It does not mean that you will only need this if you live in a big house. I find this item very essential even though I live in a small apartment. E.g. when I am cooking in the kitchen (with the doors closed) and Dominic is sleeping in the room, I won’t be able to hear him when he wakes without a baby monitor.
These days there are a lot of fancy ones that cost a bomb. They have fanciful features like movement detection, room temperature monitor, etc. In my opinion, it is really unnecessary to pay so much money for these fanciful stuff. More often than not, these people play on your fears, E.g. fear of SIDS. A sales technique which I really detest. So unless you are super paranoid, or simply have lots of money to splurge, give them a miss.
A few things to remember when buying a baby monitor :
1. Power Supply
Preferably, get something that can be powered by both AC power (ie. directly from the socket) AND batteries. Firstly, you will most likely be moving the “Parent’s Unit” around with you, and you may not have access to a power socket (e.g. in the backyard). Hence, it would be useful if it can be powered by batteries.
On the other hand, it can be quite costly in the long run to keep using batteries, especially for the “Baby’s Unit”, which will most likely be in the same place all the time – the place where your baby sleeps. It’s better to attach it to a socket.
One tip about batteries : use rechargeables. They are cheaper in the long run.
2. IDA* Approved
As certain model of baby monitor interferes with mobile phone signals, get something that has the IDA approved mark on it. You will be fined if you are caught using one not approved by IDA.
*IDA : Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore
If you stay in a big house, you must make sure that the range of the monitor can cover the desired area. Some of the cheaper brands can only be used within a very small area.
4. Digital vs Analog
For better reception and less interference, go for digital ones. They are, of course, more expensive.
I just found out that the newer Walkie Talkies can double up as a baby monitor! Basically, you must buy one that can allow you to leave one handset on at all times. That will be the one that you place with the baby.
This is a good option because they can be cheaper than a baby monitor and you can use them as walkie talkie once you don’t need them as baby monitor anymore.
What I am using :
I started off with a set of Pigeon Baby Monitor. They were kept on almost 24/7, never switched off, for almost 6 years! No kidding. After 6 years, they finally conked out on me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find them in the shops anymore. I think the local Pigeon distributor does not bring this in anymore. So right now, I am using Philips Baby Monitor – which is currently the most commonly found one and the cheaper one.