Analog Baby Monitors – Are They Safe?

Sony Babycall Baby MonitorI get asked a lot if there is such a thing as a safe baby monitor. A baby monitor is basically like a WiFi Router in that they emit RF (radio frequency) Radiation at full blast 24/7. What determines how dangerous a baby monitor is is the frequency of radiation that it uses to transmit its signal.

Analog baby monitors that use a frequency below about 500 MHz are typically thought of as being fairly safe. (You still want to keep distance between the device and your baby.) There are some as low as 49 MHz which are considered very safe. The closer the analog baby monitor gets to 1 GHz, the less safe it is because those frequencies are getting closer to microwave frequencies (which start at approximately 1 GHz) and so they are more dangerous. 

In this article I am going to talk briefly about some of the dangers of RF Radiation as it relates to baby monitors, and what exactly analog means. I will also give you an example of a safe baby monitor and will show you some good ways to protect your baby from some of the higher frequency baby monitors should you have one of those.

RF Radiation Dangers

Radio Frequency RadiationAll baby monitors emit RF Radiation, but not all at a high enough frequency to be dangerous. Baby monitors that emit frequencies similar to what a cell phone emits, is very dangerous. This type of RF Radiation the World Health Organization has listed as a possible “carcinogenic”, meaning “cancer causing”. We have all heard about cell phones potentially causing brain tumors. And there are hundreds of peer reviewed scientific studies linking this radiation to cancer. (See the “Scientific Studies” page of this website for links to some of these studies.)

Baby monitors that emit the dangerous higher frequencies like cell phones act more like WiFi Routers in that they emit RF Radiation full blast all the time, 24/7, whenever they are on. But cell phones only emit it full blast when sending or receiving a call. Most baby monitors emit these higher frequencies, even if they are analog. You have to look hard to find the safe ones.

Before I get in to the specifics of which analog baby monitors are safer, take a quick look at this video if you would. This video is part of a video series I did where I went room by room through a home and tested each room for RF Radiation. The two most powerful RF Radiation emitting devices with the home were their WiFi router, and their baby monitor. These people’s baby monitor maxed out my meter from the doorway, before I even fully entered the room! The video is short, but very worth watching.

What Is An Analog Baby Monitor?

An analog baby monitor is a baby monitor that uses analog radio waves to transmit the sounds of the baby to the speakers so the parents can hear the baby. Baby monitor manufacturers also make baby monitors who use digital signals to carry this information. Analog signals are less dangerous if they use lower frequency signal than what the digital baby monitors use.

In the RF Radiation portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, the higher the frequency, the more dangerous it is to living organisms. Analog baby monitors range from about 49 MHz to around 900 MHz. Digital baby monitors range from around 1.8 GHz to 2.4 GHz. The higher frequency digital baby monitors are more popular because the higher frequencies allow for more advanced features.

Safest Analog Baby Monitors

Safety 1st Crystal Clear Audio MonitorThe safest baby monitors obviously are the 49 MHz baby monitors. They are using a slightly lower frequency than FM Radio which goes from 88 MHz to 108 MHz. This is so much lower of a frequency than other baby monitors that it is much safer. This one is of a low enough frequency that I personally would have no trouble having my kids or grand-kids using it. But I digress.

The one that I have heard the best things about is the Safety 1st Crystal Clear Audio Monitor. You can find a link to where you can buy it in my article “7 Examples of Low Emission Baby Monitors“. There are other manufacturers that make a 49 MHz baby monitor but they are getting hard to find.

My point is that it is not just enough to use an analog baby monitor. Some “analog” baby monitors are 900 MHz frequency. Microwave frequency starts at only a hundred more MHz, or at around 1 GHz. Most people I ask are adamant that they would never set their infant child on the counter right next to a running microwave oven. Basic parent instinct seems to tell most people that is not a good idea no matter how safe they think a microwave oven is.

Why then would we set a microwave emitting (or even one very close to microwave) baby monitor a foot from our baby’s head? And a baby monitor is going all of the time. A microwave oven typically runs for only a few minutes at a time. Granted yes a microwave oven uses a lot more powerful signal, but it is the very same RF Radiation.

Protections From Baby Monitor Radiation

Walmart Mesh Basket

Steel Mesh Condiment Caddy

If for some reason you end up with a higher frequency analog monitor, or especially if you are using one above 1 GHz in the microwave range, here is something you can do that will protect both you and your little one. RF Radiation such as what a that baby monitor emits, does not travel well through parallel lines of conductive metal. I have examples of what I am talking about both on the left and right of this paragraph.

If you stick both the sending and receiving units of your baby monitor in baskets like I have in these examples they can block 90% to 95% of the RF Radiation that they emit. Since these baskets have open tops to be effective you need to keep the basket elevated higher than your or your baby’s body and at least 4 to 6 feet away from you (preferably 6 or more feet). If you go to the “Cellphone Radiation Protection Items” page of this website, I have links to the best places to get these various baskets.

In the video below I put a cell phone in each of these baskets (a cell phone also emits RF Radiation) and test how much these baskets reduce the RF Radiation so that you can see it with your own eyes. Knowledge is power. I really think it will help you to grasp exactly what these baskets will do to protect you if you watch the video and see it tested with a meter.

Radiation Meter

HF-35C High Frequency Analyzer!

As I mentioned above, if you go to the “Cellphone Radiation Protection Items” page of this website, I have links to the best places to get these various baskets. It is super important if you use other metal basket than the ones I show you here and link to in that article, that you test your basket with a meter. Some metal mesh baskets are not made of very conductive metal and they don’t work as well as these ones do. You can see the meters I recommend on the “High Frequency Meters & Filters” page of this website.

It is worth getting a meter even if you get the baskets I have already tested for you in the above video because with a meter you can go through your house and find all of the other RF Radiation emitting devices. Then not only will you know which ones are emitting radiation, but you will also be able to know how much each on is emitting. Knowledge is power and you will make better decisions if you have the meters you need yourself.

Voice / Motion Activated Baby Monitors

On other quick thing to mention. If you already have a higher frequency baby monitor you might check to see if it has the option setting to make it only emit RF Radiation when motion (if it has a camera) or voice activates it. In my article “7 Examples of Low Emission Baby Monitors” I show you a few of these types of baby monitors.

Some times this option might be called “eco-mode”. Other times it will say “voice” or “motion” activated. If it says “eco-mode” you know that the RF Radiation is not going to be emitted (if that setting is on) unless triggered by voice or motion. If your baby monitor just says it is motion or voice activated you will want to read the details and make sure that it is not emitting radiation unless it is activated by those two things.

More On Baby Monitor Safety

Dr. Magda Havas

Back in the good old days, if you wanted to check on your child in the middle of the night, you would have to physically get out of bed and peek into their room.  With a baby monitor, all you need to do is look at a  monitor at the side of your bed.  It’s that easy.  But, these modern day marvels also come with big health risks.  It’s hard to believe a device designed to ease worry, actually creates more questions and more anxiety. So what about baby monitor radiation?

If you’re in the market for a new baby monitor, you will be inundated with choices.  Let’s break down the basic of baby monitors and how they work.  There are two different types of baby monitors: analog and digital.  Analog baby monitors are the most basic of baby monitors. These devices emit the same kind of radiation used in microwaves.  Here’s a great explanation from Dr. Magda Havas about exactly how baby monitors work:

“To communicate without wires, all baby monitors emit RF – Radio Frequency radiation either in the FM radio band or as microwaves. The base station transmitter of the baby monitor is either attached to the baby’s body or kept near the crib while the parent takes the receiver and either wears it in a hip pocket, on a belt or places it nearby to respond to the baby’s crying.

The majority of the wireless baby monitors that are sold in North America constantly emit some form of chronic radiation to allow the receiver to maintain contact and secure connection. Listen to the constant beacon signal that digital video monitors use to maintain a secure connection. This radiation is the main problem you encounter in regards to unwanted microwave exposures. You do not want to expose your child to this type of radiation under any circumstances,” Dr. Magda Havas.

Dr. Magda Havas is a prominent doctor, warning parents on her website about the potential dangers of baby monitors.  Dr. Havas believes analog baby monitors are safer that digital monitors, but adds any level of radiation exposure to a young child, especially an infant, is dangerous.

She also said “Analog monitors that use the FM radio band, usually 40 Mhz are considered to be safer than digital monitors that transmit via Bluetooth, WiFi -2.4 Ghz or DECT.  We as a society grew up with AM and FM radio frequencies and for the most part our bodies have adapted to these frequencies if they are low intensity,”.

(Note: The best thing in my opinion is to not have a baby monitor at all. But for those who want one anyway I have a suggestion. Get the lowest frequency analog one you can find (the lower the frequency the less dangerous). Find a low frequency one is getting harder and harder to find. Every year even analog monitors come out in higher and higher frequencies. Or get a digital one that has the optional setting (eco-mode) to only emit radiation when activated by sound or motion. I list links to where you can get some of these on the Recommended Protections page of this website.)

US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health

So, does the benefit of a baby monitor outweigh the risks? It depends on who you ask.  Several studies indicate any exposure to radiation in infancy could increase the risks of autism and childhood cancers.

For several decades prior to 1980 autism incidence remained essentially invariant; reportedly at about one diagnosed case per 2000 children…RF radiation sources have become commonplace in the personal human environment from approximately 1980 to the present. Operation of an RF radiation source such as a two-way radio, portable telephone, or a cell phone exposes the operator to levels of RF radiation shown to be biologically active…..

Passive operation, such as from an RF emitting baby monitor, is a widespread postnatal exposure….Some of the known effects of exposure to RF radiation include cognitive impairment, memory deficit, EEG modifications, DNA damage, chromosome aberrations, micronucleus formation, fetal malformation, increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier, altered cellular calcium efflux and altered cell proliferation,” –US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.

Safe Baby Healthy Child Website

Even though analog baby monitors use less energy and emit less radiation, there is still some level of radiation in your child’s room.  How much baby monitor radiation are you comfortable with? That’s what I thought.  As a parent, I want to keep those microwave radiation waves far away from my baby.  A website dedicated to educating parents about the dangers of radiation exposure recommends parents throw out the baby monitor, analog or digital, as soon as possible,

“Devra Davis PhD., MPH, founder of Environmental Health Trust (EHT) and an award-winning, internationally renowned scientist who also was the founding director of the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology of the U.S. National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences, states: “No studies show that microwave radiation exposure in children is safe or that continuous exposure from cell phones, cell towers, cordless phones, Wi-Fi routers, baby monitors, etc. is safe,” –

In Switzerland, the government has very strict guidelines about the use of baby monitors to protect children and educate parents.  The government urges parent to keep the base of the monitor far away from the child and their crib.  Also, opt for a system that does not transmit signals continuously.

What’s a parent to do?  If you can, check on your child the old-fashion way-with your own two eyes. If this is not an option or not realistic, Dr. Havas recommends importing a voice activated baby monitor from Germany.  Make sure the baby monitor has a Blue Angel seal of approval.

Voice activated monitors only use energy and emit radiation, when your baby makes a sound. Please note this system still emits some level of radiation.   Another option would be to hard wire an intercom system in your home. This would eliminate the radiation risks all together.  Raising a baby is tough and rewarding work.  I know you’ll do what’s best for you and your family.

For more information about baby monitor RF radiation please our article entitled Do Baby Monitors Emit Radiation? Another interesting one you might check out is our article entitled How Safe is a Voice Activated Baby Monitor?

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