Baby Monitors

8 Reasons Why Baby Monitors are Bad(and 15 Benefits)

Sandra W Bullock

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Are baby monitors bad? Are they safe and can baby monitor benefits really outweigh the disadvantages? If those are some of your concerns, I have provided a practical helpful guide with detailed 15 benefits of baby monitors and 8 reasons why baby monitors are bad.

Baby monitors have become an essential tool for parents, providing them with peace of mind and convenience while caring for their little ones. With advances in technology, these devices have evolved from simple audio receivers to high-tech video monitors that offer a range of features.

15 Baby Monitor Benefits(Pros):

Here are the key reasons why audio and video baby monitors are necessary:

Ensures Safety:

The primary purpose of a baby monitor is to ensure the safety of your child. With a constant audio or video feed, you can be alerted if your child needs attention or is in any distress.

Baby monitor functionalities are pegged on how best they can keep the baby safe and sound. For instance, some models come with sensors that detect changes in temperature and alert you if your child is too hot or cold.

Some brands such as Owlet have been credited for saving lives after notifying parents at critical times when their little ones needed their attention. For example, instances where babies have stopped breathing or their oxygen levels were low.

Peace of Mind:

Becoming a parent comes with constant worrying about your child’s well-being, even while they are sleeping. Baby monitors provide parents with peace of mind by allowing them to keep an eye on their baby without physically being present in the room.

If you spend time during the day away from your baby, a baby monitor can also provide reassurance that your child is doing well while you are away from home. Similarly, I find it very crucial to be able to easily check on my little one when doing chores at home. It gives you a sense of comfort and peace knowing that your baby is safe and sound.

While baby monitors are not the answer to SID deaths and cannot be relied on to prevent SIDs, being able to see, hear, and even get details of vital signs such as breathing rate per minute or heartbeat pulse is reassuring.

For first-time moms such as Anna Garcia interviewed by Verywellfamily, monitors can bring comfort and ease anxiety going further to state that it comforts her to know that “if someone tried to break in, I would know.”

Convenience:

As a parent, it can be challenging to balance taking care of your child with other tasks. Baby monitors offer convenience by allowing you to multitask while keeping an eye on your baby. You can easily monitor your child’s sleep patterns or feed times without having to physically check in on them constantly.

If you want a monitor to specifically help you with feeding reminders, get a brand such as Infant Optics DXR 8 Pro with hourly reminders of up to 6 hours.

Better Sleep:

Sleep is essential for both parents and babies. With a baby monitor, you can keep an eye on your child’s sleeping patterns without having to disturb their rest. This means less interruptions in your baby’s sleep and more opportunities for you to get the much-needed rest as well.

Some smart monitors such as Nanit can track a baby’s sleep using computer vision and give you actionable insights to sleep train or to better understand your baby’s sleep patterns.

Early Warnings:

From danger zone alerts, and rollover alerts, to face-covering alerts, you can rely on smart baby monitors to give you early warnings of potential hazards. This allows you to act quickly and prevent accidents from happening.

Cubo Ai allows you to customize danger zones and uses advanced algorithms to notify you when the baby rolls over or when the baby’s face is covered and at risk of suffocation.

Check your baby regardless of distance:

Wi-Fi baby monitors allow you to check on your baby wherever you are as long as you have an internet connection. This is one of the key benefits of WiFi monitors.

Many baby monitors now come with mobile apps, allowing you to monitor your child from anywhere as long as you have an internet connection. This is especially useful for parents who travel frequently or who have to work away from home.

You can check in on your child while at work, running errands, or even while on vacation. This gives you peace of mind and allows you to stay connected with your child even when you’re physically apart.

According to Lacy Reason, a lactation consultant and mother interviewed by Verywellfamily, her baby monitor has proven to be invaluable during date nights. She mentioned that using a baby monitor connected to her phone allows her to effortlessly check on her baby while enjoying a night out, knowing that the little one is in the care of a trusted sitter.

Reason also went further to state; “it is easier to use a monitor that doesn’t use Wi-Fi while traveling since you won’t have to worry about the strength and security of the connection where you are staying” as quoted by Verywellfamily.

Two-Way Communication:

Many baby monitors offer two-way communication, allowing you to hear your baby’s cries and respond with soothing words or lullabies. This can help comfort your child and put them back to sleep without having to physically be in the room.

Some monitors even have built-in white noise or nightlight options, making it easy for you to soothe your baby with just a few taps on your phone or monitor.

Parish School developed a language development guide for parents and highlighted how you can utilize a baby monitor to get an idea of your baby’s language development and progress by hearing their sounds. Check out the development guide here.

Temperature Monitoring:

Babies are sensitive to changes in temperature, and a baby monitor that includes a temperature sensor can help you ensure that your baby’s room is always at a comfortable temperature.

Arenti, VTech and Motorola Monitors even have an alert system that notifies you if the room becomes too hot or cold, helping you keep your baby safe and comfortable throughout the night.

Most baby monitor temperature readings are inaccurate with many showing higher temperature readings than the actual room temperature. It’s important to do some research and choose a monitor with accurate temperature readings. We have reviewed some accurate temperature monitors here.

Track sleep to better improve or sleep train:

For those parents who are sleep-training their babies, many monitors now offer sleep-tracking features. This allows you to monitor your baby’s sleep patterns, giving you insights into their sleeping habits and helping you adjust their schedule accordingly.

This feature can also be beneficial for parents who are trying to establish a routine or identify any potential sleep issues that may need to be addressed.

Monitor more than one baby at once!

If you have multiple children or want to keep an eye on different areas of your home, some baby monitors offer the option to connect multiple cameras. This allows you to easily switch between camera views and keep an eye on all of your children from one device.

We have reviewed dual-camera monitors here with split-screens.

Monitoring on-the-go!

Many modern baby monitors are designed with portability in mind, making it easy for you to move around the house or take it with you when traveling. Some even come with a rechargeable battery, so you can use them without being tethered to an outlet.

We have reviewed some travel-friendly baby monitors here.

Bonding time:

One of the most significant benefits of a baby monitor is the ability to see and hear your baby whenever you want. This can help with bonding, especially for working parents or those who have to be away from their babies for long periods.

Being able to see and hear your baby can provide a sense of comfort and connection, even when you’re not physically in the same room.

Computer monitors/screens have often been recommended as tools for fostering connection with children before adoption. However, it’s worth noting that baby monitors can also serve as excellent devices for promoting bonding. Check out this State Department Guide on Infant Bonding.

Gives your baby’s vital signs:

I love how I can open a baby monitor app on my smartphone and see how my baby’s vitals are. Are they breathing at the normal range of 30 to 50 breaths per minute? It’s a small metric but brings me so much joy to know my little one is healthy.

Some high-tech baby monitors offer vital signs tracking, providing you with real-time information about your baby’s heart rate, oxygen levels, and breathing patterns. This can be especially helpful for parents of premature babies or infants with health issues.

If you choose a breathing monitor such as Owlet, be sure to take advantage of the tax benefits as they are FSA and HSA-eligible.

See baby at night:

One other key benefit to baby video monitors is that they come with night vision mode enabling you to check on your baby at night without having to wake them up.

Many baby monitors come equipped with night vision capabilities, allowing you to see your baby even in the dark. This is particularly useful for checking on your baby without having to turn on the lights and disturb their sleep.

Most baby monitors show you black-and-white images and videos at night but some of the recent brands such as LeapFrog come with color night vision.

Take advantage of FSA and HSA reimbursements:

Another benefit of getting a baby monitor is that some models are eligible for FSA and HSA.

Breathing baby monitors are eligible for reimbursement through FSAs or HSAs. These accounts allow you to set aside pre-tax dollars for certain medical expenses, including purchasing eligible baby monitors. This can help offset some of the costs associated with buying a baby monitor and make it more affordable for parents.

Furthermore, some employers offer dependent care flexible spending accounts (DCFSAs) that can be used to cover the cost of a baby monitor. It’s worth checking with your employer to see if this is an option for you.

Why Baby Monitors are Bad(8 Cons)

#1. False alarms:

One common issue with baby monitors is false alarms. This can happen when the sensor detects movement or noise that isn’t related to your baby, causing unnecessary worry and sleep disturbance.

We have found monitors such as Nanit to have users complaining about false alarms as they use a relatively new technology called computer vision. If you’re looking for a monitor to keep track of your baby’s vital signs such as breathing and heartbeat, go for Owlet which uses a medically proven and FDA-approved pulse oximetry technology with over 90% accuracy.

To limit false alarms, make sure you are also mounting the camera correctly following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check out our guide on troubleshooting Nanit’s Red Alerts here.

#2. Privacy concerns:

Another key reason monitors are considered bad for your baby and family is that some WI-Fi monitor brands are susceptible to hacking. Check out this guide where I answer the question of Wi-Fi monitors safety.

With the rise of smart home devices, there have been concerns about the security and privacy of baby monitors. As these devices use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth technology to connect to your phone, they can potentially be hacked if proper security measures are not in place.

To ensure the safety of your baby monitor, consider using non-Wi-Fi baby monitors that rely on hackproof FHSS transmission technology that guarantees 100% signal security.

If you opt for a Wi-Fi monitor susceptible to hacking, go for models such as Nanit or Cubo Ai with superior security frameworks such as bank-level encryption with Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256-bit encryption which has the longest keys and is the most difficult for hackers to crack. Also, consider models that have multi-factor authentication to add an extra layer of protection.

However, keep in mind that even with these security measures, there is always a risk of potential hacking and it is important to regularly change your Wi-Fi password and monitor for any suspicious activity. Read our guide on how to secure your monitor here.

#3. Anxiety-inducing:

Emerging evidence suggests that baby monitors can have negative effects as they may make parents overly anxious and paranoid. This heightened state of anxiety can be detrimental to their well-being and overall peace of mind.

Total irony, right? Baby monitors are there to give you peace of mind but it can, at the same time, make you anxious to the point that you lose your peace of mind. This is especially so with smart monitors that at times have false alerts. I must admit how one red alert on my Nanit monitor almost made me lose my mind. I was scared to death!

There have been studies that show how monitors can increase parents’ anxiety levels, rather than provide peace of mind. This is due to the constant monitoring and tracking of their child’s behavior, sleep patterns, and movements.

As a parent, it can be overwhelming to constantly check your phone for updates and alerts from the monitor. It can also lead to overanalyzing every little sound or movement from your baby, causing unnecessary stress and worry.

A 2017 study conducted by Wang et al. from the University of Bristol revealed that baby monitors, instead of alleviating parental anxiety, actually intensified it while also offering a certain degree of perceived security. Notably, there was at least one prominent instance where the presence of baby monitors seemed to hinder parental intuition.

Wang’s Study is supported by other expert opinions captured in various recent publications. New York Times, and Buzzfeed recently covered how monitors were causing more anxiety than relief for parents;

NYTimes article on baby monitors causing anxiety

#4. Giving rise to cyborg babies:

A baby monitor has been blamed for interrupting the traditional way of checking and taking care of babies and critics make the case that ‘virtual checking’ of babies is giving rise to cyborg babies.

Several studies have criticized the emergence of technology and its impact on parenting. I was able to find many studies that highlight how babies are “increasingly rendered cyborg by their immersion in technoculture” as described by Robbie Davis-Floyd and Joseph Dumit in their 1998 Book.

Wang’s study(Bristol, 2017) also found that monitors allowed the increasing gap between parent and child through a ‘virtual baby’ representation on a mobile phone. It went further to indicate how monitors were aggravating social ties with some wearable monitors breaking the established parenting norms.

Taking care or caring for babies goes beyond some metrics given by a monitoring device and Wang’s Study highlights how monitoring metrics contribute to ‘quantifying baby’ and reducing their well-being to a few metrics which isn’t good.

#5. Changing Parenting:

Baby monitor critics argue against using baby monitors making the case that it is changing the traditional way of parenting.

Wang’s Study also emphasizes the potential impact of Owlet on various aspects of parenting, including emotional, physical, social, and knowledge production.

It raises concerns about the potential transformation of the embodied act of mothering, with the integration of digital vital sign measurement into a baby’s identity and the further medicalization of motherhood. Read the Study here(page 17)

#6. Surveillance can impact babies:

This sixth point on why baby monitors are bad is about the mental health of babies and how surveillance can impact them. This is a more recent criticism of video monitors and was put on the limelight by the New York Times story.

Continuous use of a monitoring camera inside baby’s room can also affect the baby’s privacy and may eventually lead to a sense of being constantly under surveillance. This has raised concerns about building trust between parents and children as well as establishing boundaries for personal space.

Imagine a situation where a baby realizes that they are under 24-hour camera watch. They can wonder if they are truly safe in your home considering that you are always watching them. This may create a sense of discomfort and can affect their mental well-being.

#7. Health Risks:

Another reason why monitors are considered detrimental is the increasing number of studies linking the safety of Wi-Fi devices(including baby monitors) to serious health conditions such as cancer. Critics have amplified these studies and make a strong case against the use of baby monitors.

While there is no conclusive evidence that baby monitors’ radiation can cause significant health complications to little ones, there is evidence that kids’ brains absorb more EMF radiation than adult brains- up to 10 times more. Some experts argue that continued exposure of babies to baby monitors can cause health issues. Read our guide on baby monitor radiation here.

#8. Risk of strangulation:

Another important reason to avoid using baby monitors, especially wired ones, is the potential risk of strangulation. Children between the ages of 1 and 3 are naturally curious and tend to reach for anything within their reach.

To prevent any potential harm to your baby from tangled wires, you can opt for a wireless monitor that operates on rechargeable batteries. However, it’s worth noting that many video monitors require significant power to support features like night vision, which can drain the batteries quickly. As a result, most monitor cameras are wired and rely on AC power. Nonetheless, there are a few wireless audio monitors available on the market.

If you opt for a wired baby camera, make sure you mount it on the wall and NOT on the crib. I have also shared 4 ways you can safely hide the camera cords with nursery safety tips.

Final word from Safer For Baby on Baby Monitor Pros and Cons:

While there are many advantages listed for using baby monitors compared to its drawbacks, that doesn’t mean we should overlook the potential impacts it can have on parenting and your baby.

Hence, parents must carefully consider the use of baby monitors and strike a balance between relying on technology and traditional methods of caring for their babies. Baby monitors may provide convenience and peace of mind, but they should not replace the intimate connection between parent and child. It is essential to maintain face-to-face interactions with your little ones and be mindful of their privacy and well-being.

At SaferForBaby, we believe in using technology to enhance parenting, but not at the cost of our children’s health and emotional development. We encourage you to educate yourself on the potential risks and weigh them against the benefits before deciding to use baby monitors.

Being educated about the risks such as hacking risk and learning how vulnerable monitors can be hacked in under a minute can make you think twice about getting a random Wi-Fi monitor. Sharing any risks you discover about monitor brands with fellow parents is extremely valuable. By doing so, we can work together to eliminate unsafe monitors and create a safer environment for our little ones.

If you have any tips or would like to report any safety concerns regarding a baby monitor you have used, we encourage you to reach out to us. Your input is valuable and will help us ensure the safety and well-being of our readers and their families.

FAQs on Baby Monitor Benefits & Disadvantages:

Do I need a baby monitor if I sleep in the same room with a baby?

If you have an infant with a heart condition or an illness like hypoxia, it is important to use a baby monitor, even if you are sharing a room. A smart monitor can alert you if the baby’s vital signs deviate from the expected range, which you may not otherwise be aware of. For instance, little ones may not cry when their oxygen saturation levels are low and may be unaware even when sharing a room or even a bed(co-sleeping).

However, if you have a healthy baby who is born full-term and shares the same bed or room with you, using a baby monitor may not be necessary. You are likely to hear your baby clearly when they cry. Even if you are a deep sleeper, studies have shown that oxytocin makes women more sensitive to their baby’s cries(Jennifer et al, 2012). So, even if your little one cries for a while, you will still be able to hear them.

For individuals who are deaf and unable to hear baby cries, a monitor equipped with a vibration alert can provide valuable assistance. Even being in the same room would not enable them to perceive the sound of a crying baby and a vibrating monitor comes in handy.

When do I need a baby monitor?

There are a few scenarios where using a baby monitor can be beneficial:

  • If you have a large house or live in a multi-story home, it may be difficult to hear your baby cry from another room. In this case, using a baby monitor with audio and video capabilities allows you to keep an eye on your little one while they sleep.
  • If your baby has any health issues or special needs, using a specialized medical monitor can help you keep track of their vital signs and ensure their safety.
  • If are a deep sleeper or are legally deaf and unable to hear your baby cry, a monitor with vibration or visual alerts can provide important support.
  • If you have twins or multiple babies, using separate baby monitors for each child can help you keep track of their individual needs
  • If you are away from your baby and want to check on them to see their care and well-being, a monitor with remote access can give you peace of mind.
  • If you are a parent who is anxious or worried about your baby’s safety and well-being, using a baby monitor can provide reassurance and help reduce stress levels.

When do I NOT need a baby monitor?

There are also scenarios where a baby monitor may not be necessary:

  • If you live in a small space/apartment or share a room with your baby, you may hear them clearly without the use of a baby monitor.If your baby is older and able to call out for help or come find you when needed, then using a monitor may not be as crucial.If you have other children sharing a room with your baby, it may not be necessary to use a baby monitor as they can alert you if the baby needs assistance.If budget is a concern, investing in a quality baby monitor may not be feasible and alternative methods of monitoring your child’s well-being may be more practical.

Are Baby Monitors Bad?

Critics who argue against the use of baby monitors suggest that relying solely on technology to keep an eye on their baby could potentially lead to complacency or neglect in actively checking on their child. Furthermore, certain studies have raised concerns regarding the health risks associated with wireless baby monitors due to the exposure to electromagnetic radiation in infants. Another valid concern is the safety risk posed by Wi-Fi monitors that are vulnerable to hacking. Read all the 8 baby monitor cons/risks above but should also consider the 15 benefits I have highlighted in this post.