I've been asked by several soon-to-be moms what my most treasured can't-live-without baby item is and I must say without a doubt that it is my Angelcare baby monitor (followed closely by the swing). J.C.'s coworkers gave the monitor to us at his work baby shower. I had never heard of it before we received it, but it. is. awesome.
There are a ton of baby monitors on the market ranging significantly in price. This one isn't cheap, but it is worth every penny (well, if you're not so fortunate to receive it as a gift. Thanks MAS/MSA! :)). The thing that makes this one so great is that in addition to being a sound monitor it has a movement sensor pad that you put under the mattress in the crib and it detects even the smallest of movements from you're baby while they're sleeping. Even breathing! If no movement is sensed in the crib for 15 seconds, there is a warning beep. After 5 more seconds, an alarm sounds.
Yes, we have almost had a heart attack several times when the alarm has gone off in the middle of the night only to find that Eli had wiggled his way to the other end of the crib (off of the mat). There have also been a few times that I think he probably had stopped breathing and the alarm jolted him back into his breathing pattern. Babies (particularly preemies) are prone to having sleep apnea. Most of the time they self-recover and begin breathing again on their own, but I wonder if this could be a cause of SIDS... This monitor will let you know if your child stops breathing in their sleep. You can't put a price on that kind of peace of mind.
The only reason I was able to get any sound sleep after we brought Eli home from the hospital was because of this monitor. I'm sure when Eli gets a little older and starts sitting/standing in the crib I'll wish we had a video monitor, but for small infants I think this one is the way to go. It's so great! I don't think I could live without it.
If you have a must-have baby item, please share it in my comments!