Can Radio Waves from Baby Monitoring Devices Harm My Baby?

To our knowledge, no one has studied the effects of electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure from baby monitors, but we can infer a lot from studies that look at how radiation from cell phones affects children.

The verdict: EMF isn't great for anyone's health, and children are especially at risk due to anatomical features like thin skulls. Follow a balanced, sensible approach by choosing a low-EMF baby monitor, keeping it as far away as possible from your little one, and turning it off when not in use.

baby monitor on desk
Keep your little owlets safe with our weekly newsletter
Sign up to get the latest family safety tips and product reviews.

By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Children absorb more EMF than adults

Cell phones are the main devices under fire because they're used so close to the brain and because they rely on 5G and Wi-Fi, which emit stronger EMF than, for example, household electrical wires.1,2

When it comes to children, the major concern is that their brains absorb more EMF than an adult brain. Compared to adults, children have thinner skulls, a higher percentage of water in their brains, and other anatomical differences related to marrow and stem cells—all of which affect how EMF interacts with their brain tissue.3,4,5 Plus, MRI scans explicitly show that radio frequencies penetrate further into a child's brain than into an adult's, meaning more brain tissue is affected.6,7 

But, as we mentioned, all of that research was conducted using cell phones. There’s no conclusive data on baby monitors specifically, and the advantages of these monitors often outweigh those worries.

The health effects of EMF exposure

Now for the big question: is all that EMF harmful? Yes. Although some researchers continue to say that more evidence is needed, many of the studies in our source list refer to EMF as a known carcinogen. There is also some evidence that EMF exposure can increase the risk of depression.9 

That said, no one has been able to pinpoint exactly how much EMF exposure causes these health effects. Since smartphones, tablets, and other EMF-emitting devices that kids play with up-close are still relatively new, it's difficult to say what the long-term implications are. 

We recommend taking a moderate approach to limiting your child's EMF exposure. You don't need to move to the wilderness or swear off all electronic devices, but do avoid plunking your kid down in front of a tablet for hours of entertainment every day.

Also, consider talking to your pediatrician about your child's family history of leukemia and other cancers—it may make sense for you to take a more restrictive approach to EMF exposure if childhood cancer runs in the family.

Baby monitor safety

If you are concerned about radiation levels, look for monitors that speak to those specific apprehensions. We selected some low-EMF baby monitors for our best-of guide to help in your search.

You can also limit the amount of time their child wears or is near the monitor. For example, you can turn off the monitors when someone is in the room looking after the child. Also, place the monitor as far away from your child as possible, since EMF strength declines relative to distance.5

Plus, there are other advantages to keeping a baby monitor well out of reach of your child, such as reducing possible strangulation or electrical shock hazards associated with power cords.

Be prepared to limit screen time

While we didn't uncover studies about baby monitors in particular (probably because it's not ethical to intentionally expose infants to potential danger), research about the negative effects of cell phone exposure is starting to pile up.8 Since children's brains are especially vulnerable to EMF, consider limiting their exposure to screens like tablets, cell phones, and virtual reality sets.

Device manufacturers recommend staying at least 20 centimeters (about 8 inches) away from screens, and that's tough to do with little arms.

So, if you want to entertain your kiddo with a movie, set it up on a TV that's several feet away rather than propping up a tablet or phone. Once kids are old enough for a phone, use parental controls to help enforce screen time limits. 


Sources

  1. World Health Organization, “Electromagnetic Fields.” Accessed July 22, 2022.
  2. Jin-Hwa Moon, MD, Ph.D, Clinical and Experimental Pediatrics, "Health Effects of Electromagnetic Fields on Children," May 2020. Accessed July 22, 2022.
  3. Aaron Skaist, The Science Journal of the Lander College of Arts and Sciences, "The Effects of RF-EMF on the Child Brain," 2019. Accessed July 22, 2022.
  4. Devra Lee Davis et. al, Pathophysiology, "Swedish Review Strengthens Grounds for Concluding that Radiation from Cellular and Cordless Phones Is a Probable Human Carcinogen," April 2013. Accessed July 22, 2022.
  5. L. Lloyd Morgan et. al, Journal of Microscopy and Ultrastructure, "Why Children Absorb More Microwave Radiation than Adults: The Consequences," December 2014. Accessed July 22, 2022. 
  6. O.P. Ghandi et. al, IEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques, "Electromagnetic Absorption in the Human Head and Neck for Mobile Telephones at 835 and 1900 MHz," October 1996. Accessed July 22, 2022.
  7. C. Fernández et. al, Environmental Research, "Absorption of Wireless Radiation in the Child Versus Adults Brain and Eye From Cell Phone Conversation or Virtual Reality," November 2018. Accessed July 22, 2022.
  8. Sir William Stewart, Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones, "Mobile Phones and Health," 2000. Accessed July 22, 2022.
  9. American Academy of Pediatrics, "Electromagnetic Fields: A Hazard to Your Health?" December 2012. Accessed July 22, 2022.

Compare the best baby safety products

Product
Best for
Price
Specs
Standout feature
Learn more
Read review
Best car seat Converts to 4 seats for ages 0–10Performs well in crash tests
Best baby crib GREENGUARD Gold Certified Four adjustable mattress positions
Best baby monitorUnlimited rangeHigh-quality night vision + two-way talk
Best baby-proofing locks3M strong adhesiveUse on cabinets, refrigerators, and toilets
Best nanny cam 360° field of vision1920p resolution + excellent night vision
Best baby gate30 in. tall; fits doorways 29-34 and 35-38.5 in. wideOpen with one hand
Best baby carrierFor babies 7–45 lbs 6 ways to carry your baby

*Amazon.com price as of post date. Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Safewise.com utilizes paid Amazon links.

Cathy Habas
Written by
Cathy Habas
With over seven years of experience as a content writer, Cathy has a knack for untangling complex information. Her natural curiosity and ability to empathize help Cathy offer insightful, friendly advice. She believes in empowering readers who may not feel confident about a purchase, project, or topic. Cathy earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Indiana University Southeast and began her professional writing career immediately after graduation. She has contributed to sites like Safety.com, Reviews.com, Hunker, and Thumbtack. Cathy’s pride and joy is her Appaloosa “Chacos.” She also likes to crochet while watching stand-up comedy specials on Netflix.

Recent Articles

diy-security-system-on-ipad
Best DIY Home Security Systems of 2022
DIY install home security systems are cost-efficient, effective, and easy to install. See which DIY...
telus-security-platform-on-phone
The Best Home Security Systems in Canada
Find the best home alarm system to protect your house. We looked at price, features,...
padlock on computer keyboard
Best Identity Theft Protection in 2022
We researched the offerings of five leading identity theft protection services, tallying everything from antivirus...
Senior woman hugging dog
8 Best Medical Alert Systems in 2022
See which medical alert system is the best to keep you and your loved one...