Are you addicted to your baby monitor? Sleep consultant Judy Clark, of BabyWinkz, shares her advice to help you recognise when it’s time to stop using the baby monitor.

It might sound silly, but this is an area I’m really concerned about.

Why? I can remember visiting a client at home for a consultation to discuss her child’s sleep. Her little boy was crying upstairs in his bedroom. We could hear him clearly, but we were also listening to him on the monitor that sat on the coffee table.

It was very distracting for both of us. Eventually, I had to ask: “Do we really need the monitor on when he’s right there, and we can hear him loud and clear?”

A time and a place

I think it’s very common for us parents to become dependent on that little monitor. You’ve got it right beside your ear whenever your baby is out of sight. I’ve even had clients who sleep with it in their hand so that they’ll be aware of their baby the moment she stirs.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Baby monitors absolutely have a time and a place. If you’re gardening and your child is inside taking a nap, a monitor is a wonderful tool to help you know when your baby has woken up or when you need to go back into the house to attend to them.

What I worry about is that some people become so attuned to their monitor, it begins to disrupt their sleep.

Video monitors – good idea, bad idea

Video monitors can be particularly addictive. They can be a really useful tool, allowing you to check on your baby without the risk disturbing him.

However, one mum recently confessed to me that she sits awake throughout the night watching the monitor because she’s anxious about her baby’s nighttime sleep. Is this the best thing for either her or her baby?

If your child is sleeping well, it’s OK to trust that everything is fine. Your sleep is important too so let’s get you into bed, turn that monitor away and concentrate on getting the quality sleep that you really need.

Time to get some sleep

So, when is the right time to stop using the baby monitor?

If you’ve got a baby who is now sleeping well through the night [or who has at least established a sleeping pattern], I would encourage you to either turn the monitor down or turn it off completely. This can be a good step towards getting the good quality sleep that you really need.

Ask yourself three questions: Is it really necessary? Does it need to be this loud? Does it need to be next to me all night? How you answer these questions will depend in part upon your baby’s age. If you have a newborn, concerns about SIDS may be at their highest, in which case having a monitor that has a sensor pad underneath to monitor breathing may be the preferred choice.

Baby monitors are designed to alert you to the times when your baby needs you. You don’t need to hear every little squawk and squeak your baby makes during the night. Some babies are very, very noisy sleepers. Every time they make a sound, you’re going to wake up because you can hear it loud and clear through the monitor. You can see how that could wreak havoc on your sleep, so it’s important to recognise when the monitor is hindering you rather than helping.