When Good Baby Monitors Go Bad

The baby monitor hates me...and don't worry, I hate it right back.

How did our moms do it without one?  I mean, we turned out ok didn't we?  Maybe we have the ability to yell louder than our children do today?  Maybe we are more persistent than our children are?  Maybe we had more will to drive our parents crazy because we had to yell louder, longer, and fight harder to get their attention as babies.  Who knows.  Regardless, I admire my mom more than ever for not having a baby monitor for us.

My oldest is 13.  My youngest are 4 and 5.  So basically, I've been suffering with trying to find the right Baby Monitor for over a decade.  My conclusion.  There is no such thing as a perfect baby monitor.

Here's the thing.  When they are infants.  The baby monitor is your best friend and your worst enemy.  While it does its job of giving you peace of mind knowing that you can hear them breathing and can see them sleeping on the tiny screen next to your bed, you also know that the very second you drift off into a desperate type of  sleep, it is going to blare the sounds of escalating terror in your ear and scare the crap out of you.  You eventually build up a resistance to this kind of jarring wake up call, and make peace with the monitor even though you still never really fall into the deep kind of sleep you once had the luxury of experiencing.

So once you get through that type of newborn monitor craziness, you feel like they still aren't old enough to survive on their own without the reassuring safety back up of the monitor.  By now, the monitor might be 18 months old or so - and once in a while you might here some feedback, a neighbor's telephone conversation, the hammering of the roofers 3 doors down, who knows.  Meh.  Annoying but not too big of a deal.

"There's no snooze button on the baby monitor..."  Love it. (cartoon from

Enter year 2.  You still feel the need to have a baby monitor - maybe your child has asthma, or allergies, or nothing wrong at all - you just feel better knowing you can physically turn and look at your child without leaving the comfort of your own bed.  Year 2 was funny for us.  Middler figured out that if he speaks directly into the monitor, one of us will come.  I distinctly recall hearing on the monitor.."Mahhhk, Andwea, in anybody der???"  When they start asking for you by first name, you know they mean business.

Year 3 for us brought night terrors and sleepwalking for our youngest.  That's fun.  You finally fall into a decent sleep and are startled by the sound of someone trying to open the door to the downstairs - or shake the baby gate you have there for added safety.  You look on the monitor to find no one there.  That'll get you moving quickly.  2.8 seconds is all it takes to find your little one shaking the gate, confused, crying or sitting in the middle of the hallway half asleep.  Again..thank God for baby monitors.  They have you right where you want them.  Don't even think it's time to let go yet.

Year 4.  Still have the baby monitor up because one enjoys hearing the whistling of the nasal passages while the kids sleep.  But as in dog years. year 4 in Baby Monitor years is like how we feel turning 80.  Breaking down, cranky, can't hear well, vision starting to go - you can bet your monitor is nearing the end.  At this point, the only way to get your monitor to work without the annoying crackly static, is by sleeping with your arm straight up in the air.  This is the only position the monitor will work without noise.  If you turn over, and put your elbow slightly over your head, the feedback may subside long enough for you to fall asleep - but if you shift in bed, be prepared to hear a loud, amplified, noise repeating over and over until you once again either put your arm in the air, or over your head. 

There have been nights I almost felt like committing technological homicide.  I have fantasized about throwing it as hard as I could across the room and watching it shatter in 1000 pieces - never to be heard from again.  I've even gotten a small giggle out of imagining putting my hands around its scrawny antenna and simulating choking it until it stopped crackling.  It's wrong.  But when you're sleep deprived after 13 years of children, you start to get a little loopy.  I've also entertained thoughts of clubbing my sleeping husband in the nose with the monitor itself, since he claims it doesn't get good reception at all on his side, leaving me to deal with the monitor for years.  Sometimes the thought of turning it up full blast and putting it on his pillow near his ear brings me more joy than it probably should.

I've seen them do some really funny stuff on the monitor and it's those times I wish it had a video recording device built in where, at the touch of a button, I could begin recording what they are doing and saying or singing in there.  Why don't these baby monitor companies call me for ideas?  I'd make them so much money.  I'd also request a 2 way button - so I could talk to them through the monitor.  "You're fine - go back to sleep..."  Brilliant.

I'm not ready to retire or choke that monitor yet - I still worry that there are sleepwalkers among us. Just last night, for example, I heard the quiet sounds of stirring and opened one eye to check the monitor, only to find no one in the toddler bed.  I quickly got up and found Youngest in the bathroom trying to squeeze toothpaste on to his toothbrush.  At 3 am.  He was sleepwalking.  I admire him for tending to his oral hygiene in his sleep.  Perhaps I could get him to pick up his toys in his sleep, or fold some laundry..who knows. But the comfort of knowing I can look to the monitor to see they are, in fact, still there (or not) - and to listen closely through the static to hear their steady snoring is still enough to help me get through their childhood.

How do you like your baby monitor?  Do tell.



  1. Mine are 12 and 15 and I am wondering what kind of monitor I need to start looking for to know if any co-Ed visits reach red alert situations!

    1. UGH!!! I don't even want to think about that! LOL!!! I have one turning 13. He's still in to Legos thank God. Cheers! xo

  2. OHMYGOSH!! I hate the noises my monitor makes at night!! It cracks and pops - she's ancient! I don't have the video kind, but I do have the kind you can talk back on - LOVE THIS!!! I have also tried to "snooze" mine. They don't make ours anymore so we are trying to baby it to the end (pun?), but man it's on it's last leg. One of the parent units is already dead. It was our very first monitor, and I swear I have bought 10 more since (second baby, camper, traveling) and they are ALL CRAP!! I guess you have to get the $200 one to get anything worth a crap. The $20-$100 ones just dont cut it. I don't know when I will finally give up a baby monitor. There is still a cheapo in my 6.5's room that we only turn on when she's sick. (and I get to listen to THAT crackle all night too!) My kids are upstairs from us, so I think we will keep a monitor for a long time. And when we go in the camper I like to have one in there when they go to bed and I am outside by the fire.
    Great post Andrea! So relatable! <3 Devan

    1. Girrrl...a a good monitor is hard to find. It's all part of a bigger plan to keep us on a short leash. Snap Crackle Pop - it's the sound of a mediocre night's sleep. Move over - I want to sit outside by the fire too! xo

  3. I finally retired mine after I got tired of having to "Vogue" every night in order to find the proper sleeping position to minimize the static feedback. I haven't looked back and I don't miss it one bit. It only took 11 years but that SOB is gone. GONE I tell you! Love this, love you! xo

  4. Chucked the "nerve wrecker" out when Duncan was 2. We have a small house, so we can hear 'em when they walk around. My Beloved told me that my fear of Sudden Baby Death will not be solved by a monitor and wouln't give me peace of mind. He was right about that. But I still check on them every night to see if they're still breathing. Me being silly, I know...

  5. We are still using ours for our 5 year old bc of the same fear you have but I really want to ditch it.
    I guess I worry if she needs us and we can't hear her but she is old enough to come into our room.
    Its my last "baby" and maybe part of me doesn't want to let it go just yet?

  6. I have friends who tell me to stop spying on my children, but I love being able to peek in. When they're babies, you get to listen to see if they're still breathing. Incredibly reassuring. As they get older, you get to freak them out by making them think you know everything they do, yelling up the stairs to lay down and go to sleep!

    We have one old monitor that's one-way, but we also have one that has 2-way sound, and you can access it from iPhone or iPad from anywhere. When one of us is travelling, it's nice to be able to peek in as they sleep.

  7. If ours had been a video monitor, I may have used it longer, but it was cheap, and our house was small. We ditched the monitor before either kid turned two. We still have it, though. Somewhere...

  8. We don't have the video feature, but still use our monitor for the 5 year-old. Why? I honestly don't know. Habit, I guess? We like to know when she gets up at the crack of dawn? This post made me laugh out true and funny!

  9. We used a baby monitor for our first child for about a year. Never even got it out of the attic when baby #2 came around. It drove me nuts hearing every little sound. They scream when they need something. We hear them. Just like we did as kids, just like you said. All that said, I really don't think I sleep any better than you. It's the fitful sleep of Moms.

  10. My husband insisted we HAD to have the Angel Care monitor since our daughter turned out to be a tummy sleeper (cue gasps from dismsmayed parents). I stopped using it once my son could roll over because his crib was in our room. I can't find the parent unit now that he's upstairs, so I bought a cheap regular monitor. It complains loudly unless I plug my phone into the charger & place it on the bed where I can touch it while the monitor is on the floor next to the bed. Strangely, it is quite silent when plugged in the living room outlets. I think I'll be ready to stop using it before my husband. I let him be the paranoid parent!


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