If you have a newborn, there are plenty of reasons to use a baby monitor. You’ll be able to hear when your little one needs to
be fed, changed or cuddled. A video baby monitor will
allow you to peek in on your child without waking her. A monitor can even help you bond with your infant, says Luis C. Marrero, MD, a neonatologist at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Paterson, New Jersey.
A baby monitor also can be a dangerous new addition to the household. In fact, Marrero says, because of safety issues around these devices, more and more pediatricians are asking parents if they’re using one. “Companies market baby monitors directly to parents, so it’s important for us to make sure they’re being used correctly,” he explains.
These tips for using a baby monitor will help to keep your baby, and your home, safe.
Keep the monitor out of the crib. Never place a monitor inside a crib or on the edge — even a cordless one — warns Consumer Reports. It’s not something for baby to touch or play with.
Prevent strangulation. Children as young as 6 months have managed to wrap the electrical cords attached to baby monitors around their necks, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC). When you set up a transmitter, place it at least three feet away from the crib, bassinet or play yard.
Put a label on it. To help you and other caregivers remember to keep the electrical cords well out of a baby’s reach, order a permanent warning label from the manufacturer. Learn how at babymonitorsafety.org, a website set up by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association and CPSC to promote safe baby monitor use.
Keep it high and dry. Don’t plug in a baby monitor where it could get damp or wet.
Protect your privacy. Web-connected video monitors, as with many connected appliances that make up theInternet of Things, can be hacked. There have been lots of reports of hackers speaking to parents and babies through such monitors, or even being able to control the cameras. If you use a monitor that links to the Internet, be sure to create strong passwords for both your home network and the baby monitor, advises Tom Blewitt, corporate fellow and director of principal engineers at UL, a global independent safety company.
Don’t have a false sense of security. Marrero and other parenting experts warn that just because a parent can hear or see their little one at all times doesn’t mean she’s safe. In particular, using a monitor will not protect a baby from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). “Protection from SIDS is not in video or audio, but in following American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines,” says Marrero. This includes putting an infant down to sleep on her back, keeping pillows, bumpers, soft toys and other loose items out of the crib and dressing her in a one-piece sleeper rather than using blankets to keep her warm.