How to Safely Use a Baby Monitor

Categories: 

Bio banner for RN blogger, Rachel Blackburn A baby monitor is an item many new parents have, including me. I’ve heard “the good” and “the bad” on baby monitors. As a nurse, I specialize in rehabilitation at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and writing about injury prevention is close to my heart. I want you to walk away with the tips you need to safely use a baby monitor to prevent injury of your little one.

As parents, we try to keep our kids safe. We put up baby gates, outlet covers and make sure toys don’t have small parts which can be choked on. We use baby monitors so we can respond quickly if something is wrong.

So, Are Baby Monitors Bad?

Baby monitors are not bad.  They allow us to ensure our baby’s safety and keep our sanity at the same time. But, (and this is a big “but”) they can be dangerous if used improperly (for example, letting your baby nibble or pull on the cords and ignoring frayed wires from wear and tear of the baby monitor).

Since 2002 the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has recorded seven deaths and three near-suffocation from the cords of baby monitors.  How does this happen? It can happen when the baby monitor is placed too close to the crib and the baby wants to play with the cord.  This can result in the baby accidentally wrapping the cord around his neck. This is really scary.

How to Properly Use a Baby Monitor

The most important thing to do is keep the baby monitor at least three feet away from any part of the crib, bassinet, play yard, or other safe sleep environment. That’s roughly the width of the crib plus six inches. Place the monitor far away, and tuck in the cords so curious little hands don’t even think about playing with them. Never position a monitor inside or on the edge of a crib.

While you’re at it, examine the areas your child eats, plays and sleeps every time they meet a new physical milestone. This is a good time to do a general safety check.

  1. Can your baby roll over?  Great!  Get on your belly on the floor and look at the world from their perspective.  You’ll pick up on things you might otherwise miss that way.
  2. Can your baby sit-up?  Awesome! Repeat the above (and lower the crib mattress).
  3. Can your baby crawl, pull to stand, cruise, walk or run?  Wonderful! View the world from their perspective like I instructed in number one above. Make sure their environment is safe. Kids are usually taller than we think they are and can always reach things we never thought they could.

Other Safety Tips

Place the cords of your window blinds up and out-of-reach. Use electrical outlet covers. Add doorknob covers. Make sure household cleaners and medications are out of reach and locked. Make it a priority to follow these safety tips as soon as your child meets a new milestone, if not before. A good rule of thumb is to be six months ahead of your baby, safety-wise.

To keep your baby safe, immediately check the location of all monitors and other products with electric cords, including those mounted on the wall, to make sure cords are out of your child’s reach.

The Latest Updates on Baby Monitors

I found BabyMonitorSafety.org really helpful! Created by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association the site offers videos and resources for parents and caregivers with directions on how to safely place your baby monitor.  On the site, you can obtain a free electric cord warning label that can be attached to baby monitor cords.  When in doubt, just remember their reminder that-“Three feet away is where your monitor should stay!”