When I was pregnant and registering for baby gear there was one thing that didn’t make the list: a video monitor. My husband and I agreed they were overkill. I mean, what would we even use it for? To watch her sleep? Why would I need to do that?
Ha! Add that to the long list of things I was wrong about when it came to parenthood.
Thanks to postpartum anxiety, I really did want to watch her sleep all the time. When she outgrew the bassinet by our bed and moved to a crib in her room, I insisted my husband install a camera. But anxiety aside, it turned out to be a great investment for several reasons.
I can check on her without disturbing her. Before the camera arrived I would sneak into her room and check on her by the glow of my cell phone. I can't tell you how many times I nearly dropped the phone on her face or woke her up with an ill-timed text message notification. While I can now go entire hours without staring at her chest to make sure she's breathing, it is nice to be able to glance at the video monitor and be reassured that she's okay. It was especially helpful later when she went through a period where she would cry out in her sleep for no obvious reason. She wasn't hurt, she didn't even really wake up. But without the camera to actually see she was okay, I would have run in there every time to check on her, risking waking her up and spending the rest of my evening getting her back to sleep.
I know how much sleep she's getting. If you are as obsessed with your baby’s sleep as I was, then you’ll love being able to see exactly when they fall asleep. This helped me plan around her naps better (“I put her down at 12:00 but she didn’t fall asleep until 12:45, so she’ll probably sleep until at least 2:30… hey, I have time to shower AND watch an episode of Gilmore Girls!”) On the other side of it, sometimes I didn't know when she was waking up. I'd get up in the morning to find her wide awake but not making a peep, and I'd wonder how long she'd been that way. Setting the camera to start recording at 5:00 am cleared up the mystery.
I can see when she really needs me. Sometimes she starts crying because she's caught her leg in the crib bars. Sometimes she cries because she's dropped a toy out of reach. Being able to see her on the monitor lets me know if I need to rush or not. Sometimes I might never have known she needed me, like the time she got sick all over her crib shortly after I put her to bed. She didn’t cry or make a fuss. She just dozed back off. She might have slept all night covered in barf if I hadn’t been able to see it on the monitor!
Not everyone will find a video monitor useful, but if you're on the fence, go ahead and put it on the registry. It may surprise you!