What are Baby Monitors?

O. Wallace

Technology has made parents' lives easier with all the handy gadgets designed to help them keep track of their baby's every move. Baby monitors are one of those must-have items for any conscientious parent. Basic baby monitors consist of a simple radio transmitter and receiver parents place near their baby's crib to monitor him while he is sleeping or playing in a different location.

Baby monitors allow parents who are in another part of the house to hear when their baby is crying.
Baby monitors allow parents who are in another part of the house to hear when their baby is crying.

The most important features to take into consideration when selecting a baby monitor is what type of reception and range you need. The range of a baby monitor varies from 650 to 2,000 feet (198 to 609 meters). A model with a wider bandwidth, such as 900 megahertz, gives excellent clarity and an approximate 850 foot (259 meters) range. Others with a lower bandwidth, such as 40 megahertz, are better in the face of interference such as concrete walls, cordless phones and other baby monitors.

Baby monitors can alert parents that their child has woken up.
Baby monitors can alert parents that their child has woken up.

Some manufacturers have gone digital to offer parents the crisp, clear sound associated with the technology. A 2.4 GHz model will provide less interference and a secure and private transmission, unlike most non-digital models. One drawback of a digital monitor is that it has a shorter range.

As with any electronic gadget, there are an abundance of extra features that come with baby monitors, and a price range match. Low end baby monitors can be found for as low as 20 US dollars (USD), while more loaded models can sell for around 100 USD. Camera baby monitors can cost upwards of 300 USD.

Some models have a second receiver so the baby can be monitored from two different locations. For the parent who can't sit still, there are portable, battery run baby monitors that clip to the belt. Other models have low battery lights, timers and a sound activated light for visual monitoring. Higher end models have feedback technology that allows a parent to record their voice or music, which plays when the baby wakes up. Some digital baby monitors have rechargeable bases, back up battery packs, pagers to locate parent units and out-of-range alarms.

For the ultimate in baby monitoring, some parents opt for mattress motion sensor monitors which fit under the mattress and signal the parent if the baby moves. Camera baby monitors are fitted with a camera which transmits to the parent's receiver. These monitors come in black and white or color screens, can record in total darkness for up to 10 feet (3 meters), and can be connected to a TV or VCR for recording. Some camera monitors are expandable for up to three cameras and have a voice activated feature which turns on the monitor when sound is detected.

With all the extra features available, the selection of a baby monitor can be as difficult as choosing a name for your precious bundle of joy. Regardless of the complicated selection, every baby monitor can give parents peace of mind by allowing them to hear or see every coo and cry.

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