With my first baby, baby monitors with a camera were not well known and were pretty expensive. I was happy with my Philips Avent SCD536/00 to monitor our baby when she was sleeping. It had good test reviews for reliability and distance plus it was low on the electro smog emission scale (see more details here). It was as good as promised and we always felt like we were in touch with our baby’s sleeping and waking through the monitor. It worked on out in the garden and even through the thick, old farmhouse walls of my mother-in-law’s house. So why change a winning formula for baby number two?
There are still a few moments, even with a reliable baby monitor, where you really are not sure what is going on in the room, and the biggest problem for the baby monitor without a camera, is that these moments are normally accompanied by silence…You know when the baby has been doing a heart-wrenching wail and then suddenly…nothing…and you have no idea if they are sleeping, or have been beamed up into space by the Starship Enterprise, but you know that if you do go and peek, it is sod’s law that they were sleeping and you will wake them, but it you do not go and peek you will not rest again until they make another noise. Familiar? This was a problem for us especially in our old flat, because everything was so creaky! I think we could have become cat burglars after our first baby because we were pretty good at opening her door just enough to check she was still alive but without any noise to wake her from her precious sleep.
Although memories fade when you leave five years between your children, they are re-awakened when you are looking at which equipment you are going to need to get. Somehow the parent receiver part of our first baby monitor had been lost in the four moves we did, so we had to buy a new monitor and we both quickly agreed to check out the monitors with cameras because we now live in a narrow, three story town-house, with the baby sleeping on the top floor! For us the main criteria the monitor should fulfill were:
- Be reliable, that means for us that it jumps to life at the smallest sniffle from the baby.
- Battery saving – our neighbors had a camera monitor that basically permanently needed juice and was annoying if they sat outside in the summer and had to be within a two meter radius of a plug.
- Low electrical smog emissions – Ok, cameras are not going to be the best choice, but we didn’t want it to be the worst of the worst.
- Price – It was going to be a present from the in-laws so it needed to be reasonable or else they would faint.
- Picture quality – I am not someone who can tell a foot from a hip on an ultrasound picture, so I needed a clear picture, even in nighttime mode.
How we chose the Philips Avent SCD603/00. Our local electrical store had only a few examples, so I spent a lot of time looking and asking around about different monitors. Knowing what my criteria was made it easier, so ask friends who have these products and get their feedback, they will be the most honest responses because they have got nothing to gain from it. The reviews for the Philips Avent SCD603/00 came back positive and the local store even had one for us to see up close. The price was fair and it had what we wanted.
What I really like:
- It is very reliable and sensitive. If my husband snores in the next room, it jumps to life, or if a heavy truck drives past the house, it jumps to life. It is enthusiastic in it’s approach to relaying baby noises which is something I really like.
- Apart from twenty minutes every day between sunset and actual darkness when the picture on the monitor is mainly just a grey haze, the day and night cameras are surprisingly good. Too good sometimes, when you forget that the night camera is on and you are feeding your baby while your in-laws are watching.
- The Philips Monitor has the choice to switch on what I call the „call me if she cries“ mode, which saves the battery life immensely. Of course you can switch this on and off as you please, if you fancy staring at your little bundle of joy for three hours while they sleep, now you can!
- The monitor is a good size.
- There is no extra fancy. This is personal taste, but I like a straightforward monitor where more thought and money was spent on the basics.
- It stands up easily alone. Some monitors need their little docking bases to really be stable standing up, but thanks to the little belt carrier part at the back, this monitor stands up alone no problem.
- Price – The price is pretty constant which is not the case with many other monitors. The Philips monitors generally are. They are fair and vary very little from shop to shop. I paid €109 for ours, amazon has it for €119.
Things To Consider:
- You have to position the camera right, or you will be looking at the wall. This takes some practice, especially if (like me), you do not want to attach the camera to the wall so you can take it with you when you travel. My baby rolls all around her cot, so I needed to move the furniture to get the best shot.
- You cannot do two-way speech on this monitor, so you cannot give directions to a partner while they try to locate the lost binky etc. but it is funny watching them scrabble around in the dark while you enjoy your night-vision!
- The music – I really do not like the music, but that is because it has never soothed my children to sleep, it really seems to irritate them! I think this would be the case with all music, the Philips one has a nice selections so if your child likes music to sleep to, this would be a plus. I just don’t need any music at all.
- The buttons are a bit of a fiddle, and an extra hazard is accidentally pressing the „play music“ button on the side of the monitor when you pick it up or carry it around. If you read my point three you will understand why this is like pressing the activate button on a nuclear weapon at one in the morning when you are checking they are ok. I would have preferred all of the buttons to be on the front of the monitor.
In all, I would (and have) recommend this monitor and a camera monitor in general, because it really is nice to see what the baby is doing and whether they are quiet but are tired and lying down, or quiet and dismantling the cot. It doesn’t mean that we don’t still sometimes creep into the room and check they are still ok, nothing will replace that fear in all parents, but it helps reduce the number of times that this is really necessary.