The knowledge that you can see or hear your precious bundle wherever you are in the house is a reassuring notion.
It won’t ease your mind to know, however, that most baby monitors emit harmful electromagnetic waves, making parents question the safe distance of these devices from their babies.
How far should baby monitor be from baby? It’s important that baby monitors are placed at least 6 feet (1.8 meters) from your baby’s crib to reduce their exposure to radio wave emissions. You can reduce emissions further by keeping monitors far from any other wireless devices such as WiFi routers.
Both advanced digital baby monitors and the traditional analog styles have hidden dangers that you need to be aware of.
Fortunately, we’ll discuss what these are and ways to keep your little one safe below.
Let’s look at how to use baby monitors in the safest possible way by choosing low-emission models, placing them correctly in the room, and securing them against hackers.
How To Use Baby Monitor Safely
Baby monitors can put a parent’s mind at ease, but some consideration needs to go into the type of monitor system you are using and its features, where it is placed, and the potential hazards.
Are Baby Monitors Safe?
Baby monitors are safe to use if they are placed a safe distance from your baby’s crib and if the monitoring system you are using is a low-frequency monitor (one that emits a low range of radio frequencies).
Some modern baby monitor models tend to come with a wireless video signal and “smart” features, but these extra features can mean higher levels of EMF (electromagnetic field) radiation, according to Daniel Dominic of EMF Advice — so simple systems are often the safer choice.
Baby Monitor Dangers
There are certain risks to be wary of with baby monitors. In addition to higher radiation levels, advanced WiFi-enabled baby monitors can be susceptible to hackers, and even a wayward power cable may pose a tripping or strangulation hazard.
Let’s look a little deeper into these baby monitor dangers.
1. Baby Monitor Radiation
All baby monitors use a range of radio frequencies similar to levels put out by microwaves or WiFI routers.
Some models emit higher ranges than others, such as monitors with an ongoing video signal, and can emit constant bursts of microwave radiation, even in standby mode.
As a baby’s skull is much thinner, their developing brain is much more sensitive to EMF exposure, causing children to absorb as much as 10 times more radiation compared with adults, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Things like opting for a low-EMF baby monitor (we’ll discuss these further on), keeping the monitor a sensible distance from your baby’s crib, and keeping the monitor far from other wireless devices (like a WiFi router) are all great ways to limit your little one’s exposure to radiation.
2. Baby Monitor Hacking
While many baby monitor brands use encrypted channels to help prevent hacking, some types are more vulnerable than others.
Compared with traditional radio baby monitors that would require hackers to be within physical reach of the signal, WiFi monitors are connected to your home internet network, inviting the same hacking risk as your computer or smartphone.
To prevent this, Baby Gear Essentials strongly advises parents to secure baby monitors with the same vigilance you would with other home gadgets. Tips include:
- Registering your baby monitor with the manufacturer so you’re kept up-to-date with any software updates and security fixes.
- Setting up a new strong password different than the default one you started with.
- Disabling remote access.
- Disabling port forwarding and DDNS (Dynamic Domain Name System) if this is an option.
3. Electrical Cords
Any power cables that came with your baby monitor from the charging cord to the electrical cord on the docking base or camera unit must remain out of your baby’s reach at all times.
As soon as your little one can walk, loose cables can be a tripping or strangulation hazard, not to mention they will be tempted to touch them and pull them out.
Be sure to keep all cords and cables safely tucked away or, better yet, mounted on the wall.
Baby Monitor Placement
According to research by Alasdair and Jean Philips at Powerwatch, digital cordless baby monitors placed less than 1 meter (3.3 feet) from a baby’s crib emit the equivalent radiation of a cell phone tower roughly 150 meters (500 feet) away.
It’s vital therefore that you try to place the baby monitor at least 6 feet or 1.8 meters away from the baby’s crib.
Video monitors with remote pan, zoom, and tilt camera features can be mounted on the wall near the ceiling.
If wall-mounting isn’t an option, a high shelf or on top of a wardrobe may also offer a good viewing angle while keeping a safe distance from your little one.
Low EMF Baby Monitor
Low-EMF or low-emission digital baby monitors can provide a good balance between analog radio monitors and advanced higher-EMF monitors with some low-EMF models (such as the models below) reducing the electromagnetic frequency emission by over 90 percent!
This added safety can come with a few caveats though, such as slightly poorer audio and video quality and fewer interactive features depending on which low-EMF brand you choose.
Let’s look at a couple of highly rated low-EMF audio and video baby monitors.
This audio baby monitor promises clear audio up to a distance of 2,000 feet and provides a wireless 2-way talkback with a white noise silencer to ensure you can only hear your baby.
It also comes with a starry nightlight feature and six lullabies.
Bebcare’s smart video baby monitor has a motion-tracking sensor and uses Digital Safe Radio (DSR) technology to reduce wireless emissions.
It features a 4.3-inch color screen on the parent unit, has 2-way talkback, and can be paired with up to four baby cameras.
Both Bebcare monitors can be paired with an optional breathing sensor mat that tracks your baby’s breathing patterns, though please note that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend this type of monitoring in babies with no medical complaints.
When To Start Using Baby Monitor
Baby monitors can be used from birth up until the age of 4 if this feels comfortable for you or if your child has trouble sleeping.
Typically, most parents will not begin using a baby monitor until after 6 months as newborns commonly sleep in the same room as the parent(s) during this period.
Your baby may be ready for their own crib in another room sooner than 6 months due to outgrowing their newborn crib, so the timing of using a baby monitor will vary based on your situation.
How Long To Use Baby Monitor
There’s really no fixed time frame that a baby monitor should be used, but many experts including nurse and sleep consultant Katie DiMonico tend to cite 4 years old as the age to stop using one.
Continuing with a baby monitor beyond this age may also feed parental anxiety as you could be relying too much on security measures when they are no longer necessary.
Are WiFi Baby Monitors Safe?
As WiFi baby monitors use your local WiFi network, they can be vulnerable to hackers.
For greater safety, secure your wireless router by disabling remote access and regularly updating the router’s firmware.
You should also register your baby monitor with the manufacturer for software/security updates.
Do I Need a Baby Monitor if Baby Sleeps in My Room?
If you are close enough to either observe or hear your baby from your bed, then a baby monitor probably isn’t necessary.
If you are a very deep sleeper, however, you may feel more comfortable using a baby monitor in the same room, especially if the bedroom is fairly large.
Is It Safe To Leave Baby Monitor on All Night?
Sleep consultant Melissa Zdrodowski advises turning the monitor off at night once your baby reaches 4 months and they learn to cycle between deep and light sleep.
Baby monitors are used safely when they are placed at least 6 feet from your little one’s crib (and preferably wall-mounted to prevent the risk of strangulation or tripping from the power cords).
This will lower the risk of radiation exposure from electromagnetic waves.
To use a baby monitor with the lowest possible emissions, consider looking into low-EMF models and non-WiFi monitoring systems as these are designed with fewer interactive features to balance performance and safety.
The best type of baby monitor for your needs will depend on your circumstances, so take time to do your research before buying one.
Rebecca is a seasoned copywriter and researcher with over a decade of experience, specializing in parenting topics. With a passion for all aspects of raising children, from breastfeeding to potty training.