4 Types Of Baby Monitor | Ultimate Buying Guide

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I wish this strategy would work with Mia when she wakes up asking for mummy or daddy!

It seems Mia goes through phases asking for one of us during the night when she wakes up.

Nice when it’s not your turn..

Not so nice when you have to get up 2-3 times a night!

A baby monitor is a great way to give parents peace of mind that their little one is ok

But buying one can be overwhelming, especially when you visit the store or go online and see all of the options that are available on the market.

It’s important to do research so that you can find the best option for you and your baby.

In this blog post, I’ll go over the 4 main types of baby monitor, the pros and cons of each, as well as some useful information on what to consider when buying one

four types of baby monitor - the ultimate buying guide

What Are Baby Monitors?

Baby monitors are simply devices that are used to allow parents and caregivers to check the condition of their baby without entering the room.

They make it possible for parents to hear or see their child from a few rooms away. These monitors consist of transmitters, which are placed in the baby’s room, and receivers, which are the part of the monitor that parents need to keep near them so that they can hear or see any problems.

Some baby monitors have different frequencies that parents can select, which is great when there is more than one transmitter set up in the home.

Parents must make sure to choose the same frequency on their transmitter and receiver for the baby monitor to work.

History of Baby Monitors

While baby monitors are now seemingly everywhere, that wasn’t the case in the past.

It wasn’t until 1937 that Zenith produced the first baby monitor.

This was following the 1932 kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby and parents were incredibly concerned with the health and safety of their children and were on the hunt for an affordable and reliable option.

After making a baby monitor for use with his own daughter, Eugene McDonald, the president of Zenith gave his company’s engineers the task of developing a commercial version.

It was with the help of Isamu Noguchi, a Japanese designer, that the first baby monitor was made. While this version had major problems that prevented it from taking off, it led the way for the creation of modern baby monitors.

Is a Baby Monitor Necessary?

Parents all have to decide for themselves if they think that a baby monitor is necessary for them to use with their children. Some parents, who live in very small homes or sleep with their children in their bedroom, may not think that a baby monitor is a worthwhile investment.

Other parents, who have larger homes or prefer to be in other areas of their home while their child sleeps, will find that baby monitors are worth every penny.

Another thing to consider when debating whether or not a baby monitor is right for you is the health of your child.

Many parents who have children who suffer from health problems find that they really enjoy the peace of mind that comes with having a baby monitor.

These monitors can do everything from alert the parent when the baby is crying to helping parents to wake the baby up if they have stopped breathing.

Baby Monitor vs Security Camera: Which Is Better?

Parents who are looking for a high-quality and affordable baby monitor often find themselves wondering why they can’t simply use a security camera in their home.

Affordable home security cameras are often touted as being a great option for use as a baby monitor, but it’s important that you make sure you know the pros and cons and whether or not this is the right option for you.

Baby monitors are specifically designed for parents to watch their child when they are sleeping or to be alerted when they are awake and have a problem. These monitors often have features that set them apart from regular security cameras, such as two-way audio and even humidity and heat sensors so that parents can make sure that the room is comfortable and safe for their child.

In addition, baby monitors tend to have a very narrow field of vision with incredibly high resolution. This means that the monitor is set to show a small portion of the room containing the baby, but offers such high resolution that the parent can easily see if there is an issue.

On the other hand, security cameras are designed to capture wide-angle views of a space, which is not necessarily ideal in a nursery. This means that they may work well in a nursery with more than one child, but they won’t offer the same great high resolution as a baby monitor, which means that parents can’t easily see if a child has a problem.

Security cameras have the obvious benefit of being able to be set up in other areas of the home after you no longer need to use it as a baby monitor. However, they are not loaded with the great features that are common on baby monitors, so they simply don’t provide the interaction that some parents expect.

Additionally, some people have concerns over whether or not their security camera system can be hacked, which may allow a stranger to view your child.

How Do Baby Monitors Work?

Understanding how baby monitors work will give parents the peace of mind that they need when their babies are sleeping. These are basic video or radio systems that make it possible for parents or caregivers to listen to sounds or watch videos of their child.

They consist of a transmitter, as well as a receiver, and the two parts are necessary for the baby monitor to work properly.

Transmitters are placed near the baby.

Video transmitters need to be angled so that the child can easily be seen on the monitor, but audio monitors can generally be placed anywhere in the room, as long as it is able to pick up the sound of a child.

The parent or caregiver keeps the receiver with them and then it is able to receive transmissions from the transmitter. It’s imperative that the transmitter and the receiver are on the same frequency so that the two parts will work together.

One problem that some users run into when setting up a baby monitor in their home is that they can sometimes run on the same frequency as cordless phones. This means that they can experience some interference. The best way to avoid this problem is to opt for a baby monitor that uses a higher frequency.

For the monitor to work properly, both ends need to be plugged in or they need to have fresh batteries.

One issue that some parents run into is when they allow the batteries of their monitors to die, giving them a false sense of security that their child is fine, when really the monitor is not working. Higher quality monitors will have low-level battery indicators for security.

What to Consider When Buying a Baby Monitor

There are several factors for parents to consider when they are shopping for a baby monitor.

The first thing that parents need to decide is if they want an audio, video, motion, or WIFI monitor.

Additionally, parents need to consider what range they need from their monitor, as some baby monitors have very short ranges and aren’t powerful enough to work through obstructions, such as walls, while others are.

Understanding the location where the monitor will be used will help you choose the correct one.

When parents have chosen what type of monitor they want, as well as their budget, then they can easily decide whether or not they want additional features in their monitor.

Features such as being able to speak to the child, or the video monitoring offering recording will make the monitor more expensive, but may make it easier for parents to keep an eye on their child.

Furthermore, if you are keen on the big outdoors and would like to go camping sometime with your family, consider a portable baby monitor with good battery life

Audio Monitors

The simplest type of baby monitor on the market is the audio baby monitor.

These feature a transmitter and a receiver and will simply transmit the noise that a baby makes. While they don’t offer visual confirmation of what is bothering a child, they are great for parents who simply want to be alerted if there is a problem in their child’s room.


  • Less expensive than other options
  • Incredibly easy to set up and to use
  • Available with impressive transmission ranges


  • Can tend to have static
  • May experience interference from other electronics
  • Parents still have to go check to see what is bothering their child

The VTech DM223 a good option for an audio baby monitor which is well priced and generally well received by customers.

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Video Monitors

Video baby monitors are perfect for the parent who wants to be able to check in on their child and see how they are sleeping without opening the door. Many video baby monitors come with a recording option, which can give parents peace of mind when leaving the baby with a sitter.

These baby monitors can often support multiple transmitters for each receiver, which is great for parents who have more than one small child and want to keep an eye on them all.


  • Makes it easy to distinguish which child is crying when children share a room
  • Provides peace of mind and visual confirmation that a baby is okay
  • Often offer talkback features so parents can speak to their child


  • Tend to be much more expensive
  • Some users have concerns over the safety of the transmission
  • May not offer the farthest transmission distance

The Infant Optics DXR-8 is well worth considering if you’re in the market for a video baby monitor.

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Wifi Camera Monitors

Parents who don’t want to be confined to their home when their baby is sleeping may appreciate the latest advancement in baby monitors.

Wifi camera monitors allow parents to easily check on their children, even when they are away from the home, making them an impressive improvement on traditional video monitors.


  • Parents can view their child, no matter where they are
  • Many offer night vision


  • Tend to be more expensive than other options
  • Requires a stable and strong WIFI connection
  • Can be difficult to sync to a phone
  • Sound quality isn’t as reliable as with other options

The Owlet Smart Green Sock baby monitor is a great option if you want more advanced features to know your little one is sleeping safe and sound.

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Click here for a more detailed look at this baby monitor in comparison to the Snuza Hero.

Movement Based Monitors

Movement based baby monitors are don’t listen for sound and don’t provide video of a child. However, they are used to make sure a child is moving during the night and that they are breathing.

These are great options for parents who are worried about medical problems that may stop their child from breathing and can allow everyone to get a good night’s rest.


  • Will sound an alert to wake the parents if a child stops breathing
  • Monitors breathing without making a noise as long as there aren’t any problems
  • Easy to use and to set up
  • Small enough that they don’t bother babies


  • Expensive
  • Newer technology means that there aren’t a lot of options to choose from
  • Older babies may tend to pull off the monitor in their sleep

The Snuza Hero is a good option for a baby monitor that tracks your baby’s movement while they’re asleep.

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Where should you put your baby monitor cameras?

When using a baby monitor camera, there are a few things that you want to consider before placing it in your child’s room.

Firstly, you need to think about the best viewing angle, as you want to be able to easily see as much of the crib as possible without any obstructions. In some homes this will determine exactly where you end up setting up your baby monitor.

You also must consider the health and safety of your child.

You don’t want to put them too close to the baby, as they do emit some radiation, and many parents are concerned about possible health problems related to this radiation.

Likewise, if you opt for a baby monitor with cords, you do not want there to be any possibility that the child will be able to pull the monitor towards them, as this can allow them to get tangled up in the cords, which can cause injury or death.

When can you stop using a baby monitor?

Parents are free to stop using a baby monitor whenever they want to. Some parents like to leave the monitor in their child’s room until they are a few years old, especially if there are medical problems or if the baby’s room is far away from the parents.

On the other hand, constantly visiting the baby during the night may reinforce poor sleeping habits.

Parents who regularly respond to the normal night noises of a child may actually wake them up more and make it more difficult for the child to learn to self soothe and to sleep through the night.

Another reason why parents may want to stop using the baby monitor is if the baby makes a lot of small noises during the night and this constantly wakes up the parents, making it difficult for them to get a good night’s sleep.

How far do baby monitors work?

All baby monitors are going to vary somewhat in how far they will work.

However, most have a working frequency range of around 150 feet. The monitor transmitter needs to be placed no farther than 10 feet from the crib so that it can easily pick up on any noises that the baby makes.

Baby monitors that have longer frequency ranges are available on the market, although these are generally going to be more expensive. Any obstructions in between the transmitter and the receiver, such as walls, will decrease the transmitting distance of the baby monitor.

Do baby monitors emit radiation?

Unsurprisingly, as they generally communicate without wires, baby monitors will emit radiation. This chronic radiation is the only way for baby monitors to transmit the picture and sound of a baby to the receiver.

It’s important that baby monitors are only used when necessary and that they are placed at a far enough distance from the baby to help decrease problems with radiation and exposure.

Do baby monitors record?

In the past and generally speaking, baby monitors don’t record. However, recent advancements and improvements in baby monitors mean that parents can easily purchase video monitors that support recording.

These generally require a memory card that isn’t included with the monitor for parents to be able to record video.

Do parents with twins need more than one baby monitor?

Parents who have twins may want to consider either buying two monitors to set up in their room or a monitor that has a tilting and panning feature.

This allows the parent or caregiver to easily focus the baby monitor and see their child as they can adjust the viewing angle.

How do you tell when the batteries are low?

It’s really important that you make sure that your batteries are always fully charged in your baby monitor so you don’t have to worry about a child’s safety.

Some baby monitors have a low battery feature that will cause the baby monitor to light up when the battery needs to be charged or replaced. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to simply replace the batteries on a regular basis to prevent the monitors from dying during use.

What features should parents consider when shopping for a baby monitor?

Depending on the type of baby monitor that parents choose, they will have a wide selection of features to choose from.

Some of the best options include low battery lights, as well as lights that will indicate the noise level of a child.

This allows parents to turn down the monitor so they can enjoy a quiet evening, but still allows them to keep an eye on the noise level of their child.

Conclusion – Which baby monitor should I buy?

To be brutally honest, my wife and I didn’t really use a baby monitor much. We live in a small 2 bedroom flat, and Mia slept in our room for the first 6 months.

We did use an audio monitor for a while, when she transitioned to her own crib in her room.

But we found hearing all the little noises made us check on her too much!

However, if you live in a house on 2 floors, or your baby’s room is far away from your where you’re sleeping, I would definitely consider using one.

There’s no right or wrong option with baby monitors.

If your child has some health problems, or you worry about SIDS, then a movement monitor might be the way to go.

Furthermore, a video or wifi baby monitor is a great way to check on your baby and get a visual confirmation then they are sleeping soundly in their cot.

It also depends on your budget as well.

Like most things, the more features you want, the more you should be prepared to pay

What baby monitor did you buy? Or what one are you thinking of buying?

Please leave any comments below.

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Author: Dad Racket

Graham runs the place around here. He likes making a "little noise" about all things to do with tennis and parenting. Check out his about page to learn more.

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