Voice-activated baby monitors are becoming a popular choice amongst parents, with the main question being, do they work, and are they a safe choice?
First of all, let’s quickly answer the basic question of “are voice-activated baby monitors safe?” The answer is yes, voice-activated baby monitors are generally considered safe. Instead of monitoring all the time, they only register when any sound is made in the nursery. This reduces the babies overall exposure to EMF radiation while still giving parents peace of mind.
However, there is quite a bit more to the story that we need to cover. So, in this article, we’ll talk about what voice-activated baby monitors are, how they work, and the full story about how safe they are for baby and for mom.
Voice-Activated Baby Monitors – What Are They?
A voice-activated baby monitor might not be exactly what you think. When we think of voice-activated devices today, we often think about things like our Google Home, or Alexa Device, or something else that we activate with our voice.
More and more smart-home type devices are coming out all the time, many of which are voice-activated. Through smart home hubs and listening devices like Alexa, we can control just about anything, from light bulbs to garage doors, to our televisions.
However, a voice-activated baby monitor isn’t controlled by the parent, but instead turns on and off based off babies voice and sounds. So, they typically have a lower level of monitoring that is happening when the baby is sleeping, that is just listening for any sound.
Once any sound is heard, then the voice-activated baby monitors kick into full operation, relaying sounds (and sometimes video) to the monitoring device.
The main advantage of this is that it reduces the amount of EMF radiation your baby is exposed to. We’ll talk a bit more about EMF radiation, and why it’s dangerous for baby, down below, but for now just trust me that this is important.
Some voice-activated baby monitors just deliver sound, which usually requires much less radiation, while other voice-activated baby monitors simply activate once a sound is heard, but once activated work much like a regular video baby monitor. These are still a safer option, but not ideal for our needs.
Many of the “sound only” baby monitors use a simple AM/FM frequency to transmit the sound, while most modern baby monitors use Bluetooth or WiFi to transfer the data, both requiring a large amount of radiofrequency radiation.
Now that we have a little bit of a better understanding of what voice-activated baby are, let’s talk about if they are safe. In order to understand this though, we need to know a bit more about EMF radiation, the potential harms, and why babies and young children are especially vulnerable.
Are Voice-Activated Baby Monitors Safe?
A few months ago I wrote an enormous guide on how to protect your children from EMF radiation. In that article I talk generally about why EMF radiation is dangerous, but more importantly, I talk extensively about why children are especially vulnerable.
Since I went into so much detail in that article, I won’t go as in-depth in this one, but I still think it’s really important that you understand some of the basics.
The first thing that you need to understand, if you don’t already intuitively know it, is that babies and children are not just smaller adults. The biological, muscular, and skeletal makeup is actually quite different, and not proportionally the same.
For example, babies have significantly thinner skulls than adults, even given their proportions.
A study published in 2011 found that “When electrical properties are considered, a child’s head’s absorption can be over two times greater, and absorption of the skull’s bone marrow can be ten times greater than adults”
In addition, children’s brains have a completely different chemical makeup, potentially allowing EMF radiation to penetrate deeper into the brain.
Those two studies are just touching the surface of the research that shows the potential danger EMF radiation can have on young children.
Now, it’s important to note that I don’t at all say this to scare you, but just to educate you so that you can make better decisions. Many technologies are safe for use by children, and many others can be made safe with just small adjustments like adding a bit of distance.
However, you can’t rely on governmental regulations to protect you or your family. FCC regulations that regulate specific absorption rates for cell-phones were introduced in 1996, and many scientists, researchers, and advocates believe they are far from safe.
In fact, in 2012 the GAO (Government Accountability Office) published a report titled “Exposure and Testing Requirements for Mobile Phones Should Be Reassessed.” The report was a formal call for the FCC to reassess its regulatory requirements and specifically stated that: “The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) RF energy exposure limit may not reflect the latest research, and testing requirements may not identify maximum exposure in all possible usage conditions.”
Are Voice-Activated Baby Monitors The Best Choice?
The answer to this question depends a bit on who you are, what your circumstances are, and what safety considerations are most important to you.
However, many experts do recommend voice-activated baby monitors.
For example, Dr. Magda Havas, who is a leading researcher on the dangers of EMF radiation, especially when it comes to its potential impact on babies and young children had this to say on the topic:
“Ideally, the baby monitor base station transmitter should be voice-activated, meaning that it transmits radiation as sound only when it senses a sound from the baby. This would reduce the microwave exposure of both infant and parent. However, not all voice-activated baby monitors are alike. This is where is gets confusing. Voice-activation mode is very different on different monitors. Some cut the radiation that is broadcast – some just cut “squelch” the unwanted noise in the receiver.
Most baby monitors in North America are now constantly emitting microwave radiation because the companies are offering a great variety of features that the parents “think” they require. Things like video require high-intensity WiFi transmissions but are also prone to hackers,”
Now, given that information, we have to make some judgment calls. For instance, Dr. Havas would say that the safest option is to not have any monitoring device in the babies room whatsoever. Although this is a true statement, I think it’s fairly unrealistic.
For example, I’ve written articles on the safety of both the Owlet (wearable baby monitor) as well as the SNOO (smart crib). Both products have their pros and cons, and both emit small amounts of EMF radiation. You have to weigh the added peace of mind and safety of having the monitoring, vs the radiation exposure to your child.
So, if the amount of EMF radiation you’re exposing your child to is minimal (which is often the case if the camera/monitor is far from the crib) and the added safety and peace of mind is high, then it is probably worth it.
If you’re just looking for a safer way to monitor your child, I would suggest you check out my article on how to set up a low EMF wired baby monitor.
Alright, now that we’ve covered that, let’s look at some of the better voice-activated baby monitors on the market.
5 Best Voice-Activated Baby Monitors
These aren’t rated from lowest to highest radiation, instead I factored in many things including:
- and much more.
I haven’t personally tested all of these, so I based my ratings off of hours of reading reviews, specs and comparing products.
1. Moonbaby Non-WiFi Voice Activated Baby Monitor
There are quite a few things I like about the Moonbaby baby monitor (apart from its really good price). You’ll see that it has stellar reviews, and that is because the quality of the device is actually really good.
Separately though, I like that it doesn’t utilize WiFi like so many other baby monitors. Instead, it uses a lower radiation direct 2.4Ghz FHSS connection with the receiver. Y
ou can also set the voice activation to a few different sensitivity levels. So, if you’re worried that the monitor might not pick up, you can set the sensitivity higher. If you’re worried that it’s always transmitting, you can reduce the sensitivity.
It has a really good range, easily reaching just about anywhere in a home, with good battery life even if it’s not plugged in.
It also has features like:
- Auto Night Vision
- Auto Scan (If you have multiple cameras)
- Power Saving Mode
2. Summer Infant Voice Activated Baby Monitor
This is another voice-activated baby monitor that I really like. It has all the features that you’ll want like digital zoom, a quality nightlight so you can see your baby in the dark, and a good range.
It also has a really nice receiver with a 2.8″ color LCD.
More importantly, though, it has a really good voice activation feature. Basically, the display is off, and the camera is automatically in power saver mode when your baby is sleeping, which means that it is translating much less data, and in turn should be emitting far less radiation.
Overall, I think that this is a pretty great voice-activated baby monitor if you need video. If you don’t need video, there are certainly a few lower EMF options on the market, although not nearly as many as I’d like.
It seems that the few companies that used to make baby monitors that specifically made an effort to have lower radiation are fading away. My assumption is that there simply isn’t a large enough audience to buy their products. I hope that websites like mine are able to change that.
If you want to read more about a great way to install a wired baby monitor so that it emits less EMF radiation, check out this article I wrote.
If you have any questions about this or anything else, please don’t hesitate to reach out.