I did a lot of research about baby monitors and there are essentially 3 types:
- Sound only (which is what we went for);
- Video (where you can watch your baby);
- Movement sensor pads (which go under the mattress and monitor breathing levels/heart rate).
The first step is to decide which of the above is right for your family. I initially wanted a monitoring pad and after much deliberation decided upon the Angelcare AC401 Baby Movement Sensor Pad and Sound monitor. I based this upon excellent reviews and recommendation of 3 friends. At the time of looking it was nearly £100 but at the moment seems to be heavily discounted. In November 2013 there was a large recall of these items, but the message from Angelcare is that even without the ‘fix’ these are safe if installed correctly, so please do read the safety manuals and everything you can, do not be put off by scaremongering but take care to make the right decisions for you and your baby. Personally if I do need to replace my baby monitor in future I am definitely going to get one of these at their much reduced price.
When we finally got round to getting a baby monitor our baby was about 4 months and I decided to settle for a sound only monitor. We purchased the Tomy TF550 Digital sound monitor, they do a range of these type of Monitors (in addition to video and movement monitors) and we went for what was the highest spec at the time. The reason we purchased this particular model were the features of talkback (ie being able to speak remotely to your child through the baby monitor), built in night light and lullaby function (both of which can be operated from the handset.
We have loved this baby monitor, the lullaby function worked really well for us, but if I had to criticise it would be that it is rather loud and could do with being able to adjust the sound in the baby’s room. Also the belt clip has been a bit of a disaster for us and has resulted in a couple of drops, but to be honest it’s no big deal because the parent unit is very ergonomic and has a stand so can easily be taken with you.
We found that the light from the parent unit was quite bright (an issue for the Turk as he needs pitch black to sleep…) but I really liked the way it lit up when the baby started making a noise. I found that I could turn the sound down on the monitor at night to prevent waking hubby, and I would be woken up by the lights indicating that Jem was making a noise, and because of the sensitivity of the monitor (despite being on the other side of the room from the cot) I could get into the room to settle the baby before he got too upset or into meltdown mode, this was a really big bonus for us.
The most reassuring features for me were the double temperature indicators on both the parent unit and main unit. Jem was born into a house with no heating or back wall in a very cold May, our bedroom was frequently 16 degrees (I know, I know!) and I really needed to know this so I could adapt to the temperature. Similarly it then got ridiculously hot and I was able to judge clothing when baby was in a room of 25 degrees. This also has a 2 way speaker, so using the button on the side of the parent handset you can speak with baby from wherever you are, I think as Jem grows this will become a useful function.
I never really understood the point of these, but living in a squeezy space this was a lifesaver as we didn’t have room for a cot until Jem was much older. I must make a confession here, our moses basket was a Freecycle bargain, some kindly person gave it to us complete with bedding and stand. Ideally I wanted one on a rocker, however we couldn’t afford one and in the end the folding stand was much easier as it allowed me to move the basket around relatively easily when needed. It is a John Lewis moses basket very similar to this although an earlier version so no hood which wasn’t a problem at all. I loved the security of having Jem really close to me, our bed was very high so I could see him from the bed and he could see me, so very close to a co-sleeper. We bought a brand new mattress from Babies R Us as our basket is a larger than normal size, unfortunately they don’t make this size any more which is a real shame!
If money was no object I think I would opt for a Bednest, which can even be hired from NCT which I have heard nothing but good things about, but this wasn’t an option for us, and I’d have to be really convinced now to go for one of these for a future child simply because of the cost and the fact we already had such a good experience with the moses.
We opted for the cheap I Can Bee travelcot from Kiddiecare which is virtually identical to the Kiddiecare own brand, but happened to be on offer at the time. We bought a Kiddiecare folding mattress at the same time (also on offer) so ended up with a real bargain…naturally!
It’s been great, we’ve used it at my parents and abroad, it folds easily, has a carry bag, we kept the box for taking it around when we go abroad to try and prevent any damage but it’s honestly extremely easy to use, once you get the hang of it. Jem is now 11 months (at the time of writing) and it’s a great size for him, I can see it lasting us for a long time yet , it’s in immaculate condition despite it’s travels and very sturdy.
Our airline (Easyjet) let us take a travel cot free of charge which is great so I definitely recommend looking out for that if you’re flying anywhere.
These can also be used as playpens, I have to admit Jem won’t tolerate being cooped up so we haven’t had any luck with this, perhaps if you start using them as a playpen at a younger age that might be preferable although I was concerned about the hardness of the base on the head of a young baby, but Jem went from laying completely still on his back, to crawling within about 3 days so he’s not a good example! I am sure if you have a baby who likes to sit and play a travelcot will make a great playpen.