History of the Baby Monitor
In the late 1930’s, after the highly publicized investigation of the kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh’s 20-month-old baby, Charles Jr., the first electronic baby monitor was invented by Norman Emerick from Fisher-Price. It was an electronic device that could transmit sound from one room to another. It used radio waves to alert parents of sounds coming from a baby’s room.
Though the threat of kidnapping is not a real concern for most parents, the majority of parents use baby monitors to hear when their baby is crying. A good baby monitor can relate even subtle sounds to the parent’s handheld unit up to even hundreds of feet away and can be turned up at night to wake even heavy sleepers. Nowadays there are digital baby monitors and analog baby monitors available.
Baby Monitors and Sleep Training
The best baby monitors can be used to help the parent in baby sleep training. A monitor can be used to listen to baby sounds without the parent having to be in the room, this helps in both cry it out and no cry methods of baby sleep training. If a parent is in another room or even outside it is extremely helpful if the parent can listen in on their baby and respond quickly if necessary. So, what did parents do before baby monitors? They had to check on their babies more frequently, which possibly interrupted their sleep or they didn’t hear the baby in a timely manner and by the time they got to the crib the baby may have been crying for quite a while. Baby monitors are a helpful modern parenting convenience.
Some parents use baby monitors with older children to help monitor when the toddler may be getting into mischief. Many monitors can be wall mounted out of the child’s reach and can pick up faint sounds like the child climbing out of their crib and other more potentially unsafe sounds like a door opening or a chair being pushed across the room.
Baby Monitor Interference
A note on quality, nearly all baby monitors may exhibit interference issues. Some have problems with other electrical devices or cell phones and every location may have different potential interference sources. Generally, if you live rather rurally you will have less chance of having interference issues with your baby monitor. However, on the opposite end of the spectrum if you live in the city in a large apartment building there is a larger potential for interference issues and you will want to invest in a baby monitor system that offers more channels.
To learn more about baby sleep issues, read our articles on baby monitors.
At TopTenREVIEWS We Do the Research So You Don’t Have To.™
When we were completing our research into the best baby monitors, we first looked at all the available monitors on the market. There is quite a selection to choose from. Prices of baby monitors run anywhere from just under $20 to well over $350. For our purpose, we narrowed our research to baby monitors less than $70. Many monitors come with either one or two handheld units.
The following were the criteria we used to conduct our baby monitor comparisons and reviews:
We found that the most common critique of baby monitors had to do with the sound clarity of the devices. Static interference is a common problem with low-quality monitors. This is caused by other electronic devices using the same channel as the monitor. These electronics include televisions, phones and the internet. We looked at sound clarity and lack of interference as the most important feature of a good baby monitor.
Frequency and Power
The frequency of a baby monitor could determine how many radio signals the monitor is prone to. The higher the frequency the more channels and better clarity you should get on your monitor, theoretically. We have found that some of the best, clearest sounds come from the lower frequency ratings.
Also, how the units are powered is important in today's busy families. So we considered how units are powered. Does it run on an AC adapter, a rechargeable battery pack or just regular batteries? How often will you have to recharge it or purchase new batteries?
Indicators and Flexibility
In this section, we considered the indicator features found on the monitor including sound lights, night lights, low battery indicators and out of range indicators. We also looked at other aspects, including how much the device vibrates when a baby cries, whether there is a pager to find the lost parent unit, and whether there is a temperature display. All units came with a belt clip for portability, but other aspects we considered were the portability of the transmitter, if the transmitter can be connected to a crib or wall, if it is water resistant, and if it has voice activation.
Ease of Use
We looked at the instructions to see if setup and maintenance was easy for everyone to understand and use.
Help & Support
Warrantees are important to be aware of. For many monitors we discovered that some products carry a one-year limited manufacturer’s warranty and others carry just a 90-day warranty. Some of these warrantees can be considered void if any type of power source is used that is not authorized by the manufacturer.
When considering what type of baby monitor to use, think about how you want to use your monitor. If you want to be portable, you will want something with a rechargeable battery, a portable child unit and a longer range signal. For a more reliable power source, consider using one that comes with an AC adapter or wall-mounted unit.
Generally, some monitors are just more likely to work better than others. If you get a product that doesn’t work well, contact the manufacturer before taking it back to the store. You may just need a little tweak to get you on the right path.