Are baby monitors safe? Are they bad for baby
Baby monitors are safe, not bad for babies. In fact, baby monitors are there to keep your baby safe and to give you peace of mind. While there is research pointing to possible negative impacts of radiation emitted by baby monitors, there hasn’t been a conclusive consensus and convincing data that baby monitors are not safe because of radiation. However, the way you use the baby monitors may pose a safety risk to the baby through hacking, strangulation from wired monitors, and possible battery burns.
Like other baby monitors, smart baby monitors with additional features such as cry-detection or breath monitoring are safe and when used correctly, should not bring about any negative health effects. If you are worried if baby monitors are safe to use, you should know that experts have pointed that there is a minimal link between baby monitors and cancer and that they do not cause cancer.
Baby Monitor Risks
In the next section, I highlight these specific risks that may make baby monitors unsafe for your baby:
1. Risk of Strangulation
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, through its former chairman Inez Tenenbaum released a statement warning parents against using baby monitors with cords. You can read more about how you can protect your child from strangulation
2. Privacy/Hacking Risk
The signal from the baby camera/baby unit of the baby monitor can be hijacked by hackers who can invade the nursery’s privacy and may actually try to communicate directly to your baby. It is your responsibility as a parent to ensure that secure your baby monitor, especially wifi baby monitors that are susceptible to hackers. You can follow these steps I recommend to parents to secure baby monitors from hackers.
Not all baby monitors are safe from hackers and wifi baby monitors that come with default account built-in to the device can be easily hacked. If you want baby monitors that are safe from hackers, I recommend going for non-wifi baby monitors that rely on 2.4GHz FHSS technology.
The New York Department of Consumer Affairs recently put out a consumer alert warning parents to secure their children. The particular warning was related to a rise in the number of baby monitor hacking. Internet-connected devices, those using wifi to transmit signals from the baby unit. Below is a CBS story of a family that had their Nest baby monitor hacked. You can read our comprehensive analysis on hacked baby monitors since 2009.
3. Battery Burn Hazard
The battery in the handheld video monitor can overheat and rupture, posing a burn hazard to consumers. There have been over 500 cases of overheating batteries over the last few years and parents are advised to be on the lookout to make sure the products they are purchasing have a proven safety history.
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a recall of Summer Infant Baby Monitor batteries due to burning hazards (source). The video below involved a recall of Lorex Care-and-Share video baby monitors. Lorex is, however, being re-introduced to the market on March 31st, 2019. In other words, by the time you’ll be reading this, it will already be retailing on Amazon.
4. Are baby monitors safe radiation? Radiation Emission Risk
Baby monitors emit radiation and there is research indicating that long-term exposure to EMF radiation may pose various health risks but the EMF radiation from baby monitors is not excessive to the level of causing harm to your baby. All baby monitors being retailed in the US have emission levels that do not exceed 4W/Kg, a level set by the FCC.
To mitigate this risk, FCC recommends that your baby monitor at least 3 feet away from any part of the crib, bassinet, play yard, Moses basket, or other sleep furniture you are using for your baby. You can read more about baby monitor EMF radiations on our Guide to Baby Monitor Radiations.
How much radiation do baby monitors emit
Baby monitors emit radiation to power the communication between the baby unit/camera and the parent unit/receiver. To facilitate the transfer of audio and visual signals, a baby monitor emits strong bursts of microwave radiation when powered on. Some statistics indicate that the bursts could be as high as 100 times per second, even when in standby mode.
It is, however, important to note that baby monitor radiations are the non-ionizing type that is considered less harmful than the ionizing type. It is the same type of radiofrequency radiation as cell phones, WiFi routers, and microwave ovens. The energy of the burst of radiations depends on the frequency level and the frequency bandwidth.
Harmful Impacts of Baby Monitor Radiations
#1. Children absorb more radiation than adults
Dr. Om Ghandi, a leading scientist explained “young children under 10 years of age could absorb radiation across their entire brain. He found that more radiation is able to go past the ear and into the head since a child’s ear is thinner and the telephone is closer to the head. All it takes is two millimeters difference,” Dr Ghandi said. (source)
2.Kids before age of 5 are most vulnerable as their immune system and brain are developing
Radiation can have a widespread impact on kids whose cells are rapidly diving as they grow
3. Wireless radiation is classified by World Health Organization as class 2b carcinogen
The classification is based on evidence of an increased number of tumors for individuals exposed to at least 30 minutes of radiation a day for 10 years.
4. Wireless radiation can impact brain maturation
Neuron development is impacted by radiations according to research done by a Yale professor on wireless devices using 800 to 1900 MHz frequency band.
Can digital baby monitors be hacked
Digital baby monitors that utilize wifi with lax security protocols can be hacked but digital non-wifi baby monitors are relatively safe from hackers. You can read our detailed guide on wifi baby monitors vs non-wifi baby monitors.
Are baby heartbeat monitors safe
All baby heartbeat monitors (fetal dopplers) and smart baby monitors (such as Owlet Smart Sock) are safe when used correctly. Fetal dopplers are safe for use at home as they provide real-time data on whether the baby’s heart rate is normal. The risk and the danger is wrongly interpreting the readings of the heartbeat monitors.
I am Ashley Davis, a mom of three kids and the editor here at MotherhoodHQ (formerly 10BabyGear). I have been a parent since 2011 and have been doing full-time consulting as a baby sleep expert since 2019. When I am not researching or testing the next baby gear hitting the market, you’ll find me teaching my toddlers a trick or two – especially over the last few months with the lockdown. I hope you’ll find my guides and reviews helpful as you make your next purchase decision. If you have any questions, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.