There are a lot of baby monitors out there on the market. When I first started looking for one, I literally was spoilt for choice. How do you choose? And what was the difference between digital, analog and DECT?
As with all cordless devices, baby monitors operate on a radio frequency. The most popular of which, is 2.4 GHz. Its extreme popularity is unfortunately also the cause of its downfall. Because it is so popular, and so many cordless devices use this frequency, it is prone to interference.
For example, if your neighbor uses the same baby monitor as you, you might end up picking up her signal and vice versa, causing undue false alarms and occasionally, embarrassing moments of privacy intrusion.
DECT is another radio frequency. While relatively new in the market, Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunication will probably become the most used frequency in due time, because it is very reliable, provides a longer range and promises virtually no interference.
The only downside to this is that DECT baby monitors are quite expensive, e.g. the Philips Avent DECT SCD520.
Digital vs. Analog
Digital and analog formats on the other hand, determine how sound is transmitted from the monitor to the receiver. While a digital baby monitor scrambles the signal in binary code to ensure privacy, an analog baby monitor only transmits the sound directly to the receiver via electrical pulses.
Needless to say, analog baby monitors are cheaper yet can still provide relatively okay sound quality but digital baby monitors (which are not that expensive anymore) provide good sound, less interference and static, as well as sound clarity.
I have written several baby monitor reviews on different types of baby monitors which you might find useful should you have decided which kind of baby monitor you are looking for. Happy hunting!
Types of Baby Monitors
#1 Sound baby monitors
If you only need your baby monitor to hear whether your baby is crying or awake, this is the cheapest kind of baby monitor to get. Really good sound monitors are very sensitive, and you can even hear your precious one breathing at night! There are three technologies for sound baby monitors:
- Analog baby monitors
These are the oldest and most basic sound monitors. Cheapest but has more interference and static and less sound quality.
- Digital baby monitors
This type ensure more privacy, have less interference and static, and better sound quality.
- DECT baby monitors
They are the best and most expensive sound monitors. You don’t have to worry about picking up neighbors’ signals, and there is no static. Best sound quality of all.
#2 Motion sensing baby monitors
This kind of baby monitor monitors motion and sound. Very useful if you have a premature baby or special health concerns. By placing the motion-sensing pad under the baby, any motion including breathing motions will be picked up and if movement stops, you’ll be immediately alerted.
This gives peace of mind to new parents who are really worried about Sudden Infant Death syndrome (SIDS). (Best Motion Sensing Baby Monitor)
#2 Video baby monitors
This is the latest kind of baby monitor. You can use it to hear and see your baby through a screen on the receiver or parent unit. Some of these have color, and some are black and white, and better ones have night vision to let you see your baby even when the baby’s room is in total darkness. (Best Video Baby Monitor)
Digital video baby monitors are susceptible to interference and picks up signals from your neighbors’ houses if they use the same model. But now there is a new wifi or wireless video baby monitor that uses 3G technology so now you can see and hear your baby on your iphone, ipad or mac without interference.
Factors to consider when choosing a baby monitor
Here are the things to look out for when shopping for a baby monitor:
Check what kind of battery the baby monitor uses. Is it rechargeable? Maybe you want to read some reviews to see whether the battery lasts long. You don’t want the battery to run out of juice when you’re in the basement doing laundry.
2) How many receivers?
Some people are ok with just one receiver, but others like one each for daddy and mummy, so that the nearest one can go to baby when he/she wakes up.
Unless you’re getting a video baby monitor, sound is the main function and so you’d want to hear your baby clear and loud. If your house has a lot of background noise like air-conditioning or the tv is always on, make sure the volume in your monitor’s parent unit is loud enough.
4) Light indicators
Ok, so you want to put on headphones and listen to some nice music, or you need a shower but monitors can’t get wet. Get a baby monitor with light indicators that tell you baby is crying even when you can’t hear.
Personally, I find any and all indicators to be really good when using a baby monitor, because I need all the alerting I can get. If you get caught up in something, the best baby monitors have light and sound to alert you so that you’ll drop your task and run to your baby.
5) Interference, Static and Channels
Maybe you’re ok with a little static, or maybe you want to throw your receiver against the wall the minute it begins to make scratchy background noise.
If you don’t mind at all, even a cheaper analog monitor will do for you. If you like clarity and sound quality, go for digital monitors. And if you really want no interference at all, including not receiving signals from neighbors’ houses, it’s time to throw in some cash and get a DECT monitor.
After all, you wouldn’t want to respond to a cry only to find out that it was your neighbor’s baby in the end. Or worse, overhear their private conversations if you’re both using the same channel or the same baby monitor.
More channels will mean less interference. Nowadays models come with a range from a few channels to over hundred channels to ensure the least interference.
This is also a matter of preference. Some people like to hear the white noise in baby’s room as an assurance that the monitor is working well at all times, but some would prefer just to hear baby’s sound.
Some models allow you to control the sensitivity of the microphone so that you can set it to pick up only the noises you want to hear.
7) Walkie-talkie feature
If your baby is already talking little phrases like mine, this could be a nice feature to have! Some toddlers don’t cry when they need mummy, but they like to know that mummy is around the house somewhere.
With this feature you can safely leave your kid in the room keeping an ongoing conversation with him/her while you do your chores around the house!
I hope you find this helpful:)
Happy shopping for a baby monitor!