Parenting Debate: Should You Stop Using a Baby Monitor?
Once you've passed the newborn stage and are no longer bolting out of bed every 14 seconds to check if your baby is breathing, you're likely to install some sort of baby monitor in your nursery next door. But it turns out constant digital baby surveillance may actually fuel parental anxiety, not alleviate it. Then again, some parents sleep better—or can only sleep at all—listening to the sounds of soft, staticky snoring. And dare we open the can of worms that is nanny cams? Here, arguments for watching your child’s every move from anywhere or unplugging entirely.
Monitors save your sanity
Here’s the reality: Babies sleep a LOT. Like, most of the time, in fact. If using a monitor enables you to leave the room and actually shower, then they are the single greatest invention of our time. Furthermore, you could do any of the following without one, but dig deep and ask yourself: Would you want to? 1) Eat dinner and binge-watch Transparent while your infant sleeps upstairs. 2) Play “Monkey Police” with your four-year-old in the basement while your baby naps in her nursery. 3) Sleep train from afar without visually confirming that your screaming baby is actually OK. After one too many times rushing into her baby’s room and accidentally waking her when she was just fussing in her sleep, London parenting blogger Ruth Arnold embraced a life of video surveillance: “What surprised me was the reassurance that it brought... I loved being able to look at it and see my peacefully sleeping daughter. And on those occasions when she wasn’t being so peaceful, I could look at the monitor and see if it looked like she was going to be able to get herself back off to sleep on her own or not. Audio baby monitors really do just give half of the story.”
Monitors make you insane
Digi-cam apps that sync to your smartphone so you can spend your lone date night watching your kid sleep from a restaurant. Tiny turtles that clip-on to newborn onesies and monitor the baby’s heart rate (because sleepless, anxious new parents are the perfect candidates to interpret medical data). Socks that track the baby’s oxygen levels (welcome to paranoia city). We even know a mom who spent an entire playground outing with her son staring at her smartphone, watching her daughter (who was home with a sitter) toss and turn in her crib—doubling her dose of guilt. Gadgets have turned the nursery into what one writer calls a “Batcave-esque baby-surveillance command center.” They may also, warn pediatricians, give parents a false sense of security—replacing the potentially life-saving instinct to simply observe their baby with their own two eyes. New York Times writer Sophie Brickman makes the case for pulling the plug: “After weeks of being notified at work when [daughter] Ella was crying or moving around (read: being a baby) and hours sunk addictively scrolling in fast-forward to see her move around in her sleep, it dawned on me that all this technology, which purportedly calms agitated parents, actually agitates them more.” After all, generations of analog babies got their needs met and tested their parents' sanity the old fashioned way: They cried.