Elegant and practical, the Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature does its job well
Some baby monitors seem to be designed to appeal to gadget lovers. This one is more for people who just want to monitor their baby.
It came top in my wireless range tests, working flawlessly throughout the house and keeping going the furthest as I wandered out the front door and down the road with the parent unit. I’m not advocating you rely on a baby monitor while popping out to the corner shop, but it’s reassuring for people with large houses or gardens.
Battery life was respectable at eight hours and 10 minutes of constant audio transmission and occasional use of the screen for video. However, what separates this monitor from the others I’ve reviewed is that the camera unit can also run off batteries. The compartment holds four AAs, which aren’t supplied, but it could be extremely useful when on holiday or visiting friends as there won’t always be a conveniently located mains socket.
Baby monitors are often as much about peace of mind for parents as they are for active monitoring. This one includes a sensor pad that fits under the mattress and can detect subtle motion including breathing. If no movement is detected for 20 seconds a loud alarm sounds on both the baby unit and parent unit. I’m not qualified to comment on how effective this is at reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), but even if it only reduces parents’ stress levels then it’s doing a useful job.
The picture is nice and clear on the 3in screen, and there’s an infrared light for night vision mode. The screen only stays on for 20 seconds, but it’s probably no bad thing to discourage parents for staring endlessly at their sleeping children. The screen switches on automatically when noise is detected so you’re unlikely to miss anything particularly eventful.
The camera can be tilted up and down, not to the same extent as other cameras but enough for most practical purposes. There’s a tripod thread but no wall-mounting option. A nightlight is built into the back of the baby unit, gently illuminating the wall behind. It wasn’t bright enough for our four-year-old tester but it’ll stop the room being pitch dark.
Some of the controls are a bit cryptic, such as the slider on the back of the baby unit that sets the sensitivity of the sensor mat, and another control labelled Sensitivity in the menu on the parent unit. The latter sets the threshold for how noisy your baby needs to be before the camera switches on automatically. There’s also a control on the baby unit to set the volume of the talkback microphone — an unusual feature but useful nonetheless.
I’ve seen monitors with more built-in entertainment for the kiddies, but when it comes to peace of mind and a dependable design, the Tommee Tippee Video Sensor Monitor is my top recommendation.