Looking for advice on helping your baby sleep better? Our guide will tell you everything you need to know.
Baby Video Monitors
Learn the differences between wifi baby monitors and non wifi baby monitors - Everything you need to know to help you decide which is right for you.
Baby Breathing Monitors
Night terrors in toddlers can be a scary thing but we’ve put together a complete guide to help your little one sleep easy.
As parents, keeping your children safe is your number one priority. This starts from the moment they are born and continues through their lives. In the early years, you’ll likely invest in a video baby monitor to help you keep tabs on their sleep pattern and activities. The very thing you’ve bought to keep your baby safe can, in some rare instances, be a potential risk in itself. While these incidents aren’t common, you want to make sure you’ve done everything to keep your family safe from hackers. At Babysense, we take your family’s security seriously. We want you to be able to use your baby monitor with confidence. The steps to secure your WiFi baby monitor are simple. So let's get started. First things first, can your baby monitor be hacked? Yes, a baby monitor is at risk of hacking. There have been unsettling stories shared by trusted publications that strangers have managed to project their voice through a monitor or even share videos they’ve stolen from someone’s baby monitor. While it’s still a rare occurrence, we understand why it concerns parents. The good news is that we’ve heard no such stories about Babysense monitors, as we’ve done everything we can to make them secure. We’ve covered how your baby monitor can get hacked in more detail elsewhere. But, before we run you through the best ways to secure your baby monitor, it’s worth reminding you what the risks are in the first place. WiFi baby monitor security risks WiFi-enabled baby monitors are the most likely to be hacked. The very thing that makes them popular, their connection to the internet, is also their weakness. Known weaknesses in old firmware or your router can be exploited. Non-WiFi baby monitor hacking risks Generally, people choose non-WiFi baby monitors because they are so secure. These monitors have protocols like Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) and Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT). These help secure non-WiFi baby monitors and make them particularly tricky to hack. How to hack-proof your WiFi baby monitor WiFi monitors are the most frequently targeted. Again, the chances of your monitor being hacked are low, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be cautious. Follow these tips to ensure your internet-connected baby monitors are secure from hacking. Secure your router The ways hackers can gain access to your baby monitor listed above are all connected to your router. You want to make sure that your wireless router is secure. Whether you have a Wi-Fi-enabled baby monitor or one that has updates downloaded from the cloud or a third-party website, you can take a number of steps to secure your baby monitor. Set strong passwords When you’re setting the password for your baby monitor, you want it to be a password that you haven’t used anywhere else. We have all heard stories in the news about companies getting their customer information hacked; the last thing you want to do is make it easier for the hackers. Avoid using the default login details provided by the manufacturer. We recommend avoiding default passwords for the same reason we suggest using a unique password; no one is safe from hackers. In addition to the password for your baby monitor, you want to make sure that your Wi-Fi password is strong too. Once someone can hack into your Wi-Fi, they can access all of the connected devices, so you want to make sure that it is tightly secured. Password strength is something you should care about for wider security too. While you’re securing your digital baby monitor and updating passwords, we’d recommend having a different and strong password for each of the following: Internet access to your router Remote administrator access to your router User or administrator local access to your router Enable Two-Factor Authentication You can check if your baby monitor allows two-factor authentication by going to the default settings. Whether two-factor authentication is available, you want to enable all of the security features available. Adding two-factor authentication is an extra layer of security to keep you and your family protected. Get a digital baby monitor with an encrypted connection Encryption is essential for a router or smart baby monitor. It makes sure that even if the worst comes to the worst and there’s a data breach, or your monitor is indeed compromised, the hacker won’t be able to view or do anything with what they get their hands on. Use a completely unique email address. This one may not be the first thing you think about. But if you want a secure baby monitor, consider using a completely unique email address. This way, if your own email address is compromised in a data breach, they won’t gain instant access to your baby monitor. Run updates regularly Another great way to keep your baby monitor protected is to regularly check for updates to the camera and the app and install when requested. Suppose your baby monitor has an option to run automatic firmware updates. In that case, you’ll want to select that, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to do it yourself, leaving you and your family vulnerable to hackers. It’s not just your baby monitor that needs regularly updating either. Keep your router software and firmware updated too. Register your device If this is available as an option, make sure you do it. When you register your device, you’ll get updates on potential security vulnerabilities or recall notices directly from the manufacturer. Then set up Google Alerts Setting up alerts for your monitor's manufacturer name and model number only takes a couple of minutes. Once you’ve done it, you’ll get an alert anytime something happens, whether that’s a new software update, a news story or a product recall. You’ll never miss something important that could have potential security implications. Disable remote access We highly recommend switching off remote access on your baby monitor when you’re not using it. You don’t want to allow hackers to take a look into your room, whether you’re in it or not. For the highest security, we highly recommend disabling the feature to access the video feed on your phone through an app. The security and bandwidth implications of using this feature are too significant, putting yourself and your family at high risk of getting hacked. Enabling internet access is like leaving an invitation for hackers to come in. Remote access is disabled on routers by default, but you should check on your router admin page under ‘remote setup’ to make sure. Restrict your WiFi monitor access to your local network We’re not just talking about remote access, either. You should set your monitor to only operate on your local WiFi network rather than the internet. While someone could technically plugin and use an ethernet connection, it’s pretty unlikely. If they’re that close and doing something this shady, you’ve probably got more to be worried about. Invest in a firewall This is more of a blanket statement for your family’s security. If you have devices that connect to the internet, you should be firewall protected. A firewall, in addition to other security measures, can protect your router, browser, laptop, baby monitor and other smart devices from potential attacks. It’s the bare minimum you should invest in for your home network security. Secure your other internet-connected devices Once you’ve got a firewall and set up passwords, you want to ensure that every internet-connected device in your network is secure. Any single weak link could provide a hacker with a back door into the other devices in your home. Make sure each device is kept up-to-date and check for known security vulnerabilities with each device. Check your camera's connectivity settings. There are a couple of things, in particular, you want to check. These are your Dynamic DNS (DDNS), Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) and Port Forwarding settings. Make sure that each one is disabled. Most of the time, these will automatically be disabled, and it’s unlikely you’ve turned them on. However, you should definitely check as they can create vulnerabilities for people who want to access your monitor via the internet. Disabling UPnP will make it invisible for people trying to view it through your network, making it harder to hack. However, it will stop your monitor from sending data to your smartphone. There’s a chance someone could enable port forwarding if they want to torrent things, which could cause you other security issues. If you know someone in your house which may be doing this, double-check your settings. Change your camera port settings. Not only should you disable port forwarding, but you want to make sure you aren’t just using the default port settings to keep your devices secure. The default is 80; try to use a number higher than 8100 Check your monitor logs. If you really do need to have remote access enabled, then make sure you keep on top of your monitor logs. Check for unknown IP addresses or ones that come at odd times when you wouldn’t usually be checking your monitor. Strange access times or unfamiliar IPs could signal that someone is accessing your router or baby monitor that you don’t want. Turn it off when you’re not using it. Not only will turning off your baby cameras when they aren’t in use save you money, but it also minimises the opportunity they will be hacked. You’ll be reducing the time they’re available to target and only use them when you can keep an eye on everything. Demand Better Security When enough people demand better security in their baby monitors, manufacturers will prioritise it. Don’t be shy to bother retailers and manufacturers about the device’s security level you’re considering buying. The baby monitor security checklist So, to recap. The bare minimum you need to do to keep your baby monitor secure is: Keep it up to date Secure your internet connection Use strong password protection Change your camera settings Get a firewall Use encryption Poor security is no excuse. If you’re investing in smart baby monitors or a digital monitor, you should also be investing time in keeping it secure. How Babysense secure our baby monitors That’s a hefty list of things that you can do to keep your baby monitor safe. But, you’ll be pleased to know that we’re also doing what we can to stop a hacker from gaining access to your baby cameras. At Babysense we: Offer a collection of non-WiFi baby monitors that implement FHSS technology Use Point to Point digital encryption wireless transmission [other] While our main collection of video baby monitors is Wi-Fi free, we will soon also be offering a smart baby monitor and WiFi baby camera that implements the strongest encryption and security protocols available. We treat hacking and security vulnerabilities seriously and work daily to ensure that our own monitors are safe and secure.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines suggest that your baby should sleep in your room but not in your bed for at least the first six months of life. The recommendations go on to say that, if possible, parents should room with their babies for the entire first year. However, a more recent study suggests putting your baby in their own room at four months old may be better for your baby's development and for your family overall. So, which is it? How long should your baby sleep in your room? Clearly, the answer isn't as straightforward as we would like. The best we can do is lay out the facts. That way, you can decide what works best for you and your family. The AAP Guidelines In 2016, the AAP updated their infant sleep guidelines to better protect against the risk of SIDs and other sleep-related infant deaths. Included in these guidelines is a note about room sharing. Per the AAP, infants should share a room with their parents for the first six months at a minimum. If the family situation allows, the AAP pushes parents to keep babies in their room for the first year. They argue that the risk of SIDS is much lower when a parent sleeps in the same room as the child, and they have plenty of data to back this up, at least for the first six months. Evidence suggests that the risk for SIDS is higher in the first six months of life, especially for babies who sleep in a separate room. SIDS and sleep-related deaths have multiple risk factors, and the AAP encourages parents to be aware of more than just room sharing. Breastfeeding, for example, significantly lowers the risk of SIDS, and they note that it's far easier to accomplish when your baby isn't too far from your bed. The AAP also recommends back rather than stomach or side sleeping and that parents offer a pacifier before bedtime. The recommendations go on to say that placing your infant directly on your bed, or soft bedding of any sort, dramatically increases the risk of SIDS. So, the room-sharing recommendation is specific to sharing a four-walled area but not a bed, which is crucial to understand. The Study That Defies Them In 2017, Pediatrics, the official journal of the AAP, published a study that seemed to go against the AAP room sharing recommendations. Researchers found that room-sharing between 4 and 9 months decreased the amount of sleep the infants got. It also seemed to lead to risky sleep situations. The Study Method Researchers used a randomized controlled trial to observe 230 families throughout two and a half years to perform the study. They encouraged half of the mothers to move their infants out of their rooms at three months old. The other half had nurses come to their homes to talk about the risk of SIDS and help them improve their infants' sleep environments. Interestingly, the percentage of infants still sharing a room with their parents between 4 and 9 months old didn't differ between the two groups. Over 50% of the infants were in their own room by four months old, regardless of the suggestions they received. That allowed researchers to study the effects of independent sleeping after four months old. What they found was surprising. The Study's Results Infants that slept in their own beds, in their own rooms starting at four months old: Got more sleep per night Infants in their own room averaged 10.5 hours of sleep per night, whereas infants who room-shared from 4 to 9 months averaged only 10 hours. Slept for more extended periods Infants in their own room got 9 hours on average, while room-sharing infants only got 8.3 hours at a time. Were twice as likely to have consistent bedtimes Were four times less likely to end up in their parent's bed at night Sleep seemed to be worse for infants that stayed in their parent's room after nine months old. Those infants got an average of 9.5 hours of sleep per night. And they only slept for an average of 7.4 hours at a time. Researchers returned to ask parents about their children's sleep at two and a half years old. At that point, they found that those who were independent sleepers by four months old got an average of forty-five minutes more sleep per night, even as toddlers. So, infant sleeping habits seem to have long-term effects, which makes some people question whether the AAP uses a big enough lens to make their recommendations. The AAP Response At the time the room-sharing study was published in Pediatrics, Dr. Rachel Y. Moon, who helped write the AAP guidelines, issued an editorial response. In it, she points out that long periods of sleep for infants might not be a good thing. That's because "inability to arouse" is a hypothetical cause of SIDS. Of course, more extended periods of sleep don't necessarily mean it's hard for your baby to wake up. So, this is an area that needs more research. Dr. Moon also says that the study's data may suggest that parents need to focus on consistent and early bedtime routines that encourage better sleep. She explains this by pointing out many of the four-month-olds who slept independently seemed to have better bedtime rituals overall. Those bedtime routines may be why they're getting more sleep, and room sharing might have less to do with it. Though she admits establishing a solid routine may be a challenge in a shared room environment, more guidance for parents on how to get past those challenges may be better than eliminating the room-sharing advice entirely. Making An Informed Decision Approximately 3500 babies in the U.S. die each year due to sleep-related incidents, including SIDS. Given that about 3.6 million babies are born in the U.S. each year, these tragedies are relatively rare. However, the AAP and parents obviously hope to avoid any infant death that could be preventable. So, it makes sense for the AAP to create conservative guidelines that help parents do everything possible to prevent sleep-related deaths. Unfortunately, their guidelines on room sharing may not be steeped in as much evidence as some of their other suggestions. The risk of SIDS is much higher in the first six months of life, and the researchers behind the 2017 sleep study argue that there's not much evidence for room sharing past that point. To them, the twelve-month protocol seems overly conservative, if not arbitrary. The researchers also pointed out that putting a baby in their parent's bed increases the risk of SIDS per the AAP. And, it would seem that parents are much more likely to fall asleep with their baby in their bed if the child is already sleeping in the parent's room. They also argue that sleep deprivation for the parents may be a much more significant risk to the baby and the rest of the family than SIDS is. Sleep deprivation could lead to accidents and make parents more vulnerable to mental disorders such as depression. Plus, many babies begin to experience separation anxiety at around nine months of age when they develop an understanding of object permanence. That means transitioning to an independent sleeping situation between nine months and one year old can be challenging if not near impossible. It's far easier for most parents to transition their child to their own room at four to six months old when the baby is less likely to have attachment issues. The AAP is coming from a good place. They want to protect all infants from SIDS and sleep-related deaths, which isn't a bad thing. However, critics argue that using such a narrow perspective to set health guidelines is problematic. They say that the AAP and parents should use a more family-centered approach that doesn't just account for the risk of SIDS but also weighs in other factors like sleep deprivation for the parents and the infant's overall development. Currently, the guidelines leave parents in a challenging position. No one wants to increase the risk of SIDS for their infant, but some of the recommendations could come at a high cost. So, parents have to weigh the risks and benefits for themselves. So, How Long Should Your Baby Sleep In Your Room? Deciding how long your baby should sleep in your room isn't easy. Ideally, you should weigh the AAP recommendations heavily but also consider what works for your family situation. If you find that keeping your baby in your room deprives you of sleep or that you're falling asleep with your baby on your bed, you might want to consider placing them in a nursery sooner than the AAP recommends. That said, if keeping your baby in your room isn't causing any issues, you may choose to follow the AAP recommendations in full. Talking to your pediatrician can help you decide. They know you and your baby better than the AAP. Together, you can work out a plan to minimize SIDS risks while doing what works best for your family. Check out our video baby monitors to be aware of how many hours your baby is sleeping.