by Staff Writer
If you're a parent, you know how important it is to know that your baby is safe and sound. You also know how scary it can be to leave your baby alone, even for a few minutes. That is precisely why baby monitors have become some of the most widely used child safety devices in homes everywhere. If you're thinking about buying a baby monitor, you may have a few questions about which type to buy and which features to choose.
Do I really need a baby monitor?
Safety baby monitors can give nervous parents a little peace of mind and a little extra freedom to get things done while the baby is sleeping. That being said, a baby monitor is not a substitute for parental supervision. A baby monitor will alert you to your baby's cries, but you should still check up on your baby regularly.
What types of baby monitors are there?
There are three types of baby monitors: audio, video and movement.
Audio baby monitors are the most common type of monitor. Audio monitors have a transmitter with a microphone and a receiver with a speaker. Some audio monitors can be used like a walkie-talkie, allowing parents to talk or sing to the baby via the receiver.
Video monitors allow parents to both see and hear the baby. The small cameras can be mounted almost anywhere. Multiple options are available for video, such as color or black and white, wired or wireless and even screen size.
A movement monitor is a sensor pad that is placed in your baby's crib, underneath the mattress. The sensor pad monitors your baby's movements. If your baby doesn't move for 20 seconds, the sensor sends an alert to the receiver.
What's the difference between analog and digital?
Analog signals are similar to how a radio works. The transmitter and the receiver are tuned to the same frequency. Analog monitors tend to have a lot of static and interference from other wireless devices, such as cordless phones and even the neighbors' baby monitors. Digital signals operate on a different wavelength than radio signals, making them less vulnerable to static and interference.
What's the best frequency?
The best frequency for you depends on several different factors. As a general rule, you will get less interference if you choose a different frequency than those already being used by other wireless devices nearby. 1.9 GHz is the least used frequency, which makes it a good choice. For example, if you live in a neighborhood full of other young families, 49MHz is probably not the best choice since it's the most common, and lots of other parents are bound to be using it. Cordless phones and Wi-Fi can interfere with both 900MHz and 2.4GHz. That is not to say that you cannot set your baby monitor to these frequencies if you have a cordless phone or Wi-Fi; just check your wireless devices and if they are using 900MHz, set your monitor to 2.4GHz and vice versa.
What other features should I look for?
Dual receivers are nice when you don't want to be constantly moving the receiver from room to room. Another option is to wear a belt clip so that you can keep your monitor with you and still have both hands free. Monitors with indicator lights are especially nice for parents who work at home and need to turn the volume down. On the flip side, when it's so noisy in your house that you can't even hear the monitor, indicator lights can still alert you if your baby cries.