Wausau (WAOW)-- For new parents, a baby monitor is a must-have. It can be an extra set of ears, and even eyes, to help keep tabs on a sleeping baby. Consumer Reports put baby monitors to the test, and it turns out some can be as temperamental as a two-year-old.
Mothers of newborns, like Stephanie Hinkaty, say a baby monitor offers peace of mind.
"It's really comforting to know what's going on with the baby without having to be physically in the room with her. It gives me a sense of security."
But choosing the right monitor could mean the difference between true comfort and a false sense of security.
Consumer Reports tested 10 baby monitors.
For a parent, if you want to unplug your baby monitor, battery life is key, and there were big differences. The battery charge on a Safety First True View Video Monitor didn't even last three hours. But the Sony BabyCall kept going for 28.
Consumer Reports also found that signal strength really varied. To evaluate, testers set up a transmitter near a soundtrack of a crying baby. Then they measured how far away they could move the monitor while still maintaining contact.
"All the monitors worked inside this test house, but if you have a larger home or if you want to do yard work during nap time, it may be a different story," said a Consumer Reports analyst.
Some monitors lost contact before the tester even stepped out of the house! But a few monitors did work as far away as 400 feet.
The top-rated baby monitor turned out to be the Phillips Avent SCD510, for 120 dollars. It's digital, so interference is not a problem, and it had excellent battery life.
So, next time you think any baby monitor will do. Think again. Reading the reviews and researching the different models is a good way to make sure you are getting the biggest bang for your buck.