Is a WiFi Router Near a Baby Crib Safe?

Wireless Internet connections (also known as Wi-Fi) have become increasingly regarded as a necessary public utility. Most families find them to be as essential as water, electricity, and gas. Depending on the survey, between 70 and 80 percent of North American homes and hundreds of millions of home worldwide connect to the Internet wirelessly through a router.

Even if you don’t have your own Wi-Fi connection, if you live in an apartment, chances are that your neighbors do. It’s hard to escape the reality of Wi-Fi radiation. But a growing chorus of concerned experts are raising questions about the safety of Wi-Fi for every member of the family, especially for newborns.  There is no more important consideration for keeping babies safe from Wi-Fi radiation than where to place their cribs.

You might be interested in: Is It Safe To Sleep Near A Wireless Router?

Quick note! If you’re interested in learning more about EMF radiation, Nick Pineault’s The Non-Tinfoil Guide to EMFs is a great read. The book explains EMF radiation AND it’s entertaining. It does cost a few dollars but I highly recommend it!

How Does Wi-Fi Work?

Wi-Fi stands for “wireless fidelity.” It’s the same thing as WLAN, which stands for “Wireless Local Area Network.

All wirelessly connected devices, including Wi-Fi, operate on the same principle: They send radio waves to each other. But Wi-Fi is fundamentally different from car radios, walkie talkies, and even cell phones in one very important respect. Wi-Fi operates on a vastly higher frequency.

AM radio stations transmit in the kilohertz range. An AM station sends thousands of waves through your radio’s AM antenna every second. FM radio stations transmit in the megahertz range. That’s millions of waves passing through a device every second. Wi-Fi routers generate radio energy in the gigahertz range, billions of waves every second.

5G is five billion waves of energy every second. It is a stronger signal but it’s also a much more potent source of radiation. That’s because the higher the frequency, the greater the energy that is imparted to anything in a signal’s path, although radio energy falls off the farther away you get from its source. 

Just how energetic is the radio wave put out by your router? Your pre-5G router puts out radio waves in a frequency range of 2.412 to 2.472 gigahertz. Your microwave cooks food with radio waves at 2.450 gigahertz.

In technical terms, both your router and your microwave put out microwave radiation. Microwave radiation can cook tissues. This kind of radiation is different from ionizing radiation. It doesn’t leave radioactivity in your tissues. It cooks them. Your router may heat your tissues, but it will never make you glow in the dark. The bottom line is that unlimited exposure to Wi-Fi radiation is not healthy for you or your baby.

What Effect Does Wi-Fi Have on Health?

Black wireless router on a white table with a plant and "Home" knick knack on the table

There have been over 1800 studies of the effects of exposure to Wi-Fi on human health. These studies do not find that parents need to panic just because their babies have been exposed to radio frequency radiation from a Wi-Fi router for a few hours occasionally, say, when visiting grandparents, but they generally find that babies and radiation from Wi-Fi routers do not mix.

People from infancy through old age experience physiological changes when they are exposed to Wi-Fi.  The main way Wi-Fi disrupts human health is through something called voltage-gated calcium channel (VGCC) activation. The movement of calcium in and out of cells influences dozens of body functions.

Every time your heart beats, calcium flows in and out of the cells that make up the muscle fibers in your heart. Calcium flowing into the beta cells of your pancreas triggers the release of insulin. Flows of calcium regulate the melatonin your brain makes to help you sleep. They control the ability of your fat cells to release fat for the rest of your body to burn. Every transmission of information through your central nervous system is regulated by flows of calcium.

What does this mean about routers?

In the same way that you tune into a radio station by choosing the right frequency, voltage-gated calcium channels “tune in” to the radiofrequency radiation emitted by routers. That is why routers interfere with calcium on a molecular level in the human body. And the nature of how routers work makes the problem even worse.

Calcium flows in pulses in and out of cells. Wi-Fi generates pulses that interfere with this natural rhythm. Calcium flows in and out of cells depending on the electrostatic charge across the cell’s outer membrane. Wi-Fi is polarized, so it counteracts the natural electrical charge that pulls calcium in or pushes calcium out.  

That’s why it’s not a surprise that the more people are exposed to Wi-Fi the fatter they get (and not just because of all the time they spend sitting in front of screens). Men who are exposed to more Wi-Fi are less fertile. Women who are exposed to too much Wi-Fi develop imbalances of estrogen and progesterone, the hormones that power a woman’s menstrual cycle. And Wi-Fi disrupts the ability of DNA to encode RNA.

All of these effects are magnified and expanded in a baby’s rapidly growing body.

Is a Wi-Fi Router Near a Baby’s Crib Safe?

Happy man and happy pregnant woman sitting on the floor of a nursery leaning up against a crib and the woman his a laptop in her lap

Scientists tell us that children absorb more radiation from Wi-Fi than adults, and babies absorb more radiation from Wi-Fi than older children. The effects of Wi-Fi radiation on babies are even more significant than they are on older humans.

As you might expect from something that interferes with the flows of calcium in the human body, Wi-Fi exposure disrupts the development of teeth. Wi-Fi also interferes with neurological development. Babies exposed to Wi-Fi have difficulties distinguishing new objects from familiar objects. Wi-Fi exposure seems to predispose babies to grow into children with weight problems. Babies exposed to more Wi-Fi have more cases of childhood leukemia.

So why haven’t scientists put out clearer warnings about infant exposure to Wi-Fi? The simple fact is that Wi-Fi exposure is hard to quantify so scientists don’t know exactly how much exposure is safe and how much exposure is dangerous (although we will have more about that a little later in this article). Infants don’t spend all their time in the same place. Sometimes a baby may be placed or crawl right next to a router. Sometimes babies have little exposure to Wi-Fi at all, although with the rollout of 5G, there will be more and more exposure. What are concerned parents to do?

Things to Do to Reduce Your Baby’s Exposure to Wi-Fi

Reducing your child’s exposure to Wi-Fi doesn’t mean that you have to unplug from the Internet entirely. There are several ways you can reduce your child’s exposure to radiation from routers that won’t turn your life upside down.

Consider cable 

It may seem like ancient history, but it wasn’t long ago that all computers were connected to the Internet by Ethernet cables. Your wireless router is connected to the Internet by cables now. Rolling back your technology 15 years takes wireless radiation out of your home. And it doesn’t mean slower Internet just because speeds were slower when Ethernet was the main way of connecting to the Internet.

Getting your Internet connection by Ethernet cables is more reliable than using on a wireless router. It’s even faster than a wireless router. You are tethered to your cable, but in many cases you can use your cell phone’s connection (at least if you have unlimited minutes) to fill in the gaps. If you don’t have wireless Wi-Fi in your home, your baby’s exposure to this kind of radiation is zero.

Here’s an overview of how to go from wireless to cable:

The modem you are given by your Internet provider is usually also your router. (If your device has either a cable TV connection a telephone cable connection and also either an antenna or more than one Ethernet port, it’s almost certainly a combination modem and router.) First, decide how many devices you need to hardwire to the Internet. You will need an Ethernet switch with that many ports plus one, the switch box’s connection to your modem. Next you will need to run a lot of cables. That’s the hard part. Then finishing the job is easy. Just plug your Ethernet cables into your laptops, desktop, or other devices, turn off wireless, and you are good to go!

Use a Wi-Fi router guard

If you want to minimize risk to your unborn, newborn, and the rest of your family, you can reduce Wi-Fi radiation with a Wi-Fi router guard. 

A Wi-Fi router guard is a Faraday cage for your router. It’s a copper mesh box. The copper blocks about 90 percent of radiofrequency radiation from your router while reducing your router’s range just 10 to 20 percent. (You need mesh, not solid copper, or you wouldn’t have any Internet signal.) You may not be able to get a wireless connection to your router in your back yard or your basement, but you can greatly reduce radiation risk without disrupting your wireless lifestyle. This may be the optimal solution if many of your appliances and security systems are connected to the Internet.

When you are buying a router guard, size matters. Choose a router guard that is big enough to hold your router. 

Find out more in this article on Wifi Router Guards – what they are and how to choose one.

Turn off your router at night

Even better, turn off your Internet connection when you are not using it. Here are two ways of turning off your router on a regular basis.

  • Connect your router to a mechanical wall timer. Just set the timer to cut off power to your router and turn it back on according to your schedule. Mechanical wall timers emit zero radiation.
  • If you need to prevent your older children from simply removing the mechanical wall timer, you can log into your router software and set a timer with a password. Your children may not like this, but it reduces everyone’s exposure to radiation. This may be the best way to handle the problem during pregnancy. Just Google look up “how to set schedule on (your router name here)” and follow instructions.

Of course, if you go wired, you don’t have to worry about timers for wireless.

Whatever you do, get an EMF meter

Let’s suppose you get a router guard and you want to know how much good it is doing in your baby’s nursery. Or you want to find the very best location for your baby’s crib to minimize radiation exposure.

Measure radiation with an EMF meter. You will need a model that measures RF radiation (not all of them do). You generally want to have your baby in a part of your home where your EMF meter measures less than 6 volts/meter. Don’t panic if your baby wanders into a higher-radiation part of your house occasionally. Brief exposure to even 200 volts/meter. The Sun generates this level of radiation during solar storms. But try to avoid placing your infant’s crib anywhere there is more than 6 volts/meter of radiofrequency radiation. Be aware that most EMF meters aren’t very good at measuring very high-frequency radiation, such as 5G.

What about wireless baby monitors? 

Baby monitors also generate radiofrequency radiation. But you can mitigate the problem in at least two ways.

  • Buy a low-EMF baby monitor
  • Place your baby monitor in a copper mesh cage like your router guard.

We Don’t Know the Absolute Limit for Safe Exposure to EMF for Babies, But…

No one can tell you with certainty that any level of radiation exposure is safe for your baby, but you can keep your infant’s radiation exposure very, very low. Make your Internet connection as safe as you can while maintaining your connections.

Continue reading: How Much Radiation a Laptop Emits (and what to do about it)