Here’s what you should know about choosing the right baby monitor for you!

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Your baby monitor will definitely become one of your parenting essentials. Or at least it will if you bought a good quality one that fulfills your specific needs. If you didn’t, your monitor has the potential to become one of your biggest sources of frustration. 

As with most other technological tools, the variety of baby monitors and what they can do have grown tremendously over the last years. Most monitors are now digital. And with Wi-fi and smartphones you can now not only hear your baby if you are in the monitor’s range, but actually hear and see your baby from any other location, talk back to your baby and monitor extras like room temperature. 

Here is why we think a monitor is essential: 

  • You can save yourself the time and energy that it takes to constantly run and check on baby every time that you hear the smallest sound. 
  • It helps you to keep your baby safe and prevent accidents even when you are not with baby. Has he kicked off his blanket and is now busy getting cold? Or has the blanket perhaps gone over his head? Is your toddler still sound asleep or is he busy climbing out of his camp cot? 
  • You will know what is happening in your house when you are not there. This is especially crucial if someone else is caring for your baby at home.

What to look for in a baby monitor 

When trying to classify monitors and to compare the differences between them it becomes very technical very quickly. Some are digital, others analog (which doesn’t make much sense to the average person out there), they work in different ranges, they claim different types of motion sensors and screen qualities. At this point most parents become confused and decide to just opt for a specific brand. 

Here are the three considerations that we feel is most important

  1. The cost 

You will obviously consider price first. A baby monitor is one of the more expensive items that you will buy, but you will use it for years to come and can use it again with a next baby. It really is an investment. The most expensive product is not necessarily the best for you, so don’t let price blind you or intimidate you. Find a product that can do what you want it to do, for a price that you can afford. 

2. Video & Features

You get 2 types of video monitors:

  • The first type uses a RF signal – this is like a 2-way radio and it is not dependent on an internet connection. These video monitors are especially handy when you are in and around your house. You can simply put the camera near your baby, and can then constantly keep an eye on your baby with a handheld video monitor. Different brands will have reception over different distances. The distance over which it works may be an issue if you live in a large, double storey house. An advantage of these monitors is the fact that you can take it along when visiting friends or going on holiday. Some brands don’t have a video camera at all and only monitors sound in the room. 
  • Secondly you get IP baby monitors. These have a camera that connects to a SMART phone via the internet. With these monitors you can watch, listen and talk to your child from anywhere in the word. It usually has recoding capabilities and you may be able to change the camera’s angle from your phone. It is dependent on an internet connection though, which may be problematic if your Wi-Fi is not working, for example during a power outage

3. Power supply 

Does the unit need to be connected to a power supply, or does it have a battery? Some monitors still need a power source. 

But what then about a breathing monitor? 

This is a difficult question. Many parents choose a baby monitor specifically for this reason, as some monitors have a component (like a sensor mat that you put underneath baby) that also monitors breathing. But in the process you end up compromising on some of these other essentials that we discussed. You also get separate breathing monitors that clips onto baby’s clothes or a nappy. These are perhaps more handy as babies don’t only sleep in their cots, and they allow you to also monitor baby while in the car seat or out and about.

From our point of view a breathing monitor has a completely different purpose than a video monitor. The breathing monitor will mostly be used for the first few months of life, whereas you will use a video monitor for some years to come. 

But there definitely are some things you should know. 

Breathing or apnoea monitors are sold with the idea that they can help to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). SIDS refers to the death of a seemingly healthy baby below the age of one year in their sleep, without any cause found in an autopsy. We do not yet know what causes SIDS, but it might have to do with some malfunction in the portion of the baby’s brain that controls breathing during sleep and waking up from a deep sleep pattern. 

This is obviously one of any new parent’s worst nightmares and you would do anything that you can to prevent it. Using an apnoea monitor to prevent SIDS stems from the theory that apnoea (or breathing that stops for a period and that will usually start again when you stimulate baby) is the cause of SIDS. The truth is that we don’t yet know what causes SIDS. Is it apnoea, or is the apnoea just the effect of whatever is the true cause? 

Apart from this it is normal for small babies to have periodic breathing patterns. This means that babies can have pauses in their breathing for up to 10 seconds, followed by a few fast, shallow breaths. The breathing then returns to normal without any stimulation. 

Currently there is no evidence that an apnoea monitor can prevent SIDS. The quality and accuracy of home apnoea monitors are not regulated. For these reasons most paediatricians as well as bodies like the American Academy of Paediatrics do not recommend home apnoea monitors for healthy, full-term babies. Instead focus on the measures to prevent SIDS that we know actually work: 

  • Breastfeed baby, as the incidence of SIDS is significantly lower in breastfed babies 
  • Put baby to sleep on his back, not on his tummy 
  • Don’t allow anyone to smoke in the house or close to baby (smoke in the bedding, curtains and furniture is also harmful)
  • Don’t overdress baby – consider using BabyWombWorld’s winter and summer baby sleeping bags to keep baby warm enough without the risk of suffocation 
  • Don’t have unnecessary beddings, pillows and toys in baby’s cot 

There are also negatives to using a breathing monitor: 

  • They are not fool-proof – they can malfunction so you cannot rely 100% on the monitor to tell you baby is OK. 
  • They give many false alarms – ask any person who uses one and they will tell you this. Bigger babies can wiggle off the sensor mat or the clip-on can come loose.
  • Because they give false alarms they significantly increase parents’ anxiety levels, instead of giving peace of mind as they promise to do. 
  • A false alarm may lead to unnecessary casualty visits, hospital admissions and diagnostic tests done on baby. 


Having a baby monitor is very handy and we believe it will make your life as a parent much easier. But in the end it comes down to you as a parent and what you require. BabyWombWorld has an amazing range of baby monitors and you can click the button below to get a comprehensive chart showing the various BabyWombWorld baby monitors and the features and functionality of each. 

Christine Klynhans is a midwife and lactation consultant with a firm believe that gentle parenting can change the world. She has worked in midwifery since competing her B.Cur nursing degree in 2004, and has a special passion for education and for writing. She currently works in a well-baby clinic and give antenatal classes and breastfeeding support. She enjoys working with parents of babies and toddlers, aiming to help them find gentle solutions to their parenting problems and assisting them in incorporating healthy habits and natural health alternatives into their daily lives.

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