Shopping for Baby Monitors
Baby monitors allow you to keep track of your baby's activities and noises while you're in a different room. Mostly, they are used for when your baby is asleep in their room, so that you can easily hear their little (or big) cries if they wake up hungry or messy or just lonely. If you have a small house or apartment, you may not even have to purchase a baby monitor. You may want one if your house is larger or has multiple levels. Or, if you're a worry-wart mom, like me, who does have a tiny house, you'll want one anyway, just to be on the safe side.
There are two basic types of monitors: audio and audio plus video. They use radio frequencies to send you information, like sounds and/or visuals. There's a transmitter that is placed near the baby and one or two receivers for the parents.
There are a few features that you'll find nice to have, although even the most basic monitor would probably suffice. Some monitors come with lights as well as sound. This comes in handy if you are working or on the phone, but still need to monitor the baby. Many of the monitors' lights are on a scale where more lights equals a louder cry. It helps you tell the difference between a sigh (let them be) and a wail (run!).
According to Consumer Reports, the biggest complaint people have with monitors is interference, loud white noise, buzzing, and even picking up your neighbors' phone conversations on their baby monitors. Annoying! Try to find a monitor with multiple channels so that you can pick the one with the least amount of interference. Or, you can find a digital monitor instead of an analog one, and that is less likely to have all the extra noise. In either case, keep your receipt and return the monitor if you just can't get a good, clear sound.
I recommend getting a monitor that comes with two receivers. We have one in our living room and one in our bedroom. Also, it's nice if you can choose between plugging them in or using batteries. This way, if you have to take out the garbage or want to sit outside on the deck for a while, you can easily bring a receiver with you.
There are other features you'll find, such as color monitors versus black and white (for video monitors), and even pet sensors that tell you when a cat or dog is creeping too close to the crib, but the basics above are really all you need. I was very tempted to get the monitor that included video, but knowing what a hovermom I had the potential to be, I opted for audio only. I knew I would just be watching the monitor instead of getting much needed sleep for myself. The audio monitors work wonderfully, and I can get a good night sleep knowing that I will definitely hear my baby if she needs me.