For Maximum Baby Safety
Baby monitors provide extra reassurance to parents that their baby is safe while sleeping. All baby monitors allow you to hear the noises your baby makes from his bedroom even while you're sitting in another room. Some monitors, called baby video monitors, also let you see your baby. Baby monitors may help prevent accidents or at least alert you to a problem quickly and allow you to respond, but according to the American Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Institute, as of yet there is no scientific evidence that baby monitors reduce the risk of crib death.
Audio Baby Monitors
Audio baby monitors have two parts: a transmitter and a receiver. The transmitter is placed in your baby's room, and this transmits the noises from the room to the receiver (which you keep with you) via a radio wave frequency. Some audio baby monitors come with more than one receiver device, so that both parents can hear any noises (for example crying) that their baby makes during nap time, even if the parents are working or relaxing in different areas of their home.
Video Baby Monitors
A video baby monitor transmits sound from your baby's room to your receiver(s) but also comes with a video camera which can be mounted on the bedroom or nursery wall, or on a table to have a direct view of your baby girl or baby boy while he or she is sleeping in the crib. The images received by the camera are transmitted to a screen on a video monitor receiver device. These screens may be handheld devices, similar to an audio monitor receiver, or larger.
Some video monitors even transmit images to your TV screen - so if your baby cries, all you have to do is switch on the TV to see what's going on in the bedroom, allowing you to decide whether or not to intervene or wait and see if your baby will settle alone.
Video Versus Audio
You have to decide whether you want a video or an audio monitor for your baby. There is no indication that one type ensures better baby safety than the other. Many parents feel better about having a video screen image of their baby, so they choose video monitors.
Problems With Baby Monitors
Whether you want to buy a baby video monitor or an audio monitor, you should read a few product reviews and ask other parents for recommendations before you buy. The main complaint about baby monitors is that because they use radio waves to transmit noises and images, they experience a lot of interference and static.
Cordless phones, cell phones, electronic appliances and even fluorescent lights can interfere with the clear transmission capabilities of your baby monitor. Sometimes, if a family in a nearby home is using a monitor tuned to the same radio band, you may find that you're actually listening to next door's baby! Using a digital as opposed to an analog monitor usually solves this problem.
Another problem with baby monitors is that they turn some parents into nervous wrecks. Some Moms and Dads find it too stressful to be tuned into every whimper and gurgle during baby naps. You don't have to buy a monitor if it doesn't do what it's supposed to - provide you with reassurance.
Baby Monitor Prices
Baby monitor prices range from $15 to $200 for audio monitors, and from $100 to $200 for video monitors. Major brands include Fisher Price, Graco, Mobicam and Philips.
Reducing Crib Death Risk
For more information about crib death and how to prevent it, visit the website of the American Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Institute. Included in their advice are tips on how to safely set up and arrange the bedding in babies' cribs. They also recommend breastfeeding for as long as possible, because breast milk helps to strengthen babies' immune systems and prevent illness and infections.