There are a few different items that can be used as substitutes for baby monitors in the home, and although they may take some extra time to set up and fine-tune, they can be very effective. They can also save money and headaches as well.
Why Parents Look for Substitutes for Baby Monitors in the Home
To some parents, baby monitors seem like a miracle solution to having some freedom and maybe even getting some laundry done while the baby is sleeping. Other parents look for substitutes for baby monitors in the home for any number of the following reasons:
- Cost-Even the cheapest monitors are usually $40 or more, and the most expensive visual observation monitors can costs hundreds of dollars.
- Frequency Interference-The high volume of a baby monitor used in the immediate area can cause cross interference, and parents can't tell whether it is their baby crying or the baby down the hall of their apartment building.
- Environmental Concerns-Most commercial baby monitors often don't last more than a few years and are made of mostly non-recyclable materials.
The Cheapest Solution
The cheapest -although definitely not easiest- alternative to a baby monitor is to structure your life and home so that you don't actually need to use a monitor. For example, you can turn a walk-in closet into a small nursery so you can hear your baby in the night without electronic assistance. You can still use naptime as an opportunity to catch up on chores; just bring what you need into the bedroom. If you have a young baby and a crib with high sides, you can even make a short run to the basement or laundry room to take out laundry or complete another brief chore.
One of the biggest difficulties with being in such close proximity to a sleeping baby is that if he wakes and sees you, he will most likely immediately cry for you and won't learn the very important skill of self-soothing. For this reason, many parents feel that it is best to try and remain out of immediate sight when the baby is sleeping.
Two Way Radios
Parents have found that hand-held two way radios (also known as walkie-talkies) can be effectively used for baby monitoring if the devices have a voice activation feature. The advantages of using a hand held radio over a baby monitor is not always price because two way radios can be expensive. However, because they are meant for field and outdoor use, most hand-held radios are much more durable and can withstand being dropped or taking a fall from a bedside table. Some two way radios are water resistant, and some are even waterproof, which can come in handy if they are the target of a thrown sippy cup with a loose top and three ounces of apple juice.
Another fairly easy solution is to use a webcam and a video chatting service to create continuous monitoring. This is a good choice for a parent who wants the ability to see the baby without the cost of the most expensive camera monitors. Since many homes already have more than one portable computer (either laptop or netbook), it's a simple matter of activating the webcams on both computers and logging both computers into a free video chatting service. This does require you to carry the second computer with you, but most netbooks don't weigh much more than the base unit of a baby monitor.
Not a Substitute for Supervision
Although some of these solutions can make a parent's life easier, any type of baby monitoring device is not a substitute for good supervision since babies and toddlers learn quickly and may develop a physical skill that can get them into trouble. Anticipating a baby's next stage of development is an important baby monitoring skill as well.