A baby monitor gives you peace of mind while your baby sleeps and alerts you when baby wakes or cries. Here's the lowdown on the different models available:
Baby monitors comprise a transmitter base station (called the baby unit) and one or more receivers (the parent unit). Lots now use digital technology to eliminate interference and provide secure, private transmission from the baby unit to the parent unit in another room. There are three basic types of baby monitor: those which transmit sound only, sound and movement (via a sensor mat), or sound, movement and video.
Begin by deciding whether you want an audio only monitor, an audio and sensor mat monitor, or one that lets you see as well as hear your baby. Some parents are reassured by witnessing their baby's every move, others find such close surveillance rather nerve-racking.
Next, consider your home and lifestyle. Most monitors have an indoor range of 50m; the maximum range for outdoor use is 300m. If you live in a large house or spend time in the garden, you might consider a model with two parent units rather than one – not essential though!
Your daily routine will also affect your choice. For example, if you'll be whizzing up baby food or making calls during nap time, look for a monitor with lights to let you know when your baby's awake. A monitor with video will also enable you to see as well as hear your baby, so any movement should catch your eye.
Don't forget to check how your monitor is powered. Some charge off the mains in a dock (like a mobile or iPod), others use batteries, some do both. Portable battery-powered options give you greater freedom (imagine that – a bit of you-time while baby sleeps!) Check how long the charge lasts and lookout for a low battery indicator too.
Many monitors now have extra functions, which though not essential, can be very useful. Some play a choice of lullabies or sounds, others feature a nightlight, and some models even let you talk back to soothe a stirring baby. And for the ultimate peace of mind a ‘baby breathing monitor’ includes a motion sensor placed under the mattress which signal an alarm if no movement is detected for 20 seconds (bear in mind these can’t be used with memory foam products however).
Most parents consider safety gates an essential childproofing tool – to limit your child's access to areas of the home that could present dangers, such as stairs, bathrooms and the garden. And it’s best to get them installed before your baby starts to crawl – unless you have eyes in the back of your head!
Made from plastic-coated metal or wood, there are two main types of stair gates and safety gates: pressure gates need no wall fixing so will not damage paintwork or other wall finishes. Wall-mounted gates are installed by screwing into the wall – these are the more secure option. To ensure a perfect fit, some gates are extendible while other models have extensions that allow you to customise them to fit your particular doorway or staircase. Extensions are usually sold separately.
Homes come in all shapes and sizes so it's advisable to measure every opening where you want to use a safety gate. Remember to allow for skirting board width.
In general look for a gate that your child can't dislodge but that you can easily open and close. Otherwise you'll be too tempted to leave it open when you're in a hurry. For busy areas and the top of the stairs, it's best to buy a screw-mounted gate with no trip hazard across the opening at floor level.
Multi-section safety gates are ideal for odd shaped spaces or irregular areas which do not have convenient mounting points – such as landings, French doors and hallways. Some playpens can also be opened out for use as a safety barrier for larger openings or to section off a hazardous area such as an open plan kitchen.
Other safety gates designs to consider include safety guards which work like a roller blind. Extending horizontally from the side, these are almost invisible when not in use. Portable travel barriers which fit into a suitcase are also available to take along on trips and holidays.
Playpens provide a convenient, safe place for your little one to play, nap or watch your activities. They give baby plenty of room to move and explore without taking up too much space, and can be used all around the home and garden.
Traditional playpens are made from wood and are a popular choice because they generally blend in well with other home furnishings. Coated metal playpens are secure and easy to keep clean, while fabric-sided playpens are a more compact and portable choice.
It's advisable to buy a playpen before your little one’s on the move. That way baby can get used to it and it’s more likely to be a hit. For the same reason, if you have space go for a playpen with a large floor area and make it as fun an environment as possible from the early days.
Consider how and where you'll use your playpen before buying. If you move around your house during the day, want to be in the garden or frequently take baby to friends and relations, then portability is an issue. Fabric-sided folding playpens with their own carry bags are the lightest, most portable options, and some models double-up for use as a travel cot.
Other playpens can be opened out to covert them from playpen to room divider. Secured at either end to a wall, these coated metal models can give your child a larger area in which to play yet keep them out of hazardous areas such as a kitchen or fireplace.
Browse our range of playpens here.
Bed guards or bed rails are a safety staple when transitioning a toddler from a cot to their very first bed. They are suitable for children aged 2 to 5 who can get in and out of bed unassisted. Once you’ll sleep easy knowing nothing will go bump in the night!
There are two basic types of bed guard or bed rail. Cloth and mesh bed guards have a lightweight construction and come in a variety of colours to complement different bedroom décor – some with fun character themes to appeal to little ones. Solid or slatted wooden bed rails are the alternative option and can match or co-ordinate with popular wooden bed styles and other bedroom furniture.
Universal bed guards slip between the mattress and the bed frame of most divan and slatted-base beds and are easily transportable, so are the best option for use on holiday or at grandparents. Some of our bed guards are designed for specific brands so double check before you buy. Most bed guards are not suitable for use on bunk beds, waterbeds or inflatable mattresses.
Unless your child's bed is against a wall on one side, you'll need two bed guards – so look out for double sets or special offers on multiple buys. Once installed, check guards often to be sure there are no gaps that can trap a toddler's fingers, toes or body. Bed guards and rails should never be used in place of a cot.
Fire is the biggest cause of accidental death in children. A fireguard will allow you to light and attend to the fire, whilst keeping little ones from burning themselves. If you have a fireplace with a protruding fire surround or hearth, it's also worth protecting little ones from the impact of a fall against these hard surfaces.
For use when a fire is lit or unlit, fire guards protect your child from the entire fireplace area. Often made from coated metal, they will fit most types of gas, open or electric fires, fix securely to the wall, and can often be folded away when not in use.
A hearth gate is a type of multi-section coated metal fire guard that can surround larger areas such as wider fireplaces, wood-burning and other stoves and even garden barbecues.
Designed to protect children from the sharp edges that are a frequent feature of fireplaces, fireplace guards are self-adhesive impact-absorbing strips that can be secured to the fireplace to protect children and removed when no longer needed.
Some models of playpen can be opened out to convert into a multi-section screen with secure gate access. Fixed at either end to a wall, these coated metal models can be used to keep children away from hazardous areas including fireplaces and stoves.
We sell a range of memory foam mattresses, positioners and pillows which help reduce cranial pressure and the effects of Flat Head Syndrome (Plagiocephaly) while giving your baby optimum support to the head, neck, shoulders, back, hips and legs.
Of the larger items of safety equipment you'll need to child proof your home, most are not expensive, easy to install and well worth your time and money. Smaller but equally important child safety essentials include: