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Safety Guide for Baby Monitors

 

Most parents would consider baby monitors a must-have item. These handy devices allow you to keep track of your infant when you're in another room. If your baby fusses or gets into something she shouldn't, you can immediately go tend to her.

However, as with any baby product, there are some safety concerns to be aware of. Keep these issues in mind as you shop for the device that suits your needs:

Common baby monitor issues

Audio interference

This is one of the most talked-about problems that parents have with baby monitors. The electronic devices, especially older and low-quality models, pick up signals from cordless phones, radios, gaming systems, laptops and even microwaves. This can cause a staticky interference that prevents you from hearing your baby. Sometimes, your monitor can even pick up sounds from that of your neighbors, meaning you can hear their baby but not your own.

Unfortunately, this issue is a two-way street. If you can hear another family, chances are they can hear you. This situation is usually benign, but some people buy radios specifically to listen in on baby monitors, spying on infants and their families.

To avoid this issue, buy a monitor that uses Digital Enhanced Cordless Technology. These use a 1.9-GHz frequency band, which isn't commonly used in other devices. They also encode the data - in this case, the sound or video - so it can't be intercepted. The monitors you want will have "DECT" or "digital" on the packaging.

Video interference

If you have a video monitor, you may see fuzzy images or even get views from your neighbor's monitor. Again, this process works both ways - if you're receiving video interference, it's possible that someone else is viewing your baby on their monitor. Solving this issue is the same as clearing up audio interference; simply buy a digital monitor.

Short battery life

Some monitors seem to have every feature you want and then some, but they have one simple drawback: the battery. No parent wants to recharge their monitor every other night. Also, you might not notice when the battery runs out, meaning you could miss out on knowing when safety issues arise with your baby in the other room.

Features that enhance safety

The safest baby monitors often have extra features that, while not vital to their performance, can increase your peace of mind.

Motion and sound sensor

Some monitors are designed to filter out distracting or unimportant sounds (like an air conditioning unit) so you're only alerted when your baby makes an unusual sound. Others have motion sensors that call your attention when your baby moves (like when he wakes up from a nap).

Out-of-range indicator

A standard monitor will just turn staticky when it moves out of range of the receiver. Those with an out-of-range indicator will beep or flash to get your attention.

Low battery indicator

This feature is great to have, especially if you're not the type to mentally keep check of the last time you charged your device. Let's face it: As a new parent, charging a baby monitor is probably the last thing on your mind. Those with a low battery indicator will display a light or show an icon when its time to plug in.

Temperature monitor

Ideally, your baby's room should be between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. A baby monitor with a temperature sensor will alert you when the air gets too warm or too cold.

Music player

If your baby gets particularly fussy, a monitor with a music feature will play lullabies or soothing nature sounds to calm her down. This way, you don't have to stay with your little one until she finally falls asleep.

Brightness control

A monitor's screen can be difficult to see in overly bright or dim light. This feature lets you increase or decrease the brightness based on your surrounding conditions. It's great for keeping an eye on your baby while they're napping inside and you're working outside during the summer months.

Night vision

The lights go off when it's time for your baby to sleep, but that obviously means you can't watch her on the monitor. Thankfully, some devices come with infrared light to provide visibility in dark conditions. Others have a small night light you can activate from your unit or smartphone to increase visibility. 

Connectivity

Watching TV while your child is in the other room? Some monitors connect to your television or Blu-ray player so you can view your baby on the big screen. Look for ones with a picture-in-picture feature so you can watch your child while still enjoying your nighttime programming.

A note about WiFi monitors

A baby monitor that operates on your home wireless network can be hacked by people to spy on your family. If you're determined to use this type of monitor, here are some precautions to take:

Buy new, not used.
Register your product before setting it up.
Update the monitor before first use, and turn on automatic updates to keep up with the latest security features.
Change the default password.

 

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