Reviewed by Kathryn Carr
This week we’ve been testing the Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Digital Sound Monitor.
Every parent has experienced that moment where the need to prod and poke their sleeping baby to check they’re breathing becomes a real urgency, overriding the real desire to let them sleep and grant you some well-earned rest. This sound monitor’s claim that it ‘detects your baby’s most gentle sounds’ should ease (if just a little), the worry of leaving them to sleep in another room.
My first challenge was setting up the parent unit. Unlike previous monitors I’ve used, this one comes with two rechargeable batteries. The idea is that if mains electricity isn’t available, the unit will still run. I’m struggling to think of a scenario that sees little one alone without electricity and Mum and Dad in close proximity. Although my monitor will almost certainly always run from the mains, I wanted to test out all its features.
I admit I’m not the most practical of people but the opening and refitting of the battery casing with a screwdriver didn’t come easy and after a little huffing and puffing, the task was reassigned to my other half (for whom it was a lot less hassle). Nevertheless, this particular feature isn’t one I’d necessarily look for in a baby monitor and I can’t say I’d agree that it’s one that as stated on the Tommee Tippee website ‘would be handy if you’re camping in the wilds.’
The rest of the set-up process came much easier with both the parent and baby unit just needing to be plugged into wall sockets in their respective locations and a button on each one requiring a quick press and hold. The included instruction manual was easy enough to follow too.
The parent monitor is portable as it can be removed from its docking station, allowing you to wander around the house and garden whilst ensuring you stay in contact with baby. The monitor works up to a range of 300 metres but watch out for spatial and structural factors that can reduce it (though 300 metres seems a heck of a long way to leave baby). If the signal does drop, the parent unit flashes and beeps every ten seconds until you pick it up again. And should you lose the parent unit under a pile of nappies or accidentally put it in the fridge in a fog of tiredness, there’s a paging system you can activate from the baby unit that emits a tone to help you trace it.
The Tommee Tippee Digital Sound Monitor boasts crystal clear sound quality with five sensitivity settings. When it came to bedtime and it was Dad’s turn to read ‘Grumpy Monster is coming to Dinner’ whilst I cleaned up after our own monster downstairs, I felt as if I was in the same room as the recital. The sound certainly is top notch. As for the sensitivity, I booted up the unit and was immediately happy with the default setting. But for sound fiend gadget gurus, it does offer something a little extra to play with to satisfy a finely tuned ear.
The talkback function comes in handy if like me you can hear the baby isn’t quite settling and rather than shout up the stairs to your other half as to whether a bottle of milk is required, a touch of a button on the parent unit, calmly and clearly relays your question. Once everyone’s down for the night, it also gives you the option of offering a little reassurance should your baby wake; a kind of soothe without the move – it’s a shame it can’t offer an accompanying cuddle.
Other monitors on the market place lullabies at your fingertips but if I’ve realised one thing from writing this review, it’s that these contraptions do offer some peace of mind but whatever functions they include, nothing will ever replace the tiptoe and peep manoeuvre into baby’s room.
I feel reliable simplicity is key and fancy fandangling isn’t required. The Tommee Tippee Digital Sound Monitor does include a temperature display and a small night light (which can be controlled from the parent unit); both of which I bought as separate items before baby actually arrived and both of which haven’t got anywhere near as much use as I anticipated. Having them included on the monitor will save you money should you also feel they’ll be essential and save you a mass of wires too.
The batteries are still baffling me but this product does have excellent sound quality and in the seven days we’ve had it set-up, it hasn’t once lost its signal (unlike our previous model which had the potential to drive me to pull my hair out with its warning beeping, several evenings a week). The monitor is sleek too and its simple, white design looks fresh and tidy, and doesn’t interfere with a room’s decor (unlike the toy prams, kitchens and garages).