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Once your newborn baby is sleeping safe and sound in their bassinet, you’ll likely want to put your feet up, pour yourself a glass of wine, and turn on the TV! However, while many parents have a baby monitor installed in their baby’s room to keep an eye on them, many parents use other options and some don’t bother with one at all.
In this article, let’s take a look at the alternatives to baby monitors.
Do you really need a baby monitor?
Baby monitors are useful if you feel you need one. Plenty of families manage fine without, but it’s a personal choice. If you live in a large house or if you feel particularly anxious about the risk of SIDS, then a baby monitor might be a good choice. However, if you live in a small flat and you’re fairly close to your baby most of the time, you might not need one at all. One of the downsides of baby monitors is when a parent feels the need to check on their baby every time there’s a slight sound coming from the baby monitor. This will make you more anxious, stressed and it harms your baby’s ability to self soothe and learn how to sleep through the night.
What are the alternatives to baby monitors?
So if you’ve decided you don’t really need a baby monitor, what are the alternatives?
One of the cheapest options is to use a walkie-talkie. However, as your baby won’t be able to use one properly, you will need a voice activation feature (VOX). You can place one handset near the crib in their room and another one near you. When your baby makes a sound their handset should activate and send the signal to you.
- A cheap option that will do a basic job of monitoring your baby.
- Your child can use a walkie talkie as a toy with you or their friends when they get older.
- Audio quality. Although you can find a walkie talkie that has a VOX feature, it probably won’t pick up low level sounds, which your baby might make if they need your help.
- Lack of features. In addition to audio, baby monitors can monitor an infant via video, heart rate and breathing. If you want more features, you might need to bite the bullet and buy a baby monitor.
- Works over a huge range.
- Many cameras can detect your baby’s movement.
- Some security cameras have a two way radio option.
- You can use one as a security camera after you’ve finished using it as a baby monitor.
- Great video quality and many have infrared night vision
- A lot of security cameras need a wifi connection, which might not be so reliable. It also means someone can hack into you network and view the live feed.
- While the video quality may be very good, the audio quality probably won’t be as good as a baby monitor.
- A security camera still lacks some of the more advanced features of some baby monitors, such as heart rate and breathing monitors, room temperature etc.
There are thousands of apps on Google Play and the App store, and that includes baby monitor ones too. With just a simple smartphone you can monitor your baby in their room, sending the live feed to another phone, tablet or PC.
- No cost and easy to set up. You just need to download the app, place your phone in a convenient place in your baby’s room and that’s it!
- Infinite range. As long as you have access to a wifi connection, in theory you can check the live feed from anywhere.
- With most apps you can talk to your baby from another room, and they’re pretty good at picking up audio noises.
- You may need to buy a second phone. If you’re fortunate enough to have a spare handset, that’s fine, but if not, it can be costly to purchase a smartphone just for the purposes of monitoring your baby.
- Security risk. As you will be using your wifi, it leaves your network more vulnerable to hackers. Make sure you use a strong password. You can use mobile data, but this can be costly as it will likely use a lot of your monthly allowance (unless you have an unlimited plan)
If you have a webcam and a PC or laptop, you can connect it up in your baby’s room and send the live feed to another PC or laptop.
- Most laptops and PCs come with a camera or webcam so it shouldn’t cost you anything extra to buy.
- You can always see your baby nice and clearly.
- You may need to purchase a second tablet or laptop. If you already have one, this may not be an issue, but it might seem unnecessary to buy one specially to use as baby monitor. However, you may be able to send the live feed to your smartphone.
- Webcams operate over your wifi network, which makes it more exposed to hackers. It may also slow down your network, which might be an issue if you’re watching something which also uses the wifi. Also, if the wifi goes down, you don’t have access to the live feed.
- Less features than a baby monitor. With many baby monitors you can talk to your baby from a different room, monitor the room temperature etc.
Don’t use one at all
Of course you may not need to purchase anything at all and just manage without a baby monitor or any alternative options. If you are in a small flat or if you are always close to your baby’s room so you can hear if they need your help, you might not need a baby monitor
- No cost. Mankind has managed fine without baby monitors for thousands of years. As long as your baby is in a safe sleeping environment, you may not need a baby monitor.
- Less disruption for your baby. There’s a view that baby monitors are a form of helicopter parenting, where parents will rush to their newborn’s side every time they hear some slight fussing and crying. This can disrupt their sleep and consequently, they may become bad sleepers! Remember, it’s normal for babies to fuss a bit during the night as they move between sleep cycles.
- A baby monitor may not be essential if you live in a small flat, but if you live in a house and you’re often quite far away from your baby, you may not hear them if they need your help.
- Baby monitors offer peace of mind to many parents. If the thought of a newborn baby sleeping alone makes you feel anxious, especially with the risk of SIDS in the first few months, a baby monitor can help to reassure you that your infant is safe and sound.
Graham is a father of two who founded Dadometer to share his parenting journey with other moms and dads.