Baby monitors for deaf & hard of hearing parents
Last updated August 2018
My 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. It was a frustrating search, and at one point, I may have resigned myself to wearing my hearing aid ALL THE TIME which I explained to others would be like wearing your glasses to bed at night. Weird and not comfortable. 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
Amplicomms V130 Watch and Care (discontinued) and V160
Unfortunately, the V130 (the one I use) has been discontinued by Amplicomms, as of Fall 2017. I am closely watching to see if there will be another model produced with an option to plug the vibration pad in. If you are able to find one secondhand, it is in my opinion, the best traditional monitor option for deaf parents with video, lights, sound, vibration, and optional plug-in vibration pad for your bed at night.
The Amplicomms V160 (via Connevans) was seemingly made to replace the V130, but without the vibration pad option, which was a necessity for me to sleep without my hearing aid at night. My understanding is that the parent unit still vibrates, but they’ve taken away the option for night sleeping with the plug-in pad. I’m not sure why the company made this move, as I feel they could have easily left the plug jack for the vibration pad in. As a company, they’re a bit difficult to contact… This is currently available through Connevans, which is where I ordered my V130. If American, shipping will be extra and you’ll need to buy some UK to US plug adaptors but it should work just fine.
Sonic Alert Baby Cry Signaler
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.
Summer Infant Babble Band
This wearable band vibrates on your wrist, and has a parent unit with NO video screen. Before I found the monitor I bought (the Amplicomms V130–see above), I considering buying this AND a regular video monitor (or maybe that Phillips above) to use in conjunction with each other, so that I could wear the band during the times I had my hearing aid out (sleep, and when my hair is wet).
One of the big drawbacks, though, is that the battery life is only 8 hours maximum. I don’t think this would have lasted through the night for me. Also, I just couldn’t help but feel like if I wanted a video baby monitor, I deserved one, and I shouldn’t have to try to make my own a-la-carte system. That said, if you’re OK not having video, this is a great way to get vibration alerts, and bonus–hands-free!
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. That said, here’s my current list of promising smartphone-friendly options for deaf and HoH parents. None of these are designed specifically for deaf parents, but would easily integrate with a deaf person’s smartphone.
I already slept with my phone under my pillow to act as my alarm, so for me, this would have been an easy adjustment. I put a poll on Twitter about this, and most deaf people currently DON’T use their phone under their pillow for alarms/alerts, so if you hate that idea, you may want to stick with a vibration pad or light flasher option.
Tip: On your smartphone, be sure to adjust your vibration settings to something that would be strong enough to wake you. For iPhone, you can even change the intensity and create your own custom vibration pattern for specific alerts.
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 has the potential to be an amazing option for deaf parents, provided you feel comfortable with the vibration of your phone waking you.
If you know you’re a very heavy sleeper, you may want to rely on the traditional vibration pad offering (like the Sonic Alert suite). One huge thing is that this continues to work even without internet, and there’s an alert if power/connectivity is lost overnight. I’m hoping to get a promotional model or even borrow a friend’s for review at some point, but have yet to be able to try one myself.
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.
Phillips Avent DECT Baby Monitor: No video, but seemingly excellent audio quality with a parent unit vibration feature.