As I mentioned in a previous post, I knew I wanted the AngelCare motion sensor monitor because I knew I'd be crazy enough to want to know if our baby was breathing throughout the night, but I didn't want to go with the AngelCare monitors that include video capabilities because I'd read enough reviews stating the video quality was crap. Fortunately Matt is tech savvy enough that he knew about the trend of parents taking webcams and turning them into baby video monitors.
We didn't buy a webcam immediately, but once Natalie started sleeping for longer and longer stretches at night I was curious to know if she was truly asleep or simply not making noise. It turns out that having the webcam video monitor now is especially great because now that Natalie is four months old she is old enough to go back to sleep on her own even after waking in the middle of the night, and through the monitor when can read her cues to see if she's going back to sleep or truly needs us. Plus, she now moves around a ton in her sleep, so the video monitor helps us understand what's happening in the nursery while we're elsewhere.
We bought the Foscam FI8918W Pan/Tilt with 8 meter night vision and 3.6 mm lens. When we purchased it via Amazon we paid about $85, though in my experience Amazon prices constantly fluctuate (and as of this writing the cost is at $80.99). We downloaded the uFoscam iPhone/iPad app for $4.99 to allow us to access the video monitor's feed. When we set up the system, the app was capable of taking still photos, but the newly released 1.7 version of the app allows for video recording.
Overall, the pros of this system outweigh the cons, but here's the breakdown of our experience:
- Great image quality -- the camera operates in color, but almost all the time we're watching Natalie in black-and-white in her (mostly) dark nursery. The night vision quality is strong given the fact that almost all the time she's in complete darkness.
- Inexpensive -- compared to other baby video monitors producing images of similar quality, the Foscam system is significantly less expensive.
- Fewer devices -- This is probably the aspect that makes us happiest. Because Matt and I live with our iPhones attached to us these days, being able to access our video monitor on our phones (or for Matt through his iPad) and not through an additional device has been great. It's just generally convenient to do almost everything electronic in our lives through our phones. We're all about reducing clutter, so this is just one small step in that direction.
- Remote access -- not only can we view the app through our iPhones/iPad provided we're hooked up to wifi, but we can also log in to the camera anywhere we have internet access. So, Matt has been known to check in on a napping Natalie from his work computer.
- Versatility -- when we've outgrown the baby monitor days this camera can serve as a security camera, regular old webcam, or -- perhaps more excitingly -- a dog cam so I can figure out whether it's Max or Doc that keeps eating all my throw pillows when we're gone. Other users have set up their Foscam as a nanny cam. The app allows for users to control 12 webcams, so if you're super into security you can go wild.
Dependability -- So far there have been two times when I've had to unplug the camera because the image got stuck or there was some other glitch. Considering I log in to the camera probably a couple dozen times a day, I think this is a pretty good track record. I expect technology to experience the occasional bugs, and while some other people might get annoyed that this system isn't perfect 100 percent of the time, I suppose to me that sort of perfection seems unrealistic, so I'll take what we've got here.
- No zoom -- while the camera lens itself is stationary, the app allows you to zoom in on the image just as you would anytime you're using your iPhone/iPad. I wish, though, that the camera itself would zoom because that would increase our camera mounting options. Right now the webcam is on top of the crib, and this is no doubt some kind of child safety hazard that will get more dangerous as Natalie grows, so we're planning to mount the camera on the wall directly above her crib using a small extension cord and the mounting set that came with the camera.
- Difficulty setting up remote access -- Matt took a couple hours setting up our system. He says that setting up the camera and the app is quite simple, but if you want to be able to access the camera feed remotely that's when set up becomes much more difficult.
- Connectivity issues -- because the app only operates when wifi is on, and because I sometimes forget to turn it on after being out of the house and other times my phone can't get the wifi signal, there have been times when I couldn't access the camera on my phone. I wonder, though, how much of this is an issue with the app/camera and how much of it has to do with our wifi signal.
The best part of this set up is that we can watch our baby sleep without disturbing her. Yes, my paranoid side can rest more easily when I zoom in to see her chest rising and falling with her breaths, but perhaps more importantly I get to capture these images for posterity:
Yes, that's right, we officially have a roller on our hands. Every night at bedtime and for every nap this little lady is placed in the middle of the crib, on her back, facing the camera, yet clearly over the course of her rest she manages to wiggle into different positions. At her four-month appointment last week Natalie's doctor told us that we can start placing her to bed on her stomach now that she's capable of rolling over. I'm hesitant to do this because Natalie has woken up screaming a few times when she's gotten herself onto her stomach. She rarely screams, and she basically never wakes up screaming. So, even if she can get herself out of the predicament, she doesn't do so consistently, and for the sake of her sleep and ours I'd rather keep her on her back for the time being.