batteries is crazy when you’re spending more than ten times that on the unit in the first place.
Generally, you can expect to get mains chargers included with the product when you make your purchase, but it can feel like a bit of a lottery whether the batteries are included or not. It’s advisable to check the box if you buy it it store, or our recommendation is to have a look on Amazon who provide an excellent product description, so click the price check button on any of our reviews to see the latest price, and you’ll find a run down of what’s included on the product page before you buy too!
The Final Thought
The technology that video baby monitors use has come on dramatically over the last few years, and certainly the last decade. These gadgets give you a huge advantage to watch over your child in a way that our parents never had. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, we all want the best for our children, and choosing the right monitor is a small part of that parenting puzzle we’re pleased to be able to help you with.