By: Laura Jana, MD, FAAP and Jennifer Shu, MD, FAAP
Parents now have the option of using the latest in audio and video baby monitoring to listen to and watch their baby from afar. Many parents find that this type of technological surveillance buys them peace of mind, by allowing them to roam freely around the house while they are still keeping tabs on their baby.
What to keep in mind about baby monitors
If you choose to use a monitoring device, camera, and/or app, keep the following considerations in mind:
Nothing beats the real thing. First and foremost, never let baby-monitoring technology substitute for direct supervision and taking sensible safety measures. Also, be aware there is unfortunately no evidence that using a monitor decreases the chance of
Range. Baby monitors themselves are only as good as their technological limitations, so we suggest you take a look at what kind of listening range, clarity of view and data they each offer. The kind that sync with some of the baby-monitoring apps, of course, have solved what used to be a more common range limitation by making use of cloud-based access.
It works both ways. There are steps you can take to minimize the potential for interference, hacking or fuzzy reception, starting with simply following the product instructions. This typically includes recommended security precautions such as setting a strong password for the baby monitor and your home's wireless network, updating software regularly, and keeping other electronic devices away from the monitoring unit as necessary.
Disrupting the peace. Some of you may find that leaving the monitor on at night significantly disturbs whatever limited sleep you stand to get, causing you to be wide awake in response to your slumbering baby's every twitch or snort.
Channel surfing. In this age of modern electronics, there's more than enough to interfere with your monitor, including cordless phones, cell phones, radio stations and other monitors. Try to find a monitor with good reception and more than one channel to decrease the likelihood of interference. We also suggest holding onto your receipt in case you run into any unforeseen technological conflicts that become apparent only once you put the monitor to use at home.
Bells and whistles. Give some thought to which bells and whistles you really want and which simply serve to raise the price. Some of the available added features include a portable receiver with a belt clip, two-way walkie-talkie radio capability, night vision, a room-temperature sensor, a receiver that vibrates or flashes lights so you can leave the sound turned off, the ability to watch your baby on your computer or other devices using your wireless network, and the possibility of purchasing multiple portable receivers that can accompany a single base station.
Safety reminders. All monitor bases and additional units should be wireless or, if they have a cord, must be well out of baby's reach.
About Dr. Jana
Laura A. Jana, MD, FAAP, is a pediatrician and mother of 3 with a faculty appointment at the Penn State University Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center. She is the author of more than 30 parenting and children's books and serves as an early childhood expert/contributor for organizations including the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Primrose Schools, and US News & World Report. She lives in Omaha, NE.
About Dr. Shu
Jennifer Shu, MD, FAAP serves as the medical editor of HealthyChildren.org and provides oversight and direction for the site in conjunction with the staff editor. Dr. Shu is a practicing pediatrician at Children's Medical Group in Atlanta, Georgia, and she is also a mom. She earned her medical degree at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond and specialized in pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. Her experience includes working in private practice, as well as working in an academic medical center. She served as director of the normal newborn nursery at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire. Dr. Shu is also co-author of Food Fights and Heading Home with Your Newborn published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).