When I was pregnant there was an extensive list of “essentials” I had to buy in preparation for the arrival of a newborn; cot, pram, baby bath, steriliser etc. But eight years later, only one of those baby essentials is still used in our house multiple times a day and has made my life easier and kept my son safe. Our baby monitor!
At age 8, William is obviously no longer a baby. You might be wondering why we still use a monitor at all. And you’d probably be surprised to hear we actually use two!
We have two cameras in William’s room facing the bed from different angles. One of these is easily adjustable so we can move it to face in different directions, or transfer it easily into another part of the house or garden. This camera is linked to an app on our mobile phones so we can keep an eye on William from anywhere in the house without having to remember to charge a monitor.
This nifty piece of kit has made my life so much easier and without it I am a little lost. You see we don’t just use our baby monitor at night to ensure William is asleep, we also use it during the day to make sure William is safe and happy.
William’s bedroom is downstairs and we don’t have a lift, so getting him upstairs is tricky as he is so heavy now. If I need to pop upstairs to put the washing away or make the beds, I can wheel William into his room, put the TV on and keep an eye on him on upstairs. I know if he has a seizure I will see it and if he is getting uncomfortable or bored I will hear him.
On sunny days, I have been able to set up a camera in the garden so that I can quickly pop back indoors to get us a drink or make the lunch while William makes the most of the good weather and gets some much needed vitamin D.
It took a long time, but William now has a great bedtime routine and usually goes to bed without too much fuss. So, during these lovely light summer evenings, once he is settled in bed we can sit in the garden, maybe throw a burger on the barbecue and chill out for a few hours. Having a monitor allows us to relax and stops us having to repeatedly go indoors to check whether he has fallen asleep. It also gives us peace of mind as we know we will catch any seizures that strike as he is nodding off. William’s seizures are usually over pretty quickly, so unless we see one we might not realise he’s had one and wouldn’t be able to check he is ok and offer some reassurance afterwards.
I’m sure I will be using a baby monitor when William is a grown up, just like Candi, often called Cathy, does with her 20 year old disabled daughter if she wants to relax on the sofa for a little while in the evening.
We stupidly didn’t think to take a monitor with us when we went on holiday earlier this year, which led to constant trips indoors to check on him. And as William is a light sleeper, we risked waking him every time we opened the door! Four weeks without a baby monitor made me aware of the flexibility it provides us at home and reaffirmed how important ours is. I won’t be making that rookie mistake again!
Our monitor also allows William to have a bit of independence and be in his room watching the TV or listening to music with his sensory lights on without having to be with his Mum all the time. After all, most eight-year-olds don’t want to be with their Mum 24/7, so his disability shouldn’t prevent him from having a little independence when he can. We don’t live in a mansion so I may only be a few feet away in the kitchen, but I can get on with something else while he has some time to chill-out by himself.
Miriam, aka Faith Mummy, also uses a baby monitor to give her some peace of mind when her eight-year-old twins are using their sensory room independently. Her monitor has also allowed her son to be able to sleep in his own room despite his night seizures and has been vital in providing her daughter with some security to manage her anxiety and learn to self-settle.
My friend, Sarah of Hadley’s Heroes, told me that the baby monitor is probably one of the most crucial things she owns and I completely agree with her. Without it she wouldn’t be able to hear Hadley call her if he needed repositioning during the night or needed to go to the toilet as, like William, he sleeps downstairs.
Baby monitors are also vital for children with complex medical conditions and have helped Emma to be able to hear her seven-year-old son, Hugh, stop breathing, something he is prone to after a seizure. Hugh has a SATs monitor overnight, but the baby monitor means that Emma can hear any slight change in his breathing and can be resuscitating him even before the SATs monitor has a chance to register his low oxygen levels.
So, you see, baby monitors aren’t just for babies and they aren’t just for night time. They play a major part in the lives of families like mine and provide us with tremendous peace of mind. Pretty incredible for such a small piece of technology!