When parents consider the safety of wireless baby monitors, they usually worry about two things: hacking and radiation. In another article, we talk about the issue of hacking. In this article, we will discuss the latter.
Baby monitors are incredibly useful and we have seen manufacturers coming up with more sophisticated features that not only monitors your baby but can even help prevent SIDS. While we are not taking away any credits from manufacturers, when a baby monitor becomes packed with features, it has the tendency to increase the radiation that it emits.
For parents, we are definitely worried about radiation exposure to our baby. So before you purchase, we want to give you the framework and jargon to understand baby monitors and the radiation they emit. Some of the baby monitors in the market might have concerning levels of radiation that you might want to avoid.
The Impact of Baby Monitors on Baby’s Health
So, as we have discussed the different radio frequencies that baby monitors use to transmit data like audio and video, some of these frequencies might be more concerning versus the others.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is under the World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that all radio frequencies are possible causes of cancer.
Most of the baby monitors developed in recent times either use FHSS or DECT frequencies that runs in the range of 1.89GHz – 2.4GHz. These are the same electromagnetic frequencies (EMF) that wireless Wifi routers and microwave uses.
For video baby monitors that are constantly streaming video feeds, they emit bursts of microwave radiations. Even on standby, these baby monitors can emit up to 100 times per second.
What are the potential side effects to my baby?
Radiation exposure can cause more side effects on babies as compared to adults. In order to allow for the development of a baby’s brain, their skulls are thinner in their formative years. Therefore, we can see how much radiation exposure will affect babies.
The younger your child, the easier it is for them to absorb the microwave radiation as compared to adults. A study had been done and it shows that a 10-year-old absorbs 10 times more microwave radiation as compared to adults. What about babies?
So for a baby that is developing very quickly, absorbing microwave radiation has long term ramifications. A list of possible side effects include:
– Affecting the development of the brain
– Affecting the immune system
– Affecting the reproductive system
– Disrupting sleep cycles
Our lives today are surrounded by devices and it part of our constant environment. We can’t run away from them as well as the side effects that they bring. Another study on Autism concluded that there is a 60-times increase in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in recent times and it attributed mostly to the environment.
Mobile phones, Wifi routers, and low-frequency signals emitted from devices and appliances are your usual suspects. So for our babies, we need to construct a safe environment to limit microwave radiation exposure to the best of our ability.
What are the ways for me to limit radiation from baby monitors for my baby?
These are the 2 ways in which you can limit exposure to radiation:
1. Purchase a low-frequency baby monitor
2. Place the baby monitor at a safe distance away from baby
Low-Frequency Baby Monitors
You can look for baby monitors that emit frequencies in the range of 35 – 50 MHz. They use analog frequency similar to an FM radio that does not have a strong pulse of radiation burst. However, oftentimes these analog baby monitors have lower signal quality and cause issues like:
– You are not able to receive good signal quality when you have more obstacles e.g. walls in between your parent unit and the camera
– Image and audio quality might not be as clear
– You won’t be able to use features like 2-way talk
There are baby monitors out in the market that now offers you the ability to switch between low-frequency audio and high-frequency video. You can use voice activation to turn on the high-frequency video when you need it and keep it as low-frequency when you don’t.
We recommend Eufy and VAVA, which has the ability to do just that.
Safe distancing from baby monitor to baby
In our research, the safe distance required seems to be at least 6 feet (1.8m) away from your baby. Also, there are studies done that show that baby monitors placed within 3.2 feet (1m) away from your baby emits the same amount of microwave radiation as compared to a cell phone tower 500 feet (150m) away.
Do check out our article on the best location to install your baby monitor.
So are there low-emission baby monitors available?
As mentioned previously, our current environment uses a lot of devices and appliances that emit radiation but at the same time, we depend on a lot of them. Baby monitors are really useful and can be a handy tool when it comes to taking care of our babies and giving us some sanity.
Unless you want to do without them and depend solely on yourself, we have to somehow live with the idea of having these devices around our babies. What we can do firstly is to place baby monitors a safe distance away from babies.
Then, we can also look at low-emission baby monitors to purchase. You have 2 options to choose from.
First, you can stick to using analog baby monitors that transmit only sound and not video. This is like returning to “ice age” when you consider how useful video is for a baby monitor but it uses the 49MHz frequency band.
Second, you can use digital baby monitors that use the 1.89GHz – 2.4GHz frequency with an option to switch between low and high frequency. Using voice activation to turn on high-frequency video only when needed helps to lower down on the radiation that is being emitted. Look at our Eufy and VAVA review.
So what are our considerations before we purchase baby monitors?
We have established that baby monitors provide a great convenience in our lives and that devices that emit microwave radiation dominates our environment. We have also established that our baby’s health and well-being is of the utmost importance and that we can place our baby monitors at a safe distance away from our baby.
What comes then is considering the trade-offs between different baby monitors and choose one that gives you all the maximum number of features that you need while emitting the lowest amount of radiation.
If you have specific medical conditions or possible SIDS that require you to track your baby’s heartbeat, oxygen levels & breathing levels, do take a look at either Nanit Plus or Owlet Sock.
If you have a bigger house setup coupled with obstructions like walls in between your parent unit and baby monitor, you will need to ensure that your baby monitor’s signal strength is adequate.
While looking at all these factors, do know that we have to live with some form of radiation (think phones). So while looking for low-emission frequency baby monitors, do consider the usefulness. Understand the tradeoffs, take safety precautions by placing baby monitors away from babies and live with it.
Commonly asked questions
1. Is voice-activated feature a must in baby monitors?
Yes. Voice-activated baby monitors run by default on audio and only turn on video feed when it is activated by voice. However, you have to check if they are turning off the high-frequency feed or if they are simply cutting off the background noise while still transmitting at high-frequency.
2. I’ve read about not co-locating our baby monitor with another wireless device?
Manufacturers mentioned these pretty often in their user manuals. It simply means you should try to avoid placing a baby monitor in close proximity to another wireless device. When combined together, they emit electromagnetic frequencies that might exceed safety and healthy boundaries.