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Video Baby Monitor Smackdown

Feb12

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smackdown_hawkeye.pngDear dear Amalah,
I am currently 28 weeks pregnant with my first child and oh my lands am I overwhelmed with all the stuff I need to buy. Your pregnancy checklist has been such a godsend but I still need more info. Somehow I managed to make a decision on which crib set to buy. Then it was the crib mattress debate. Now my latest quandary is over what I should purchase for a baby monitor. Is a video monitor worth the price? Which one is better than the rest? I spent almost an hour in Target this past weekend picking up and then putting down a Summer Handheld Baby Video Monitor before ultimately deciding I wasn’t prepared to fork over $200 for something that I didn’t know the first thing about. Maybe you and/or your readers have some insight and advice? I need to get this debate settled so I can move on to obsessing over which pack’n’play to purchase!

Thanks a million,
Courtney

Okay. So it turns out I have a LOT to say about baby monitors. And I’m afraid none of it may end up being particularly helpful, but here goes:

With Noah, we skipped the pricey video monitor (which, I believe, were even MORE expensive at the time) and went with your basic lights n’ sound model. Which one? I have absolutely no recollection, and a quick perusal of Amazon suggests it’s not even available anymore. An antique, already! We used it very rarely, honestly, because we lived in a small loft-style apartment and DIDN’T ACTUALLY NEED A MONITOR. I am pretty sure someone along the registry way told us this, but of course I would not listen. A baby monitor was right there on the store’s list of stuff we neeeeeeeeeded. So therefore we neeeeeeeeeeeeeeded it.

We didn’t. The monitor simply amplified the sounds that we didn’t need to hear: Noah’s sighs, snuffles, wiggles, etc. When he actually woke up…he cried, and we could easily hear these cries from our room. (You’ll be amazed at the spidey-sense hearing you immediately develop after giving birth — it’s like a personal superpower, the ability to hear your child roll over in his sleep from three rooms away, or to wake up exactly 10 minutes before he starts demanding boob.) The monitor drove me crazy, jerking me awake over and over. Finally, we turned the sound off and went only by the lights (they would indicate the volume of noise the monitor was picking up, so we knew we could ignore the one- and two-light flashes). This seemed counterproductive — you can’t hear lights in your sleep, right? But again, when Noah really needed us, we heard him.

All that aside, the monitor was most handy during the day, when Noah napped and I did something else noisy — like cleaning up the kitchen, with the water running, drying my hair, etc. It certainly was never essential, but since we picked out an inexpensive model AND got it as a gift ANYWAY, it wasn’t like, a hugely regretful purchase or anything. I donated it to charity sometime before Noah’s second birthday.

Now. Ezra. By this point we were in an actual house. With hallways and floors and stairs and LEVELS, SO MANY LEVELS. And video monitors were IT. Practically all you could buy, unless you were a cheap, neglectful bastard who did not care if your baby stopped breathing in his sleep because you WEREN’T WATCHING HIS CHEST RISE AND FALL.

So after reading approximately 22,394 different online reviews, we bought the Summer Day & Night video monitor, likely the very one you pondered in Target, (or perhaps a version or two ago). We gave it a test run in Noah’s room. He’d already made the switch to a big-boy bed, but we were having a hard time keeping him in it at night. He’d get up, wander around his room, jump on the bed, kick on the headboard, all stuff that required multiple trips upstairs for gentle scolding and re-tucking. Same thing at naptime. For this purpose, the getting-a-toddler-to-sleep-in-a-real-bed thing, I REALLY loved having the video monitor. We could just shout up! Noah! Get back in bed! And then we’d watch him freeze, like how did they know? And he’d scurry back under the covers, because WHOA, MAMA SEES ALL.

Since we weren’t planning to have a shower, we paid for the monitor ourselves…only to end up getting a second one as a gift. We were given this Graco model, and decided what the heck, let’s keep it and try it out: We liked having a monitor in Noah’s room, maybe we’d actually use both of them. The picture quality and range were pretty comparable (let me note that you should not expect any of these little monitors to be HDTV-quality, or anything like the “simulated images” on the packaging — they’re more like a fuzzy closed-circuit security camera, not even as good as a standard webcam, particularly in the night-vision mode), but OH, the BATTERY LIFE. The Graco did NOT hold a charge. Despite the handy, flip-phone style parental unit, we found that we had to keep it plugged in pretty much non-stop. Carry it downstairs during a nap and it was dead long before the baby woke up. I hated it.

By the time Ezra was born, the Summer was our clear winner and monitor of choice. Jason installed the swiveling camera above the crib at the perfect angle and we were all ready to obsessively monitor our newborn with space-age modern technology.

Aaaaand…we rarely used the thing. Again. Ezra slept either with us or in our room for the first four months, and usually napped in places like…his swing, his carseat, a sling, my arms. All generally pretty portable, so I never really needed a monitor to keep an eye on him. We did indeed use it when he first transitioned to his crib, and then I misplaced the parental receiver part less than a month later…and then…we actually still don’t know where it is, to this day. Somehow, we’ve all survived just fine without any type of monitor.

When I was pregnant I imagined all these scenarios that would put me out of earshot — I’d be down in the basement with Noah, out in the backyard — and then found that ACTUALLY, my hearing is pretty good, or I’m simply pretty good at tuning into Ezra’s schedule so I just *know* when to start listening for him. Turns out that occasionally coming in from the backyard to listen at the bottom of the stairs isn’t that taxing, and I usually come up from the basement playroom to get drinks or snacks or whatever pretty often, sooo…. Yeah.

All this said: The Summer one is the way to go, if you want a video monitor. It’s a nice little monitor. I sure am hoping our lost receiver turns up in time for Ezra’s big-boy bed transition. Just…maybe don’t buy it for yourself. Stick it on the baby registry. Wait for your shower. (I know, you are SURE nobody will shell out $200 on you. But then a couple people pool their money, your office goes in on a surprise group gift, someone just up and SHOCKS you with their generosity…or someone who already owns one spots it on your list and offers you theirs.) At the very least, wait until you get some gift cards and feel pretty well stocked on most other essentials.

In the end, the video function is gee-whiz cool, provided you actually find it reassuring and convenient. If you get a light sleeper who pops up every time the floorboards outside his room creak, the remote monitoring is crazy handy. (As opposed to I MUST STARE AT THE SCREEN ALL THE TIME. I AM KEEPING MY CHILD ALIVE THROUGH THE FORCE OF MY STARES AND NEUROSES.) However, if you’re really looking to keep costs down and the amount of unnecessary gear and gadgets to a minimum, hold off. Don’t feel like a standard ol’ audio monitor means doom and danger to your newborn.

(Any Graco Pack n’ Play will do, though I’m slightly jealous of the new models with the little napping station. We bought one with a bassinet and diaper changer, neither of which we used all that much. Noah hated the bassinet, the diaper changer was at an awkward height, then we lost a part to the bassinet attachment before Ezra arrived. [Wow. We’re real organizational winners, aren’t we?] The basic actual Pack n’ Play, however, has been a lifesaver time and time again, for travel and houseguests and general baby containment purposes.)

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Photo Credit: Hawkeye by jurvetson

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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39 Responses to “Video Baby Monitor Smackdown”

  1. HereWeGoAJen Feb 12 at 11:21 am Reply Reply

    My video monitor is the greatest single baby item I own. I actually cried the other day when I thought it was broken. (It wasn’t.) We have a not-so-good-sleeper baby and the video monitor lets me know when I need to go into her or when she is going to settle herself down. (For example, is she crying while lying down with her eyes closed? Or is she standing up holding the bars of her crib?)
    That being said, we didn’t get it until she was eight-ish months old and didn’t need it until she was about seven-ish months old. So you can wait.
    I have the Summer Infant Best View or something like that. We tried a cheaper one first and it was awful.

  2. Jen Feb 12 at 11:22 am Reply Reply

    I am anti-baby monitor. I think they are a silly item unless you have a really huge house with baby at the far end, miles away from you. I actually think they contribute to excessive helicopter parenting. That being said, we have a $5 garage sale lights-and-sounds monitor that we got for travel to relatives’ homes. We have used it a few times when our baby went to sleep in a distant room in a strange house, but that’s it.

  3. Therese Feb 12 at 11:24 am Reply Reply

    Congratulations on your pregnancy! All of these baby related purchases are so overwhelming, aren’t they! I found a one-year membership to Consumer Reports online (about $30) to be a lifesaver. For just about every baby product you can imagine they have safety, battery life, functionality…ratings. I found it quite helpful for both the monitor and travel yard decisions. I also think the user comments on Babies R US, Amazon, and other sites can be helpful.
    If you’re not interested in the video monitor and just want a regular noise version, we have had great luck with the Sony Baby Call (leftover from my older niece and nephew, only stopped using it because it finally died after like 8 years of continual use) and the Graco imonitor Vibe (like a little better than the Sony, but could be b/c it’s brand new and doesn’t have any wear and tear yet).
    Good luck and Congratulations again!

  4. Sheila Feb 12 at 11:26 am Reply Reply

    We do use our monitor a lot but our circumstances are different. We have cats and I don’t like them sleeping with me (yes my husband thinks I’m really mean but one would take up a third of the bed, the other would want to play all night) so we keep our bedroom door closed. We keep the girl’s door closed too, not really sure why. Since the bedrooms are right next to each other we’d probably hear her anyway, but my husband needs a fan on for white noise. We’ve tested it out and actually we don’t hear her cry without the monitor.
    The downside of that “spidey-sense” Amy mentioned is when it goes into overdrive, and you start hearing the baby cry even when she isn’t. So for us, having the monitor means we KNOW we will hear her when she cries, so I don’t lie awake imagining that I hear her. We keep it on about the lowest setting and hide the lights behind a bottle of lotion because Amy’s right that you do NOT need to hear every single noise they make.
    FWIW we have the Graco iMonitor Vibe 2, and it works fine. Definitely loses a charge in a few hours so we keep it plugged in all the time.

  5. Susan Feb 12 at 11:45 am Reply Reply

    I own the Summer Day/Night Color video monitor (not handheld), and just wanted to chime in on the quality. It works just fine, but if the option is still out there to purchase only the black and white monitor, do that. I NEVER see color on my monitor, and I believe my aunt paid twice as much for the monitor just to get that function. The color is only visible in very bright rooms, and I keep my son’s room darkened for naps, and at night, of course.
    Also, Amy’s right, you will be astounded at your hearing capabilities. I actually had two sound monitors, (on my Angel motion monitor, which rocks for SIDS peace of mind, btw, and the Summer) and I ended up using neither. You WILL hear your baby.
    PS: Ditto on the Graco Pack N Play. Good stuff.

  6. Kim Feb 12 at 12:01 pm Reply Reply

    I didn’t get a monitor with my first. My house is 1500 sq ft and all one level, and the nursery is right across from our bedroom. I am going out to buy one(although I am hoping there is a cheapcheapcheap sound-only one available) for this new one. Because the preschooler likes to sing, and the tv may be on, and any or all of the dishwasher, washing machine, dryer, or breastpump may be running, and the baby just can’t compete.
    Either that or I’m losing my hearing.

  7. Stephanie Feb 12 at 12:18 pm Reply Reply

    We have the basic Fisher Price lights and sounds one. It works great. We’ve stopped using it because of the whole hearing every little noise — coughing, whimpering, sighing, talking to herself — I’m such a light sleeper I’d wake up for all of these. And we definitely hear her when she’s crying with or without the monitor. It’s worth having around for when people are babysitting my baby, and when we shut the door because the cat is driving me nuts. That’s about it. I truly don’t see the need for a video monitor, but that’s me.

  8. Erika Feb 12 at 12:23 pm Reply Reply

    I have 2 boys (about the same ages as Amy’s kids) and I don’t think I could live without the video monitor. We had an “antique” with our oldest, like with the small TV that sits on your nightstand (a gift)…that part stunk, but it was absolutely essential for sleep training, as Amy mentioned, and as a previous commenter said, for determining if it was time to intervene with a woken-up baby or not. When the second was born, we upgraded to the Summer Infant monitor with a second camera. I love the hand-held receiver, but you have to be very vigilant with the battery…only leave it plugged in until it’s charged…if you leave it plugged in forever the battery has no life. When I noticed our battery life plummeting, I contacted Summer Infant and they sent a new battery at no charge. I’m really not even sure when I’ll take the camera out of my almost-4-year-old’s room. High school, maybe?

  9. Christy Feb 12 at 12:52 pm Reply Reply

    I also own the Summer Day/Night Color handheld video monitor for my 9 month old son. While I live in a small house and probably don’t even need a monitor at all, I love having it. While we didn’t get it until he was about 4 months olds, I definitely have used it during sleep training to decide whether or not I should go in. He looks right at the camera when he stands up in the crib, which is actually quite amusing to watch.

  10. Tanya Feb 12 at 1:09 pm Reply Reply

    We have a 3-story house, and our monitor was a HUGE part of our lives. It allowed us to be outside of earshot without worrying about whether we’d hear the baby wake up, and it also allowed us to assess whether the sounds coming from the nursery were the baby awakening or just a false alarm. We used monitors for both of our children and retired them around 1yr for both. I really believe that the monitor enhanced both productivity and peace of mind (while contributing to more relaxing down time!). Good luck!

  11. Steph Feb 12 at 1:11 pm Reply Reply

    The video monitor is my favorite baby item for sure. It probably keeps me from running into his room at least 2 dozen times a day. And sometimes I just like to watch him sleep :)
    COngrats!

  12. Courtney Feb 12 at 1:18 pm Reply Reply

    I was right there too, making sure I had every little thing that the babies (twin boys) might need. We got the Safety 1st High-Def Digital Video Monitor as a gift and loved it. But like Amy said, after about a week, you’re pretty tired (literally) of waking up to every hiccup, rustle and sneeze. This monitor had a feature to choose the level you want to hear…1 – being everything, 2 – whimpers and whatnot and 3 – real cries. So from week 1 on, it was all Level 3.
    The video also gave me some much needed peace-of-mind. The boys shared a crib for the first 6 months and every day, I was POSITIVE one of them would roll over and suffocate the other…and of course I wouldn’t hear him because he’s suffocating…and…and. So pretty much, the video monitor was my savior.
    But since our video monitor was a gift, I can’t really talk much about forking over a big ole chunk o change for a tiny tv screen. I say put it on your registry, and if you get it, great, if not, a cheaper monitor will still do the trick.

  13. Jaymee Feb 12 at 1:25 pm Reply Reply

    So I was told over and over, “You don’t need a video monitor. It’s just a waste of money. You’ll never use it.” So I listened to everyone else and got a cheaper light and sound monitor. Turns out that I REALLY could use the video monitor. I am one of those Moms that thinks it’s perfectly safe for baby to sleep on the tummy. I slept on mine and so did every single person in my family and my husbands family and we all turned out great. But that’s a totally different subject, so back to my point. My son sometimes will roll over in his sleep and once he makes it to his back he wakes up and WILL NOT go back to sleep. However if he wakes up on his tummy he’ll cry a bit and fall back asleep. If anyone enters his room while he is going through this you might as well give up and just pick him up because it’s all over. If I hadn’t let people talk me out of the video monitor I could just look at it to see if he was on his tummy and fine or if he made it onto his back and I needed to go get him.
    So long story short, GET A VIDEO MONITOR!!! Don’t let people talk you out of it. I’d buy one now, but then I would have just wasted my money on the light and sound one. I guess that’s what I get.

  14. Kate Feb 12 at 1:39 pm Reply Reply

    We actually went with a motion sensitive monitor rather than a video monitor for my worrywart of a husband. It has a pad that you put under the mattress and if the baby doesn’t move (ie breath) for 30 seconds it beeps once. If the baby still doesn’t move (or say, you forgot to turn it off when you picked the baby up) it starts beeping like crazy. I thought it was a little silly but my son refused to sleep on his back and it made me feel a lot more comfortable when we finally gave up and let him sleep on his tummy. They run from about $90 to $130 depending on features like number of parental units and internal rechargeable batteries or not but we got ours for used for $40.
    Amy is right about the crazy mother hearing though so you many not need one at all if you live in a small house. Our house is tiny (just under 1300 sq feet) but the nursey is up a flight of stairs and at the opposite end of the house from the master. Add in needing to keep the nursery door closed so the cats don’t jump in the crib and a monitor was a necessity for us.

  15. Amy Feb 12 at 1:44 pm Reply Reply

    We got a video monitor when our daughter was around 9 months old and it was a lifesaver. She’s not a great napper, and like a previous commenter said, it is nice to be able to see if she’s crying but almost asleep or if she has her leg stuck in the crib.
    We have the Mobi MobiCam, which is cheaper than the Summer ($90 or so) and works fine. Sometimes it makes weird static noises, but I’ve gotten used to it.
    As for the Pack N Play, if you are tall and will use it to change diapers, I recommend one with Posture Plus changer. We ended up getting one when she was 2 months old because my back was killing me from bending over so much.

  16. Christie Feb 12 at 1:45 pm Reply Reply

    I have the Summer day and night monitor and it is a godsend. I am not a helicopter parent by any stretch, but my house does not transmit sound very well so I really do need a monitor to hear her.
    Couple of things worth mentioning. I even used it when she slept in the room with us. The first week postpartum, it was a bit of work to get out of bed. When I heard her stir or fuss, I could press the button on the top of the monitor and (without getting out of bed! ) discover she was just shifting or resettling in and did not in fact need my attention.
    It lets me do noisy things or start a project in the far reaches of the house while she is napping without wondering if I’m going to miss her cries. It reassures my husband when he has the “is she breathing” fear. And when she does wake up and make noise, I can watch for a bit to see if she is going to settle herself down again or not.
    It can get static interferance depending on what it’s next to, or the layout of your house, so I actually pair it with a cheap sound monitor and just use the video monitor for quick visual checks if the sound only monitor has alerted us to something.

  17. Angela Feb 12 at 1:48 pm Reply Reply

    We have a different-but-essentially-the same Summer handheld video monitor and I LOVE it. Best baby tool ever. Like HereWeGoAJen above, our daughter is kind of a restless sleeper, and the monitor lets us see whether she’s actually up or just resettling herself. I actually think it STOPS us from helicopter parenting, because otherwise we would be constantly on edge, wondering if that was the baby crying or just the wind, and running in there every time she cried. We have a tiny house but it’s still useful. Two thumbs up!

  18. eva Feb 12 at 1:58 pm Reply Reply

    We bought the cheapest safety 1st brand non-video monitor at Wal-Mart and it worked perfectly for our needs! We have a one level 1200 square foot house, so we could always hear Megan when we were inside. The only time we needed the monitor was those rare occasions when we were gardening/doing yardwork outside (gag) during her nap. That was it. We also traveled with it which was when it was really valuable – relatives would have a spot for Megan’s pack n play in the basement bedroom or something in their relatively HUGE houses, so we’d just plug in the monitor and had no trouble hearing when she woke up. It wasn’t a particularly sexy, high tech monitor but worked great.

  19. kari Weber Feb 12 at 2:01 pm Reply Reply

    I have a sounds and lights one from Fisher Price. It is a 900mhz that is rechargeable and has two parent units. I used to live in a twee little house (690 sq. ft.) and still used a monitor with my first. Like Amy said, when you are busy cleaning, outside, or in the garage, it helps to have an easy way to KNOW whether you really hear the baby or not. Now that we are in a 1400 sq. ft. two story condo I use this monitor for my 9 1/2 month old. I found that I use the monitor less when I am sleeping, and more during naps. I do use it at night when the kids are sleeping, and we are downstairs watching a movie. It makes it easy to hear when I would otherwise not. Basically, I think a monitor is useful, but a plain jane one would be fine. Just read reviews to get one that is middle of the road and has good quality. I do like the rechargeable aspect (even if it doesn’t last HOURS AND HOURS) because the last thing I need is ONE more thing to buy batteries for.

  20. Olivia Feb 12 at 2:06 pm Reply Reply

    I pretty much agree with Jen. We have a small house, but bought an inexpensive audio monitor just in case we step outside while she’s napping. We only use it occasionaly when the washer is running loudly. Even then it’s not really necessary.
    I did love the pack n play with the sleep station. The name is ridiculous, but my daughter was so cozy in that thing until about 10 weeks when she outgrew it. The actual play yard part we didn’t use much. She wouldn’t sleep in it and it is too small to play in, so we just packed it up last weekend for the next baby.

  21. Alissa Feb 12 at 2:24 pm Reply Reply

    We don’t have a video monitor. Sometimes I wish we did, like when the baby (he just turned 1) wakes up at 5:45 AM, but then is quiet. And I lie in bed thinking – is he sleeping? Is he just staring at the ceiling? Is he doing headstands? But, really, I think a video monitor would just me more neurotic about my baby’s sleep than I already am. Right now I go with the “ignorance is bliss” theory. If he’s up there and quiet, then he’s sleeping, right?
    We do have one of the Angel Care monitors, with the movement sensors. We used the movement sensor for about six months. It gave my hubby peace of mind. Now we just use the sound part. I like the monitor a lot. I rarely use it during the day, as I can tell when DS is awake when I am in the living room, right below his crib. But it’s nice to have in the evenings when we’re in the basement.
    I’m with Amy with the Graco P&P. Awesome stuff. The bassinett attachment? Meh. It was ok, but not necessary. The diaper changing station? Really terrible height – it’s a back breaker. But it was nice to have a second changing station in the living room, instead of trekking upstairs. Now I use the P&P DAILY, to let my son play by himself. Both grandparents have one, as well, for when we go visiting. I got them used at a consignment sale.

  22. Butterfly Feb 12 at 2:27 pm Reply Reply

    Just another perspective – we also have (and adore) the Summer video monitor, and unlike Jen, we found it helped us NOT become “helicopter parents”. Even when she was an infant and learning to sleep, the monitor was invaluable…sometimes the sounds babies make when they are soothing themselves to sleep (or when they are already asleep) sound an awful lot like regular old yelling…but because we could *see* that she was peacefully lying still whilst “vocalizing” this way, we knew not to run in in a panic and disturb her. It helped us give our baby girl her space, and she learned to sleep like a champ. She slept 10+ hours every night starting at 3 months old. We know most of that is just dumb genetic luck, but we *do* think we could have gotten in the way and messed it up if we had run in every time we heard a crying-type noise. Thanks to the video monitor, we knew when she was just vocalizing, and when she was genuinely upset. Get one!

  23. Jess Feb 12 at 2:40 pm Reply Reply

    I have a two and a half year old, and I wish we had a video monitor. He goes through phases where he sort of resists sleep. Sometimes he’s just talking to himself, which we hear on the regular monitor, and that’s fine, he chats til he falls asleep. But other times, he’ll talk for a really long time, til one of us goes in his room and realizes that he’s taken his diaper off or undressed completely or gotten a foot stuck or something. Without being able to see what he’s doing, it’s hard to know if it’s worth interrupting him or not.

  24. Rebecca Feb 12 at 3:06 pm Reply Reply

    I love our Summer for all the reasons everyone mentioned above. It is the one thing we got as a present that I would never live without.
    My favorite part has to be when my daughter wakes up. She sticks her face right up to it and tries to poke at the montior as if to get our attention. It might be a bit sick, but my husband and I watch her and laugh while she talks and stares straight into the camera. if I had the ability I would actually record some of it because it would be hilarious to show her when she is older.

  25. Pinkie Bling Feb 12 at 4:12 pm Reply Reply

    I have no bebes and no need for monitors…I just wanted to comment on the photo for this one. Is that the Stephen Colbert eagle? Hee hee hee!
    ________________
    Editor: it’s a hawkeye!

  26. Ellen Feb 12 at 6:23 pm Reply Reply

    Add me to the list of those who love the Summer Night/Day video monitor. We have two units, actually — one camera mounted above our almost-two-year-old’s crib, and two receiver-screen thingys which we just leave plugged in — one for downstairs, one in our bedroom upstairs. We hang the upstairs one on our headboard and turn the screen off at night so we just have sound — if he cries, we can blip on the picture and see what’s up before we decide to go in or not. (Note: we also used a piece of electrical tape to cover the indicator lights, as they are BRIGHT in a dark room.)
    It’s been especially handy lately, as my son has a pattern going where he usually will not poop until he’s settled into his crib for nap. Sometimes I can hear the accompanying grunting, but sometimes not, and so the monitor is handy for seeing if he’s crashed out or is sitting there fidgeting b/c he’s in poop. (He won’t cry about a poopy diaper, ever.) Sometimes I can even see the … um… shape of the poop making his diaper all distended. So, handy.
    All that said, he’s our first kid, and we got the monitor before he was born, so I’ve never even tried to do without it and have really come to rely on it. As with anything parenting, it’s possible to do it a million different ways, all of which are right. That’s the really confusing part, no?

  27. Amy M Feb 12 at 8:11 pm Reply Reply

    your timing could not be better! i spent hours today researching this very thing and the one that my husband is set on which is the summer best view handheld one. the reviews for it on all sites are super mixed and left me not knowing what to do. after all of the helpful comments here i’m willing to give it a try!! thanks to all of you for your helpful insights!!!

  28. Marnie Feb 13 at 12:31 am Reply Reply

    I’m far too old to even know what to say about video monitors. But, when I was pregnant with our first, we had our 9-month-old niece stay with us overnight, and my BIL left the monitor with us. She slept in the pack-n-play in the room across from us, doors open and everything, but I was super-paranoid. We put her down, then later went to bed, and I put the monitor on the night stand on my side.
    Except, I couldn’t hear anything. So I checked on her, and when all was OK, decided I needed to turn the volume up on the monitor. I increased the volume until I could hear her breathing. Whew. Great.
    Until 2am when she started moving around and moaning a little. Nothing was wrong, just movement, but HOLY CRAP it scared the SHIT out of me!! I was on high alert and didn’t sleep a wink the rest of the night.
    We did have a monitor for my daughter, but I kept the volume just a little lower.

  29. Christi Feb 13 at 12:16 pm Reply Reply

    I just read through all the comments and I’m surprised that nobody has mentioned what was my biggest concern about video monitors…they’re *not* closed circuits (well, at least not the affordable ones). That means that people outside your home (i.e. neighbors, those men in the florist van across the street, etc) can pick up the video and audio transmissions of the monitor. I just wasn’t comfortable with the possibility of other people watching my baby. [fyi: there have been some class action lawsuits regarding this issue, the most recent one getting filed last fall: http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2009/11/baby-monitor/ )
    We live in a three-level townhouse and have the simple Sony Baby Call monitor. I actually don’t use it all that often anymore because of many of the reasons other people mentioned…light sleeper, too many noises, can hear the baby anyway, etc. And we’ve found that our cell phones don’t play nicely with monitors. Every time I get a text or call our monitor makes bizarre alien noises, no matter which channel we choose. But, I like having it as an option for those times I’m doing something noisy and wouldn’t otherwise hear the wee one.

  30. Alex'sMom Feb 13 at 8:20 pm Reply Reply

    We love our Levana video monitor. At night, we turn the volume way down and the monitor screen wakes us when it turns on when he moves. So it is nice not to hear the cries through the monitor but we know what he needs. Besides the safety, it is just fun to look at our sweet little man sleeping and hear him sing to himself when he is awake.

  31. The gold digger Feb 14 at 1:11 pm Reply Reply

    Plus if you get a monitor, you might accidentally leave it on and when your friend the Gold Digger is over and you are telling her what a pain in the neck your visiting SIL has turned out to be – more work than help – you will realize that the SIL was in the kitchen while you were talking. In the kitchen where the speaker is. You and your friend were in the baby’s room with the monitor.
    Oh yes. Don’t get the monitor.

  32. z Feb 14 at 1:57 pm Reply Reply

    I put a laptop with webcam next to the napping kid, and call the laptop on skype from the desktop upstairs. I set the laptop skype to auto-answer: it turns on video at first ring. I work at my desktop, high-quality video on a little screen, I can see baby stirring awake from his nap. You can use it just for sounds, too. Easy-peasy, zero cost.

  33. Olivia Feb 15 at 8:24 am Reply Reply

    z, great idea, but not exactly zero cost if a person doesn’t already have a second laptop and webcam.

  34. beccado Feb 15 at 7:17 pm Reply Reply

    love the summer day/night monitor…can’t say enough good things about it. I don’t know how we would have gotten along without it. we even take it with us whenever we travel.

  35. Kristen Feb 16 at 11:00 am Reply Reply

    For anyone who has two kids close together, this is a life saver: http://www.amazon.com/Graco-iMonitor-Multi-Child-Monitor/dp/B000FUTW86
    we never used a video monitor, but I love that we can listen to both kids on the same handset.

  36. BB Feb 18 at 11:26 am Reply Reply

    We started out with the the summer video monitor but we had a difficult time getting the camera just right too close, you lose site of the baby if he moves too far and the kid just looks like a fuzzy blob. Then we started getting weird-o interference at random intervals and finally I just said to heck with it and returned it. We got a cheap-o lights and sound monitor for night time since the baby sleeps on a different floor and we keep it on the lowest setting.
    On a seperate note, after returning the video monitor I learned that several of the car manufactures that equip their vehicles with back up cameras have had coplaints because these cameras were picking up the video feeds from these summer infant cameras in the homes on the street as they drove by. This gave me the willies because I never worried about shutting that video feed off while I was nursing. *shudder*

  37. stacy Feb 19 at 11:31 am Reply Reply

    I didn^t have the $$ for a video monitor when my daughter was born, and now at nearly 1 year – I definitely wish that I had one. Like many others, I would really love to be able to see if the noises she is making are on the way back to sleep, or standing in crib-not going back to sleep without intervention noises. It can be really hard to tell sometimes and I end up with my ear pressed against the door, TV on pause, as I try to figure out whether to go in or not….!!! arghhh!!
    But I do agree that after a few weeks I stopped using my sound monitor at night, because my mama spidey-sense kept me up listening to all those sqweaks and squawks and snuffles… now I just keep our door open and I can hear her if she truly cries out.

  38. Tanya Feb 22 at 9:45 pm Reply Reply

    I do not think that the video monitor is worth it. I had the regular lights and sounds monitor and my friends had the video monitors. I do agree that seeing the kids sleep was way cool and comforting when I was watching my friends son, however with the lights and sounds monitor I assumed my son was asleep (even if he wasn’t). If it was quiet in his room he was asleep, he let me know when he was ready to get out of bed. I got to relax and was not glued to the the video monitor wondering what he was doing up there. He was sleep trained by 4 months and we never had a problem. I think that with the monitors any sign the child is awake the parents rush to get them, when sometimes they need there time to chill and wake up.

  39. Erin May 04 at 3:54 pm Reply Reply

    Ok–I realize this was all posted back in Feb, but I’ll still add in my perspective. For me, having a video baby monitor is a requirement. I am deaf, and while I can hear my child just fine with my hearing aids, I can’t hear without. Oh–and the person that mentioned KNOWING you hear your child, as opposed to THINKING you hear your child? Big time issue for me! 
    I have this one: https://www.amazon.com/gp/css/order-history/ref=ohs_order_orderid?ie=UTF8&opt=ab&qid=&search=102-7367750-5033834&sr= and I LOVE It. Not only can I see my baby, but it has lights that I can watch, and the screen will turn on when she makes a noise. Oh and a vibrate alert, which many hearing parents say is incredibly useful. 
    But, another option is to check into security cameras. Know how the word “baby” or “wedding” seem to double…or triple the price? Same for video monitors!  I had to have the vibrate feature, but I know a mom of twins that got this: http://www.amazon.com/Foscam-FI8910W-Network-Camera-Two-Way/dp/B006ZP8UOW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1399228595&sr=8-1&keywords=security+camera and used it as a baby monitor. It works great for her! 

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