Six of the Best: Baby Monitors
Six reliable audio baby monitors across a price range for every pocket
Although your baby should sleep in the same room as you for at least the first six months of life, one of the first purchases that parents like to invest in is a baby monitor. Long before your baby sleeps through nights in his own room, it’s good to know that you have a connection with him if he’s taking a daytime nap while you get lunch ready or are putting out the washing.
If you check out the ThinkBaby Buyer’s Guide to Baby Monitors you’ll see there is lots of scope to really bust the budget on a baby monitor – and that’s before we even get onto ones which have a camera fitted! – but essentially, even a cheap version from a reliable brand will keep you in touch with sounds coming from your child’s room. The more expensive ones are just perhaps a little more user-friendly for their added extras and the range (distance) at which they will still pick up a signal.
Six of the Best Baby Monitors
Although we’ll look at video camera baby monitors later this week, here are six great brands who make reliable baby monitors. One thing to look out for: the buzz phrase of the moment is DECT, which stands for Digitally Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications, which in everyday language means the sound quality is good! (It works along the lines of a home phone when its used away from its base unit.)
Another similar phrase is ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) which is more tech-speak but ultimately also describes a method by which a reliable signal and sound quality can be achieved.
One other main name in baby monitors you might have come across is Summer Infant but in the UK they now concentrate mainly on video monitors.
BT Baby Monitor 150, around £60-£70|
BT do a range of baby monitors and this one features DECT technology. It has adjustable volume and sensitivity features and an LED indicator for the sound level coming through to the ‘parent’ handset. (LED can be useful in case, for example, you have the vacuum cleaner on and your baby begins to stir – the lights are your sign that sound is coming from your child's room.)
BT also do the Baby Monitor 100, which costs around £50. Both the 100 and 150 models have a range of about 300m outdoors and 50m indoors (with a warning signal if you go beyond the range where it can pick up signals from your child’s room). Both also play lullabies and have a night light, but in addition the 150 model features a recording option for the parents voice on the nursery unit, a key pad which can be illuminated if you have darkened your child’s room, and a backlit black and white dot matrix LCD screen.
Tomy Walkabout Premier Advance Baby Monitor, around £65|
Tomy are one of the most established names in home safety monitors for young families. They have several models, but we like this mid-range one because it has lots of useful features without costing too much.
This model allows you to tune the baby and parent devices into one of four different settings (using ASIC technology) to minimise the chance of interference from a nearby source. It also allows two-way communication so you can make soothing comments to your baby or communicate with a parent in the child’s room. (Of course using it to ‘speak’ to your child should not replace going to check properly that your child is OK.)
Both monitors have read-outs for the room temperature where your child is sleeping, and there are also noise level and low battery indicators. Other features include a night light (a very low light which can be useful as a comfort to your child), a remote control for the audio output, and a range of up to 300m.
Tomy’s models also include the popular Walkabout Classic Advance (around £40), and the Walkabout Platinum Digital (for around £100), which uses DECT technology and has additional features like a vibrate alert for the parent unit, and a last-feed reminder timer.
Fisher Price Lights and Sounds Baby Monitor, around £20|
If you don’t need such a long range for the pick-up to reach (if your child’s room is not far from yours, or you live in a flat, for example), then this down-to-earth option is still reliable at a very good price. This one has a range of 100m compared to the others’ range of 300m.
As with the others, as well as relaying sound from your child’s room, the parent monitor also has a light display which will give you an idea of how much noise is coming through (for example, the sound of a car passing outside or your baby just stirring will be about one light, and your child crying will be four or five lights).
Philips AVENT DECT Baby Monitor SCD499, around £90|
Again, Philips AVENT offer a range of models, but for around £90 you get quite a nifty kit. Like the Tomy Walkabout Premier, this offers two-way communication and the nursery unit plays a selection of lullabies to ease your child off to sleep.
This monitor also offers a room temperature read-out and has a range of 300m, plus it lets you know when the batteries are low.
Philips AVENT also offer a more down to earth option (Philips AVENT DECT baby monitor SCD496, for around £50), and both offer the DECT technology. The cheaper model also offers the option for the parent to communicate with the nursery unit, which is not bad for this price range.
Tommee Tippee Crystal Clear SureSound Deluxe baby monitor, around £50|
Although this model offers just 100m range, it has some nice touches for its price. These include the usual features – a light display to convey sound as well as communicating noise to the parent unit, and a night light (with dimmer) – but it also has a digital room temperature display and a signal when you take the parent unit out of range.
However, if you want to push the boat out, Tommee Tippee’s Ultimate version (around £110) enjoys all these features but also comes with a movement sensor which fits under your baby’s mattress and can tell you if your baby is moving around. .
Lindam Talk Baby Talk Baby Monitor, around £27|
This great value monitor has a range of 200m and also has adjustable volume and light read-out on the parent unit, while the nursery unit has the useful night light. This baby monitor also features a digital clock.
As well as these features, the two other Lindam models come with other little extras but still at a good price. The Baby Talk Plus (around £35) and the Baby Talk Rechargable (around £40) also feature a digital room thermometer.
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