I never imagined choosing a baby monitor would open up such fierce debate …
When it comes to pregnancy generally, and buying baby things specifically, I realise the in-depth interest of men and women is very different. My husband is a very enthusiastic father-to-be, but is unlikely to spend hours online browsing for tiny bodysuits and socks.
To give him something suitably manly to do, he is the designated chief of gadget purchase – i.e. pram and baby monitor.
As the kind of man who reads Stuff magazine, he jumped at the chance to track down the James Bond supercar of baby monitors. He wanted a marvel of modern audio-visual technology: HD imagery, Wi-Fi connectivity, zoom, pan and tilt capability, room temperature monitoring and movement sensor pads.
Then, we started having conversations that made us completely rethink our approach.
Wi-Fi – dangerous for babies?
A friend of mine and newbie dad mentioned he switches the Wi-Fi off in his house to limit baby-harming rays.
I’d never considered this. I’ve heard rumours of the health effects of mobile telephone use and phone masts, but hadn’t connected this possibility to the Wi-Fi buzzing happily around our house.
Is it true? Is Wi-Fi harmful for babies? – here’s what the internet thinks:
- Wireless baby monitor’s close to the crib emit the same radiation as a phone mast 150 metres away. Parents using old-style plug-in monitors report babies that sleep better and cry less. (Source: Healthy Home Economist)
- Wi-Fi uses the same low frequency, non-ionizing radiation as a microwave oven, making it harmless. (Source: How-to-Geek)
- From 25,000 articles published across 30 years, no evidence of health consequences from low-level electromagnetic fields (i.e. like Wi-Fi). There will be further ongoing research though. (Source: World Health Organisation)
- Constant low-level exposure could be damaging in the long-term, no-one knows yet. Babies are more vulnerable, having thinner skulls. If there’s even a small possibility of risk, there should be a duty to protect the child. (Source: Wired Child)
Looking vs. listening
Having failed to reach a conclusion on Wi-Fi, we raised the subject with our midwife to see if our practise had any advice.
Officially – no. But we did get our midwife’s personal opinion. Taking as evidence how incoming phone calls could interrupt her echo machine, she felt it’s better to be over-cautious. But – more than this – she asked how we’d appreciate constantly having a camera in our face.
Her somewhat ‘old school’ approach to parenting – i.e. a reliance on natural instincts over technology – was that you can usually hear if something’s wrong. Scrapping the video monitor also means you’re less inclined, in an over-paranoid parent way, to constantly watch your little one sleep.
It’s a good point. But how to balance this with the reassurance we’ll surely crave that our baby is ok?
Which baby monitor?
Our decision is that we don’t feel comfortable without any baby monitor – for a starter, you can’t always hear everything in our house. But we are scaling back. Here’s what we think we do / don’t need:
- Video / sensor mat – don’t need.
- Audio – need
- Digital – undecided, but it’s hard to find one that isn’t. We’ll probably just make sure to keep it a safe distance from the cot.
Which means, some of these are on the shortlist:
1. Philips Avent SCD560
2. Topcom Babytalker 3600 Nemo
3. Babymoov Premium Care Digital Green DECT
What do you think about the dangers of wi-fi? A real concern? Or unsubstantiated scaremongering? And do you have any monitor recommendations?
[Cover Image: Geek Gazette]