It's understandable to be a little nervous when you leave your newborn in another room. Regardless of the reasons why — sleeping, showering, or parenting other kids — it's anxiety provoking to let that brand new bundle of joy out of your sight for even a second. Enter the (seemingly) perfect solution: the baby monitor. I, for one, would've been an uneasy, uptight ball of nerves if not for my first baby monitor, but are baby monitors safe? After all, even technology that claims to be beneficial can have potentially negative side effects.
When I turned to The Baby Sleep Site for answers, I found arguments for and against monitors. The site highlights the positive and negatives of using a device that allows you to stare at your baby at all hours of the day and night, saying, "The good thing about baby monitors is that they let you hear your baby’s every cry. But the bad thing about baby monitors is… that they let you hear your baby’s every cry (and sniffle, and squeak, and moan, and hiccup, and... you get the idea!)"
The site goes on to confirm what every parent who has used a monitor knows: keeping tabs on baby's every movement while they sleep impacts your sleep. The aforementioned article does note, however, that some families require monitors for health-related reasons, such as a condition that needs constant observation. Monitors can also be a great help to those parents who are sleep training.
Parents have more high tech options now than even 8 years ago, when my first child was born. There are smart phone monitors, built in baby clothing monitors, and monitors on the market that track baby's movement and oxygen levels. This may seem like a good idea to ease parents' worry over Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), but the Washington Post's Alice Callahan reports these alarms can go off for all sorts of reasons that don't involve baby actually needing help. That, in turn, can only increase a new parent's already growing anxiety.
According to U.S. News & World Report, Dr. Christopher Bonafide at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia says he worries about high tech monitors causing frivolous hospital visits. The unnecessary visits, he says, may cause a barrage of nonessential (not to mention, expensive) testing on babies. An increased financial stress due the cost of hospital bills is the last thing new parents need, especially when Cosmopolitan reports that "money issues" is one of the main reasons couples in relationships decide to split.
Baby Center's George Cohen, MD, advises that though monitors aren't proven to prevent SIDS, they may give reassurance to parents. He says barring certain health concerns, a standard sound monitor is sufficient and will not cause your baby any harm. As long as the parents are able to get sleep with the baby's background noises, Cohen doesn't see a problem with a good, old-fashioned baby monitor. But like Callahan and Bonafide, he says, Cohen does not recommend the overly sensitive movement monitors that are not proven to make baby any safer.
In the end, you know your baby, your living environment, and yourself best. If you live in a small enough living space to hear your baby without the use of a monitor, or you think a monitor will only make your anxiety worse, it's OK to ditch them entirely. If, on the other hand, a monitor will help ease your nighttime worries, they're perfectly safe to use in your baby's room.