When I first started looking at baby monitors I was surprised at how much choice there was, that you could get them with music, 2-way, cameras so you could watch baby & mats so that you hear an alarm if they stopped breathing. The costs as expected ranged accordingly. As we would have needed double the cameras and mats for twins we ruled out these options quite quickly. We planned to have the babies near to us to start with and would only be once we moved them into their own room that we would be starting to use a monitor so that we didn't miss any cries.
My work colleagues were very generous with their gifts when I went on maternity leave and among them was a Boots gift card. I decided to use part of this to purchase a baby monitor and decided on the Tomy Classic Monitor as it looked simple to use and had all the features that we required.
The monitor consists of 2 parts the baby unit which stays in the room with your baby and the parent unit which you keep with you.
The Baby unit
This is dome shaped and made of very light plastic but has proved to be sturdier than I thought it would be when I first got it out of the box. The baby unit has the following:
It has a built in microphone and it is recommended that it is placed between 1 and 3 metres away from baby. It is a good microphone and we've never had any problems being able to hear the girls through it.
On the top of the unit is the on/off switch which lights up green to indicate the unit is on, this is great as you can check at a glance that you have remembered to turn it on.
There is also a switch which allows you to choose between 2 channels, both the baby unit and the parent unit should be set to channel 1 and only changed if you have a problem with interference. This is not something we have experienced and so they have remained on channel 1.
You have the choice of 2 modes so you can either hear any noise made from your babies room or a sound activating mode which means you only hear noises above certain levels. This is great for when baby is older and you want to hear cries but not every little noise they make. It takes a bit of getting used to it cutting in and out when you've been used to it being on but if you've got a noisy sleeper it's great. The unit returns to silence once your baby has settled again.
There is a button with a lightbulb on it on the top of the dome for the nightlight on/off switch which can be used independently of the monitor. The whole dome lights up and it is a great night which easily lets me see into the baby's cots. I found this particularly useful when they were newborns as it allowed me to see what I was doing during the night without having to put on a light which may have disturbed the other baby before I was ready and my husband.
The parent unit
This is much smaller than the parent unit and has built in plastic belt clip that doubles up as the stand. Again it is very lightweight but well made and although I don't often wear it using the belt clip when I have I've never found it uncomfortable. This monitor is one way but I've not missed not being able to speak back through the parent unit.
This is in the middle of the unit and also lights up green when on.
This is in the form of a wheel with a small plastic bump indicating the level. You turn it with your thumb and you really need 2 hands to be able to do this as it is quite stiff to move without the unit being held firmly. I have it set at the lower end of the range and can hear what is going on without any problems.
The unit has lights on the front which show green at low levels and then red as baby gets louder, you can have the volume turned right down and just use the lights to keep an eye on baby. The lights are bright and clear and I like having a visual of how loud the crying is.
If for any reason communication is lost between the 2 units you hear a loud continuous alarm, I find this reassuring as you wouldn't know otherwise if the baby unit was working or not without going into the room to check. I have never been outside the 300m range of this product but this alarm would also be useful if you've got a very big garden!
Both units can be powered by either mains electric or 3 x AAA batteries. I always keep the parent unit plugged into the mains but sometimes use the parent unit on batteries, normally if I'm out in the garden. It does run them down quite quickly though so I keep it plugged in when possible. The green light on the parent unit starts flashing red when the batteries are low, this warning is good as it allows you to replace them or plug the unit in before the no communication alarm sounds.
Price and Availability
We paid around £30 a couple of years ago for this monitor but it seems to be retailing nearer £35 now. It is available from Argos and Amazon among others. I think this price is about right for what you get compared to other monitors.
Would I recommend?
Yes, I think this has been a great monitor. It's easy to set up and use and although it doesn't have a lot of the 'extras' that the more expensive monitors have it does the job of letting you know when baby needs you really well. Ours also came with a free material travel case which has been really useful to transport it in.