I’ve never believed in a nanny cam or a baby monitor until the day I became a father.
When my daughter was born and while we still in the hospital , we had this iphone app linked to the nursery’s camera so we could observe and see our little daughter.
It was one of the features of the hospital’s nursery.
Every little move she made, every whimper and cry she made, we made sure we didn’t miss it.
That’s when I knew I needed a baby monitor to make sure my daughter always safe in her crib, and can be notified immediately when she needs our help.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is quite common and I will do anything to make sure she doesn’t have to face this risk.
However, there are so many baby monitors to choose from.
So what baby monitor should i get?
Here is a short summary of how I went and research to get a decent baby monitor that will not blow a hole in your wallet.
Types of Baby Monitors
There are 3 types of baby monitors
-Wifi (usually compatible with mobile phone as an app / receiver)
-Video (Video+ Audio) but two way and limited using the own monitor
What are the benefits of having a baby / nanny camera
Baby monitor is essentially a security camera. A camera gives you an immediate assessment of your baby’s well being. With internet connection, you could view your baby from 1000 miles away.
Piece of mind and safety
Gives your piece of mind without the constant worry whether he or she is well and cared properly by the nanny or helper. Although it is not something you we like to hear, but having a baby monitor has revealed how nannies / nurses or daycare helper have been ill-treating the babies whilst their parents are away at work.
While nothing can replace the security of a parent guarding their child, having a baby monitor can give you the safety and piece of mind.
What features to expect in a baby monitor
Some baby monitors come with amazing features, such as the ability to control the temperature of the baby’s room while being actually away from the room, or even play a soothing lullaby to put your baby back to sleep. These features aren’t bad to have, but there are some important ones listed below:
WIFI and internet enabled baby monitors are common and the in-thing now.
Most houses have WIFI and internet enabled now, having an internet enabled baby monitor makes it so convenient.
Usually WIFI/ internet enabled baby monitors are integrated to an mobile app (both Apple and Android) and allows parents to peek in on how their child /elderly parent/relative or even pet from the convenience of their phone.
You could be thousands of miles away and seeing your baby sleeping soundly.
But with that convenience comes with a huge potential issue: Being Hacked. If it is internet enabled it simply means it can be found an attacked by hackers or malicious software.
Although rare and unlikely, there have been cases of such ‘hacking’ or unauthorized access into your baby monitor, for instance this stranger hacks into baby monitor and tells child “I Love You” and A Hacker Took Control of Baby Monitor Middle of The Night Threatening Parents.
There are many other stories just like these but the truth is anything that is internet enabled is a threat and susceptible to hacker attacks, malware and some sort of technological hijack.
Good news is there are some mitigation points.
Make sure the baby monitor is encrypted using SSL/TLS at the very least encrypting the transmission of your video data over the internet and AES to encrypt data that is stored in the device or cloud service.
To keep things more secure, ensure that your WIFI connection secured with a password and consider changing the password every 2-3 months.
If the baby monitor doesn’t offer any data encryption, no matter how great the package or deal is, stay away! Security comes first!
Most baby monitors that are internet enabled have an app integrated. An app is a software that is susceptible to bugs and malware. So make sure to update the baby monitor app and camera with new and latest firmware to prevent any bugs or malware that can take your baby monitor a cybersecurity hostage.
Using a strong password and changing it regularly
Always set up your baby monitor camera and app with a strong password. Change it timely to avoid hackers tracing your password.
Camera zoom / image and video quality
Most baby monitors have video function so you can see your baby ‘Live”. In the earlier days, video quality wasn’t the best and was grainy, but now in 2020, HD or even 4K is the minimal standard so expect video quality be at least 720P or 1080P.
The critical thing about camera quality is the ability to zoom, pan or tilt the camera in remote. Some baby monitors have these options to allow you to zoom over the baby , pan the camera around the room and even rotate/ tilt it to certain angles to get different views.
Another feature for video baby monitors are night vision video ability.
When your baby goes to sleep in dark, the video image might not be clear. The monitor won’t let you see the video clearly in the dark unless the baby monitor has a night mode installed in it. So you should always opt for the one that allows you to have a night vision on automatic mode. Only by that, you’ll be able to have an eye on your baby even in the dark. Some monitors also let you control the brightness and contrast, so if you’re also able to control the brightness, it’s the icing on the cake.
With the old school baby monitors that didn’t have the luxury of internet connection, the premium was on range. Since it is not connected to WIFI / Internet, these baby monitors are limited by the range they are able to operate in.
Given most baby monitors that are not WIFI equipped have a range of about 150 feet in the space of your home. Many manufacturers will say their range is about 800-1000 feet but that is out in the open. In the space of your home, there are structural obstacles such as walls, doors and floors etc that can limit the range.
This is where WIFI baby monitors have the advantage.
Baby Monitors that use DECT make efficient use of a band of low frequency that is rare for communication with voice only, contrary to the 2.4 GHz frequency, which is used usually by most of the household devices like video game controls, Bluetooth devices, cordless phones, and other wireless devices. DECT takes the guarantee of clear sound from monitor to the handset. If you’re going for an analog monitor that doesn’t have DECT than you should at least be able to opt from several frequencies of your own choice.
A baby monitor is a portable handset and is turned on most of the times, a wise decision would be to pick a model that can be recharged or plugged in. Otherwise, you’d have to run to the store to buy batteries every now and then. If batteries are rechargeable, you can charge them in the day and use them in the night. While if the monitor is able to be plugged in, it can be durable for long nights.
With sound activation, the baby monitor will only turn on when the cry of the baby is detected, so you won’t have to bear with baby’s noises all night when you’re trying to sleep. It will wake you just when it detects a cry – that also saves battery life and duration.
Multiple portable handset receivers
If a baby monitor in your room is stationary, you’ll want a portable receiver that can roam around the house with you and allows you to keep a constant tab on your baby. If you’re not in the bedroom, you can take the receiver with you to the kitchen, living room, balcony and wherever you want. The higher and better models even come with the extra handset so you can have spare monitors for each room.
Two way talk
Conversations are meant to be two way. So when your baby cries, he or she may just want your voice to comfort. The comfort and security of your voice is like a blanket that warms them up.
Most of the leading baby monitors have this function. When your baby gets older, you could also use it like a walkie-talkie and talk them to sleep.
Others – Good to have (but not necessary)
Remote temperature display
This is a great to have feature, where the baby monitor can actually scan baby’s temperature. Might not be the most accurate compared to a thermometer, but in the case of baby having a fever, a sudden rise in baby’s temperature will immediately trigger any parent to check up on their baby.
For some parents, a movement monitor (usually purchase separately from a baby monitor), provides peace of mind for a better night’s sleep and can help prevent the possibility of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Some baby monitors (hint: higher end of the price scale) have integrated movement detectors or sensors to give the parents the ease of mind.
Expandability- ability to link more than one cam
This is something more for hobbyist, where you can link more than one cam to your baby monitor rig. So imagine you have a 2-3 cameras set at different angles in your baby room and you could monitor all 2-3 cameras at the same time, with the option to even add on more…now ok…that’s something cool to have but its not necessary.
This can be also a practical option as a full on security camera for your home. Just add on the extra cameras and voila you have a full surveillance system of your home piggybacking on your baby monitor.
At the end of the day, some of the key factors to consider a baby monitor is
- Price / Budget
- Benefits vs Features
- Your intention of having a baby monitor
For myself, I ended up getting a pricier baby monitor because I wanted a WIFI baby monitor that has some cool features but not compromising on the security functions.