Word has it that when Hercules, the Greek mythological hero, was a baby, he killed a snake in his crib. Today, you can't expect babies to take care of themselves quite as well-and while a snake may not be at the top of your worry list, you still want to know that your baby is safe when you're out of the room.
Fortunately, we've made some progress since the days of Ancient Greece, and you can now keep an eye on your child with a baby monitor.
How Does a Baby Monitor Work?
A baby monitor is basically a radio transmitter turned to domestic use. It consists of a transmitter, which you place in the baby's room, and a receiver, which you take with you. This way, when your baby wakes up and starts crying, babbling, or banging toys around, you can hear them even if you're two floors away.
Baby Video Monitors and More
If the term "baby monitor" makes you think of a set of one-way plastic speakers, think again. While you can still get a regular one-way transmitter-i.e., the baby makes the noise, and you hear it on the other end-you can now choose from a whole range of baby-monitoring technology.
Today, you can find monitors equipped with a two-way walkie-talkie system that lets you talk or sing back to your baby (convenient for soothing them on your way over), or a video camera that lets you see what your baby is doing. You can even set up a digital camera and watch your baby on the web.
Other Cool Features of Baby Safety Monitors
You can also get monitors with a variety of other helpful features, including:
- Multiple receivers-so you don't have to be the only one on alert.
- Sound-activated lights or vibrator-for the hearing-impaired, or for when the TV, vacuum cleaner, or other kids are making too much noise.
- Motion sensors-so the baby doesn't have to cry to get your attention.
- Infrared sensors-for darkened rooms.
- Musical monitors-so you can play music to your baby from a distance.
- Low-battery lights and rechargeable batteries-to keep your monitor working to its fullest capacity.
- Multiple channels-to reduce interference.
Baby Monitor Buying Tips
Before buying a baby monitor, assess the needs of your home and family and decide what type of monitor works best for you. Here are a few factors you might want to consider:
- Portability. Decide how portable you want your monitor to be. Small, battery-powered monitors are more portable than larger ones that plug into the wall. The former also tend to come with accessories like belt clips for added convenience.
- Price. Regular one- or two-way radio baby monitors cost anywhere from $40 to $90. If you want video or digital, it can cost up to $300. Decide how much you're willing to spend.
- Range. The larger your home, the greater the range you'll need. Get a monitor that'll reach the areas you're likely to be in-the kitchen, the basement, the back yard-so you'll hear your baby wherever you are.
- Reception. High-frequency monitors (up to 900 mHz) produce the greatest clarity and are great for the suburbs or the country; however, if you're in an area where cell phones, microwaves, and other baby monitors can cause interference, you're better off with a low-frequency monitor (40-50 mHz). Monitors with multiple channels can also help with the interference problem.
Baby Monitor User Tips
To get the most out of your baby monitor, you should put it as close as possible to your child-within 10 feet is best-and check the batteries regularly so you know it's working. Most importantly, remember that a baby monitor isn't a substitute for your care or supervision. Your baby needs you to be available as often as possible. But for those times when you need to be away, a baby monitor is a great way to make sure your child stays safe and sound.