Monitoring the situation

It would appear that I have become somewhat of an expert on video baby monitors. We (totally not on purpose) have ended up using three different baby monitors since Littleman was born.

So, since I have all this knowledge, I figure I might as well share it!

When I got pregnant the first time around and started looking at baby gear, I wondered if a video baby monitor was really necessary. They seemed to be gaining in popularity at the time, so we figured, what the hell? We’ll give it a try.

Philips Avent
Out first monitor was a gift from my godparents. It wasn’t one we had looked at before but their daughter had used it so they knew it was good.

We started using it once Littleman started sleeping in his own room. Right from the start, I loved it. The picture was clear, the range was decent (I could hang out in the backyard and make it to about the end of our driveway in the front). I could clip it to my pants when going downstairs to do laundry.

I liked that the power switch is on the side and is easy to flick on and off.  The volume control is the same switch (you just roll it with your thumb) so it’s super easy to do without having to flip through different menus within the monitor.  In fact, there are no menus at all.  Just a button to adjust brightness and a button for the built-in music/lullabies.

A couple of features that are missing from this monitor are the ability to pan the camera remotely and the talk-back feature.

But, our absolute favourite feature of this monitor was the sound activation. The screen remains black and the monitor is completely silent (i.e. zero static or background noise) until the baby makes a sound. Then, the screen comes on.

I loved that feature because I could glance over and see what the kid was doing without having to reach out and fiddle with buttons to activate the video.

All in all, we really liked the Philips Avent monitor.

So, why did we get a second video monitor? When Littleman was 18 months old, my parents bought a farm. It’s a property outside of the city where we can all spend weekends and holidays together. At first, we would take our monitor back and forth every weekend. After a while, that got irritating. If you’re wondering why we didn’t just give up the monitor now that the kid wasn’t a baby anymore, the main reason is the size of the farm house. It’s huge and the main living areas are far from our bedrooms.

At the time, I read some reviews of newer models of monitors. We loved ours but found it’s range wasn’t amazing at the farm. We figured we might as well try another brand and decided to go for the one that got excellent reviews (and happened to be on sale!)

Motorola MBP36

This monitor has a larger screen than our first monitor and it’s even more clear.  It took a bit of time to get used to the different locations of buttons and to figure out all the controls because this one definitely has more features than the Philips.

I liked the fact that this monitor allows you to pan the camera remotely from the parent unit.  This means the camera doesn’t have to be perfectly positioned before you leave the baby’s room.

Another nice feature was the ability to “talk back” using the parent unit.  It helped me when I’d be nursing the baby and my three-year-old would wake up.  I could talk to him through the monitor to let him know where I was and why I wasn’t coming to his room.

The biggest thing we had to get used to with this monitor was the background noise.  There was definitely a slight buzzing/hum to this one which got louder as you turned the volume up.  This meant that, at night, I had to keep the volume pretty low so that I wouldn’t be bothered by the constant noise.  I also had to get used to reaching out and fumbling for the video button to turn on the screen when Littleman would call out.  Not my favourite thing to do in the middle of the night (I definitely knocked over a glass or two of water) but I eventually figured out how to do it in the dark.

One of the main things that excited us about this monitor was the ability to add additional cameras.  We thought this would be awesome once our second baby was born.  We could see both of them with one monitor!

Again, after getting used to this one, we were quite happy with it.

So, why the third monitor? After Bo was born, I decided to look into purchasing a second camera for this monitor so we could keep an eye on both boys at the same time.  I started searching online and didn’t have any luck.  The camera was either out of stock or just not carried at all.  Seriously, I couldn’t find the extra camera anywhere.  It became increasingly annoying to carry around two monitors with me, so I knew I needed to find another solution.

20140731-205145-75105365.jpgSummer Infant Multi View

When I realized I couldn’t get an extra camera for the Motorola, I started looking at other options for monitors that come with two cameras.  Turns out there aren’t many.  The one that seemed to be easiest to find was the Summer Infant Multi View Digital Colour Video Monitor.  My sister has a different Summer monitor and seemed to be happy with it.  I read some reviews and, for the price, this seemed like a good option for us.

I was pretty excited when we finally got it.  At this point, I was using both of our monitors, which was a total pain in the arse.  I found that they were interfering with each other and it was just a lot to carry around with me.

The Summer was easy to set up and straightforward to use.  It does not have the pan feature that the Motorola has, but you can zoom in remotely.  There is less background noise than the Motorola but it isn’t as quiet as the Philips.

While it isn’t sound activated like the Philips, the button to activate the screen is large and right on the top of the monitor so you just have to slap at it (kind of like an alarm clock snooze button) which is super-easy to do in the middle of the night.

The coolest part?  The ability to see both my babies at the same time!  There is the option of having a split screen so that I can watch both of them.  Or, I can use the “scan” feature, which flips back and forth between cameras every 8 seconds.  This is the best option for us because it allows us to hear sound from both rooms (the split screen shows both rooms but only plays the audio from one of the rooms).


In the end, we’ve been lucky that all three monitors have worked well for us.  After using them all, I think that, given the choice, I would want to have the Philips Avent monitor with two cameras.  But, since that doesn’t exist, I’m happy with the Summer for now.