Baby monitors for deaf & hard of hearing parents
Last updated July 2020 (in progress as I research)
My frustrating search for baby monitors kickstarted this website! I wanted a nice monitor that ALSO had some vibration feature for me for when I didn’t have my hearing aid in at night. My husband hears normally, so I wanted video, audio, and vibration.
List is now divided by traditional hardware-only monitors and smart baby monitors.
“TRADITIONAL” BABY MONITORS
Note: if you buy a product from another country than your own, please double-check that your monitor frequency won’t interfere with emergency services! For example, many American baby monitors aren’t allowed in Germany for this reason.
Sarabec MONA (made in U.K. but should work in U.S.)
DISCONTINUED AS OF JULY 2020 UPDATE
Sonic Alert Baby Cry Signaler
If you’re totally deaf, you probably already have a good range of home products that integrate nicely when you need to consider baby equipment, but in the interest of making sure all the best information is in one spot, I’d like to feature this popular suite by Sonic Alert here:
Baby Cry Signaler: This needs the strobe attachment at the least to function properly, and also works well with the Sonic Boom system. Just plug this into an outlet.
Strobe receiver: When the Baby Cry Signaler picks up sound, the strobe light will flash. Note: also compatible with Sonic Alert’s telephone and doorbell notification hardware.
Sonic Boom Alarm Clock: Compatible with the baby signaler, this alarm functions by activating a STRONG under-mattress vibrator, and/or can flash a lamp you have plugged into it.
This is a great suite of products, because they are specifically MADE for the deaf/hard of hearing. I had the alarm clock in high school and part of college, and there’s nothing that’ll get you up more effectively than a near-earthquake from the vibration pad, and lamp flashing simultaneously if you so choose. Hell, a great purchase for a teenager that doesn’t even have hearing loss, probably. One small criticism might be that the alarm clock is literally the same as when I got it back in… the early 2000s? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, but just know you’re not dealing with real cutting-edge technology.
QUICK JULY 2020 update: Your best bet right now may be this suite or another alerting device (I’m still doing some homework) in combination with a traditional or smart video monitor. -Emily
Summer Infant Babble Band
DISCONTINUED AS OF JULY 2020 SITE UPDATE
SMART BABY MONITORS
I’m slowly coming around to the fact that the future for deaf parents is going to be pretty reliant on the smartphone, and its vibration alert settings. Unfortunately, customizing the vibration pattern to one that is strong/extended is not allowed for third-party apps on the iPhone; I’m not sure about others. That said, here’s my current list of promising smartphone-friendly options for deaf and HoH parents, BUT the vibration may not be enough to wake you.
If you hate the idea of sleeping with your phone under your pillow, you may want to stick with a vibration pad or light flasher option.
A powerful smart baby monitor that can even provide sleep tracking and analytics if you opt into their subscription model. (Never fear, the basics are still free). The initial price for the “suite” is premium, to be sure, but the video quality and alerts are exceptional.
Nanit was kind enough to send me one of their monitors for trial and review last fall, specifically from the perspective of the deaf parent. As you know, I wear a hearing aid during the day, but I take it out to sleep and cannot hear my son crying. I have a traditional baby monitor with a plug-in vibration pad (sadly discontinued), so I was really excited to explore a smartphone-friendly option. Set up is particular, but they make it easy with templates and clear instructions.
Drawbacks: The baby cry alert tone/vibration is too short to wake a sleeping parent. My understanding is that right now, a third party app on my iPhone is restricted in their ability to have a custom/extended vibration alert. I wear a FitBit that I customized to port the alert buzz through to my wrist, but it’s a quick one–works great during the day (naptimes, etc) but not enough to wake me at night.
That said, it’s an amazing monitor that does a great job of picking up on crying and motion, and I loved being able to check in on my son sleeping even when the sitter was at the house and I was out running errands.
Same concept, except the price is a lot more friendly and there’s even some breathing monitor function built into this as well, which is nice. Another really nice thing for deaf parents looking for the right thing is that you can try this risk-free for 100 nights, and if it’s not a good fit, return it! There are no subscription models unlike the Nanit, so this might be a good option for someone looking primarily for “wake me if the baby’s crying” video monitor functionality with the added security of being able to easily return it early on. If you want all the bells and whistles, you’re more likely to be swayed by the Nanit.
The HD feed looks amazing, and it’s so cool how you can pan around to look at your little one. I will say, if your wifi goes out, so does your monitor, and it may be an extra drain on your phone battery. There’s a few different models. This one (with HD) does require a consistently high internet connection.
Baby Monitor 3G App
Not even a physical purchase! And it’s cheap—only $3-5 depending on what device you set it up on. But you do need to have a spare smart device like a phone, tablet,or a laptop continually acting as the camera for monitoring baby. Your main phone, acting as the parent unit, will vibrate upon alert. The interface is really cute, too, noting the last time baby made a noise. This is a good option to have in your pocket on a pinch, like if you’re traveling.
Other Baby Monitors
For the sake of giving you a few more options, here’s a list of other baby monitors that MIGHT work for American deaf and hard of hearing parents. Worthy of taking a look if you’re interested, but perhaps don’t match the features of the ones I’ve discussed above.
VTech DM221 Safe & Sound: This does NOT have video, it is an audio baby monitor with a vibration feature. Reviews are good, except it seems to have some range issues.
Samsung Baby Cry Detector feature: I can’t imagine this being a permanent option, but to my knowledge, most Samsung phones have a baby cry and doorbell detector built in that would then alert ANOTHER smart device (such as their watch).
Phillips Avent DECT Baby Monitor: No video, but seemingly excellent audio quality with a parent unit vibration feature.