Technology is one of those things I’m hesitant about when it comes to raising my kids. Sure, they watch TV, occasionally play on the tablet, and know their way around a computer. But in terms of the way I parent, I wouldn’t say that I’m attached to anything with too many buttons. During each pregnancy, I would review the list of baby “necessities” that were a dime-a-dozen on parenting sites, and often skipped over anything I couldn’t imagine my grandmother using. Wipe warmer? That’s what my hands are for! One of the items I may have been too quick to dismiss was a video baby monitor. I couldn’t imagine why I would need to observe my baby’s every movement from just 30 feet away. Perhaps if we lived in a giant house, where it would be impossible to hear my poor baby crying his heart out, I thought. But in our small three bedroom townhouse, I figured we could do without.
Fast forward to this spring, when the sun finally came out and melted all that wretched snow away. My daughters’ arrival home on the school bus coincides with the middle of my younger boys’ nap time, and I was constantly refusing their requests to play outside because I had to make sure the boys continued sleeping. Each time I had to usher them inside instead of letting them ride their bikes in front of the house, I felt like I was being kept prisoner by my sons’ naps. When Maman Loup was approached by Levana to review their new Ovia video monitor, I realized that a little bit of technology was exactly what I needed to solve this parenting conundrum. No longer would I need to feel pulled in several directions at once; I could keep an eye on my littles, all the while enjoying the fresh air with my bigs!
I did a little research before the monitor arrived, and I learned that there are a lot of different options and features when it comes to baby monitors! Not only are the usual battery life, image clarity and range important, but video monitors come with different degrees of image clarity, range of motion, night vision, and a ton of other extras I had never even considered. I quickly realized that my Levana Ovia was the Cadillac of baby monitors. Not only does it come with a 4.3″ LCD screen and touch panel controls, but it has an invisible LED night vision light, and lots of other features. Because I found it quite overwhelming to understand and compare different monitors, I’m going to break down the features one-by-one and explain in clear terms exactly why they’re awesome.
4.3″ LCD Screen and Touch Panel Controls: The parent unit of the monitor features a big screen (bigger than my iPhone 5S), which means that you can see what your baby is up to in the middle of the night, even if you’ve just been woken up and haven’t yet found your glasses! The touch panel controls make it easy to navigate the main menu, and the quick button features mean it’s simple to switch between Camera 1 and Camera 2, as well as change the volume, which is a necessity when you’re keeping a eye on multiple children.
Whisper-quiet Pan/Tilt/Zoom Camera: The range of motion on the camera is fabulous. I was a bit frustrated at first because I found that it couldn’t tilt low enough for me to see the whole room, but then I realized that the camera could also be mounted on the wall (we had it on a shelf). Wall mounted, we could view every nook and crannie of both rooms, and moving the cameras made no detectable noise.
Record Video & Snap Photos: Admittedly, this was the feature that I scoffed at. If I wanted a picture or video of my baby, I would just use my phone or – gasp! – an actual camera. However, I must stand corrected. We have been having trouble putting the boys to bed for the past couple of months. Evan, nine months, will not take a bottle, and since I usually nurse him before putting him down, his bed time has always been my job. But I would like the occasional evening off, and my poor husband was a bit stumped about how to get him to fall asleep, what with him not having breasts to nurse our little beast. Since he could not afford to waste precious time watching the live feed, I recorded a demonstration for him to follow of how I rock and soothe our son without nursing him. If he is not sure what to do while I’m gone, he has only to refer to the little video I left on the monitor (and computer, and iPhone).
And now for our dear Noah, two and a half years old, who has been waking up in the middle of the night for the past few months. I was determined to figure out why he was always up at 3:30 a.m., so I set an alarm for 3:20, put the monitor on record, and promptly fell back to sleep. Ten minutes later, our little monkey was at our door. The next morning, a quick view of the tape showed why: our neighbour leaves for work around that time, and his car’s headlights were shining directly into his room. A blackout blind solved that problem, and thanks to our Ovia monitor, everyone was again sleeping through the night.
8-hour Battery Life in PEEP Mode: As someone who always forgets to charge her cell phone can attest, I hate it when a gadget is rendered useless because the battery is dead. The Ovia has the option to switch to a power saving mode they call PEEP, where the video screen lights up only when the baby makes noise. Not only does this help prolong the life of the battery between charges, but it also keeps our bedroom dark when everyone is sleeping.
Secure 750ft ClearVu Digital Signal: The most important part of a baby monitor is that it’s reliable and safe. After hearing of many incidents where a baby monitor signal was intercepted by strangers, I was nervous about the idea of letting unknown eyes into the most vulnerable rooms in my home. Levana’s ClearVu technology means that there is no wireless interference, and their 750ft range means that I can spend time in our front and our back yard without worrying about signal loss.
Talk to Baby™ Two-way Communication: My experience with this feature was more “Yell at Toddler” than “Talk to Baby,” but I digress… I enjoyed this option for the times that Noah refused to stay in his own bed, but also for reassuring Evan that I knew he was awake and was just finishing up with the laundry before I came to get him from his crib.
Invisible LEDs Keep the Nursery Dark: I’ll admit that I had no idea the significance of this feature until I visited a friend who had an older model of Levana video monitor in her daughter’s nursery. With the lights off, I noticed a big red light on the camera, and I’m guessing that was not an invisible LED. I’m not sure if it makes much of a difference to her daughter, who seems to sleep fine with it, but I can see how a distracted toddler might be inclined to investigate the source of the light, and that it might be troublesome.
Smart LED Indicator Ring: I don’t particularly like the idea of a screaming baby waking me up, and my husband and I are pretty light sleepers, so with this feature we were able to turn the volume on the monitor way down. Just by looking at the ring of light next to the screen, we can tell how loud the boys are crying, and also how quickly we need to jump out of bed.
3 Remote-Controlled Lullabies : This is not a feature I find myself using often, since my boys both like white noise to put them to sleep. However, when Evan wakes up and I’m in the middle of taking care of one of my older children, I can switch on the music, which usually buys me a few extra minutes before going to get him.
Expandable up to 4 Cameras: I love that this system is customizable, with the possibility of having four cameras being monitored by the same parental unit. My Ovia came with two cameras, and I would like to have another one to keep an eye on my girls, who sleep in the basement suite. However, I find the cost of an extra camera, at $134.99, (more than half the cost of the two camera and monitor system at $259.99) a bit prohibitive. I noticed their website often has great sales, so I’m going to keep my eye on the extra camera and see if I can get it for a bit less.
Set up: The quick start guide to setting it up meant that I could use the monitor within minutes of taking it out of the box, but learning the ins and outs of the Ovia was difficult without a detailed manual. I did find it on their website, as the guide suggested, but it took a bit of trial and error to figure out how to get the most out of my monitor.
Overall appreciation: Instructions aside, I think it’s safe to say I’m very pleased with my Ovia. It looks great, and fits seamlessly into the decor of both bedrooms. It comes with tons of features, some of which I had no idea could be so useful. And last but not least, it has allowed me to be in two places at once, which, as a parent of four kids with very different sleep schedules, is priceless.
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