A baby monitor is like a radio transmitter or walkie talkie that allows you to keep tabs on your baby or toddler by sound, sight or both. They come in two parts, the transmitter which is the part that stays near the baby, usually near the crib and the receiver that stays with you.
Various models have different features and range widely in price. There is usually one transmitter but there can be two and there are usually one or two receivers, some are wired, others portable and as small as a cell phone. They allow you a tremendous amount of freedom to get things done around the house with peace of mind, always knowing that baby is safe. The monitors also come in handy when caring for a sick child or adult so investing in a monitor is a good idea; it is a purchase that could service you for many years. The pricier models can transmit both ways so baby can hear your soothing voice no matter where you are in the house. Many models can also run on batteries, some come with rechargeable batteries.
There are a few drawbacks with any electronic device such as interference from concrete walls, cordless phones, or other types of monitors. Other baby monitors can interfere with what your monitor receives if you are in close proximity to other people. One rule of thumb is if you have a 900Mhz portable phone don’t purchase a monitor that is listed at 900Mhz.
The smaller the model, the more easily you can carry it around the house.
If the unit runs on batteries it should have a belt clip to make it easy to carry with you.
If batteries run down, you may not hear your baby so look for one that has an alert, a light is acceptable but an audible alert such as a beep, is even better.
For those times when you are creating your own noise (such as talking on the phone, vacuuming or watching TV) you might miss your baby's cries but with a sound activated light you will know something is going on even with the volume turned down.
Some models come with two receivers- referred to as “parent units” so two people can monitor baby at the same time or you can leave one in your room and keep one with you as you move around the house. Some manufacturers allow you to purchase additional receivers.
Multiple receivers allow you to monitor multiple spaces so if you have more then one child you can scan as many rooms as you like. However, too many monitors in one household can cause potentially cause interference.
Higher-end models offer a wide bandwidth for better clarity which works well for people who live in areas that are not heavily populated. If you live in close proximity to your neighbors, such as an apartment building or condominium you may want a lower bandwidth so you hear your baby but not the neighbors, their cell phones or portable phones and other monitors. The closer the monitor is to another frequency the more static Low bandwidth is around 40 Mhz, high band width is around 900 Mhz.
Baby monitors range in cost from $40 or even below to over $200 and generally the lower end models don’t last as long and don’t have the same level of sound quality. The old adage that - you get what you pay for, is usually true but when in doubt choose the middle ground. If you want the features of the higher end video monitors compromise with a smaller, black and white monitor with less receivers, try to find a model that allows you to upgrade later on.
More then one channel: good for finding the best reception
Adjustable angle cameras: perfect to create the best access to baby
Auto night sensors: acts as an automatic night light which is convenient for baby and parent
Wall mountable: handy when the monitor is a permanent fixture or you are in cramped quarters.
Color coded lights: used on systems with multiple units to monitor different rooms, allows you to color code each room
Channel auto-scan: finds the best channel for the clearest transmission
Range: gives you the maximum amount of feet that should be between the baby and the transmitter
Automatic infrared night vision: allows camera in a video monitor to display baby at night so you can still see as well as hear your baby even late at night
Power saving mode for receiver: the same as with a computer, when no activity is present the receiver goes into a lower mode to save on battery life.
Video cable: a very interesting feature on higher end models that allows you to see your baby on your TV
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