How to safely use a baby monitor
Baby monitors, video monitors in particular, are a great help for parents to keep an eye on their little one. You can make sure that your baby is sleeping safe and sound while you do other things around the house.
BUT, just like anything else that you place in your baby’s bedroom, you need to be very careful about where and how you use a baby monitor.
All the best baby monitors on our list use a baby unit, usually a camera with a microphone, and a parent unit or a smartphone to see the video. It’s the baby unit that you need to be especially careful with.
Things to consider: How to properly place a baby monitor
When planning for your nursery, there are 2 important elements to think about to choose the best placement for your video baby monitor in the room:
- Health and safety
- Proper viewing angle
Baby camera placement: Health and safety
Baby monitors, radio video cameras in particular, need to be placed at least 6 foot / 1.8 meters away from your child. This is the minimum safety distance recommended to limit exposure to electromagnetic radiations.
Research on digital cordless baby monitors shows indeed that monitors placed less than 3.2 foot / 1 meter away from a baby’s crib emit almost the same level of radiations as a cell phone tower 500 foot / 150 meters away.
And if your video monitor comes with a power cable, which pretty much all do, you need to be extra careful to prevent risks of strangulation (more on that below).
Baby camera location: Proper viewing angle
The second important factor to take into account when placing your baby monitor in the room is the viewing angle of your camera. You want as much as possible an unobstructed view of the cot to see your baby sleeping.
Depending on the baby monitor that you bought, the viewing angle of the camera might differ. The Summer Infant Wide View 2.0, for example, has the widest viewing angle in our tests and thus covers more inside your baby’s bedroom.
Some baby monitors also come with a remote pan, tilt, and zoom option, which is great to continue controlling the viewing angle once your child is older and moves around their bedroom. The zoom feature is particularly handy if you have a wide angle camera to clearly see your baby in the crib.
Where should you place your video baby monitor in the room?
In a nutshell, you want to find a place in your baby’s room where you can put the camera at least 6 foot / 1.8 meters away from your child, while still being close enough to give you a clear view of your baby. You also need to make sure that the microphone on the baby unit is able to clearly pick up sounds from your child.
You also need to pay close attention to the power cable on the camera unit to avoid safety hazards. Tuck in the cord or attach it to your wall to make sure that your kid won’t be able to touch it. It’s very important that the power cable remains out of reach of your baby at all times to avoid risks of strangulation.
From our experience, the best places to put a baby monitor are:
- Wall-mounted a corner near the ceiling: this is our preferred location. It gives the camera a wide coverage of your baby’s bedroom and is high enough to be out of reach. Just make sure to clip the power cable to the wall as well.
This is usually best for baby monitors that have a remote pan, tilt, and zoom feature however.
- Placed high on a shelf: if wall-mounting is not an option in your baby’s bedroom, use a tall shelf or wardrobe. Add an extra box or two underneath the camera if your shelf isn’t tall enough to give you a good viewing angle. This is best if your monitor doesn’t offer remote pan, tilt, and zoom as you’ll be able to easily move the camera around when needed.
Helpful Placement Tip: Keep in mind that as your child grows, the safety distance and location of your video monitor might change. Pick a place in the bedroom that will allow for some flexibility if you want to move the camera at a later stage.
Where you should absolutely NOT put a baby video camera
It might look nice on the manufacturer’s commercials when a baby monitor is attached to the baby’s crib, but that’s an absolute no-go. Several cases of infant strangulation have unfortunately been reported in the past when babies would enable themselves in baby monitor’s power cords.
In general, you shouldn’t put anything with a cord inside or on the edges of your baby’s cot.
How to fix or attach a baby monitor to your wall
Most of the baby monitors that we’ve tested come with the necessary wall-mounting elements. Just check the bottom of our reviews to see what’s included in the box. If your video monitor doesn’t come with its own wall-mounting screws, the manufacturers will indicate in the manual which screws it uses.
There are 5 steps to wall-mount a baby monitor:
- Test the viewing angle and sound: ask someone to hand-hold the baby monitor where you would like to wall-mount it to make sure that you can correctly see and hear your baby from that location.
- Mark the screws placement: most baby monitors will come with a handy sheet with the location of the holes that you’ll need to drill.
- Drill the necessary holes in your wall: in a corner close to your ceiling is usually best.
- Screw the baby monitor base to the wall: use the base that was provided by the manufacturer in the box.
- Attach the baby monitor the base: this is usually just a clipping mechanism.
Baby monitor placement: Differences for newborn and toddlers
One last thing to keep in mind when deciding where to put your baby camera is the age of your child and how you typically use their bedroom.
For a newborn, it’s best to have the camera placed as much as possible in vertical position to their crib in order to give you a good view of your child sleeping.
Once your baby is able to sit and stand in their bed, a slightly lower angle will be best so you can see better once they are awake. It will also be better if your baby tends to play alone in their bedroom.