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The Truth About Baby Monitors: Friend or Foe?

Baby monitors are useful tools, especially for sleep training, but it’s important not to overdo it.

When my first baby was born, I felt like most new parents – super excited, but a little bit scared too. My new best friend became my baby monitor. I can still remember how I would quietly leave the baby’s room, holding the monitor tightly. It made me feel safe, knowing I could listen to my baby from anywhere in my home.

A baby monitor is a must-buy on every parent’s list. They let you know when your baby wakes up, cries, or if anything seems wrong in their room. Most of us can’t imagine not using a baby monitor. And it can certainly be helpful for both convenience and safety reasons.

But here’s the thing – as great as baby monitors are, they can also cause some problems. Especially when we start using them too much. Just like everything else, it’s all about balance. We need to find the right amount of use for these handy tools. Don’t worry, we’ll talk about this more later. For now, let’s look at all the good things that baby monitors do. 

The Bright Side of Baby Monitors

Let’s take a look at all the reasons to love your baby monitor. 

Peace of mind

The number one benefit of a baby monitor is the peace of mind you’ll have. Baby monitors let you know right away if your child needs you. That way, you can spend less time worrying and more time enjoying those precious moments with your baby.

Not just for listening

Baby monitors have certainly evolved even since I used mine. They’re not just about sound anymore; they’re about visual, breathing, temperature, and sleep pattern monitoring. They’re almost like digital babysitters, keeping you connected to your baby even when you can’t be physically present. However, it’s important to keep in mind that most of the baby monitors that ‘report’ your baby’s heart rate and breathing are not FDA regulated and their effectiveness has not been proven.

Master of multitasking

As a parent, your to-do list never seems to get shorter. Whether you’re cooking, working, or just grabbing a moment of peace, a baby monitor lets you keep a watchful eye on your darling. You can juggle your tasks while still being there for your baby. In the whirlwind of parenthood, this kind of multitasking is nothing short of a superpower. 

Sleep training assistant

Baby monitors can be especially helpful during sleep training. When you’re teaching your baby to sleep on their own, a baby monitor lets you see and hear what’s happening. You will feel more secure knowing that you can help your baby if they’re in real distress and that you have all the information you need to follow your sleep training plan. 

Travel buddy

Let’s not forget about travel! When you’re visiting family or on a vacation, baby monitors can be really helpful. You can keep the same routine as at home, making sure your little one is comfy and secure, no matter where you are. 

Too Much of a Good Thing? The Dark Side of Baby Monitors 

Anxiety trigger

Baby monitors are helpful, but you don’t need to look at yours all the time. When you keep checking the monitor, even if your baby is quiet, you can start to feel more worried.

Every little sound or movement might seem like a big deal. It’s normal to worry about your little ones. But if you’re always checking, the monitor can make you feel stressed instead of calm. It’s important to remember, babies will make noises, move around, and have light sleep phases – it’s all part of their normal sleep pattern.

The not-so-silent sleep thief

We all know how important sleep is, especially for new parents trying to catch some rest. However, a baby monitor could inadvertently become the culprit of your sleepless nights. 

Babies are naturally noisy sleepers – they grunt, squeak, and fuss in their sleep, and it’s all part of their normal sleep behavior. But when every little sound is amplified through a baby monitor, it’s easy to jump at these noises, mistaking them for signs of distress. If you’re a light sleeper, these sounds can disrupt your sleep, even if your baby is just dreaming away. 

It’s key to remember that not every noise needs immediate attention. Often, babies will settle back into sleep on their own. By jumping up at every peep, you could be losing precious sleep and possibly teaching your baby to rely on you to fall back asleep.

Too Much Surveillance, Not Enough Independence

One of the things I often remind parents of in my sleep coaching practice is that sleep is a skill we learn, even as tiny babies. Just like learning to walk or talk, babies need time and space to master sleeping on their own. 

Your baby monitor might actually be setting you back in helping your child sleep independently. Hearing every noise your baby makes can create an urge in us parents to rush in at the slightest disturbance. By doing that you might be taking away an opportunity for your baby to practice self-soothing skills that increase their independence.

Baby Monitor Battles

Oh, I can’t forget the infamous ‘baby monitor saga’ in our house! My husband, bless his heart, suggested we ease up on the baby monitor. He thought we could give it a rest now and then. Me? I felt like I was surgically attached to the thing. 

Getting on the same page about the monitor became an unexpected point of contention in our house. Our ideas clashed – when to check, when to go in, when to let our baby self-soothe. It didn’t help that this was before we agreed on a sleep training strategy. We did figure it out eventually. We started to understand each other’s worries, found common ground, and set some ground rules. The tension eased, and we remembered – the baby monitor is a tool, not the boss of us! 

It’s important to keep in mind that such disagreements can happen. Finding balance and mutual understanding is key. It’ll save you from those unexpected ‘monitor wars’.

Smarter Monitors, Bigger Risks

Nowadays, a lot of baby monitors connect to the internet. While this can be super handy, it can also cause some problems. If the company that makes your monitor doesn’t protect your data well enough, someone could potentially access your monitor. It’s important to pick a monitor from a company that you trust and that takes data security seriously. 

When to Consider Letting Go of the Baby Monitor

As your little one grows and changes, so too should your parenting tools. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you’re thinking about not using the baby monitor anymore: 

Does the baby monitor keep you awake?

Sleep is so important, especially when you’re a new parent. But sometimes, the baby monitor can make it hard to sleep. Do you wake up at every little noise it makes? Remember, babies make lots of sounds when they sleep. You don’t have to check on them each time. If the baby monitor is making it hard for you to sleep, it might be time to use it less; or at the very least, turn down the volume. 

Is the baby monitor too distracting?

Do you check the baby monitor all the time? Is it making you feel worried instead of calm? If so, you might need to use it less. The baby monitor is a tool to help you. It shouldn’t control your day. 

Is your toddler ready to say goodbye to the monitor?

As your baby grows into a toddler, things change. They start to move into a big kid bed and, wow, can they move! This is a time when you might need to dust off the baby monitor again. It’s helpful to watch and make sure they’re following the ‘stay in bed’ rules. But once you’re sure they’ve got it down, you can say goodbye to the monitor. This can feel like a big step, but remember, it’s a normal part of their growing up.

Do you need a baby monitor at all?

Some families might not need a baby monitor. If your home is small and you can hear your baby easily, or if your baby sleeps in your room, you might not need one. Every family is different. It’s important to do what works best for you.

Handy Tips for Baby Monitor Use

A baby monitor can be a lifesaver, but it’s all about how you use it. These handy tips are designed to help you optimize your baby monitor use, ensuring peaceful nights for both you and your little one. Let’s make that baby monitor work for you, not against you!

Turn it down a notch: Ease up on the sensitivity and volume settings of your monitor. This little tweak helps decrease the number of alarms your monitor sends you. And you’ll still be able to clearly hear your baby when they genuinely need you.

Change your monitor’s location: Trust me on this one; shifting your baby monitor to a different spot can work wonders. I found moving the monitor to my husband’s side of the bed was a game-changer. I could still hear when something was up, but I wasn’t losing sleep over every little noise.

Don’t rush in: Baby monitors are meant to help, but sometimes they make us a tad overzealous in our parental duties. It’s important to foster independence in your child’s sleep habits. By holding back just a bit, you afford your baby the opportunity to learn self-soothing techniques, a skill that is crucial for their development. Remember, the monitor is a tool, not a reason to interrupt those crucial sleep-learning moments.

Use video: Consider investing in a video baby monitor. It’s about more than just hearing your baby – being able to see what’s going on can give you extra peace of mind. It allows you to assess situations better: Is the baby sitting up, standing, or got a leg stuck? A picture, after all, paints a thousand words.

Tools like baby monitors can be helpful, but it’s important to remember what they’re really for – to provide a little extra peace of mind and inform you of a potential emergency. That’s it. With that said, if you’re still having trouble with your child’s sleep,  don’t worry. At Tender Transitions, we’re experts in helping solve sleep problems. Schedule a free call to find out how we can help you.

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