New parents nowadays have a lot of concerns about their babies -- not only about the food and supplies but also about the clothes.
Additionally, fancy new nursing products are also appealing. Every item seems to be a must-have, making the shopping list seem endless. The baby monitor is one of them: it's reassuring to know what's going on with your child whenever and wherever you are. It's a must-buy! I'll totally use it on the first day when I bring the baby home!
Many may argue: I grew up healthy without baby monitors. It may seem derisive, but there is truth in it. It is wise to think twice before purchasing a baby monitor: Do I really need one?
Questions to think about before purchasing
A. Where will the newborn baby sleep?
Newborns sleep for the first six months of their lives, except when breastfeeding. Most parents don't want to leave their baby during this time -- the crib is usually placed in your room, next to your bed, and any movement or sound will be checked first. That means you don't really need a baby monitor yet -- at least when it comes to sleeping at night -- you're a conscientious baby monitor yourself.
If you own a large or two-story home and you want to do something for yourself during the day while your baby sleeps, that's when a baby monitor comes in handy. In other words, it's not the age of your child that determines whether you need a baby monitor, but rather where the baby falls asleep.
B. Am I a deep sleeper?
People are under the impression that when they become parents, sleep will never be the same. Not to mention the need to wake up in the middle of the night to feed and change diapers, a mysterious physiological change makes parents sleep lighter and more sensitive to sound -- even a faint baby's teal can wake them up.
It's much easier with new-borns. You're often in the same room together and it's hard not to hear your baby. But as the child gets older and starts moving into his or her own room, a baby monitor can be a better way to keep track of what's going on -- especially if the room is far away and you're a deep sleeper (Which in a sense you’re truly lucky!). Place the baby monitor by your bed so you can hear your child crying and know what's going on before you rush out of the room.
C. Do you need a baby monitor for other uses?
Many people are reluctant to purchase a baby monitor because they’re not sure if it’s useful -- especially in the early days of a child's life. Kids grow up in the blink of an eye, will the baby monitor lose its significance? However, the truth is, baby monitors come in handy in a lot of situations, such as:
- When children get older and start playing in their own rooms.
- Having to leave the kids to do things for yourself -- like cooking in the kitchen;
- When you go out for a family vacation or camping and the children sleep a few distances away from you at night;
- If you are sleep-training your child with techniques like the Ferber Method, it will give you a sense of how he or she is falling asleep.
The baby monitor can surprisingly be used to monitor pets and even elderly people -- who are also in great need for care. Of course, this means that you don't need to buy an extra baby monitor if you already have an excellent security monitoring system in your house.
D. Which type of baby monitor do I need?
There are also a wide variety of baby monitors available on the market. Make sure you know the difference before you buy so you can choose the product best suited for your needs.
1. Audio Baby Monitor
Although it is a very primitive product, you can find it almost everywhere on the market today - it is used as a walkie-talkie. All sounds coming from the baby are transmitted directly to the parents. However, with only sound being transmitted, you can't really tell what's going on in the scene. All you can do is walk to their room and take a look to feel at ease. To be honest, it will only make parents more tense and anxious. But thanks to its affordable pricing, there's still a lot of people willing to give it a try. Of course, please keep in mind that this is just a walkie-talkie, so don't expect it to have any practical effect.
2. Video Baby Monitor
This has been a very popular form of product in recent years. It usually consists of two parts, a camera, and a screen. By placing the camera in the baby's room, you can easily see what is happening on the screen in real-time. Even if the children are making noises, you can first check the situation on the screen and then decide whether to go to their room. It could definitely save you some time and effort.
There are usually two ways to connect the camera to the screen: One is through its own wireless band, which has the advantage that it can be used anytime, anywhere, and doesn't rely on a home Wi-Fi network. Its effective connection range, however, is limited. Beyond its connection range, or in the presence of several walls, a bad signal might lead to a failure to transmit the picture. Therefore, when buying the monitor, you need to pay extra attention to its maximum transmission distance.
The other mode of connection is to stream images to your smartphone over your home Wi-Fi network, so you can log into an app to view them remotely even when you're away from home. You can even invite other family members to join via the smart app so everyone can have a look at your cute baby. But this type of product has created some controversy among parents, who worry about privacy and security concerns. The idea that strangers could hack into your camera and look at your children maliciously is obviously terrifying.
3. Baby Movement Monitor
If sound and pictures aren't sufficient for you, wearable baby monitors could offer more comprehensive movement and health data. Just like your Apple Watch, such devices often come with a sensor-laden 'sock' or 'cushion' that can be worn by a baby to display data such as breathing, movement, or heart rate in an app. It also sends an alert to your phone if no movement has been detected for a while. It sounds pretty advanced and fancy, right? But they also tend to be pretty expensive and unnecessary for most parents.
Benefits of using a baby monitor
In the introduction, we have actually covered some practical uses, which we'll try to elaborate on further. If you find that you can benefit from it, it's time to consider spending your money on it!
A. It can be used during daytime naps
Many parents might get the impression that baby monitors are only applicable for night usage -- but as mentioned earlier, a newborn almost always stays by your side at night for the first six months and you don't need a monitor to keep track of your baby during this period. However, things are different during the day. You won't be able to stay in your room at all times.
During the day, you might be working from home, answering emails, or doing chores in the kitchen or yard. This is where a baby monitor can be really useful and convenient.
B. It can save you some legwork
We understand the vulnerability of new parents - the moment they notice their baby move or cry, they instinctively panic with the thought: He's awake now! Do I need to change his diaper? Or can't he find his blanket? Did his chubby little legs get caught in the crib? This group of anxious parents apparently can't help but take a look at their children and often result in exhaustion and over-worn-out.
The truth is, not all sounds are worth parents' attention. The baby occasionally sneezes, coughs, and yawns, which is considered normal behavior. It's perfectly normal for babies to make some little noises even when they're asleep.
It would definitely be convenient to have a baby monitor. Instead of running around aimlessly, a lightweight monitor allows you to keep track of the situation in the room. You can even zoom in to get a closer look. You know, caution is the parent of safety!
C. Check on your baby without waking him/her up
In addition to exhausting yourself, repeated visits to the baby’s room may eventually wake up your little one. That would be fine if he or she was already awake, but how terrible would it be to wake your children up after a good nap? Not to mention having to put them back to sleep for who knows how long?
D. Monitoring older children
It's called a baby monitor, but it's not just for babies. The monitor will also come in handy when the baby is old enough to get used to his or her own bed.
Some children adapt well to the change -- while others don't at all -- discovering they are now free to do more than just go to bed. Like sitting on the bed and playing, you don't really know what they’re playing, but they just don't want to sleep. They can even get out of bed and walk around. And every time you bring him back to bed, five minutes later, guess who walks over to your room and says hello again? There's nothing you can do about it. You can't lock him in his own room, right?
A baby monitor would be a great help at this point. You can watch your child fall asleep and make sure nothing happens while he or she is playing in the room. If he starts his own escape plan, you'll be able to spot it and stop it before it gets too far. And after getting caught a few more times, they'll probably get bored and stop running around at night.
E. It can be used to aid sleep training
Many new parents spend their nights taking care of their new baby. Not every child can successfully adjust their sleep patterns. In a worst-case scenario, if the baby does not sleep well, he will probably cry out loud, eventually affecting his growth. Not to mention, it can be a torturous experience for parents. Many parents employ methods to train their children to sleep on their own. The most famous method is Richard Ferber's CIO Method (Cry-it-out Method).
To simply summarize, if a baby is crying, parents should not immediately go in to comfort the baby. Instead, they wait for a few minutes before going in. Then you gradually increase the waiting time until the child stops crying and falls asleep on his own. Regardless of whether it's scientific or not, it takes a really strong heart to stop caring when your baby cries. Many parents simply can't bear the pressure and give up after the first attempt. With the help of a baby monitor, parents can have some sense of security - at least they can tell if their child is safe and have sufficient information to evaluate whether their child needs to be checked on.
If you've thought it through and think you really need a baby monitor, here are some suggestions and tips on buying one:
A. Get a video monitor
While the Audio Monitor is much more affordable, its usefulness is limited -- many of the uses mentioned above are based on the fact that you can perceive live images. If you still have to go to the children's room to see what's going on, "monitoring" becomes meaningless. While the Video Monitor is a bit more expensive, it can be used in many different ways and can be reused for a second child -- or given to other relatives or friends who are raising a child when you no longer need it.
B. Get a non-Wi-Fi monitor if security is your top priority
The Wi-Fi Baby monitor comes with latency, but the ability to check on your child anytime and anywhere on the phone is perfect for parents with remote-monitoring needs. If you do require remote monitoring, be sure to choose a Wi-Fi model with a higher level of security and encryption -- some models even come with a bank-level encryption protocol, which can be very reassuring.
But if you don't require remote monitoring, it's recommended to buy models that don't use a Wi-Fi connection. There's no app, no Internet connection, video files aren't even saved locally, the connection works when you turn it on, latency is lower -- and best of all, there's no fear of bad guys hacking into your network and monitors.
C. Features you should look for in a baby monitor
Here are some features that most parents find it useful for a video baby monitor:
- Night vision: Get crisp and clear video even at night times.
- Vox mode & Two-way audio: The vox mode will turn the monitor on when it detects sounds from the baby. Two-way audio allows you to reassure your baby with your soothing words.
- Room temperature monitoring: Monitor the temperature of the nursery in real-time throughout the day to make sure that your baby is comfortable.
Indeed, back when we were young, our parents never used a baby monitor. In that era, it was not necessary for the healthy growth of children. But for the young parents who are becoming parents for the first time, it can take some of the pressure off of you and make parenting a little easier. When making that baby must-have list, we consider the well-being of our kids as our top priority. But we should also be mindful of ourselves. The fact that a baby monitor can provide a sense of security to us as parents is priceless.