There are different types of baby monitors and it really depends on what you, as parents, want. However, you should bear in mind that the more complex baby safety monitors with additional features will be more expensive.
A sound or audio monitor transmits sound only, via an integrated microphone in the baby unit and a speaker in the parent unit. Most manufacturers offer basic sound monitors.
Some sound only monitors use DECT (digital enhanced cordless telecommunications) technology. These baby monitors offer an improved quality of sound as they are designed to keep unwanted noises and interference to a minimum using data encryption. This includes interference from wireless networks which many households have today. Some manufacturers, such as Philips, who produce the Avent brand, guarantee zero interference and a secure connection with their infant monitors which use DECT technology.
A digital video monitor is one that allows the parent to both see and hear the baby. The unit in the nursery has a camera installed similar to a webcam and the parent unit has an integrated screen. Some video monitors allow the installation of more than one baby camera across different rooms, all connecting to the same parent unit, which is especially useful if you have more than one baby to keep an eye on. Many new parents find that, having tried a video monitor, they would never go back to a sound only baby monitor, but they are, of course, more expensive. There is a huge choice of video baby monitors from companies such as Philips Avent, Graco, Luvion and Motorola.
A movement monitor incorporates a pad with sensors which is placed under the mattress and alerts the parent if the baby has not moved for a set period of time. If you have more than one baby in the room you can buy additional sensor pads so that they can all be monitored with the same parent unit. As many parents like to have sound capability too, this is usually used in conjunction with an existing sound baby monitor rather than on its own. A sound and movement monitor combines the two types (as the name would suggest!) Angelcare specialises in these types of baby safety monitors.
A breathing sensor monitor is similar to a movement monitor, but it uses a sensor that is attached to the front of the baby’s nappy. This sensor alarms if breathing stops, so this type of monitor is focused on the baby’s breathing, as opposed to the baby’s movements. Many parents use the breathing monitor as well as a regular sound monitor.