Things to Consider Before Buying a Baby Monitor
Although a monitor is not a necessity, it can give you great peace of mind to be able to listen (and even see) your baby when you are not (or cannot be) in the same room. The location of your baby's room will decide which the best monitor for your specific needs is. You may need a monitor with a high transmission range, one that offers an interference block, one that allows you to watch the baby, or one that monitors the baby's movements.
According to a vulnerability report published by Rapid7, it only takes 98 seconds to hack a baby monitor. Over the past few years, there have been thousands of cases of baby monitor hacking and every parent should be alarmed. Aside from the Rapid7 vulnerability report on the safety of baby monitors, government agencies such as the NY Consumer Affairs Department released a consumer alert urging parents to be cautious with wifi baby monitors.
Audio: The Basic Audio Monitor allows you to hear your baby from another room. The unit consists of two parts, a transmitter that is located near the baby and the receiver or parent unit, which is taken from room to room to hear all the sounds the baby makes. Some models include multiple receivers for 2 parents and even a clip to hold the belt.
Audio / Motion Monitors: For more peace of mind, an Audio / Motion Monitor includes a sensor that is placed under the baby's mattress to detect your movements and breathing. The unit includes 3 parts: a transmitter, a receiver or parent unit, and a sensor pad. Although this monitor detects breathing, it cannot be considered as a preventive method for sudden death syndrome (SIDS).
Audio / Video: The Audio / Video Monitor allows you to hear and visually monitor the baby. The unit consists of a small video camera and a black and white or color television monitor. The camera can be positioned near your baby's crib, on a small table or mounted on the wall. The camera records all the movements and sounds the baby makes and then transmits the information to the screen. Some models include connections to a VCR that allows you to record all your baby's movements. Other models use infrared technology, similar to that used for night vision, to see your baby in the dark.
Frequency: Audio Monitors transmit sound signals through radio waves and operate at frequencies. The frequency gives you an approximate measure of the distance at which the receiver can be from the transmitter and the range at which they will receive the least interference. The cheapest monitors operate at a frequency of 49 MHz. However, their low channel selection leaves them prone to interference from cordless phones and even other baby monitors. Monitors operating at 900 MHz are less susceptible to interference and offer greater transmission than 49 MHz. 2.4 GHz ones offer the highest possible range and are just beginning to be used in Audio / Video Monitors. Now there are even ones with an even greater range.
Low Power Battery Indicator: Audio monitors that are operated with batteries or rechargeable bases must have a light and/or sound indicator that indicates when the batteries are running low. The light and/or sound reminds you to change the batteries or recharge the unit.
Power Source: Transmitters and/or receivers that are operated with batteries allow easy transport. However, they will cost more money in the long run if you have to change the spent batteries. Some models use rechargeable batteries or power adapters (A / C). The most efficient ones have a rechargeable base for both the transmitter and the receiver.
Visual Sound Indicators: Some monitors include red lights in a light window or a soundbar that blinks every time the baby makes a noise. The longer the lightbar is, the more intense the sound will be. This feature is particularly useful when they are vacuuming or doing other work that can prevent them from hearing the baby's cries.
- Keep the monitor securely hidden away from your baby's reach, as the adapter and cord may present a risk of strangulation.
- The use of a monitor in the bathroom or kitchen can mean an electrical hazard if it is located near water.
- Do not leave the baby unattended for long periods of time, even with the monitor.
- Although the monitor is a useful tool, it cannot replace the best of all monitors: you.
Tips before buying
- Buy a monitor that has a rechargeable receiver to avoid the expense of the batteries that are going to discharge quickly.
- The Low Battery indicator lights are important for monitors that work with batteries and rechargeable receivers.
- Volume controls are useful for those times when you don't need or want to hear absolutely every sound the baby makes.
- The lightweight and compact receivers are easy to transport and can even bring a belt clip.
- Research the frequency of each monitor before buying it to ensure the best reception for your needs (avoid having cordless phones on the same monitor frequency, for example). Flexible antennas on both the transmitter and the receiver are a good way to ensure a clear signal.
- Monitors that include multiple channels help reduce interference.
- Infrared technology in an Audio Monitor / Video Monitor is important if you want to monitor your baby even in the dark.
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