Choosing a Baby Monitor
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A baby monitor is an essential parenting tool as it lets you hear or see your (supposedly!) sleeping baby from another room. Monitors usually consist of a listening unit and/or camera in the baby's room, and a portable receiving unit for you. Some even monitor the baby's breathing via a sensor pad under the mattress. Remember though, there's no substitute for checking your baby in person. They vary in aspects such as sound and picture quality, power options and transmitting distance. Deluxe models have features and extras such as temperature monitoring, alarms, lullabies and MP3 player connectivity. In general, models with lots of features and the best audio/visual quality are more expensive, but you don't necessarily have to spend a lot to find a model that suits your needs.
To start working out your own baby monitor requirements, try asking yourself the questions below. Read as many customer reviews as you can to find out about the quality and usability of different models directly from other parents. Reviews will sometimes provide other useful bits of information, such as how to avoid common mistakes when setting up and using the monitor.
• How would you like to monitor your baby? Choose the level of monitoring you and your partner feel most comfortable with, from sound through to video and movement. If you'd like to monitor more than one child, you could find a model with more than one transmitter or buy two or more monitors. If you choose multiple monitors, get ones with different frequency settings so they don't interfere with each other.
• Where will you be using the monitor? If you've got a big house, a long garden or thick walls, find a model with a good transmitting range. If you live close to other families, a model with different frequency settings will allow you to avoid the embarrassing possibility of sharing your conversations with the neighbours. If you intend to carry the parent unit around, check for a belt clip and a good few hours of fully-charged battery life. Read customer reviews to find out more about sound quality and transmitting range.
• Would you like your monitor to help soothe your baby? Many transmitting units have a nightlight. Some also have a lightshow that is controllable from the parent unit or triggered when the baby stirs. Lullabies and MP3 connectivity are also available.
• Which additional features are important to you? It's essential your baby doesn't get too hot or too cold as they sleep, so temperature display and a temperature alarm come in very handy. Some provide alarms when out of range or running out of battery and allow you to set feeding reminders. A pager will help you find a lost parent unit. If you don't want to hear the parent unit, say, if you don't want your crying toddler to wake your newborn, or you or your partner are hard of hearing, you could get a model with lights or vibration alerts. A torch on the parent unit enables you to check your baby discreetly, and talk-back communication means you can soothe them from afar when you're on your way to give them a cuddle.