Should I Get A Home Monitor For My Baby?

When I first started doing postpartum work, the most a baby monitor could do was let you hear your baby when you were in another room or hanging out the washing. Some parents found it reassuring to be able to hear their baby in case they were a bit further away than usual. Audio monitors were pretty straightforward and useful if you live in a big house.

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But now there are also video, movement, heart and breathing monitors. Things are getting pretty fancy and techy! As a result, many parents today are wondering if they need all the bells and whistles.

The first place many mums get advice from other mums. And when you ask at mum’s group if you should get a fancy home monitor, there is likely to be someone in the room who says it gave them “peace of mind.”

Which is nice.

But Do Home Monitors Really Save Lives?

When it comes to safety, Red Nose is Australia's leading authority on safe sleep and pregnancy, and have prevented 9,967 deaths.

In their guidelines on home monitoring, they say “monitors are not indicated for normal healthy babies and toddlers” and “there is no scientific evidence that using any type of monitor will prevent a sudden unexpected infant death.”

In fact, some babies have even died while these monitors were in use, there are no safety standards for baby monitors in Australia and there may be risks of strangulation and/or entrapment with monitors that have leads.

You can read more information here: https://rednose.org.au/article/home-monitoring

(Please note: I’m not referring to home monitors used by deaf parents, which are awesome!)

If you want to keep your baby safe whilst they are sleeping there are six simple things you can do:

  1. Put baby to sleep on their back

  2. Keep baby’s head and face uncovered

  3. Keep baby smoke free before and after birth

  4. Provide a safe sleeping environment night and day

  5. Sleep baby in a parent’s room for 6-12 months

  6. Breastfeed baby

It’s possible that having a monitor may increase behaviours associated with an increased risk of SIDS. For example, the guidelines recommend room sharing for the first 6-12 months of a babies life, but a monitor may give parents a false sense of security when a sleeping baby is in a separate room.

What About Peace Of Mind?

Having a baby is a big responsibility. For many parents, it's one of the scariest tasks they’ve ever undertaken. It’s possible that a little bit of stress will make you pay careful attention to your baby’s cues and become a confident parent. Thinking constantly about your baby takes some getting used to, but you can also see how it is an excellent survival strategy.

The question is when does the healthy and normal stress of learning to be a good parent cross the line into anxiety, hypervigilance or controlling or obsessive thoughts that require some extra support from professionals?

If you are educated on real SIDS risks and still very anxious, it’s probably time to check in with your mental health. This is a great, free mental health checklist available worldwide. In Australia, you can ask your GP for a mental health care plan and get some medicare rebates for extra support.

Having a postpartum doula can really help you figure out what is normal and healthy and safe for you and your family. Check out our directory here.