You might remember that I posted a while ago about needing to move Ben into his own bed, for the sake of my sanity as much as anything. He slept in my bed on one side of a king sized mattress for the first 12 weeks or so. He’s been a really good sleeper from the beginning, waking at most twice in the night for quick feeds and was quickly down to a midnight feed (which is when I tend to go to sleep) and a 4am one and then sleeping till morning. However, as the initial euphoria died down, I found myself sleeping badly and jumping awake a lot as I couldn’t shake the anxiety that he was going to just stop breathing at night. In addition, Max was having to sleep on the floor in the spare room and after a rollercoaster couple of years, I needed to be able to sleep next to my husband and get some normality back. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that at least if he was on the same mattress as me, I might notice if he gave up on life and I simply couldn’t relax if he was in his crib.
He, on the other hand, was completely unbothered; he doesn’t appear to be a baby who needs body contact to sleep and really doesn’t care whether he’s next to me or in his crib!
Britmums kindly set me up with Tommee Tippee who offered to send me a Closer to Nature Video Sensor Monitor system to try out. I was extremely grateful. It duly arrived, was set up, Ben moved into his crib and… the fact that you’ve heard no further driveling about it all is testament to the fact that it works very well indeed.
The system is easy to set up… well, I say this, I was in a particularly addled state at the time so I am still getting to grips with some elements of it but we were actually up and running in five minutes. The monitor is plugged into the mat and blinks a little green light as it detects movement from breathing. It is a hard mat and works through the mattress. This means it needs to be very sensitive, so the crib needs to be free standing and not where your own movement will trigger it. It has several sensitivity settings (by which I don’t mean you can make it cry!) so you can adjust it to how close the baby is to you, how thick or thin the mattress is etc. I found the crib just needed to not touch our bed to be fine. The fact it is a solid mat does of course mean it can only work if there is a mattress, as opposed to travel cots etc that might not have a separate one.
If no movement is detected an alarm will sound. It’s loud, it has never given us a false positive and it would wake you up – hopefully giving you time to try to save your baby. When I discussed this all with my health visitor she said “you do know that even awake, you might not be able to save him?” I do know that, but I would certainly want the chance to try, or at least be there with him if something terrible occurred.
The monitor itself has an infra-red camera which can be tilted, a gentle light which can be low, medium or bright and various essential operating buttons.
The video unit allows you to watch a baby from a distance, using the set up as an ordinary monitor. You can listen in, have a ticking sound on or off to monitor breathing, watch in colour or infrared and talk back to the baby to reassure (or in my case scare the bejaysus out of naughty sisters going into fiddle with him so he wakes up to play!) It has a battery pack that charges from the mains, a temperature display, a 300m range and you can alter most settings from the display, including brightening the light on the baby unit.
Once the child is older, or if you need to use the system differently, you can disconnect the mat from under the baby unit and use it as an ordinary monitor. In fact my only real minor niggle is you seem to need to do this by unplugging the wire, not just not switching on the mat. I can see why, but it does mean I spend a fair bit of time fiddling about with it. My other niggle is that you need to switch off the parent unit before the baby one, or you get an annoying alarm and have to go upstairs again, but these are really small things.
Given our circumstances, this mat and monitor has utterly changed my experience of motherhood this time round. We live in a 3 storey house and Ben is often fed to sleep in my bed through the day, so being able to keep an eye on him then is great, but the difference to my anxiety levels at night has been incredible. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Disclosure: Britmums set up this review opportunity for me with Tommy Tippee and I was sent the monitor for free. All views are my own.