How to Find the Best Baby Monitor

For first-time parents, bringing home a newborn is a time of joy, excitement—and nerves. After nine long months, your baby is finally here, and so are a whole new set of worries. Is the baby hungry? In need of a diaper change? Still sleeping soundly and breathing? Because it’s not realistic to hover over them all day long, a baby monitor becomes a valuable tool. The bottom line: Baby monitors give parents peace of mind, another set of eyes and ears while you get things done or catch up on much-needed sleep.

Baby Monitors and Safety

In 1992, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) began recommending that babies be placed on their backs to sleep to address the rising concern of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, SIDS is the “sudden, unexplained death of a baby younger than 1 year of age that doesn’t have a known cause even after a complete investigation.” There is no way to prevent SIDS, but the AAP’s recommendations and Safe to Sleep campaign, have significantly decreased the risk—incidences of SIDS declined by 53% between 1992 and 2001.

While baby monitors do not prevent crib deaths, they do allow parents a window into the nursery. Because parents are encouraged to put babies in their own safe sleeping space, on their backs, in a cool environment, and with a pacifier, video monitors allow parents to stay connected and see that their baby is safely asleep. If the temperature in the room gets too hot, or the baby flips onto their stomach or loses their pacifier, you’ll know to intervene if necessary.

It’s important to note that monitors do not replace a parent’s vigilance. This is especially true of movement monitors. New technology allows parents to track their baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels through a wearable. Many parents like having that detailed information at their fingertips, but the AAP, and the manufacturers themselves, stress that a movement monitor is not a medical device and will not prevent SIDS.

As for setting up the baby monitor in the nursery, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Don’t put the monitor inside or on the edge of the crib. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has reported occurrences of babies being strangled or nearly suffocated by cords from baby monitors. The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association recommends putting monitors at least three feet away and to tuck the cords away.
  2. As your baby grows more aware of their surroundings and gets more mobile, you might need to move the monitor to a new location. In fact, it might become an object of fascination for a curious baby, so you’ll want to make sure it’s placed in a location that’s out of reach.
  3. Cordless phones and other Bluetooth devices can interfere with the monitor. To make sure you don’t lose a signal, place your monitor away from these devices. Some brands use Digitally Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) technology, which solves the issue of interference by using the 1.9 GHz frequency band.
  4. MOM TIP: The ranges provided by the manufacturer are usually the result of testing in an open, obstacle-free setting—completely unlike most homes. If you can’t get rid of interference or experience other problems, you’ll want to be able to exchange the monitor for a product that works best for you. Diapers.com offers a hassle-free return policy. You can return any unused, unworn, or unexpired item in its original packaging for up a year for a complete refund or credit.

Here’s a closer look at the four main categories of baby monitors on the market.