Three types of baby monitor and what to choose

baby monitor

If you recently had, or are about to have, a kid, you may feel overwhelmed by the amount of toys, electronics and gadgets available. And while many of them are not absolutely essential, a decent baby monitor can make your life easier.

How to choose the right one? Read on for everything you need to know.

Which baby monitor should I buy?

A standard baby monitor consists of two devices: a mains-electricity powered camera and/or microphone unit in the baby’s sleep space, and a separate parent unit.

The camera unit transmits sound and video via radio waves to the parent monitor, which has a small speaker and screen and can be plugged in or powered by the rechargeable battery.

You have three main options: audio, video, and smart monitors.

Audio monitors are the simplest and most affordable, while video monitors are the most commonly used due to their increased functionality. Smart monitors, although more expensive, offer the most advanced technology and enable remote connectivity.

Take a look at the best baby monitor buys this year here.

Audio monitors

An audio monitor is the most basic model and works like a walkie-talkie. A microphone at the baby unit transmits sounds to the parent unit, with many models having the option of a microphone at the parent end too.

An audio monitor is the most affordable option but if you’ll likely hear any crying throughout your home anyway, this won’t be much use to you.

Video monitors

Video baby monitors give you a live video feed of your child’s sleep space, which gives more information about what is going on. You can see if your baby or toddler has fallen asleep or is moving around in their bed or bedroom. This helps you decide whether they’ll settle themselves, or if you should go in and check on them.

Standard video baby monitors use radio frequency to connect between the parent monitor and the camera. This safe technology is similar to the way a portable home phone connects to its base unity.

They have a fairly extensive range but the strength of the connection will be slowed down by walls and floors. If you have a thick concrete floor between two levels of your home, you may want to consider a long-range monitor or a Wi-Fi connected monitor.

Wi-Fi monitors

Wi-Fi-enabled (also known as smart) baby monitors have a parent unit with a video function and can also connect to a feature-rich app on your smartphone through Wi-Fi or data. This lets you check up on your child remotely when you are away from home. App features include the ability to make and play personal audio recordings (such as yourself reading a story) and to record the video feed or save snapshots to your phone.

Smart monitors also use radio frequency to connect between the parent monitor and the camera, while accessing the app functionality on your smartphone will require the camera to be connected to Wi-Fi. This means you’ll need fast, reliable home internet to get the most from your device and app.

Why choose a Wi-Fi baby monitor?

  • A smart baby monitor lets you check up on your child during sleep time from a distance, giving additional peace of mind that your child is fine with another carer.
  • It lets your phone act as a secondary parent monitor.
  • Using Wi-Fi to connect the camera may mitigate a home layout that doesn’t work for a standard monitor connection.
  • You can go back and look at previous video to find out what’s caused a disturbance or check what time you last fed or checked on the baby.

What about baby monitor hacking?

While malicious hacking of baby monitors isn’t common, it’s not unheard of. So it’s important to take safety precautions to minimise the risk of unauthorised access to your monitor feed.

To start, you should have a strong Wi-Fi password for your home network. If someone can access your Wi-Fi network, they may also be able to hack into your monitor feed.

You should buy a monitor from a reputable brand with good safety protocols, including the option for a manual privacy shield on the computer.

If you’re particularly concerned, you should know that standard monitors are unable to be hacked, so they might be the better option for you.

Frequently asked questions

Do Wi-Fi baby monitors need internet?

Baby monitors come in a few different styles, but most parents choose either one that doesn’t have WiFi or one that does. A non-WiFi baby monitor doesn’t need to be connected to the internet in order to send signs between your room and baby’s room. A WiFi baby monitor, on the other hand, does.

Do paediatricians recommend baby monitors?

If your baby is healthy and there are no concerns around their sleep, paediatricians and other experts don’t say baby monitors are essential. However, you must follow safe sleep recommendations.

Do baby monitors reduce SIDS?

There is no evidence that baby monitors can reduce the incidence of sudden infant death syndrome. Always follow safe sleep recommendations and you can use a monitor if you so choose.

What age should I get rid of my baby monitor?

There’s no hard and fast rule for when you should get rid of a baby monitor. Most parents stop using one between the ages of about two and four.

The right baby monitor is one that works for you and your home. Consider whether you need to be able to see your child to check up on them, or just hear them. Whether your layout requires smart connectivity rather than radio frequency. And how concerned you are about hacking versus the extra benefits of a Wi-Fi model.

Key points:

  • The three types of monitors available are audio, visual and smart/Wi-Fi.
  • Audio monitors are the simplest and least expensive, while visual monitors are the most popular.
  • If you have reliable home internet, Wi-Fi enabled monitors come with a huge range of additional features.