If you are a new parent or just about to become a parent for the first time, you surely have a baby monitor on your “to buy” list. However, with so many models available on the market and with baby monitors that offer different things, you might be a little confused regarding what’s best to buy for your baby.
The battle is usually fought between classic audio-only monitors and more recent video monitors. Even though most parents would be tempted to believe that the more modern option – the video baby monitor – is also the best choice, that is not always the case. There are actually more factors to take into consideration when deciding what type of baby monitor you need – and only afterwards purchase the best video baby monitor or go for an audio-only one.
In this article, we’re going to talk about each type of monitor and share with you our opinion, based on our own experience, regarding the best type of monitor to choose for your baby. So let’s find out what’s best for you: a video or an audio baby monitor!
There is one extremely important difference between the two monitor types, apart from the obvious one which is that video monitors obviously deliver a video feed while audio-only don’t. That difference is signal strength and reception.
The truth is that, even though technology has advanced a lot in the past several years, baby monitors with video still don’t have a signal that’s as strong as that of audio-only models. This means that video monitors won’t be able to function over large distances and you can even have signal-related problems inside, if you’re living in a very large house or one that’s built with thick walls made of bricks, concrete or other similar materials.
Most monitors have a “working” distance listed on their box or instructions book, but the truth is that in most cases those distances will never be reached in today’s world as they’re probably referring to the working distance in an open field. However, you won’t be using the monitors in open areas, so you can’t really know what you’re getting unless you can find that information in reviews or test the product by yourself. The problem with reviews is that houses differ, just as much as room placement does, so a reviewer that has problems with a specific product because there are multiple sets of walls between the nursery and the main bedroom might not really reflect your current situation (and vice-versa).
But generally you should consider that audio monitors have a larger working area than their more advanced siblings. So if you know there will be a lot of walls between rooms to interfere with your signal, if you’re living in a particularly large house or you plan on using the monitor over large distances (for example, be outside in shed in the backyard while the baby is sleeping in their room), then you should be extremely careful with the type of monitor you choose, as video ones might have signal-related problems in such cases.
Do you really need video?
The truth is that you don’t, no matter what you think. New parents are more worried than those who already have a baby or more and it’s also natural to want to be able to see your baby at all times. However, you don’t really need that and if you try both types of monitors over large periods of time, you will see that you can live without the constant live feed.
There are also “side effects” from using a video monitor: you might get addicted to watching the video feed, and you might get scared if it’s a poor monitor with questionable image quality, because you won’t see your baby’s eyes and you could get worried if they don’t move in their sleep for longer periods of time (which, in most cases, is totally OK!).
Video baby monitors also use more battery juice, so you’ll have to keep them plugged in constantly or recharge them more often than not – but most of the modern models also offer an “audio only” option for over the night, which is welcome. But if you get a video monitor to only use its “audio only” feature, it doesn’t really make much sense.
When is video really better?
As I said, it really depends on your situation, living space and even the age of your kid(s) when you decide which is the best option for you. When your baby gets bigger and you plan leaving them alone in their room, a video baby monitor becomes extremely important as you should always keep an eye on them. So yes, I personally believe that video monitors are actually a better choice for older kids (let’s say 3 and older, although they do become very active sooner), while an audio-only monitor is more than enough for newborns.
Most baby monitors out there tend to stop working after a few years – even the best brands – so I really think that a good strategy would be to start with an audio-only monitor for when the baby is born, then switch to a video monitor when they grow older and need constant supervision.
However, if you think that you will only use the baby monitor over the night and during nap times, I think that an audio-only one will do just fine!
I am not one of those parents who consider the baby monitor an useless purchase, on the contrary: ours proved to be extremely useful on numerous occasions and I am sure we’ll be using one for at least a few more years, but I don’t think that a video monitor should be considered a must buy, as it really depends on the situation.