To understand baby monitor radiation, it is important to first understand the amount of radiation monitors emit and what type of radiation emitted.
As a parent, learning that a baby safety product (a monitor) can introduce safety hazards seems counterproductive. Perplexed by this, I went on a rabbit hole to learn everything I could find including all the latest peer-reviewed research on baby monitor radiation.
Having dwelled on this topic for some time, and with significant insight from leading research on EMF, I have tried to break down this subject to make it easy for you to understand.
If you have any questions, please feel free to comment or email me.
We have also written a guide on the safety of Wi-Fi for babies and in the nursery here.
What is EMF Radiation?
EMF which stands for Electromagnetic Field(s) is a type of radiation produced by the movement of electrically charged particles. This movement creates waves that carry energy, which we refer to as electromagnetic radiation or EMR.
For baby monitors, the source of EMF radiation is the transmitter unit which sends data to the receiver unit through radio waves. This means that baby monitors use radiofrequency (RF) radiation – a type of non-ionizing radiation.
Do Baby Monitors emit Radiation?
Yes, all electronic devices emit some level of radiation including baby monitors. To facilitate the transfer of signals from the transmitter to the parent unit, the radio frequencies need to be transmitted, which in turn produces radiation.
Although a baby monitor enables bidirectional communication, its primary function is unidirectional, transmitting from the baby unit to the parent unit. However, it’s important to note that both units emit radiation as they are equipped with transmitters and receivers.
Spaces close to the camera and the parent unit therefore become high-intensity radiated fields as there is high radiation exposure around them.
The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and the Federal Communication Commission(FCC) both agree that baby monitors emit a certain level of radiation that needs to be regulated to ensure it doesn’t surpass the Maximum Permissible Exposure(MPE) that has been set.
All monitors, both Wi-Fi and non-Wi-Fi, emit radiation and have been classified as a Class B digital device by the FCC which means they are considered to be low-powered devices.
Baby Monitors and Radiation – Overview:
- Whenever your digital baby monitor is powered on, it emits a burst of microwave radiation – both the camera/baby unit and the parent units emit radiation.
- If you decide to purchase a digital baby monitor, make sure you place it at least 20 centimeters / 8 inches away from your baby. FCC recommends that all baby monitor devices be placed at least 8 inches from your baby.
- The developing brain of your baby is very vulnerable to microwave radiation
- Some studies indicate a connection between Radio Frequency (RF) radiation and the development of cancer in human beings. In 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified wireless devices such as phones and baby monitors as possible “carcinogen” (Link to WHO report).
- This guide explains the potential effects and the steps you can take to be safe. When you consider buying a baby monitor, we HIGHLY recommend you go for low-emission baby monitors or hard-wired zero-emission baby monitors to minimize the potential dangers to your baby. As we’ll explore in this article, baby monitors cause radiation because they use radio frequency’s electric field to transmit sound and video signals.
According to the National Cancer Institute, Electric and magnetic fields (wholly referred to as radiation) are the invisible energy produced by electrically charged particles.
This means that as the signal (audio or visual) is being transmitted from the camera/baby unit to the parent unit, radiation occurs. The electric field is produced by power/voltage that pushes the signal and is measured in volts per meter (V/M).
Is EMF Radiation Harmful?
EMF radiation is a type of non-ionizing radiation that exists in our everyday environment. It is the result of the interaction between electricity and magnetism, also known as electromagnetic fields (EMFs). There has been much debate about the potential harmful effects of EMF radiation on human health. However, the consensus among scientific research is that low levels of EMF exposure from devices such as baby monitors are not harmful if the emitting devices are at a safe distance and the exposure is limited.
Watch the CBS video below showing how radiation emitted by a baby monitor wilted flowers in an uncontrolled experiment.
FCC Regulation of Baby Monitor Radiation Levels
The FCC requires any electronics manufacturer to subject their devices through independent testing and submit the results including EMF exposure level. When I first learned that baby monitor emits radiation, I remember looking up the safe exposure limit but in 2019 not much has changed (unfortunately since 1996) and here is what you should know:
- FCC has a set EMF radiation level limit that bay monitors are required to not exceed. However, companies are required to submit their own report through an approved, independent EMF testing lab.
- The current set EMF limit for baby monitors is 4W/Kg and that hasn’t changed since 1996.
Is 4W/Kg limit safe radiation for your baby?
There is really no right level but it is important to note that the US Government (through FCC Agency) barely regulates emissions in wireless devices. Most European countries have considerably lower limit levels. Switzerland, for example, prefers local network (LAN) and require local schools to main exposure levels within 100 µW/m² which is more than 100 times what we allow in the US.
The laxity to take EMF regulation seriously is partly attributed to limited research to conclusively make the case that baby monitors are dangerous or can cause cancer. Generally, the US has been friendly to telecommunication brands such as Motorola, Samsung, Apple, and others that have invested significant amounts of money in cutting-edge communication technologies.
We have analyzed some of the latest research on baby monitor radiation, including the effects of devices that use the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies. The other devices that use 2.4 GHz frequency band include cordless phones, wifi routers in your home, and microwave in your kitchen.
How Radiation Level Is Measured:
The FCC gives guidelines on how a baby monitor should be tested including:
- The energy emitted when the baby monitor camera is a few meters from the baby. For example, the EMF level when the baby monitor is 6 ft away.
- The energy emitted when the baby monitor camera transmits signals using various energy levels within the same frequency band. For example, emission levels when baby monitor frequency is 2.400 GHz vs when 2.480 GHz frequency is used.
Radiation is measured using a Specific Absorption Rate (SAR).
Below is FCC’s definition of Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) from its website.
“SAR is a measure of the rate of RF (radiofrequency) energy absorption by the body from the source being measured – in this case, a cell phone (and a baby monitor). SAR provides a straightforward means for measuring the RF exposure characteristics of cell phones to ensure that they are within the safety guidelines set by the FCC. ” –FCC Guide
Here is an example of SAR Report for Motorola baby monitor brand.
The FCC requires that baby monitors comply with Class B digital devices regulation guidelines applicable to most wireless devices (part 15 of FCC rules).
How is SAR calculated and how did FCC arrive on 4W/Kg as the EMF exposure limit level?
The rate is a time derivative of the incremental energy absorbed or released for every incremental mass contained in a volume of elements with a given density.
Below is the formula:
The EMF levels for some of the best baby monitors such as Owlet and Infant Optics DXR 8 emit 0.7w/Kg and 0.221w/Kg respectively. This is way below the 4w/Kg limit set by FCC but is 0.7w/Kg the best and safe?
Types of EMF Radiations:
Ionizing radiation: This type of radiation has enough energy to ionize atoms and molecules, such as X-rays. Their wavelength is shorter than that of non-ionizing radiation and can penetrate deep into the body, potentially causing damage to cells and DNA.
Non-ionizing radiation: This type of radiation has less energy than ionizing radiation and includes EMFs from power lines, radio frequencies (RF), and microwaves. The wavelength is longer than that of ionizing radiation and cannot penetrate deeply into the body.
This type of radiation has a longer wavelength than visible light and can be felt as heat. It is commonly emitted from sources such as night vision baby monitors, space heaters, hair dryers, and toasters.
Apart from the EMF radiation emitted by infrared light, baby monitors also emit bursts of microwave radiation when turned on. These emissions can occur as frequently as 100 times per second, even in standby mode. Research suggests that a baby monitor placed 1 meter from the crib emits nearly the same level of radiation as a cell phone tower located 150 meters away. It’s important to note that both the baby unit and parent unit emit microwave radiation as long as they are powered on.
What are the potential health effects of EMF Radiation?
Possible links to brain cancers and glioma cancer:
There have been studies that suggest a possible link between long-term exposure to high levels of EMF radiation and an increased risk of brain cancers such as glioma.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), operating under the World Health Organization (WHO), has classified non-ionizing electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in the radiofrequency range as Group 2B, indicating a possible human carcinogen. These fields are emitted by electronic devices such as cellphones, smart devices, and tablets.
Through regular convening of international teams of scientists, IARC evaluates the cancer risks associated with environmental and lifestyle factors. The latest evaluation in 2011 suggested a potential link between RF radiation and cancer in individuals, particularly glioma, a malignant form of brain cancer.
Increased Risk of Leukemia:
In a comprehensive study, Swiss researchers conducted an extensive analysis spanning nearly two decades. They discovered a correlation between prolonged exposure to high levels of extremely low-level frequency magnetic fields (ELF-EMFs) and an increased risk of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in adults. AML is a type of leukemia that affects individuals. See the study here.
A 2013 European study revealed a potential association between EMF and childhood leukemia. Conducting a comprehensive literature review of previous research, the study suggested that ELF-EMFs may account for approximately 1.5 to 5 percent of cases of leukemia in children. For more details, you can refer to the article here.
Potential to cause psychiatric and neurological issues:
One study, among more than two dozen studies on low-frequency EMFs, indicates a potential link between these energy fields and neurological as well as psychiatric issues in individuals.
In another study, researchers discovered that electromagnetic pulses (EMPs), characterized by short bursts of electromagnetic energy, can impact nerve activity in rats.
The researchers suggested that prolonged exposure to EMPs could adversely affect cognitive abilities and potentially lead to pathology similar to that observed in Alzheimer’s disease. However, they emphasized the need for further research in this area.
Symptoms of EMF Exposure:
- memory loss
- loss of concentration
- sleep disturbance
Why EMF radiation impacts children the most:
Babies’ brains absorb 60% more wireless radiation compared to adults:
Studies have found that children’s brains absorb higher amounts of radiation from wireless devices compared to adults. This is because their skulls are thinner, and therefore less protective, and their brain tissue is more conductive.
With this exposure, there is a link with an increased risk of developing neurological and behavioral problems.
Some studies have shown that children who were exposed to higher levels of EMF radiation had a higher likelihood of developing ADHD and other behavioral issues.
According to scientists, one key factor that makes babies more vulnerable to the effects of RF radiation is their absorption rate, which can be up to 10 times higher than that of adults. This conclusion is based on a study conducted by Gandhi in 1996 (source: link).
According to BioInitiative.org, 87% of the studies indicated some relationship between radiation and long-term genetic effects.
The table below shows some of the effects of DNA being altered by RF radiation.
|What Radiations Can Do To Your Baby's Body
|Resulting Disease or Disorder
|Disrupt baby's immune function, stress protein, HSP
|Brain tumors and blood-brain barrier
|Reproductive and fertility effects
|Sleep, neuron firing rate, EEG, memory, hearing behavior
|Oxidative damage/DOS/DNA damage/DNA repair failure
|Cancer(other than brain), cell proliferation.
|Disrupted calcium metabolism
|Cardiac, heart muscle, blood pressure, vascular effects.
Low Emission Baby Monitors
I have broken down our low emission baby monitors into two. The low emission video baby monitors and low emission audio baby monitors with analog baby monitors dominating our low EMF audio baby monitors.
|Babymoov Zero Emission Video Monitor Camera
|BabyMoov Expert Care
|Philips AVENT SCD630/37
Low Emission Analog Baby Monitors
Which baby monitor has the lowest EMF emission? Safety 1st is one of the oldest baby monitor manufacturers and which is the lowest EMF emission baby monitor brand. It was founded in 1984 and has defined itself as the leading low emission analog baby monitor manufacturer and has since focused on only analog baby monitors. They manufacture baby monitors that utilize the 49 MHz frequency and below are a few of them.
|Number of Channels
|Safety 1st Sure Glow Audio Monitor
|Safety 1st Crystal Clear Audio Monitor, White
|Safety 1st Sure Glow Audio Monitor
|The First Years Crisp and Clear Audio Monitor, 2-Receiver
D-Link Wired Baby Monitor works similar to a modern digital baby monitor. Think of any of the best baby monitors out there, Infant Optics DXR 8 or Arlo Baby? Note that DLink Baby Monitor was discontinued and the manufacturer announced service ending for this device in December 2022. You can, however, still check its availability on Amazon here.
As discussed above, all wireless digital devices emit radiations and to make it radiation-free, we will need to set up a hard-wired baby monitor. Unlike other wireless baby monitors that rely on radio frequencies to transmit audio and visual signals, D-Link wired baby monitor depends on an Ethernet connection or home electric circuit. This is the genius of this device. That is why it does not emit any radiation.
Want to set it up? Watch below and follow the 3 steps :
In the 6-minute video below by August Price from Techwellness, she describes the steps you need to take to set up a wired, zero-emission baby monitor:
What you’ll need:
- DLink camera You can check its price today here (Amazon link). As soon as you buy it, make sure you disable wifi on the device by turning Wifi option off.
- An ethernet cable, preferably a shielded one – You can find one on Amazon, the ones with the golden connectors are the best as they keep the magnetic energy within. You check its price on Amazon here
- 2 special DLink adapters
Once you have the DLink camera and the cables, follow the following 3 steps to set up your wired baby monitor:
- Step 1: Connect one of the two adapters with the Wifi router by plugging the cable to the wifi access port (in the router) and adapter’s port.
- Step 2: Connect the other adapter with the camera using the cable and plug the adapter into the home AC outlet in the baby’s nursery, the home wiring system. The other adapter in the parent unit plugs into the electrical outlet in your/parent’s room.
- Download Mydlink Lite app on your phone: https://www.mydlink.com/apps. It is free to download the app. Mydlink Lite App has been downloaded by more than 49,000 individuals and has a 3.8 rating on Google Playstore. There have been problems of the dlink cameras disconnecting but there is a consensus that dlink has improved its reliability. Does it match other smartphone apps such as those or Arlo Baby, Nest (Google Home) or Miku? Probably not but it is free if you plan to use one camera. If you plan on using more than one camera, you’ll need to use the dlink app on a tablet.
The Ideal Low Emission Video Baby Monitor – Smartnova Baby Monitor
Smartnova baby monitor is the lowest emission video baby monitor that claims to emit 97% less radiation compared to DECT baby monitors. Smartnova also has zero pulsing and guarantees 100% privacy just like our top non-wifi baby monitors that do not use the internet. However, Smartnova was not available on Amazon when we revised this post in 2024. You can check availability here today (links to Amazon)
Electromagnetic radiations are as old as the universe. The sun itself emits electromagnetic radiation through the visible light. The electromagnetic spectrum is what made up of several waves of radiations including the radio waves which are used to facilitate communication. Over the last decade, a lot of research has been done on the effects and this BMC Report will seek to explain all you need to know before you buy a baby monitor?
Further Guide On Baby Monitor Radiation:
The electromagnetic field and the radiations occur naturally and some are man-made.
Visible light can cause skin cancer but not everyone can get skin cancer when exposed to visible light. So, what’s the trick to know the safe radiations and how can you keep your baby safe from these harmful radiations? In fact, visible light (which can cause cancer) have a higher frequency compared to radiofrequency.
EMFs are emitted by all the waves or frequencies that make up the electromagnetic spectrum shown in the diagram above. Visible light is an example of a spectrum that emits EMF naturally but baby monitors emit EMFs because they use radio spectrum and infrared spectrum. Whether analog or digital baby monitors use radio frequencies as they transmit the signal. They also emit EMF from the infrared light that enables a baby monitor to capture images at night or any low light condition.
Infant Optics Baby Monitor Radiation
Infant Optics DXR 8 emit microwave radiation and infrared radiation.
The Infant Optics DXR 8 emits both microwave and infrared radiation. It’s important to note that the disclosed highest SAR value for this baby monitor is 0.221 W/Kg, which is significantly below the FCC limit of 4 W/Kg.
The newer Infant Optics DXR-8 Pro has a maximum SAR of 0.933w/kg which is still significantly lower than FCC’s limit of 4w/kg.
Motorola Baby Monitor Radiation:
Motorola baby monitors are digital baby monitor and they emit microwave and infrared radiation. Motorola brand that is owned by Binatone Telecom PLC disclosed that all the brands on sale meet the minimum requirement set by FCC.
Below is a disclosure indicating Motorola baby monitor radiation including MBP36XL, one of the non-wifi baby monitors we reviewed at BMC.
Owlet Baby Monitor Radiation
Owlet operates in the frequency range of 2.402 to 2.48 GHz and uses 40 channels and GFSK modulation while transmitting data from the wearable pulse oximetry.
The table below shows the results of the tests that Owlet Care submitted to FCC as it sought its approval to sell Owlet in the mass market. As the table indicates, Owlet passed the EMF level test as required by the FCC regulations part 15. The tests were done under the low, medium, and highest frequency bands that Owlet operates.
You may be wondering whether all baby monitors emit microwave radiation, so let’s answer that question:
Which Baby Monitors Emit Microwave Radiations?
All wireless baby monitors that use 0.85 GHz to 5.0 GHz frequency bands emit microwave radiations. The following classes of wireless baby monitors emit EMF radiations at different levels:
DECT Baby Monitors – DECT baby monitors were developed in response to interference that made the 2.4 GHz frequency band not suitable for communication devices as the interference-limited communication in some devices. DECT means Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications and was developed in Europe before being adopted in the US later.
FHSS Baby Monitors – FHSS baby monitors are those baby monitors that utilize spread spectrum in the 2.4 GHz frequency band allowing it to limit interference and static. FHSS stands for the Frequency-hopping spread spectrum. These baby monitors have signals that hop from one sub-frequency as they transmit the signal from the transmitter to the receiver.
Wifi Baby Monitors – Wifi baby monitors are those baby monitors that utilize a 2.4 GHz frequency band and transmit the signal over the internet enabling the transmitter to transfer the signal to an unlimited range, so long as there is an internet connection.
All the baby monitors above emit microwave radiations in order to function. Several measurements have been taken on the levels of emission of different baby monitors and some emit up to 100,000 micro-watts per square meter. There are several mothers who have uploaded videos showing how flowers have wilted because they were exposed to EMFs.
Measuring Microwave Radiations On Baby Monitors
You can use a simple radio frequency meter to measure microwave radiations or infrared radiations of any baby monitor. The readings on the meter are voltage per square meter or microwatts per square meter.
Microwave Radiations in DECT Baby Monitor
DECT baby monitors are those that use the 1.9 GHz, frequency band. These baby monitors have less interference compared to those in the 2.4 GHz band but they still emit dangerous microwave radiations. The video below shows how to measure the radiations emitted by e DECT baby monitor. When you power on the device to detect EMF radiations you hear the “rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr” sound which basically indicates high levels of emission.
Microwave Radiations in FHSS Baby Monitors
FHSS baby monitors are a class of baby monitors that utilize the 2.4 GHz, frequency band. An example of FHSS baby monitors in this band is the Infant Optics DXR 8 and the Eufy Spaceview baby monitor. In the video below, a mother shows the measurement of microwave radiations of an infant Optics DXR 8
The parent unit of the Infant Optics DXR 8 emits radiation at 5000 microwatts per square meter. The baby unit of the monitor emits 8000 microwatts per square meter when placed 6 ft. away. Most experts suggest that the radiations level be kept below 1000 microwatts per square meter and as seen on the video above most FHSS baby monitors that utilize the 2.4 GHz frequency emit high levels of radiations.
Microwave Emissions By Wifi Baby Monitors
Similar to baby monitors above, wifi baby monitors emit high levels of radiation.
RF Exposure Limits Chart Per Country
|Bioinitiative Report (Outdoor) 2007
|Bioinitiative Report (Indoor) 2007
Should You Still Buy A Baby Monitor?
Although there is sufficient research to showing the harmful effects of radiation on a wireless baby monitor, some medical practitioners argue that there is little to worry about and that radiations do not cause brain tumors. A radiation oncologist advises parents that they should not worry about microwave emission unless “unless perhaps you were in the path of a multi-megawatt microwave beam, in which case they might cook you. But as far as I know, there is no likelihood that this danger even exists”
One of the most common phrases used the baby monitor marketers is “There is no evidence to support EMFs having health effects.” This is basically not true. Some of the reasons those arguing that baby monitor radiations are not dangerous to use the fact that most baby monitor radiations are non-ionizing or the pulsing and non-pulsing radiations in baby monitors.
Are Voice-Activated Baby Monitors a Solution?
There have been innovations to reduce the levels of baby monitor emissions and Europe took a lead in requiring manufacturers to only manufacturer baby monitors that only get activated by voice or noise. Wifi baby monitors and the other groups we’ve discussed above, the FHSS and DECT baby monitors emit a burst of microwave radiations when they are powered on. In other words, as long as they are powered, they emit microwave radiations. Voice-activated baby monitors ensure that the baby monitors only emit radiation when a child makes noise or cries. If the baby is breathing normally while asleep, the baby monitor emits minimally or does not emit radiation at all. This is very important as it reduces your baby’s exposure to radiation. Regardless, voice-activated baby monitors still emit microwave radiations and this is when it gets tricky. Some parents have actually resorted to buying analog baby monitors that have minimal features and operate in the lowest frequency.
Comparison of Radiations for VOX and Non-Vox Baby Monitors
Below is a list of baby monitors with the voice-activated feature but still emit high levels of radiations:
|Summer Infant Baby Pixel
|Project Nursery 4.3
|Philips Avent SCD630
|Infant Optics DRX 8
|iBaby Care M7 Wi-Fi
|Nest Cam IQ Indoor Wi-Fi
The table above does not show that voice-activated baby monitors emit low levels of radiation.
Possible Solutions for Parents?
Now that we know voice-activated baby monitors are not necessarily emission-free, which baby monitors release the lowest levels of emission? Baby monitors with the lowest frequency and the longest wavelength emit the lowest levels of microwave radiations. Some of the lowest frequency baby monitors are analog baby monitors that emit frequencies in the 49 MHz frequency band. Most baby monitors operating in the 49 MHz frequency are considered more secure as they emit less radiation. Check the list above.
- About the Author
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Hi there! I am Ashley Davis, a mom of three kids and the editor here at Safer For Baby. I have been a parent since 2011 and have been doing full-time consulting as a baby sleep expert since 2019. When I am not researching or testing the next baby gear hitting the market, you’ll find me teaching my toddlers a trick or two – especially over the last few months with the lockdown. I hope you’ll find my guides and reviews helpful as you make your next purchase decision. If you have any questions, you can reach me at email@example.com.