If you’re a new or expecting parent in the market for a baby monitor, knowing what to avoid can be just as if not more important than knowing what to look for.
Most brands offer a range of products, some of which might suit your needs and others that might not.
There are, however, some companies you might be better off avoiding entirely. Today, we’re going to take a look at them, and examine why they might not be worth your time or money.
BT Baby Monitors: Smart Technology at What Cost?
So-called “smart” technology is great on your phone, TV, and so on, but do you want it on your baby monitor?
BT is a popular brand of baby monitor makers, with both audio and video monitors available for your parenting ease. And, to be sure, they offer a wide range of convenient features such as Alexa/Google Assistant integration, lullabies with impressive light shows, and more.
However, it’s their seeming obsession with adding these “smart” (meaning internet-connected) features to every product they offer that leads us to put them on the list of brands to avoid.
This is for a couple of reasons. Firstly, reliance on internet features leaves a baby monitor vulnerable to hacking, which is why explicitly non-Wi-Fi monitors are gaining popularity of late.
While it may seem absurd that someone would want to hack a baby monitor, it is sadly a very real threat.
Secondly, there’s been some concern about the unknown effects of wireless radiation on developing brains, and the more internet-based features a device has, the more such radiation it’s likely to emit.
Frankly, the science isn’t in on this one yet, so we can’t comment one way or another on whether there’s any truth to the concerns about wireless radiation.
That being said, many parents would rather not take the chance on an unknown, so it’s worth being aware of at the very least. Also, bigger and better baby monitor brands even monitor breathing.
The Owlet Smart Sock: Paranoia Run Rampant
Next on our list of brands to avoid is Owlet, makers of the “Smart Sock” baby monitoring system.
This smart sock device straps to your baby’s foot and monitors their vital signs in real-time.
While this may sound impressive, it’s not clear that it provides any tangible benefit, and may just make you worry more.
One editorial by pediatricians claims that devices like Owlet’s Smart Sock may be making parents more paranoid than ever without actually doing much of anything to help.
This effect is not limited to this particular device, but the Smart Sock is an excellent example of this kind of paranoia-amplifying effect, and we’d avoid the brand for this reason.
Furthermore, the FDA has taken issue with Owlet’s marketing in the past.
While the FDA did not condemn the device itself, but rather the misleading marketing surrounding it, this still raises some concerns.
Owlet has since stated it intends to seek FDA approval for its devices, but this troubling history combined with the over-paranoid nature of Owlet’s devices earns its spot on our “brands to avoid” list.
Read this blog here about can phones & baby monitors be linked?
Motorola Baby Monitors: The Hazards of Branching Out
Motorola is a popular and generally well-trusted electronics brand best known for its smartphones.
And to be clear, we are not advising you to avoid everything Motorola makes; many of their offerings in other departments are indeed quite solid.
However, Motorola’s baby monitors specifically may be worth taking a pass on, based on overall low customer reviews and frequent complaints about device failure.
Common customer complaints include battery-powered units that suddenly stop accepting a charge, poor connection, poor overall quality, and sudden device failure.
From what we can tell, Motorola may simply be suffering from the problem of trying to be a jack of all trades; they’re very good at what they do in other areas, but sometimes when they try to branch out, as they have with baby monitors, it doesn’t go as well.
To be as fair as possible to Motorola, they should be willing to help your return or replace any defective units, and we haven’t heard anything bad about their customer service in this area.
However, while you’re waiting for your baby monitor to be shipped, evaluated, and either repaired or replaced, then shipped back to you, you don’t have a baby monitor for as long as that takes.
This is always the case when you need to send something in for service, but whereas not having a TV for a week is just annoying, not having a baby monitor for a week could be more than just irritating.
While it’s true that baby monitors are not an essential device, depending on your lifestyle and what kind of home you live in, surely you bought yours for a reason, and don’t want to leave your child without the extra layer of protection while you wait on customer service.
SMONET: The Worst Baby Monitor Brand You’ve Never Heard Of
Remember SMONET, the popular baby monitor maker? No? Us Either.
The brand earns a place on our list for making a device that ended up at the very bottom of the barrel of Amazon’s worst-rated baby monitors.
We weren’t even able to find a homepage for the brand itself, and are unsure if it exists or is still in business. All we can find is this one Amazon listing.
With a one-star review claiming it doesn’t work at all and another complaining about security issues and getting hacked, we had to include this one on our list whether you’d heard of it or not.
And more than just cautioning you to stay away from this one random brand, this is as good a place as any to encourage you to be skeptical of mystery products like the SMONET when you’re shopping around.
Budget-friendly off-brand products are certainly not a new thing, and in many areas of your life, they may be a good way to save a buck when you don’t want to pay brand-name premiums.
However, when it comes to something like a baby monitor, you don’t want to take any chances.
When you’re shopping around, if you come across a brand you’ve never heard of, look them up. If you can’t find anything good, or even anything at all, cross them off your list and keep looking.
Beyond that, always read the reviews. If a product is so obscure nobody’s even reviewed it yet, you might be better off not taking a chance.
And if it only has a handful of reviews, some or most of them bad, definitely stay away.
Read our blog here about the battery life on VTech baby monitors.
- Can Digital Baby Monitors be Hacked?
- The Worst Baby Monitors
- The Health Hazards of Wireless Baby Monitors