How to choose a baby monitor
The thing any newborn parent worries most about is keeping their baby safe. With SIDS - or cot death - being the leading cause of death among babies between 1 month and 1 year of age, many parents find a baby monitor an essential tool, particularly when monitoring a newborn during sleep time. With several different types of baby monitors on the market it can be difficult to understand which one will work best for you. This article aims to help you make that decision.
Exactly what it says on the box, audio monitors simply deliver a feed of audio from a pickup base in the baby’s room, sending it to a receiver that you can carry around with you. It’s one of the simplest, oldest forms of baby monitors, traditionally used to let parents know when the baby is awake or asleep.
Pros: Often very affordable, widely available.
Cons: Sometimes hard to tell if the noises your baby makes are because of wakefulness or just your baby being a noisy sleeper. Auditory monitoring is also limited in terms of signs that something might be wrong while your baby is asleep.
A step up from the audio monitor, audiovisual monitors include a camera that sends video and sound through to a receiver you can carry. Some include the ability to send audio back, enabling you to speak to your baby over the monitor. Most simply send the audiovisual feed to the receiver.
Pros: Still quite affordable, widely available, gives more information than the simple audio feed, and gives you eyes on your sleeping baby.
Cons: Relies on the parent hearing the sounds of distress. Doesn’t alert when there is a lack of sound, such as when your baby stops breathing.
This new generation of baby monitor can include a myriad of monitoring options, from audio and visual, to room temperature and an array of other features. These deliver the information either to a receiver or to a designated smartphone or tablet, to both, or either.
Pros: Great for parents who don’t want to carry another device around, and can provide lots of monitoring information.
Cons: Can be quite expensive, rely on a stable internet connection, and can be tricky to connect a nanny or babysitter, especially if they don’t have a smartphone. A high volume of information can also cause more anxiety than it answers, for some people. Some render your phone unusable while connected to the monitor as you can’t break the connected feed without turning off the monitor itself.
These come in several forms.
Movement detector pads: A pad that is placed under the baby’s mattress that detects where the weight of the baby is and whether there is movement. Babies create movement through breathing, especially before they are able to roll over voluntarily.
Pros: This is relatively old tech now, so these are quite widely available and affordable. Emits an alarm if it stops detecting movement.
Cons: Babies can start to roll without announcement, and rolling off the pad causes it to ring out the alarm, often waking the baby and causing everyone to panic.
Wearable tech: These are placed directly onto the baby, in the form of a sock or similar, and monitors small movements in the skin.
Pros: Negates the issue of rolling off the pad, and emits a loud alarm if the baby stops moving.
Cons: Can be pulled or shaken off, or even wet during a blowout during the night, causing it to be removed. Some devices have also been known to create burns from skin contact. Babies also often grow out of these devices before their parents are ready to part with them.
Clip-on portable movement monitor: This is where we come in! Snuza creates small, portable devices that clip onto your baby’s nappy or pants, touching the skin or over a light piece of clothing. It monitors and, should the device stop detecting movements, it first tries to rouse the baby by vibrating (at 15 seconds after movement stops) then emits an alarm if rousing was unsuccessful (at 20 seconds). This gives parents the chance to respond and rouse their baby.
Pros: Small, portable, easy to use, and comes in a variety of types, including smart and medically certified.
Cons: Can seem more expensive than their simpler counterparts, but what they provide is much more affordable than a hospital-grade monitor.
Breathing monitors are largely medical, hospital-grade devices that are bulky, noisy and expensive. However, Snuza has created one of the first consumer-grade breathing monitors that is medically certified to monitor and rouse an infant, should they stop breathing. The Snuza HeroMD is one of the only medically certified portable baby breathing monitors on the market.Pros: Easy to use, set up, and gives you a chance to respond in a silent emergency. Portable, chargeable, wireless, and safe.
Cons: Can also seem expensive when compared to simple audio or audiovisual monitors, but compared to their medical-grade counterparts, they are extremely affordable.
When it comes to choosing the right one for you, you need to assess what you require from a monitor. Do you like a lot of information? Do you prefer a WiFi-enabled device or a separate receiver? Would you like to use an audio monitor in conjunction with a wearable breathing monitor? We hope this breakdown helps to clarify the differences in types of baby monitor and make your choice an easier one.