Near the top of the ‘to buy for baby’ list when you are pregnant is a baby monitor. Usually a fancy one, with a video; likely even wifi that means you can check on bub from a fancy app on your phone. And while they are really popular; I have to be honest and say I’m actually not a fan. But stick with meanwhile I explain why...
1. They give you more information than you need
You really only need to know if your baby is upset. In most houses you will hear if your baby needs you. Even If you are lucky enough to live in a 42 room chateau or have some very fancy sound proofing in your internal walls; a sound only monitor will still tell you everything you need to know. You don’t need to know if they've flung their left leg over their right or they are rubbing the sheet or moving their head around. You don’t need to know the exact minute they stopped fidgeting around. All you need to know is if they are upset. So you can blissfully ignore these other normal processes babies go through in their sleep.
2. They give you another screen or app to look at instead of living your life while your baby is asleep.
Let's be honest screens are addictive (Have you seen the social dilemma on Netflix?). They are especially addictive when our beloved baby is the star of the show. I have spoken to parents who spend a lot of their day looking at the monitor. They will eat their dinner together watching the monitor or sit down with a cup of tea after putting their baby down (Good move) but watch the monitor (not so good move) to see what’s going on rather than read a book or call a friend or even catch some sleep themselves.
3. Video monitors also make caregivers react to the baby when they would be better off if left to sort themselves out
If your baby has woken after a sleep cycle and is perfectly happy in bed they will often have a little look around, contemplate their fingers maybe have a little chat or even a little squawk and go back to sleep to continue all the good things that sleep brings them. But if you’re staring at the video monitor; waiting for the moment their little eyes spring open, the temptation is to go and either get them up or give them some help.
While both of these things are lovely; they give the baby associations with waking up. Unfortunately that won’t be particularly helpful in the long run. AS it can make the baby need your intervention each time they wake up. Not always so sweet at 4am.
Recently; I was talking to a colleague at the sleep school, and she had a different perspective. In her role as a parent, video monitors assured her that the baby was OK, therefore she didn’t need to react. As a fellow baby sleep nurse; she has a deeper understanding of baby sleep that not many parents are privy to. And I can see her point. But still think they can cause more harm than good; with parents spending too much time invested in watching their baby. I realise I'm fighting an unwinnable fight and as always, I take parents needs into any work I do! So I do include the monitor in any education I give the parents, but I also try to encourage them to step away. Enjoy that nap time while you get it!