When you’re a new parent, it can be pretty freaky putting your baby in their own bedroom for the first time.
That’s why lots of parents opt to have their babies in the same room as them at night for several months.
But, eventually, it’s best for everyone’s sleep if there’s some separation.
The problem is, you still need to be available at the drop of a hat, the minute they need you.
This is where the baby monitor is a wonderful solution.
Most parents opt for baby monitors with a built-in video feed, but there are audio-only options available, as well.
What’s the difference between a video baby monitor and an audio baby monitor? Which one is right for you?
Video baby monitors are the go-to choice for most parents — they have way more features (like room temperature readings) and allow you to visually check in on baby’s safety at any time. However, they’re more expensive than audio monitors and have a limited range.
Audio monitors are pretty cheap, usually, so there’s no reason you couldn’t keep one as a spare if you want to venture farther from baby’s room or need the extra battery life on some occasions.
Let’s talk more about the differences between these two kinds of baby monitors, and the pros and cons of each.
Video Baby Monitors Explained
Video baby monitors allow you to view a live streaming video (with audio, of course) of your baby whenever and wherever you place it.
Most people face the camera towards their baby’s bed to keep an eye on them while they sleep.
Some video baby monitors come with motion detection technology that will alert you when your baby is moving (which is useful when they are more mobile), or give you the option to remotely move the camera when needed.
Other cool features can include:
- a room temperature reader
- talking back to your baby (two-way talk)
- breathing detection
- and automatic night vision.
Video versions of baby monitors include one camera that connects via an app through your phone, or it comes with its own video monitor or “parent unit.”
(Learn more about video baby monitors vs security or web cams.)
These kinds of monitors are useful when you want to make sure your baby is asleep and safe without disturbing them by going into their room.
It’s also ideal for monitoring multiple children, either all in one room or connecting another camera from another room.
(Concerned about baby monitor hacking? Read about how to choose the safest baby monitor here.)
Pros & Cons of Video Baby Monitors
Video baby monitors are the standard these days, but it’s worth considering some of the benefits and drawbacks to this type of model.
- They allow you to see and hear your baby whenever you want. No need to stealthily walk into your baby’s room to check on them. You can just take a look at your video stream to see how your baby is fairing.
- You can monitor multiple children at once. A video camera can be placed in a part of the room where it’s possible to see all children in the room, or, with the right video system, you could purchase multiple cameras for different rooms.
- They include added features that audio-only monitors don’t have. From motion detection to foom temperature reading, these video monitors have lots of extra features that audio-only monitors don’t have.
- They are more expensive. As technology continues to improve, video baby monitors have become a lot more affordable. But they’re still more expensive than simple audio transmitters.
- They don’t have as much battery life. Video monitors, when not plugged in, will have less battery life than audio-only monitors. It can be pretty inconvenient if you’re trying to hang out outside and the monitor’s dying on you!
- Can become an obsession. The ability to see baby all the time can overwhelm new parents. You might find yourself checking in constantly throughout the night instead of getting much-needed sleep.
For overall safety and features, video monitors are the clear choice.
But there are some drawbacks, mainly the battery life, limited range, and potential to become fixated on visually checking in on baby all the time.
Audio Baby Monitors Explained
Audio-only baby monitors are old school, but they are still reliable.
They use a radio signal or a digital signal to allow you to hear noises in your baby’s room while you are moving about your house or yard.
They typically have a base unit that plugs into the wall and stays in your child’s room, as well as a parent unit that has AA or rechargeable batteries that can go with you.
These audio baby monitors usually have about a 1,000-foot range reception.
In addition to transmitting the audio, the monitor’s receiver unit will often light up when noise is coming through from baby’s room, so you’ll get a visual cue, as well.
Audio baby monitors excel in their value.
You can pick one up for around $20-$30 dollars, while video monitors can be hundreds of dollars.
They are simple as well — very straightforward in setup and use.
You might want to have an audio monitor for simple monitoring of baby noises, and when you don’t need all the bells and whistles of video monitors.
Pros and Cons of Audio Baby Monitors
- They are simple. Audio baby monitors only track audio, making them less complicated to operate.
- They have a long battery life. Because there is no live streaming video, the batteries on the parent unit can last a long time, meaning the unit can go with you wherever you go in or outside your home.
- They have excellent range. Audio baby monitors will usually allow you to stray farther from baby’s room than video models. They can come in handy for hanging in the back yard at night or venturing to your next door neighbor’s patio while still keeping an ear open for baby.
- They are inexpensive. Audio baby monitors are affordable for most people, making them a great budget option.
- They don’t have as many features. Some audio baby monitors have extra features like a night light and 2-way talking, but the video monitors have many more features.
- You cannot see your baby. Even though it’s an obvious difference, it’s still worth considering that you will not be able to see your baby while using this system. This is important if you are considering a “cry it out” method of sleep training, where it might be important to see if there’s a reason your baby is crying.
The lack of video makes audio monitors less than ideal from a safety standpoint.
But they’re still useful in the right circumstances, with excellent range and battery life. Plus, you can often get a good one for less than $30.
You’re going to need a baby monitor for your newborn, one way or another — unless you’re SUPER old school!
And more than likely, you’ll want to use a video monitor so you can check in visually on baby when he’s crying and make sure he’s safe. The video monitor will also allow you to check the temperature in the room, talk to baby, and more.
But audio monitors have their advantages, as well.
If you’re finding yourself obsessively checking in on your newborn at night and losing sleep, consider using an audio monitor to break the habit. You can also keep one around if you plan to venture a little farther from baby’s room at night or during naptime and want the extra range.
Since audio monitors are so affordable, you can realistically have both! Set up a video monitor for general use and keep an audio monitor handy for special circumstances, if you want.
Before you go, check out more in this series like:
Hope this helps!