Baby Monitor Review: Motorola MBP 36S

motorola36s

I’m on a mission to find the best baby monitor on the market.  We currently own the Motorola 36S baby monitor, and are very happy with it thus far.  It does the job for what you will need, and has some extra features that you wouldn’t think you need, but end up being pretty useful and you’ll be thankful are there.  This first review is going to be a basic review of the 36S, as we have the unit with only one camera, and one parent unit.  I’m hoping to eventually get another camera so that I can review this for parents with multiples, or parents who are expecting baby number 2 or more.

The Motorola 36S baby monitor runs on its on network.  In the beginning, I couldn’t have cared less about this feature.  But as time went on, I saw more and more articles popping up on social media and in the news about people hacking into wifi networks in regards to baby monitors, and watching your baby, and in some instances talking to your baby.  Creepy, I know, and again, at the beginning, I thought “yeah right, who would even care about your baby sleeping?!” but I guess there’s some crazies out there, or people who maybe have mental issues.  So, this feature is really not something to be overlooked, and is something you at least will want to consider when choosing a baby monitor for your baby/family.  The disadvantage to it not working on a wifi network is that you can’t use it with a smart phone or other similar device.

The camera itself was super easy to set up – no fiddling around with wifi networks or anything like that.  You basically take it out of the box, plug it in and its ready to go.  Easy as pie.  The range on the monitor goes up to 800 metres, which is fairly decent.  Our son can be asleep in his room, and I can take our dog out for a pee on the corner of the street and still be able to watch the parent unit without it cutting out.

The infrared on the camera is awesome.  It moves along with the pan/tilt/zoom features in the camera, meaning that when you’re using the camera at night, you’ll get good quality regardless of the position of the camera.  If you need to place the camera somewhere on a shelf for example, and tilt the camera downwards to be able to watch your baby who is positioned lower in a crib, or a toddler bed, the infrared moves with the camera, and the picture quality and lighting is not jeopardized.

img_9692

A photo of our 15 month old, asleep at night (this is the view with the infrared, in pitch darkness)

Video quality is far superior to some of the other brands on the market, particularly at night with the night vision or infrared.  The microphone on the baby unit is super sensitive, and you can literally hear a pin drop, which is awesome.  You can obviously turn the volume down if you need to, but you can hear everything from blankets swishing around to your baby sitting up (even if they’re quiet).  There is no audio or visual static interference, so you don’t get any annoying and unwanted sounds through the parent unit, which is a bonus if you’re using the monitor overnight when you’re trying to sleep.  The only noise you will hear from the monitor is your baby.

The camera comes with some additional features, such as temperature, lullabies, ability to speak to your baby from the parent unit, and alarms.  Although I have yet to see a review of this, I believe you can also purchase extra cameras to use with this model.  However, beware that the camera models are very particular, meaning if you have the 36S model, the camera for the 36 will not pair/work with the parent unit.  Also, my understanding of this baby monitor with multiple cameras, is that it does not offer up a split screen option, so you will have to scroll from one camera to the next, which may not be ideal when you’re trying to keep an eye on a newborn.

There are a few set backs that I’ve noticed with this particular unit however.  First of all, the screen on the parent unit only stays on for 60 minutes.  After that, it shuts off, so you’ll have to physically turn the screen back on.  This only happens when its not plugged in, so this isn’t an issue if you’re using the monitor over night and it remains plugged in.  The battery life doesn’t last very long even with a full charge, but so far, it has lasted longer than our 15 month old naps.  The other thing that I would like to have seen on the parent unit is the time.  It shows the temperature in the room, the signal strength, which camera it is looking at (if you have more than one paired), and it shows the battery life.  Lastly, after about 6-7 months of everyday use (overnight plugged in use, and probably a 2 hour/day nap, unplugged) the cable to charge the parent unit is starting to wear.  What I mean by this is, when the parent unit is plugged in, it’ll show that its charging, and maybe 10 minutes later, it will stop charging, and suddenly start charging again.  The best thing I can relate this to is when your iPhone cable is frayed and it keeps getting and losing a charge, even though it is plugged in.  This is a huge problem for us, since, as I mentioned just before, that the battery doesn’t last very long on the parent unit when its unplugged.  So, if the cable shorts out, and the parent unit isn’t being constantly charged overnight, when my husband and I are sleeping, we won’t know if/when the unit battery dies.

Overall, an awesome baby camera, on the top of our list for sure when it comes to baby monitors.  The only reason we are replacing it, is because we are expecting baby number two and we really want to get one that has a split screen option.

 

Swimming Lessons for a Baby

Here is a bit of background information before I blog about our experience with swimming lessons with our baby:

When Linden was 3 months old, I started to realize how boring babies are, and was trying desperately to find something to do with a newborn.  He couldn’t sit up on his own, he couldn’t crawl – he couldn’t do much of anything, really.  So, short of circle time and rolling a ball to him and basically playing fetch by myself, I looked into getting him into swimming.  There was nothing available in my area at the time for babies under 6 months of age.  All the community centres started them at 6 months.  I was talking to my neighbour at New Years, and she suggested a place called Swim Clo Aquatics which is a private swim school in BC.  As soon as the holidays were over, I called them enquiring about whether they would take a 4 month old, and they did!  I got Linden enrolled (and by this time, he was just under 5 months), and we now had an activity!  Swim Clo works out of the Best Western hotel in South Surrey, and they offer private lessons, which was awesome for us, being new parents and all, and really not knowing what to expect in regards to taking a baby swimming.  It was comforting to know that we would be the only people in the pool, and both my husband and I were invited (and encouraged) to come in the pool with our son.  It was also a heated pool, which was really nice for our son since he was so young.  We started him out twice a week for the first few months, just so he would get used to the water, and then dialled back to once a week.  The lessons were good for Linden, and for us as parents, as we were taught how to properly hold our son in the water, how to properly submerge him, how to teach him to swim, proper water safety, etc.  It was very repetitive, basically swimming from one end of the pool to the other for more than half the class, then we would do “Humpty-Dumpty’s” which is when we sat him on the edge of the pool, did the Humpty Dumpty song, and then submerged him and taught him to swim back to the edge, and then finally we would end off with him playing with some water toys, which he absolutely loved!

FullSizeRender 15

When he turned 9 months, we were able to get him into swimming lessons at the community pool near our house.  They follow the same program (the Red Cross Swim Preschool Program), but its a group session with kids ranging from 4 months to 36 months (I know, now they take 4 month olds!).  Linden was the second youngest in the class, with most of the kids being closer to the 30-36 month age range, and the youngest one being 5 months old.  The classes were super fun for Linden, lots of songs in the pool like Purple Stew, The Wheels on the Bus, Fishies in the Middle, Hokey Pokey, etc., which Linden just loved.  The songs are interactive and fun for the little ones, and the kids had a great time.  I did notice however, that they didn’t “teach” as much swimming stuff to the kids or the parents.  Although everything we did in the classes were safety related, teaching them to be comfortable on their backs, blowing bubbles, etc., they didn’t teach the fundamentals of each step, such as rollovers (how to get them onto their backs, and teaching the babies to roll onto their backs) for water safety.  This wasn’t a problem for us since we had already been taking lessons with Swim Clo, so this was actually good practice for us.  We did notice however, that the parents of the other baby in the class were kind of left out.  They didn’t really know what to do, and felt uncomfortable and nervous when we had to submerge our babies/kids because they had never done it before, nor been shown how to do so safely or properly.  Long story short, the community centre swim program is a great tool for practice, but not a great place to learn how to swim.

ezgif.com-video-to-gif

When we look back now, Swim Clo was an expensive alternative at the time, but now that we see Linden’s progress and see him with
other peers in his “age group” (although most were older), we could see that he was actually better in some aspects than some of the 3 year olds.  Although expensive, Swim Clo was worth every penny, and I’m glad we enrolled him.  I’m not trying to show off that our son is better at swimming than the 3 year olds, because he’s not – he still obviously needs us to hold him – but what I am trying to get at, is he is comfortable in the water, he’s not afraid to do things in the water, and he knows how to do  things in the pool that I think other kids his age may not be able to do.  For example, he is totally fine with, and in fact enjoys getting his face wet.  There’s a lot of kids who are afraid of getting splashed in the face with water, or getting their faces wet, or dunked underwater.  Linden also (with the help and the consistency of Swim Clo), can kick his legs 100% on his own, can splash his hands in the water when you tell him to, and reaches for the edge of the pool when you tell him to (which is great for water safety).  He is even starting to try a swimming stroke with his arms now, which I think is awesome for an 11 month old.


He still can’t swim on his own, but I’m confident that day is coming soon.  What I can say though, is that he loves the water, and isn’t afraid of it, which is all I’m asking for.  Both my husband and I want our kids to grow up being active, playing outside, doing physical activities because we feel its good for them and important for their physical (and mental) well being.  We hope to be able to continue Linden in classes both at Swim Clo as well as at the community centre without getting too overwhelmed with all his other activities, and with him starting daycare when he turns 1!

 

10 Month Update

This is a little late, but here is my blog post about our son’s development at 10-months.

Linden weighed in at 17lbs 13oz and 27.5″ at his 10-month check up with the doctor.  He is a little guy, but is growing well, and is healthy so we have nothing to worry about in that regard.  He is no longer breastfeeding – he is purely on puréed foods and drinking water (no milk or juice).  We do give him homemade popsicles made of apple or pear water (the left over water from when we steam his food) to help with his teething.  This also ensures he gets lots of fluids for these hot summer days.  Stopping breastfeeding was actually a lot easier than I had anticipated.  We were feeding him puréed foods 3 times a day, and breastfeeding pretty much just before bed to help him to fall asleep.  Usually, my husband gives him a bath before bed, and while he’s doing that, I’ll go have a shower.  One day, I took longer in the shower (or Linden was quicker in the bath), so my husband sat with our son, and Linden just fell asleep for the night.  And that was the end of breastfeeding.  Breastfeeding was always a horrible experience for me – it was painful and uncomfortable – so I definitely do not have any thoughts of missing the “bonding”.  Bonding – schmonding.  It hurt, it was a pain (literally and figuratively), and it just downright sucked. Good riddance to that!

IMG_7080

Family Photo at the Beach

He is still on puréed foods, which I thought he would be moving on to more solid foods by now.  I think he just got a slightly later start because he didn’t get his first tooth till he was 9.5 months old.  We have tried giving him small cut up pieces of soft foods (like banana and avocado), but he just swallowed them whole which almost ended up in a trip to emergency.  He managed to get it down though since it was a softer fruit, so all was good.  We have decided not to push the issue until he is ready.  He eats Baby Mum-mums though, and knows to chew those (although they mostly dissolve).  He didn’t take a liking at all to meats, so he’s eating quinoa mixed in with his vegetables, and flavoured tofu (an awesome suggestion from a friend of ours who had the same experience with their baby not liking meat).

He now has 4 teeth – 2 at the top, and 2 at the bottom.  The bottom ones came in first, and we didn’t even know they were breaking through until he put my finger in his mouth and bit my finger.  I was surprised to find two little teeth at the bottom.  They never seemed to really bother him.  The first top tooth however, bled a fair amount when it broke through the gum, and the second top tooth gave him a bit of a rough time.  Although after we saw it, we know why – the thing is huge!  He had a few restless nights because of that beast!  I’m sure every baby is different, they all get their teeth at different times/ages, and they all react differently when the teeth come through.  Linden (and we) were fortunate that they didn’t hurt him that much.

For those of you following my blog, we enrolled Linden in a Baby Sign Language program when he was 6 months old, and we have been going since then.  He absolutely loves the classes, and has (finally) made some progress.  His first sign was ‘milk’ (at about 8 months old), and he now can sign ‘light’, ‘dog’ (although since our dog’s name is Snowy, he signs ‘dog’ when you say ‘Snowy’), he waives hello and can clap.  We are currently working on getting him to sign ‘book’, and ‘thank you’.  He also loves music, and “dances” whenever he hears music or if you sing to him.


He is doing really well in swimming, and private lessons have paid off – although the
lessons were expensive, they were worth every penny.  We enrolled Linden in private swim lessons with Swim Clo Aquatics since they were the only swim school I could find who would take babies under 6 months.  Now that he’s older and enrolled in public classes, he’s miles ahead of the other kids who are much older than him.  (I’m not trying to brag, I’m just explaining why the private lessons were worth it).  In the pool, he can swim (short distances, maybe like 5-7 feet) from my husband to me and vice versa, he can turn over from his back to his front and vice versa, he can be fully submerged, he kicks his legs (to actually swim), he splashes his hands on the surface of the water if you tell him to, and if you say “reach for the edge”, he reaches for the edge of the pool and hangs on.  The main difference between the private lessons and the lessons from the local community centres, is that in the private lessons, they focus a lot on water safety and actually getting your child to learn to swim and learn the basics.  Its very repetitive, but the results show.  In the community centre program, they’re more about having a ton of fun, lots of songs and games for the little ones.  They both run the same program (Red Cross Preschool program from Starfish to Whale).

IMG_7102

Linden’s First Canada Day (he didn’t consume any alcohol – the beer can is sealed).  Plus, we wouldn’t waste a beer on him!

Outside of the pool, he’s gotten really good at crawling, and can climb up 2 whole flights of stairs.  In fact, he loves to climb the stairs, that if you pick him up, he lets you know of his dismay.  So we just follow closely behind him and let him tire himself out!  He loves going to MyGym where he gets to sing and do circle time, and then I take him and let him climb up all their apparatus and crawl through wobbly tunnels, play on their swings, go zip-lining, climb ladders and go down slides, and then has his independent time (which he totally sucks at).  He does however, love to share, which we normally encourage, but he loves to share his food (particularly Baby Mum-mums with our dog Snowy), so although he don’t want our dog taking his food, we figure that sharing is a good thing for him to learn for now.

3D754D51-4457-45E5-92EC-7CDD3F36BACC

Linden rock climbing at MyGym

Lastly, he’s sleeping through the night, from 8:30pm till about 6:30 (sometimes 7) am.  Its been so nice to be able to sleep again!

And thats about it for his updates!

Baby Sign Language

 

IMG_5836

I was bored one night at home, watching over Linden do his tummy time, so I decided to Google “things to do with babies”.  After scrolling through a bunch of useless things to do with babies, I came across Tiny Talking Hands, a sign language program for babies.  Ever since I was little, I had a fascination with sign language because I always thought of it like a secret language or code that most people wouldn’t understand.  Naturally, when I came across a baby sign language program, I was intrigued. I clicked on it to find out more, and it was seriously a life changer.  I contacted Amanda at Tiny Talking Hands via email to ask more about her program, how old babies had to be for us to attend classes, cost, and availability.  She responded later that night, and because all her classes were full at the time, she informed me of the possibility of opening a second Level 1 (or beginner class).  Thankfully, she had enough people to do a second level 1 class, so we jumped at the opportunity and we are so glad we did.  Its honestly, the best class we have our son enrolled in.

Linden was 6 months old when we started the classes, and to be honest, we were a little skeptical as to how a class full of babies would be able to pay attention and learn or watch signs.  To our amazement, it was a success!  The moment Amanda introduced Bebo (the sign language bear) and got the music going, all the babies stopped what they were doing and just stared.  7 babies ranging in age from 4 to 18 months were 100% focussed on this signing bear.  They were intrigued by this giant bear singing and signing to them.  The one-hour class involves music, singing and signing, then Amanda reads a book to the babies, we go through flash cards, there’s some parachute time with music that the babies loved to bop to, and finally a wind down, complete with a goodbye song to end the class.  The classes are just long enough to keep their attention, and usually by the end of the class, most babies were ready for their nap.  In every class, we were not only shown signs, but given tools for how to teach our babies to sign, which was such an asset in signing with our kids.  Parents were taught what to look for, and what cues that your baby may be giving you to signal that they’re getting ready to potentially start signing.

FullSizeRender 12

Linden crawling around, chilling with Bebo, happy as can be

The Baby Signs program is catered specifically towards babies, and differs slightly from regular American Sign Language (ASL).  (For example, some of the baby signs incorporate sounds to appeal to the babies, and after one of the classes, Nate turns to me innocently and says “why do we make a sound for the dog sign or the frog sign, a person who is hard of hearing can’t hear us making that sound” and I had to explain to him that the sign language classes we were taking had been altered to be more “baby friendly”, so adding sounds would get the baby’s attention).  Amanda is great at teaching us the baby sign, and then informing us of what the ASL sign is, for any signs where there is a difference.  Amanda’s philosophy is simple – we are here to facilitate communication with our babies (who are usually too young to be verbal), so even if we had been doing a different sign with our child, the bottom line is that its really whatever works for each parent and child.  She’s there to give us the tools to help us communicate with our babies.

Although the program is for the babies, the parent(s) are taught the signs, and its up to us to use those signs at home.  After the 6 week course, we walked away with a wealth of knowledge.  The program is surprisingly easy, and remembering all the signs is actually easier than you might anticipate.  I for one, suck at remembering stuff, so I thought this would be a huge challenge.  But because of the way the program is set up, there is a different theme every week, so it actually makes memorizing the signs insanely easy.  Every week, we are taught 10 new words pertaining to the theme of the week, as well as an emotion, which is repeated throughout an entire song (usually 7 times), so there’s a lot of repetition throughout the class so you don’t forget the signs.  Both my husband and I walked out of the course knowing well over 80 signs (excluding the 20+ signs we learned from the extra Easter class that we took).

Over the course of the classes, Nate and I talked about which 5 signs we considered the most useful, and the most likely for our 6 month old to learn.  Those signs were “more”, “milk”, “eat”, “play” and “tired/sleep”.  And the other 2 signs that we use on a daily basis, are “mommy” and “daddy”.  We try to remember to do the signs as often as possible, but we’re still trying to get the hang of it.  So far, we think Linden does the sign for “more”, but he kind of has his own version of it, I think because he doesn’t quite have the dexterity in his hands and fingers yet.  We are working on correcting his signs, but for now, they’ll do since we know what he’s trying to tell us.  We also think he might be doing the sign for “milk”, but he hasn’t signed it consistent enough for us to believe that its more than just a coincidence.

We’ve noticed in the last couple of days, that Linden is very attentive in watching our hands when we sign with him, and we are hoping and excited that this could be the beginning of his signing with us!

IMG_6031

Nate and I were reflecting over the classes today (since it was our last level 1 class), and he asked me, if we had other kids in the future whether I would take them to these sign language classes since we already know all the signs.  My response was an obvious and quick ‘Yes’, because, although we learned so much in the classes, we both agree that Linden had so much fun there – interacting with the other kids, playing with the toys, getting “into the themes” (like splashing in the bath that Amanda brought out for the bath time theme, wearing his pyjamas during the bed time theme, etc), listening to music, watching Bebo and all his signs – that we would love to be able to give that opportunity to our future kids (if we are fortunate enough to have more).  Lastly, upon completion of the 6 week course, you and your baby are given a certificate for participating and completing the program, which just solidified the professionalism and authenticity of the program.

IMG_6033

If anyone is interested in finding out more about the Baby Signs Program, visit www.tinytalkinghands.ca or check them out on Facebook here.  You won’t regret it.  And, if you’re interested but not sure about the investment, contact Amanda (amanda@tinytalkinghands.ca), she hosts her classes in Langley, BC, and runs one-time classes for Easter, Christmas, Halloween and other special dates/events for $10, and you can see if you like it before you commit to a full 6 week course.  But you have the WTF Parent warning that if you attend one of those classes, you’ll be wanting more!