Just think, our great grandparents didn't have TV's let alone baby monitors and their kids turned out fine. Still, somewhere down the line of evolution, we were told that baby monitors was on the 'must have' list along with a cot and nappies. 

Are retailers trying to make more money or has something changed over generations?

A bit of both, probably. 

Life is different now to how it was for our great grandparents. I mean, the fact that we have TV alone means we may not hear our babies. It's not all generational though, it's fair to assume that no retailer or brand is in it 'for the cause' and they're in it for the bottom line. 

A baby monitor is supposed to do exactly that - monitor your baby. It started with a simple concept - allow you to hear your baby so that when you transition them to their room, or when they're in their crib and you're downstairs with the tv on or with guests or sat in your garden, - you can still hear them. 

Then extras were added. Why not let them hear you you as well? Thought the product designers. So baby talk back was invented. - Useful? We're not sure! Cute though. 

Is sound enough? What about video. After all, if you're baby is crying they're distressed but healthy, what if they're silent but have a cloth over their face? Valid. Video monitors were a welcome addition to the baby monitor family. 

What if it monitored more than just the baby? Enter temperature sensors to monitor 'the environment' 

Finally, the new theme, movement sensors (and more recently -  breathing monitors). 

And what about the monitor? Who's going to monitor that? Sounds ridiculous but it's important. Low battery, not in range - you need to know!

What about features like night lights & lullabies, gimmick, or useful? 

The answer is - if you're going to buy a room temperature sensor, (you should) a night light, or a lullaby player, the you may as well buy one product and it may as well come in the form of a baby monitor. If you're not - then no, you don't need all the add ons.