Baby Monitors

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Multi-channel baby monitors

June 2005

My brother and his wife are expecting their second child (the first is 15 months) and are trying to find a baby monitor which has two transmitting channels (i.e. one in each child's room) and can have two receivers (upstairs and downstairs.) Any ideas? Sister

There is only one that I know of-- the Home Connection Monitor System by Safety 1st. We got this monitor almost a year ago, from Toys R Us (same price as on Amazon). We LOVE it. Before we got it, we had to sit by one of the rooms when both boys were asleep at the same time (the baby was in our room, not close enough to our elder son's room to pick up his crying). We tried two monitors, and they interfered. We continue to use this monitor daily, even with a 3.5 yr old and a 15 month old. We also sleep with our door closed, so we use it all night long to hear our kids when htey wake up (and it happens all night long, no sleeping through hte night here ;)

We also recently had a problem with the parent units--Safety 1st handled it very efficiently, and actually sent us a completely new system to replace it. Very easy.

I know there are monitors with better clarity/range out there, but this one truly met our needs, and we love it. Heather

Using walkie talkies as child monitor/intercom

Oct 2004

We have heard that you can use walkie-talkies as a sort of monitor/intercom device but do not know which brand to buy. There are a few British sites that seem to reference the Cobra walkie-talkies that have a \x93baby monitor\x94 feature. Do you know what this means and how that works? We have kids (2 & 4) and still use a monitor in their bedroom at times but want this for monitoring them when they are playing downstairs. We would like to be able to listen (when wanted) and also to be able to intercom down when it is time to eat or if things seem loud. Does anyone have a device that works well for this without installing full-fledged house intercoms? There are a couple baby monitors with intercom features but they seem to be poorly reviewed at many websites\x85

Some high-end cordless phone systems have a room/baby monitor feature as well. Our Uniden works well and will monitor as many rooms as you have extra phones, but only one pair of phones at a time and you can't answer calls on that phone simultaneously. Only one phone needs to be plugged into a phone jack--the rest only need an AC outlet. It has an intercom feature as well. It also costs more than a pair of baby monitors or walkie talkies. David

Our monitor doesn't work at the in-laws

April 2004

Every time we visit my inlaws in Encino, our First Years baby monitor transmits very loud buzzing sounds and barely works. They have quite a large house and live close to the hills. The monitor works great at our house as well as other places we've visited. Is there a better monitor out there that works well in areas where there may be a lot of interference? Amanda

I have the best baby monitors in the world -- Sony BabyCall. Ours have something like 9 different channels, so if you have a lot of interference on one channel, you can just choose another one and see if it works better. (I think the fancier model has many more channels than that, but that seemed a bit excessive.) Our old Graco monitors made all kinds of hissing and popping noises, didn't pick up baby noises all that well, and the receiver and monitor needed to be pretty close together for a signal to be picked up at all -- but with these you can hear the baby very well, and not a lot of extra noise. Also, there's a little beeping noise that lets you know if for some reason the receiver is temporarily unable to monitor the baby's room. If you have more than one baby, you can get one monitoring unit for each baby's room, set each to a different channel, and then switch your receiver to the appropriate channel depending on which baby you want to monitor. (Or, as we did, get more than one receiving unit, so you can monitor both simultaneously.) These came highly recommended, but were very hard to find -- eventually I got them through, but they always seem to be out of stock there, and you need to wait for them to e-mail you when they become available. Gretchen

We have a Sony BabyCall monitor and love it. We have wireless internet, wireless phones and wireless modems all over our large two story house and have not had trouble with interference. The sound is very clear and there is a voice activated mode that works ok, though loud white noise such as a fan activates it also. It is expensive, but seems to be a good one when interference is a problem. Shannon

Baby monitor that won't compete withour cordless phone

May 2003

We need to replace are old baby monitor. Even with a new battery it will no longer hold a charge and buzzes with interference all the time. We are looking for a monitor that won't compete with our new 2.4 gHz cordless phone and that has a small parent unit that will fit in a pocket. Another must is rechargeable batteries for the parent unit. Is there a happy someone out there currently using a monitor that fits the description above? If so, what kind is it and where did you purchase it? anon

Our monitor fits all the requirements you mentioned and we've been very happy with it. I think the model is Crisp and Clear Plus by The First Years, from Babies R Us. I bought it by recommendation of the Baby Bargains book. Another plus is that the parent unit has been dropped countless times and it still works fine! We've been using it for about a year and a half. Amanda

Using baby monitor with older kids

May 2003

I am writing because we seem to be the only people who have continuously used a baby monitor long after our daughter was no longer a baby. She will be five in a few months. I have one close friend who also still uses hers with her same-aged daughter, but I get startled and negative reactions from nearly everyone who sees/ hears that we still use a monitor. People say, ''You can't hear her if she calls you?!'' Well, no, not always. And I don't want to encourage shouting across the house, which it seems not having a monitor does. And I certainly can't hear her if she's upstairs and I'm downstairs. So, for us, we still see this as a safety issue. I'm curious at what age most folks stop using the monitor and the reason behind that decision. Obviously different things work for different families, but I'm bothered by the reactions I get and the implication that there is something wrong with our still using a monitor at this age. Anonymous

Everyone is entitled to an opinion- which can make being a concerned parent extremely difficult. I'm struck by the title of a book by Richard Feynman, physicist and all-around quirky genius: ''What Do You Care What Other People Think?'' Although this is easier said than done- and not always appropriate- it certainly sounds like a good idea in this case. The monitor works for you and no harm is conceivably being done. I don't understand why others feel the need to make this an issue. - anon

Forget about what anybody else says. I would still be using MY baby monitor if it were not for the fact that there are so many adults around to watch my daughter (we live happily with my in- laws, and plenty of folks could judge me about that one!). People have fancy communication systems INSTALLED in their homes in ritzier areas to communicate and track the other ADULTS in the house, so why would anyone care that you use a baby monitor to track your 10-year old (or however old your kid is)? Same technology, different name (''communication system'' vs ''baby monitor'' vs ''walkie talkie''). It's hard to keep parenting secrets when trying to exchange parenting info with other parents, but don't discuss your baby monitor and, if you do, don't pay attention to the judgment in people's voices. It sounds to me like the people around you are too crass to keep their judgements to themselves. Pro-technology for monitoring children of any age

I don't think it is strange to use a baby monitor for older kids, especially if your bedrooms are far apart. In fact, this is a good idea. I will do the same when my child moves into her own bedroom. Whatever gives you the best peace of mind is the right thing for you to do. Pam

Baby Monitor & Foreign Travel

April 2003

Has anyone used a baby monitor purchased in the US when traveling Internationally? We be visiting relatives in Germany and Austria and I wanted to bring my baby monitor. Other than needing to use an electrical adapter, does anyone know of any reason a monitor wouldn't work over there? Thanks! Maya

We brought our baby monitor to the UK last year. It worked perfectly (with an adaptor). kim

When to stop using the baby monitor

Oct 2002

Our bedroom and our son's bedroom are on different levels of the house, so we have always used a baby monitor. Our son is now about a year and a half old, and my husband proposes turning off the monitor (it's sensitive enough that he complains he hears it every time the baby rolls over or coughs). If we leave our bedroom door open, we can hear it when our son cries, and my husband believes that if he really needed us, we'd wake up. Because our son is still sleeping in a crib, I don't feel comfortable with this. I'd rather wait until he's old enough to sleep in a bed, so he can climb out and get us when he needs us, but I can't explain exactly why. The only thing I could come up with was ''What if he climbed out of his crib, fell, hit his head, and knocked himself unconscious?'' My husband believes that's highly unlikely and I'm just being a nervous mommy. When have other people turned off the monitor? Has anyone turned it off and had something happened that could have been prevented if the monitor had been on? Or am I really just being overprotective? Karen

We've never used a monitor at all, since our home is small, the baby's room is about 6 feet from ours, and we often co-sleep anyway. But I supect your problem is not so much to monitor or not to monitor as it is how to satisfy both parents' needs -- your husband's to not be disturbed by your son coughing and turning over, and yours to feel secure that you will hear any unusual movement your son makes. Can you turn the monitor down (either sensitivity or volume), rather than off? Can you move the speaker to your side of the bed or the receiver to the other side of baby's room? Can you turn it on after your husband is asleep? Or can you simply make the move to a ''big bed'' for your son? At 18 months he might be ready, especially if you have realistic fears that he'll climb out of his crib! Holly

I think it is a good idea to be able to hear him calling loudly but you sure don't need to be able to hear every little thing. Try experimenting - can you put the monitor under your bed? under a pillow in a corner? in the closet with the door shut? out in the hall? I've got mine on the far wall, propped behind a pillow next to the air filter, and it seems to be perfect - I only wake up when I'm called! (p.s. my child is 3.5 but still in the crib) Fran

You didn't say how far away your bedroom is from your son's, but I would bet that once you turn the monitor off you will find that you actually never needed it much to begin with. It is amazing how acute our hearing is once we have a child to tune into. The first week or so will be rough on you, but if you are anything like me, you'll quickly find that somehow you always wake up. Even from the soundest sleep. If either of my kids has a cough, for instance, I ALWAYS wake up at the first cough and make it (stumbling) down the hall -- most of the time before he has awakened. And, because we have a cat that likes to go in and pester the kids, they sleep with their doors closed. I never knew I had such superb hearing. And I'm sure you'll find it the same. Cindy

I had the same anxiety about turning off the baby monitor. However, like your husband, my sleep suffered because I woke up everytime the baby coughed or cried (my 18 mo old regularly cries out in his sleep). After responding to every little cry, I realized he wasn't actually awake and if I left him for a minute or two, he'd go back to sleep. After that, I turned off the monitor.

I believe if you can hear him if you leave your door open, then you should be fine. I know that I am a much lighter sleeper as a mom, and have no fears about not hearing him when he needs me. I suspect that you will find the same. Margaret

Karen, My son is just short of 16 months old. I stopped using the baby monitor at about 1 year or thereabouts. The funny thing is that our son's room is right beside ours - and I can hear him just fine without the monitor. I kept the monitor on my nightstand as I wanted to hear every breath and movement he made. My husband wanted to stop using it - for the same reasons as your husband.

What finally allowed me to break away was that one morning I heard breathing, movement and chattering coming from the monitor. This was not my son- as he was in our bed right beside me. At some point the channel was changed (probably from my son playing with the transmitter in his room) and I was picking up sounds of aother baby. :-) We think is was like that for a week or so!!! So ... this broke my dependency on the baby monitor. I did not have much of an argument with my husband after listening to another baby for a week or so.

I know this is not advice - but thought it would be interesting to share. My situation was quite different given the location of our rooms. If in your situtation, like you, I would have a hard time giving up the security of the monitor. You are not being too protective. My rationale for keeping the monitor was that it allowed me to sleep better. Given the lack of sleep in the first year - when I did sleep I wanted it to be restful sleep. Maybe you can slowly wean yourself from the monitor - try a night or two and see how you feel.

Just thought I would share - and let you know that I empathize with you. Marcella

We have a house with the same problem: our child's bedroom is on the top floor and we are downstairs. Our daughter is 3 1/2 now and we still use the baby monitor. I'll tell you why:

When I was little, I lived in a very big house. In order for me to get my parents if they were in the kitchen, I had to go downstairs then down a long hallway by myself to get to them. Needless to say, I never went, because it was just too scary and I spent many nights after nightmares or just waking in the dark, shivering with fear under my blankets. I grew to hate the dark and I didn't stop being afraid of it until I was 25 or 30.

In our present house, my daughter would have to walk past the bathroom, through the living room, and down a long dark flight of stairs to get to our room. I wouldn't do that to her, especially as her night fears are just starting to pick up!

When she was about your son's age, she learned to lift herself out of the crib and swing her legs over, because she wanted to get out! Once we heard her doing this, and we got there just in time before she fell to the floor. I tried everything and eventually we put a mattress on the floor and got rid of the crib; but that meant she could travel around the room at will!

My point is that soon your baby will be able to do more than just wake up, he will at some point be able to climb out, and if you aren't listening, he could get hurt. I read recently about a four-year-old who hung himself accidentally from a bunk bed, so you can never be sure.

My daughter sleeps very well now, but does have moments of waking up and being very afraid. So until we have a new house I'm going to go on listening, even if it's at very low volume, just to make sure she's okay.

If your husband doesn't like it, you can put the monitor on your side of the bed at extremely low volume, and that way he won't be disturbed by the sound of breathing, etc. I think that if you feel more comfortable with the sound on, you should go with your intuition. Things always change, don't force it if you're not ready.

Good luck! Heather

Thoughts of a break-in or fire in my daughter's room haunt me enough to keep the monitor on, even if I can wake up to her crying without it. If the monitor helps me to wake up sooner in the event of an emergency I'll galdly sacrifice waking up to normal noises over the monitor in the mean time. S.M.

I bet I'm the only one with a four year old who is still using the monitor! And we live in a small house and our daughter's room is right next to ours. I still like hearing her to make sure everything is OK. We turn it way down when we go to sleep and in fact, lately we've been turning it off completely when we go to sleep, but only if we then open our bedroom door. She is also completely used to our using it and not having to shout at the top of her lungs if she needs something (and I have to admit I hate people shouting across a house). So, I'm probably at the other end of the spectrum from most, but it makes me sleep better at night. Lori

My husband and I had the same discussion with both of our first two kids, by the 3rd he gave up and puts up with the noise, but I did turn the volume way down. I'm not a nervous parent but I, like you, don't feel comfortable turning off the monitor until they are at least 2 or 3 years old. While you may be able to hear him cry, could you hear him throw up? Could you hear if he developed a croupy cough and wasn't breathing well? I couldn't, so our monitor stayed on. A mom who wants to be able to hear her kids

I can't and wouldn't want to think about all the unforseen terrible things that could possibly happen or not happen to a baby left in a crib. While he's probably fine, if you are nervous, worried, anxious, or feeling irrationally protective, then that's an important consideration and should be respected and followed like a gut feeling. That's just my thought but you can't really convince someone about safety if something just doesn't feel right. Go with what you feel! Ilona

Dr. Marc Weissbluth (Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby) suggests turning the monitor off at about a year, when baby is beginning to be active while still asleep. I think his logic is that your responding to baby's noises, unless they are loud enough to hear without the monitor, is actually interfering with the baby's ability to get to sleep, stay asleep and wake refreshed.

In your situation a solution might be to move the monitor out of your room and leave it on, so you can be SURE to hear the baby if he needs you, and your husband can get back to sleep.

BTW we went on using the monitor for years, because it let us keep an ear on sleeping kids upstairs when we were working at the other end of the house. The basic -- No noise is Good Noise -- philosophy.... Heather

I side with Mom's intuition on this one. Baby is ready when Mom is ready. Dad can wear earplugs. Elisa