Saturday, August 1, 2009

Hey Neighbor, We Can See Your Baby


This is totally freaky.  I am in Los Angeles, having arrived today to spend the weekend visiting my friend Erika and slurping on her new baby.  He is five months old and nearly edible in his cuteness.  Erika has a newfangled baby monitor with video.  I swear, even three years ago, when Hank was born, these weren't common, I don't think.  The little night vision camera is trained on the baby's crib, and when she puts him down to sleep, we thrill to his every movement and snurgle.  The night vision makes his crib mattress and jammies look white, and the whole visual reminds me of those ghosthunter shows on cable where people run around a house in the dark, and everything looks sort of scary even though it is basically normal.  

My friend tipped me off to the fact that if we switch channels on the video receiver, we can see into the crib of a baby girl two houses down.  This is so strange, and funny, and cute, and potentially creepy to me.  Her name is Lily, and she is about the same age as the baby of the house here.  My friend has met the parents (they are new in the neighborhood), but hasn't talked to them since she discovered the Lily channel.  What makes it so uncanny is that the two crib scenes are nearly identical. In fact, you can really only tell the two shots apart by the camera position. Erika's baby favors more close-up shots, and Lily has a slightly wider angle. But Lily's bedding looks white too, as do her jammies, and the babies don't look all that different by night vision.  When Erika discovered this, she thought she was seeing her own baby, but that the camera had been knocked askew.  

I have heard of people picking up other children and other broadcasts on their audio baby monitors, but somehow the addition of the picture is a whole 'nother thing.  Strange, right?  It's such an intimate scene from a stranger's house, but it's not really individual or unique, exactly, because both baby channels show pretty much the same programming.  At around 7:30, when Erika had just put her baby down to bed, we said, "Let's see if Lily is in bed." So we flipped over to her channel, and she was crying. We were like, "Oh no! Lily's upset! What's going on? Are they sleep-training with the cry-it-out method?"  Erika's husband, a more ethically-sensitive soul, said, "Don't spy on Lily." Erika said, "But it's out of love!"  Fortunately, some disembodied hands had just reached into Lily's bed to pat her and pick her up, so we felt relieved as we switched off the video.  All was quiet on the baby boy channel, and we went about our business.

A few minutes later, I said, "I have to check on Lily." I turned on the monitor, and she was in her crib crying again. Poor Lily! And poor parents of Lily! Again, thankfully for us spectators, the hands reached into the frame and picked the baby up, along with her blanket. After Erika and I switched off the video, we mused, "What sleep training method is this? In CIO (cry it out), do you actually pick up the baby or just go in and pat her? Maybe they're freestyling it? Is this Ferber? Weissbluth? Pantley? WE NEED TO KNOW."  We wanted to take a bottle of wine over to their house, but that might have been weird. Probably, definitely, would have been weird. 
   
This situation just captures the imagination, you know?  Now it is late at night, and both baby channels are quiet, thank goodness.  This could be the future of reality television, though, because it is oddly riveting.     

18 comments:

Amy said...

Wow, that is kinda freaky. I didn't realize that you could see other babies on those things and not just hear them.

Presumably they can see Ericka's baby? This could work in everyone's favor! Ericka can run out to the grocery store and just ask them to switch channels on their monitor to check on her baby.

Just kidding! (Mostly)

Casey said...

You just brought up one of my biggest fears. We have that same exact monitor and we use both channels (one camera in each kid's room) but I've often wondered if any of the neighbors are picking up on our channel. We spend a lot of time playing in the kid's rooms and we're pretty strange so I'm sure the neighbors would probably report us for some of the wacky things we say to each other while we're killing time. I love that you're analyzing Lily's parent's sleep training methods. I think they should go with CIO, works like a charm.

The Dental Maven said...

So, the major paranoid individual in me is totally freaking out. The idea that some kidnapper/child molester could know when my kid is asleep, alone in his crib makes me want to contact some federal agency about these monitors!!!!

Michele said...

I'm more than a little creeped out by this but another pair of kind eyes may be nice for the parents. As long as they are kind and concerned not steal your kid eyes.

Cassie said...

I have another friend who had this happen. Same story... she thought she was looking at her baby and it turns out- Nope.

PS: It sounds like Pantley to me.

PPS: I am also riveted, apparently.

PPPS: Enjoy your weekend in LA!

Wendy said...

I was also wondering if they can see Erika's baby, too.

We had friends who lived across the street from us and found out quite some later after they'd moved they admitted they could occasionally hear us through our baby monitor. I was like, "well, thanks a lot for telling us." She said she thought it was funny when we were arguing.

Too creepy.

Keely said...

Uh...that IS a little creepy. I'm always totally paranoid that someone can hear me over the baby monitor, but to see them too? Ech.

I think that's probably known as the "We don't know WHAT the hell we're doing we just want her to stop crying" method. I tried that one for a while. It's unsurprisingly ineffective.

Scott said...

Did you ever hear that story a year or so ago when one of those video baby monitors was picking up transmissions from the Space Shuttle??!! I swear I am not making that up...

Also, every now and then we get what sounds like a phone call in our baby monitor. It's odd to be dropped into the middle of a conversation without any kind of context.

Bex said...

now i feel better about NOT using a baby monitor of any type. instead, i have a house with no carpet, so every sound travels - loudly.

Veronica said...

Ooooh, creepy!

A Day That is Dessert said...

That is creepy about the monitor!! I've had the same problem with the audio kind, but would stop using video if I knew it did this.

Have fun in LA!

The Messy Mom said...

Well it looks like creepy is the common consensus. Even if it was just a sleeping baby I would be mortified if anyone could see into my home. Although I am sure I would watch someone else like you all did, given the opportunity.

One time I had a friend that had a similar situation with their ceiling fan remote. At just the right angle I guess the neighbor's remote could control their light dimmer!

Michele Renee said...

If it were my firstborn the neighbors would see me topless and zombie-like. And never ever see a sleeping baby. Unless it was between 12:00 a.m. and 2:00 a.m.

Jenni said...

I would so totally spy as well.

gretchen said...

This is totally the plot to a murder mystery for Lifetime Movie Network! If you don't write it, I will!

BTW, if you're still in LA, let me know and we'll meet for a cocktail!

Sara said...

I too would be freaked out to know folks could see me in my tatty baby nursing getups, bleary eyed zombiness, patting patting patting my baby like a basketball in an attempt to get her to stay asleep. (It was gentle and soothing but looking like I was trying to spike her like a volleyball.) Baby with the neosporined raw spot under her nose from wiping boogers all winter. Baby when she was less than sparkly and powdered.

Ya, I struggle enough with being insecure about my mothering without having an audience.

Definitely would've watched the neighbor's baby for a little bit though. I just would've been so "No Way! I can see the neighbor's baby!"

Becky said...

Yeah, the consensus is creepy, and I agree. We didn't spy on Lily after that. Erika is going to tell them about their shared channels--she's sure they can see her baby too, if they know about it. She's worried about any late night boob nursing shows she may have given them. Yikes! I can see how those video monitors are convenient, but eek.

Pia said...

I just called the company that makes our baby infant monitor as I was picking up another crib that was not in our house (master bedroom on ground and kids' bedrooms upstairs -- need video monitor.) She advised that in January they came out with a new digital secure digital camera. I bought it. I will repost after I receive and try it out.