A baby monitor is a great way for parents to listen in on their baby when they are in another room. They offer peace of mind and can help keep new parents calm. During the day a baby monitor can free you to do things around the house or relax on the back porch. At night, you can sleep comfortably in your own room knowing you still can hear when your baby wakes to be fed or changed.
All baby monitors use a transmitter and receiver. You place the transmitter within 10 feet of your baby's crib, so it can pick up any sounds your baby makes once you turn on the monitor. Then, you can either plug in the receiver in an area you will hear it or carry the receiver around with you as you move through the house. Many monitors offer the option of using batteries or a wall outlet. If you know you want to move the receiver around with you, save yourself some time and look for a good wireless monitor. Keep in mind, if you don't use rechargeable batteries, you will go through batteries like crazy!
There are two types of baby monitors, audio monitors and video monitors.
Audio baby monitors run within a selected radio frequency band to send sound from the transmitter in the nursery to a receiver in an area you will hear it. Some audio monitors come with two receivers so both parents can listen to their baby from different rooms in the house at the same time.
Video baby monitors use a small wall- or table-mounted camera that you mount close to your baby's crib. The camera transmits images to a small television set or handheld television set. Some video monitors also include an infrared light as part of the camera so you can still see your baby at night when the nursery is dark.
As comforting as they can be, baby monitors do have drawbacks. Constant monitoring can put you on edge. If you live in a small house or apartment you may not need one at all. Audio monitors are subject to interference from concrete walls, cordless phones, or other baby monitors in your neighborhood and can alter what you hear. No baby monitor is safe from static. You must be careful to never place your monitor near water to prevent an accidental shock. If you move your monitor frequently and turn it off, remember where you put it down. Those endless rounds of "where's the remote?" will take on a whole new meaning.
A baby monitor can be a convenient and reassuring piece of baby equipment– but it is not a necessary piece of baby equipment. Some parents buy one or are given one as a shower gift and find they never use it. Others use it so frequently they are a little jumpy. If you decide you need a baby monitor, go ahead and get one, they can be pretty handy to have around— just remember, you are allowed to turn it off.