The Best Ways to Use a Baby Monitor

baby monitor

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As a new parent, it’s natural to want to keep careful tabs on your baby when they are sleeping in another room. Baby monitors can give parents a lot of peace of mind, allowing you to keep a watchful eye or ear on your baby at all times. These days, technology even allows you to monitor your baby while you're at work, running errands, or even halfway across the country!

Let’s take a look at the types of baby monitors that are out there for new parents, which kind might work best for your lifestyle and budget, what safety tips to keep in mind, and more.

Types of Baby Monitors

There are three basic kinds of baby monitors:

  • Audio monitors
  • Video monitors
  • WiFi monitors

All of these allow you to monitor your baby in different ways and can be helpful—it’s all a matter of what your budget allows, what features you are looking for, and what your lifestyle is like.

Audio Monitors

Audio monitors pick up on any sounds that your baby makes while sleeping or when waking up. Unlike video monitors, though, audio monitors can’t always tell you if your baby is simply stirring and making noise in their sleep, or whether they have fully awoken.

Audio monitors are usually the most budget-friendly choice, though. If your baby will be sleeping in your room and you are mostly monitoring them at naptime or when you need to leave your bedroom, this monitor will likely suit your needs.

Video Monitors

Video monitors allow you to see your baby for the entire time they are sleeping. You usually attach the video camera on the wall of your baby’s room, and most video cameras offer special features like zooming, tilting, and night vision—so that you can see your baby even when the lights are out.

You can have more than one video receiver so that you can monitor your baby while you are in different parts of your home.

WiFi Monitors

These types of monitors connect to your WiFi network so you can see or hear your baby via your smartphone or other digital device.

This means that you can continue monitoring your baby even when you are out of the house, which can be really reassuring, especially when others are watching your baby or when you need to be separated from your baby for a period of time.

Usually, a simple audio monitor is the most budget-friendly. But many basic video monitors are affordable as well. Even the monitors with the most whistles and bells sometimes go on sale, or you can add it to your baby registry as a shower gift.

Remember, though, having a high-tech baby monitor is not a necessity. Most baby monitors on the market do their job just fine, and offer that peace of mind you are looking for.

How to Purchase and Set Up Your Baby Monitor

If possible, it’s best to purchase and set up your monitor before you welcome your baby home. The reason for this is that all homes are different and some baby monitors are more likely to cause frequency interference than others.

You’ll also want to make sure the baby monitor doesn’t pick up too much background noise, such as fans or air conditioners.

Safety Tips

In general, baby monitors are safe to use. However, when used incorrectly, or without due diligence, some issues can arise. Here are some baby monitor safety tips to keep in mind.

Baby Monitor Cord Safety Is a Must

Since 2002, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has reported seven deaths associated with baby monitor cords, as well as three incidents of babies being nearly suffocated by these cords.

As a result, the CPSC advises that baby monitors with cords be placed at least three feet from a baby’s sleeping space, including crib, bassinet, or pack 'n play. Additionally, CPSC advises against ever putting a baby monitor inside a crib or on the edge of the crib.

Heed Warnings Against Sleep Apnea (Breathing) Monitors

There are baby monitors on the market that monitor your baby’s breathing, in an effort to protect against sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). However, the Academy Of American Pediatrics (AAP) advises against using these monitors in most cases.

AAP asserts that these devices have not been proven to protect against SIDS and can cause more worry than anything else. However, if your baby has known breathing problems or requires home oxygen, you and your doctor can discuss the safe use of a sleep apnea monitor.

Never Allow a Baby Monitor to Replace Your Own Supervision

Baby monitors can be really helpful, but they should not replace parental supervision. Take note if you haven’t seen your baby move for a while or haven’t heard them cry.

Make sure to check on your baby regularly when they aren’t feeling well, as baby monitors don’t pick up on fevers or other details that only a parent in the room will notice.

Where to Put the Baby Monitor

Besides making sure to set up any corded baby monitor at least three feet for your baby’s crib, and never putting the baby monitor in your baby’s crib or within arm’s reach, there aren’t too many rules about this.

If you use a video monitor, you will likely be mounting it on the wall, and will need to ensure that you pick a spot that will allow you to adequately video your baby. The instructions that come with your particular device will give you more information about best practices.

How Long to Use a Baby Monitor

How long you choose to use a baby monitor is really up to you! Most parents use a baby monitor for at least their baby’s first few months when frequent night waking is common. Some parents find these devices invaluable for naps as well.

But many parents end up continuing to use one into the toddler years too, as it can be helpful to see what your little one is doing when they enter the climbing-out-of-bed-stage of life.

Still, some parents choose to forgo a baby monitor altogether. This may be because their baby sleeps in their room, or even because they find the constant vigilance required for baby monitoring stressful. As long as you can hear your baby when they wake up, a baby monitor isn’t strictly necessary.

A Word From Verywell

As you build your baby registry must-haves list, you will likely have many questions about baby monitors. These days, there are just so many products on the market and you may not know if a particular device is right for you, and whether you actually need one with quite so many features. You may also wonder if you even need one at all.

While most parents find baby monitors really useful, you might want to start with a more basic model at first if you're unsure about the decision. Most baby monitors have more than enough features to help you keep an eye on your little one.

If you have any other questions about what type of monitor is best for your baby, and how to use your monitor in a safe and responsible way, make sure you discuss this with your pediatrician.

2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Safe and Sound Zone.

  2. Healthy Children. The Truth About Home Apnea Monitors for SIDs.

Additional Reading

By Wendy Wisner
Wendy Wisner is a lactation consultant and writer covering maternal/child health, parenting, general health and wellness, and mental health. She has worked with breastfeeding parents for over a decade, and is a mom to two boys.