Audio Baby Monitors Guide
How did baby monitors come about? Who invented them?
The first commercially available baby monitor was an audio baby monitor that was developed by Eugene F. McDonald Jr. and sold in 1937 by the Zenith Radio Corporation for $19.95 per unit (about $325 today). This new gadget called the Radio Nurse sets the foundation for future baby monitors to come where 2 parts of the monitor is put together: the Guardian Ear which is the baby unit and the Radio Nurse, which is the parent unit.
The first commercially available baby monitor, the Radio Nurse
However, the Radio Nurse didn’t last long as not only was it too expensive for most people to afford at that time, it also suffered from terrible interferences from other radio signals, making it an ineffective baby monitor. Unlike what we know of today, the broadcast of signals from the Guardian Ear to the Radio Nurse was not over air, rather it was sent through the home’s electrical wiring. This makes it hard to isolate the signal coming from the baby monitor and results in the Radio Nurse picking up radio signals from other devices in the area. It was only after another 50 years that baby monitors came back to the market with better designs and signal transmissions.
History of the making of the Radio Nurse
A case of baby kidnapping in 1932 of the Lindbergh’s baby led to Eugene F. McDonald, Jr. to eagerly commence the development of a method for McDonald to listen in on his newborn daughter. The mastermind designer behind the Radio Nurse was Isamu Noguchi, who designed it in Bakelite, an early plastic. It was said to be “an impressive abstract form that managed to capture the essence of a benign, yet no-nonsense nurse.” The Radio Nurse was then displayed in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s annual sculpture exhibition that year.
Audio Baby Monitors
Audio baby monitors offer voice only feature to allow you to monitor your baby. Some models allow you to talk back to your baby but pretty much the main feature is a voice only device to hear what’s going on in your baby’s room.
Who is audio baby monitors for?
In choosing between an audio or a video baby monitor, or even a baby monitor that detects baby’s movement, there are many factors that can influence your choice. Even though video & movement baby monitors are more advanced baby monitors, it doesn’t mean that they will be suitable for everyone.
Here we will evaluate who will be suitable for an audio baby monitor.
Are you willing to spend at least $80 for a set of baby monitor?
Video or movement baby monitors are the more expensive cousins as compared to audio monitors due to their additional features. A good quality set of video monitor such as the Infant Optics DXR-8 Video Baby Monitor will set you back at least $168 USD. Don't get me wrong, these video and movement baby monitors are excellent for any parents to keep a watchful eye on your baby however they come at a hefty price. If money is not an issue for you, then you can expand your search horizon to include both video and movement baby monitors.
Infant Optics DXR-8 Video Baby Monitor (click here to read reviews and check price)
Is your house single storey and/or less than 550 square feet?
This question evaluates the size of your apartment to the need to have a video or motion sensor feature for your baby monitor. Generally, the smaller the size of your apartment, the lesser the need to have more features on the baby monitor.
The average size of an apartment in the city in the U.S. is about 550 square feet. Imagine if you can hear your baby crying from your living room of 1-bedroom apartment, it takes only literally 5 steps for you to walk right into the bedroom to check on your baby. And in this case, it is likely that your baby will be sleeping with you in the same room at night so having a baby monitor with night vision video feature doesn’t quite make sense for you too.
So, if you have a smaller apartment which allows you to see and hear it all within 5 steps of the house, then you can invest in an audio baby monitor and save all those money!
Do you have a live-in nanny/help for your newborn?
If you are one of those fortunate mommies out there who can afford to have a live-in nanny or your mother-in-law chip in to help take care of your baby on a daily basis, then the constant supervision provided by these wonderful people can substitute your need to own a video or movement baby monitor. As long as your nanny is taking care of your baby 90% of the time, then you wouldn’t need to invest in a baby monitor with additional features.
Do you even need a baby monitor in this case? My take is yes, as holding the parent unit of the baby monitor in my hands while I take care of other chores in the living room gives me a tremendous sense of security knowing that I will be notified in the first instance if my baby cries or make any sound.
How did you fare?
If you check 2 or more of the above 3 questions, then it is likely that an audio baby monitor is the right one for you! Next, we move on to evaluate the options available in the market.
Pros of Audio Baby Monitors
First of all, an audio baby monitor is easier & simpler to use. No fuss, straight-forward device allowing you to hear your baby cry when you are away. If you are not one who loves to mess with technology, then this simple to use gadget is probably right for you!
Secondly, it is one of the most affordable baby monitors in the market, with some of the best brands offering as low as USD$30. You can enjoy a quality product backed by a high standard company when you choose this option.
Cons of Audio Baby Monitors
The most obvious disadvantage of audio-only baby monitors is that you only get to hear your little one, and you can't see nor be notified by their body motions. If you are a new mom, this is your first child and you may want to have 24/7 supervision over your little baby. Having to be able to not only hear your baby, but also be able to see him/her would definitely be a great bonus for you.
If you have a large house with more than 1 floor, being able to see your baby remotely can help save a lot of unnecessary trips to the nursery to check in with your baby every time he/she cry or make a sound. This could be a large lifesaver especially at night as you wouldn't want to be checking on your baby every 10 minutes in the middle of the night.
Major Audio Baby Monitor Brands
In the U.S., there are many brand of baby monitors available in the market. When it comes to audio baby monitors, there are 4 major brands that supplies good quality and well-reviewed audio baby monitors. The brand are:
2. Phillips Avent
3. Graco Secure
VTech Audio Baby Monitors
There are 2 models of VTech audio baby monitors that you can consider - DM111 and DM221. The latter model is more advanced and has a digital screen on the parent unit.
In terms of features, DM221 is different from DM111 because it has:
1. 2 way talk feature
2. Vibration alert
3. Night light on baby unit
Phillips Avent Baby Monitors
There are 3 models of Phillips Avent audio baby monitors available in the market. They are SCD501, SCD560 and SCD570 audio baby monitors. The larger numbered models are the newest models with more features added on.
Phillips Avent SCD560 is very similar to SCD570 except the latter version has:
1. Vibration Alert
2. 5 LED lights on parent unit (compared to 3 LED lights)
3. Charging station for parnet unit
Graco Secure Baby Monitor
Graco, a company headquartered in North Carolina started out as a company manufacturing machine and car parts for local companies and later shifted their focus to manufacturing baby related products like car seats, strollers and baby monitors.
It's Secure Coverage model of digital audio baby monitor is one of its best selling baby monitors. It comes in either a set of 1 parent unit & 1 baby unit or a set of 2 parent units & 1 baby unit.
Graco Secure Baby Monitor (Click here to read reviews & check price)
Angelcare Baby Monitor
Angelcare brand of baby monitors are most famous for their range of movement baby monitors. They have a complete range of offerings including audio, video and movement baby monitors.
Its audio only baby monitor, model AC420 features its iconic "angel" baby unit and a parent unit with full color screen.
Angelcare AC420 Baby Monitor (Click here to read reviews and check price)
Which is the BEST Audio Baby Monitor?
We know this is the part that you have been waiting for! In order to help you along your decision making, we've created a table (see picture below) that compares all the features and shows the differences among the brands.
Depending on your needs, you can evaluate the different brands/models and decide which is the best baby monitor for you. Some features like charging station, temperature display or lullaby are good to have features while other features like 2 way talk, number of LED lights, rechargeable parent unit etc are more essential features that can dramatically improve your experience with these monitors.
Based on the table below, our vote goes to.... (drum roll...)
If price is not a problem:
Phililps Avent SCD570
If you have a strict budget: