As parents, we want to make sure our baby is safe.
One of the ways we do that is by installing a monitor in our home. This way, we’ll know exactly when something is wrong.
While having a monitor is convenient, it also makes you wonder: Are they safe?
In this article, we’ll discuss different types of monitors. We also address the CONTROVERSY regarding radiation emission. Let’s begin!
What is a Baby Monitor?
A baby monitor is a radio system for you to hear any sounds made by your baby.
To transmit the sounds, it uses radio waves. Once the baby makes a sound, the sounds are carried through a transmitter for you to hear.
Popular alternatives are digital monitors or DECT digital baby monitors.
Both use digital waves. Their signals are also encrypted, but they’re also more expensive.
The difference is that digital baby monitors use 1.8 GHz to 2.4 GHz, whereas DECT baby monitors use 1.9 GHz (which isn’t as common).
DECT monitors also cause less interference.
More Affordable Than Digital Monitors
Analog baby monitors have been around longer. So analog tends to be cheaper than its digital counterparts.
Granted, baby products for your child are important. However, some digital and DECT baby monitors can easily go up to $200 and above.
On the other hand, prices for analog monitors start at $20.
Each has its pros and cons, so price shouldn’t be the only deciding factor.
Uses Lower Frequency
Analog baby monitors use a lower frequency than digital and DECT baby monitors.
Analog monitors have a range of 49 MHz to 900 MHz.
Why is this important? It’s directly related to your baby’s health.
Think cellphones or microwaves. These emit a type of energy called radio frequency (RF) radiation. That’s why microwave radiation became a huge issue in the past.
- Microwave ovens
- Cordless phones
Similar to cell phones, all monitors emit radiation. But the difference is that your phone only emits radiation during phone calls (calling and receiving).
However, baby monitors emit radiation the WHOLE TIME they’re on. But remember that not all radiation is harmful. Instead, the danger and risks increase when the frequency is high.
Most baby monitors with lots of features (alarm, lullaby, etc.) have a higher frequency. So if you want to play it safe, an analog monitor is the safer option.
Signal interference can be a problem if you live in an apartment building or anywhere near your neighbors. Many things can compete with the signal of your analog monitor and this includes other low-emission baby monitors.
With signal interference, there’s a chance your neighbors will hear your little one crying. Or you might end up hearing your neighbors’ conversations.
Talk about awkward, right? Signal interference could also pose privacy issues, so that’s one thing to keep in mind.
It can happen inside your home, too. Signal interference can tap into wireless devices you have at home or any device that emits radiation.
This includes phones, radios, Wi-Fi routers, microwave ovens, and so on. That’s why if security is an urgent concern for you, digital or DECT baby monitors might fit your needs better.
DECT baby monitors have an encrypted signal. So you won’t have to worry about eavesdropping or interference.
However, the good news is that many analog baby monitors and low-emission baby monitors have multiple channel options. This means you can switch in between channels to find the one with the least interference.
Keep in mind that analog baby monitors tend to have a weaker signal. Because of this, it may be a struggle if there’s a huge distance to cover between the receiver and transmitter.
Most analog baby monitors and low-emission baby monitors will be able to handle the distance. But if you live in a two- or three-story home, make sure to check the signal coverage before buying.
Low Video and Audio Quality
One of the disadvantages of analog baby monitors is the low-quality audio and video quality.
You might’ve heard some static sounds in your audio baby monitor, such as hissing or buzzing. This happens due to the low frequency, especially in the lower-end models.
A digital or video baby monitor will rarely have this problem as it uses a higher frequency. This also means it has more features, one of them being a better picture and sound quality.
Personally, we don’t consider this as a deal-breaker since an analog monitor still does its job. At the end of the day, what’s important is that we’re able to pick up the sounds coming from my child.
However, if you find yourself going to the nursery often, then a digital or audio baby monitor with a camera might suit you better. They tend to be more technical and expensive, so bear this in mind.
As mentioned, analog baby monitors and low-emission baby monitors tend to have fewer features compared to digital baby monitors.
Below are some features to consider:
- Temperature sensor
- Lullaby or music
- Day or night vision
- Zoom in
Are these features necessary? It’s entirely up to you.
For instance, a temperature sensor could be useful to make sure your little one won’t be too cold or too hot. The right temperature will make your child sleep better. This means better sleep for you too!
Just keep in mind that low-emission baby monitors with lots of features will be pricier vs. a simple audio monitor.
Most advanced baby monitors tend to have a higher frequency. This is an important consideration if you’re worried about the potential dangers of RF radiation.
Are Baby Monitors Safe?
The questions most, if not all, parents ask: ‘Are baby monitors safe?’
Before we address the controversy regarding baby monitor radiation, there are other risks you should keep in mind.
We’re sure you know this already, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Your baby monitor shouldn’t be right next to your little one.
Besides EMF radiation, your baby could reach out and start touching or nibbling on it. It could also drop towards the crib, injuring your child.
Along with that, be careful with the cords.
The cords could get tangled up and pose a strangulation hazard on your little one. If it’s near your baby, they might pull the cords.
Dangers of Baby Monitor Radiation
There’s a lot of controversy regarding baby monitor radiation and its adverse effects on your baby’s health.
Before we address that, let’s see first how baby monitors work and define some terms.
How Do Baby Monitors Work?
Baby monitors release radiation. It works the same way as a microwave would heat up food.
Radiation is the emission or transmission of energy in the forms of electromagnetic waves or particles. In particular, baby monitors have RF or microwave radiation.
Radio frequency (RF) radiation is a type of electromagnetic field. It uses high frequencies for transmitting power and signals through the air (i.e. wireless transmission).
Think of radio and TV broadcasts, cellphones, telephones, Wi-Fi, etc.
You might have encountered the term EMF (electromagnetic fields). It’s used interchangeably, but they’re different.
An electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation refers to low-frequency magnetic fields. Examples include power lines, motors, and appliances.
Note that some baby monitors use a low-frequency EMF field. These are typically the wired versions, where you have to plug it into a wall socket.
However, most baby monitors nowadays use a high-frequency electromagnetic field as they are wireless.
Baby monitors use digital or analog frequencies to send information. Measured in hertz (Hz), frequency is the number of electromagnetic waves passing at a given point per second.
The more information it sends, the higher the frequency. To give you perspective, this means your baby monitor is working at the same frequencies as your Wi-Fi router, cordless phones, etc.
What Makes Baby Monitors Dangerous?
The good news is that not all frequencies are dangerous. It only becomes dangerous if the frequency is high.
For example, microwave oven frequencies range from 1 GHz to 30 GHz.
In other words, imagine using a nice baby monitor. It’s the same as putting a microwave in the same room as your little one. Scary, isn’t it?
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), most people encounter only low levels of RF radiation. As such, it doesn’t have any relation to any health implications.
However, when it comes to your child, remember that they are more sensitive and weaker than adults. So if you ask us, we would rather be safe than sorry.
It’s best to use a good baby cradle and keep the baby monitor outside so that your child gets less radiation levels.
Studies on Baby Monitors
For instance, there are several studies that show babies and children absorb more RF radiation than adults. One of them is this American journal published in 2014.
In the article, it shows that babies have thinner skin and bone layers, making it easier for them to absorb RF radiation. Radiation can penetrate the brains of children aged 5 to 10 much more than adults.
Radiation can severely affect the brain development of your baby if there’s too much of it around. It can even disrupt sleep patterns, among other side effects.
As such, they’re exposed to a greater health risk. This includes neural development disorders, increased risk of brain tumor, ADHD, etc.
Plus, it’s worth noting that in 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified RF radiation as a “possible carcinogen to humans”.
Second, high exposure to RF radiation can cause “thermal effects”, leading to tissue damage. This happens because our body cannot handle excessive heat, especially the eyes and testes.
So, What is a Safe Range?
Baby monitors with frequencies below 300 MHz are considered “safe.” For instance, some analog baby monitors use 49 MHz, so that’s very safe!
However, digital baby monitors tend to be more dangerous as they are above 1 GHz (or 1,000 MHz). This means their frequencies are similar to a microwave oven.
How to Protect Your Baby from RF Radiation
The best way to protect your little one from radio frequency (RF) radiation is to not use a baby monitor at all.
However, we know that’s easier said than done. As parents, we lead a busy lifestyle so it isn’t easy to go back to the old-fashioned way of parenting.
We’ve listed a few tips to reduce RF radiation from your baby monitor.
Let’s go through each of them below.
Tip 1: Move the Baby Monitor as Far Away as Possible
When it comes to radiation, location matters.
Keep it at least 3 feet away from your baby. This includes the crib, play yard, bassinet, etc.
Besides the usual strangulation hazard, keeping some distance from the source of RF radiation can reduce exposure.
Another thing: It’s a good idea to use it only when you need to.
A lot of parents are so used to having the monitor on 24/7. Instead, use it only when it’s absolutely necessary.
For example, let’s say you’re going to be at home the whole day. In this case, you could just be a room away from your baby. Since your location is near, you won’t have a hard time hearing any sounds.
Tip 2: Use a Voice-Activated Baby Monitor
Some types of baby monitors are equipped with the technology to activate with voice or motion control.
This type of monitor transmits sounds only when it hears a noise coming from your baby. This will reduce the amount of RF radiation exposure.
In some devices, this is called the “eco mode” technology. These types won’t emit radiation unless it’s triggered by some kind of sound or motion (if there’s a camera).
However, take note that some baby monitors only shut off unwanted noise (e.g. white noise). So the radiation problem might still persist.
Tip 3: Place the Monitor in a Mesh Basket
A steel mesh basket is an inexpensive option to reduce RF radiation emission. You can find these things in your local store or on Amazon to maximize your low-emission baby monitor.
How does it work?
Radiation can’t travel between the parallel lines of a conductive metal. As such, placing your baby monitor inside one of these baskets will help create a barrier.
For best results, place the basket in a place higher than you and your baby’s body.
Tip 4: Buy a Low-Emission Baby Monitor
Last but not the least, buying a low-emission monitor is the best option to safeguard your baby from RF radiation.
Safe analog baby monitors and low-emission baby monitors can go as low as 49 MHz. Just be careful as some “analog” baby monitors can go up to 900 MHz and above.
We recommend that you read through our article on the Best and Safest Baby Monitors for analog baby monitor options for your home.
We hope this article cleared up any questions you might’ve had with using a baby monitor.
The thing is, it’s hard to have one that’s completely “safe” when it comes to these devices in your home.
Still, we should try our best to reduce the risks that our babies are exposed to. Weigh in all the details before buying any devices for your home, including analog monitors and low-emission baby monitors.
Look at each feature and decide if they’re necessary, or just a “nice-to-have”.
If you’re interested to learn more about all the things about safety, you can take a look at our Complete Guide to Baby Safety.
August 13, 2021 – made minor updates to article links
July 23, 2021 – Reviewed and updated article links