This Newfangled Baby Monitor Freaks Me Out

Six years ago when my first child was born, we had an audio monitor. If I remember correctly, it would light up with an increasing number of bars depending on the volume of his cry. A five-bar night was a VERY BAD NIGHT INDEED.

By the second baby, I'd graduated to a video monitor, one that came with a grainy black & white camera for each kid. This is the one we still have today, although we're down to one camera aimed at the 3yo, more out of curiosity than anything else. (I like listening to him talk to himself at bedtime.)

Now I see there's a whole new breed of baby monitor out there, and if you ask me, this one's custom-designed to freak any new mom RIGHT THE HELL OUT.


The Angelcare Video Movement & Sound Monitor is a fancy system that'll set you back around $300. What do you get for that kind of price tag? Why, only "one of the most sought-after baby monitoring systems on the market," according to the owner of While other monitors may provide video, sound, or movement, the Angelcare combines all three, and promises to alert parents to trouble of any kind.

monitor works by combining a high-end camera with a portable unit with night vision, an LCD touch screen, temperature display, and two-way communication so you can use it like a walkie-talkie (presumably so you can reassure your child with the sound of your voice, although I imagine that a disembodied robo-Mom might be a little freaky to some babies).

The feature that really makes the Angelcare unique and, in my mind, a little too scary, is its under-mattress sensor pad. This pad monitors a baby's every activity, even the tiny movements made by breathing. If no movement has been detected for 20 seconds,
the monitor sounds an alarm to the parents.

It sounds like the perfect setup, right? Especially for a nervous new mom, or anyone whose child has health problems. Except what if the baby rolls off the sensor? You get an alarm, that's what happens. An alarm that instantly scares the living shit out of you, because OMG BABY NOT BREATHING PANIC PANIC.

I talked to some folks on Twitter about the Angelcare, and a couple moms said that's exactly what happened in their house: it worked great until their baby rolled off the sensor. I suppose the system might be more reliable with a small immobile newborn, although it seems to me that even my brand-new, fully-swaddled babies were able to inch their way around while sleeping.

The possibility of a false alarm makes me leery of using a device like this (also, someone mentioned the alarm being like "an air raid" if they picked up their baby without first turning off the sensor—knowing me, that would have got me every time), but other folks swear by it. One woman told me that her friend was repeatedly notified by the Angelcare, to the point where a pediatrician told her to throw the sensor pad away. It wasn't until she actually caught him turning blue and called 911 that he was eventually diagnosed with sleep apnea. Yikes.

Overall, this monitor reminds me of the baby Doppler I rented when I was pregnant for the first time. It seemed like a great idea, then I accidentally picked up my OWN heartbeat with the wand and spent several terrifying minutes sobbing and thinking something was wrong with my baby. Which is to say: technology is awesome, but never foolproof. Not every mom will want the potential
added stress of a device that claims to reduce stress.

What do you think of these monitors? Would you use one?

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