Sleep expert tells us the pros and cons of camera baby monitors
Baby & child sleep expert and advisor for The Sleep Store, Annette Faamausili gives us the low-down on camera baby monitors and the pros and cons of using one.
Are you on the lookout for a monitoring system for your baby but don’t know where to start? Choosing the right system can be a daunting task, especially with so many models on the market – each promising an array of different features and functions. Before we dive in and explore the different options available it’s important to first understand what your little one's sleep looks like and how it should be interpreted.
When your baby is asleep, they will drift in and out of dream, light and deep sleep – just as adults do. These stages are known as sleep cycles. At certain times of the night your baby may appear more wakeful, fidgety and alert as they enter light sleep or experience a drop in melatonin (the sleep hormone).
It’s perfectly normal for babies to chat, grizzle, change position or practise a new skill (such as rolling or crawling) during these regular wakeful periods. If you are using a camera monitor and are constantly being alerted to your baby’s every move and murmur, your sleep may be more disturbed than it needs to be. Let’s explore how we can get the balance right when seeking peace of mind and safety while using a camera monitor.
BENEFITS OF USING A CAMERA MONITOR
Caring for a sick baby can be stressful and downright scary. When your baby is unwell, a camera monitor can really help to provide peace of mind. It also allows you to monitor their condition at all times without disturbing them.
When trouble strikes
Although it is uncommon, infants can get themselves into trouble from time to time. More often than not, they will cry out and let you know all about it, but there may be instances when they can't. This may include if they are in the wrong position during sleep or have managed to get themselves 'stuck'. A glance at your monitor will give you an early heads up of any problem.
A degree of freedom
For busy mums and dads – and let’s face it, that’s everyone – a camera monitoring system can give you the freedom to do what you need to around the house. Rather than hovering around in earshot of your baby’s room while they are napping, you can take the system with you throughout the house and garden, confident that you will know when your baby needs you.
SOME NOT-SO-HELPFUL ASPECTS OF A CAMERA MONITOR
Panic about nothing
In some instances, a camera monitor can cause unnecessary anxiety when placed in the hands of an already tired and overwhelmed parent. Some monitors are designed to pick up and amplify every tiny murmur or mumble. It can be easy to be alarmed by the intensity of the sound coming out of your monitor when, in reality, there is nothing to be concerned about. Some even have motion sensors, drawing your attention every time your little one moves, rolls or changes position.
Before monitors, parents had no idea what their baby was up to until he or she cried out loudly. It is completely normal for babies to wake in the night, stir, play, vocalise or look around before going back to sleep. In some instances, babies can be awake for up to 20-30 minutes at a time before dropping back into another sleep cycle.
Some parents incorrectly interpret these normal instinctive behaviours and head in too quickly to soothe their baby as soon as their eyes open.
FUNCTIONS TO LOOK FOR IN MONITORS THAT MAY BE HELPFUL IN STRIKING THE RIGHT BALANCE
▪️ Video, motion and sound detection that you can activate and deactivate, or place on restricted/adjustable settings depending on circumstances.
▪️ Temperature gauges can be useful to ensure the room isn’t too hot or cold and that baby is dressed appropriately.
▪️ The ability to sync the camera/video to your phone, so that you’re only checking the video when alerted, rather than having it always on. This can also be piece of mind if you’re away from home and your baby is being looked after by someone else.
▪️ If you don’t like the idea of having a video monitor, there are audio-only ones available also.
If you do decide to use a camera monitoring system, let it be a supportive tool to aid your natural parenting skills, rather than the sole method on which you base your decisions. Happy monitor shopping!
Camera monitors can be a great reassuring tool and many parents value the freedom they give when trying to juggle a busy household or monitoring a sick child.
Remember, your natural parental instincts are designed to be in sync with your baby. Over time, you will learn the meaning and urgency of the sounds your baby makes and intuitively know when you need to pop in to check on them or can simply leave them be.
ANNETTE'S TOP PICKS FOR BABY MONITORS
Vtech Digital Audio Baby Monitor HBM2150 $99.95, thesleepstore.co.nz
Owlet Cam $349.90, globalbaby.co.nz
Vtech BM2700 Video And Audio Baby Monitor $139.99, babies.co.nz
Vtech Safe & Sound WiFi 1080p HD Video Baby Monitor
Annette Faamausili is a baby and child sleep expert and has been advising and supporting parents since 2001. She trained and qualified in the NHS, UK, and moved to New Zealand with her family in 2011. Annette has three children (Matilda 15, Oscar 12, and Lola 6) and lives on the beautiful Whangaparaoa Peninsula and Auckland. Find her at serenesleep.co.nz
AS FEATURED IN ISSUE 56 OF OHbaby! MAGAZINE. CHECK OUT OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE BELOW