Baby monitors enable you to keep an eye and an ear on your baby when you’re out of the room. Monitors may be convenient early in the life of your baby when they sleep throughout the day. Specialised monitors may sometimes be recommended by a professional if your baby has a medical condition.

Why use a baby monitor?

Baby monitors may be used for a number of reasons. They’re handy during the day when your baby is sleeping and you’re in another part of the house; they may let you know when your baby wants to feed (offering milk or formula early can help feeding success); and a doctor may recommend a specialised monitor if your baby has a medical condition that requires early intervention.

The different types of baby monitors

  • Audio only – These monitors are like one-way walkie-talkies. They may use radio, mobile data or Wi-Fi to let you hear when your baby is crying or waking from sleep.
  • Audio-visual – In addition to enabling you to hear your baby, these monitors also let you watch your baby from a receiver or phone app.
  • Movement monitors – Using sensors attached to your baby and set up within their cot, these monitors will send an alarm when your baby stops moving, or their tummy stops rising, after a set period of time.
  • Heart rate, oxygen and breathing – Often only used on the advice of a doctor and if your baby has a medical or developmental condition, these specialised monitors alert you if your baby’s heart rate, breathing or oxygen levels become irregular or fall below a certain level. They often come with additional sensors that must be affixed correctly to ensure accuracy.
    • Some monitors or phone apps may light up or vibrate to alert hearing impaired parents.
    • It’s important that you have a plan in place for when the alarm goes off, and this plan must be shared with anyone caring for your baby.

Baby monitor safety

In terms of safety, there is no substitute for being in the same room as your baby; batteries, apps, power, and Wi-Fi can all fail, and relying on an alert from your baby monitor may delay the delivery of medical care.

During the day, a baby monitor can free you up around the house while your baby sleeps, but sleeping in the same room as your baby for the first six to 12 months of their life is linked to a reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI).

There is no established link between the use of baby monitors and a reduction in SIDS and SUDI; your baby is safest when they are with you.

For more information

A nurse or doctor will be able to give you advice about using baby monitors generally. Speak to a paediatrician or your child and family health nurse if you are considering using a specialist baby monitor without direct medical advice to do so.