Are you a new mom-to-be looking for the best way to keep tabs on your precious bundle? Our guide to the best baby monitors on the market today can help you narrow down your choices.
I had so many questions when I was considering a baby monitor. When I was expecting my first, it was another item in a never-ending list of things that were either necessary or nice to have. By the time my second came along, it was an absolute must-have.
Let’s look at the reasons you need a baby monitor, what features to look for, and the safety aspects associated with them. Then we’ll answer some frequently asked questions and give you a round-up of the best baby monitors .
- Out of range alarm
- Changeable camera lenses
- Audio or screen only options
- 1000 foot range
- Temperature sensor
- Day and night vision
- Good two-way audio
- Ultra-sensitive microphone
- Room temperature monitor and alarm
- Five built-in lullabies
- Split-screen viewing
- Five sound levels and vibration alerts
- 1000ft range outdoors, 160ft indoors
- Doubles as a nightlight
- High quality video output
- HD night vision
- Accommodates two-way talk
- Monitors micro movements
- Battery-operated system
- Compact and lightweight
- No Wi-Fi connection needed
- Doesn’t transmit white noise
- Good monitor picture
- Affordable price
- Accommodates up to four cameras
- HD video quality picture
- Can be accessed from anywhere
- Built-in nightlight
Are Baby Monitors Necessary?
You might be asking yourself if a baby monitor is a necessary part of your toolkit for your little treasure, or whether it’s an expense you can avoid.
During the early days, if your baby is in a bassinet next to your bed, you might feel that a monitor is not necessary. You will hear their every sniffle, rustle, and whimper. But what happens when it’s time for a crib in their room?
Let’s look at some of the reasons a baby monitor can be useful:
- Peace of mind: A monitor gives you an extra pair of eyes and ears when you aren’t physically in the same room as your baby. You can hear or see when your baby needs your attention. It will also cut back on unnecessary trips to the nursery when you can see the baby is just making a little noise during sleep.
- Freedom: Trying to do the laundry, cook dinner, or just get on with life in general, can be a challenge with a little one. A monitor will give you at least a chance to do some of these things while baby takes a nap.
- Keeps watch over more than one child: Having a toddler and a newborn, or twins, keeps you on your toes. Baby monitors can be an extra set of eyes for one child while you feed, change, or take some time out with the other.
- Can tell you if your baby stops moving: Some monitors can detect breathing and movement in babies. These are particularly useful for preemies, where the risk of SIDS increases.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. There is no doubt that a baby monitor is a useful addition to your arsenal of baby gear.
Types of Baby Monitors
There are many different variations of baby monitors you can choose from, depending on your needs and budget. Some are simple and straightforward, while others come with all the bells and whistles. Here are some types to consider:
Audio Only Baby Monitors
These monitors have a listening unit in the nursery that pairs with one or more parent units. It transmits your baby’s cries and gurgles, letting you keep an ear on what they are doing. You will be able to hear when they wake after a nap, or when they are crying for milk in the middle of the night.
Audio and Video
This one gives you eyes and ears on your munchkin when they are in their crib or playing in their playpen. Some output to a dedicated monitor, while others allow you to use smartphones, tablets, or computers as the receiver. These devices might have multiple cameras, letting you watch more than one child.
Motion and Breathing Monitors
These are either placed in your baby’s cot or attached to their diaper or clothing. As you might have noticed, babies are rarely still for long, even if it’s just the gentle rise and fall of their chest. The sensors on these units send a signal that triggers an alarm if your baby hasn’t moved for more than about 20 seconds.
How to Choose a Baby Monitor
Here are some of the main ones to look for:
Screen Size and Clarity
Usually, the larger the screen, the more details, and it will be easier to see. Checking on the baby will be a breeze with just a glance. You might, however, find that a small screen or a smartphone will give a clearer picture. You will be checking their breathing a lot using the screen so this is a very important feature.
Some cameras can be controlled from the monitor, letting you zoom, pan, or tilt to the angle you want. This is useful if you have two children sleeping in the same room. Also, check the camera quality: You want a good picture, otherwise it defeats the purpose of having a video monitor.
It helps to be able to see what baby is doing when the lights are out or the shades are closed. This means you won’t be turning on lights unnecessarily and waking them up. Many cameras have infrared, allowing you to see in the dark through the monitor.
Range and Signal
Think about the size of your home or how far away from the baby you are likely to move. Your laundry might be in the basement, or you may need to pop into the backyard. You need a monitor that can transmit over the distance you require without losing signal.
Being tied to a constantly plugged-in monitor will restrict your movements. Check the battery life for the one you choose or see if there is the option for a spare battery. This will ensure you can keep your baby close, even if it is on a screen, at all times.
Do you have a toddler who likes to pick things up and throw them? Or perhaps a fur baby who thinks it’s fun to run off with the TV remote, as mine does? Make sure your monitor can withstand a few bumps and scrapes.
Having a baby means your purse strings have already been stretched. Despite that, you can’t put a price on peace of mind. Choose the best you can afford; it doesn’t have to be multifunctional, as long as it does the job.
Monitors can have many additional features. These include visual crying alerts, like lights on a parent unit, buzzing or vibration alerts, and temperature gauges in the nursery unit. Two-way audio, and in the case of some smartphone apps, video, will let you soothe your little one with your voice.
The Best Baby Monitors of 2021
Here are 11 great baby monitors for you to consider.
1. Infant Optics DXR-8 Video Baby Monitor
The camera on this monitor is awesome. It can be zoomed, panned, and tilted, all from the handheld video monitor. This gives you the freedom to get on with other things while your little ones are asleep.
Whether your twins are in one or two rooms isn’t an issue, this monitor will grow with them. You can add a wide-angle lens and up to four cameras. For a multitasking parent, only having to carry one camera around is very helpful.
It displays a clear, crisp picture on a 3.5-inch screen in a real-time video stream. Making out what your little treasures are up to will be a breeze.
The battery life is excellent, at eight hours while in use and 12 hours on standby. It even comes with a spare so you will never have to worry about them running out. The sound is transmitted as well, via a secure wireless transmission.
Add to that night vision and a two-way talk feature, and you have all bases covered.
This monitor is versatile. If you want to watch and listen, turn on the screen and audio.
Want to settle down and watch your favorite Netflix series? Use screen only, the monitor has illuminated LED lights to alert you to babies’ cries.
- Out of range alarm.
- Nursery temperature display.
- Changeable camera lenses.
- Audio or screen only options.
- Cameras aren’t wireless.
- Some find interference if they have other devices operating on the same frequency.
2. VTech VM3253 Video Baby Monitor
Do you want to be able to talk to your baby with ease? The VTech VM3253 is the best choice — make communication easy between you and your baby, even from 1000 feet away! No need to keep going back up and down the stairs. Save time and energy with this little gadget. Plus, it’s a good way to transition them to sleeping in a separate room than you.
We also love that this monitor is super easy to set up. When it arrives, just plug it in, and get to using it.
If you have dinner guests, but your little one is struggling to get to sleep, use the sound and lullaby function. There are five calming lullabies and four sets of ambient sounds, including white noise and a trickling stream. These soothing noises can help your baby drift off into a deep slumber.
- 1000 foot range.
- Two way talking system.
- Temperature sensor.
- Day and night vision.
- It can’t be muted.
- Poor battery life.
3. Angelcare Sound and Movement Monitor
This device not only monitors your baby’s every little sound, but it also detects movement. A wireless sensor pad fits under the crib mattress, picking up the gentlest rise and fall of baby’s chest. This gives you double the peace of mind when you aren’t at your little one’s side.
The digital audio is crystal clear and the parent unit has a range of up to 750 feet. It also has a two-way talk function, meaning you can soothe baby with the sound of your voice.
The movement pad sets off an alarm if no movement is picked up for over 20 seconds. While this can sometimes trigger a false alarm if set on high sensitivity, it’s better to err on the side of caution.
The lightweight rechargeable hand unit is battery operated and has a cradle for charging. Pop it in the cradle on your nightstand to ensure the battery doesn’t run low during the night.
- Good two-way audio, with the bonus of monitoring movement.
- Ultra-sensitive microphone.
- A favorite with parents of preemies or babies with health issues.
- The sensitivity of the mat might need some adjusting to get it just right.
- Instructions can be a little confusing, especially if you are a technophobe.
4. VTech VM321 Video Baby Monitor
This VTech video monitor has excellent audio and an impressive range of up to 1,000 feet. It can also cover up to 150 feet inside the home, with no outages.
Is your laundry in the basement? You’ll have no worries with this monitor by your side.
DECT technology gives a good audio output, which cuts out background noise and prevents interference.
Other great features include a talk-back function, automatic built-in night vision, and a powerful zoom. You can watch and listen to your baby day and night, even in a dark nursery.
If you have a toddler and a baby then you can add up to four cameras, letting you watch up to four kids overnight or have one in the playpen while you’re putting the baby down for a nap
A 2.4 GHz frequency protects your privacy, and security is protected. An ample 2.8-inch LCD screen provides a living color video screen. An alert will simply tell you when you’re out of range, meaning you can move around with confidence.
- Split-screen viewing.
- Room temperature monitor and alarm.
- Five built-in lullabies.
- Some find the battery doesn’t last all night.
- Additional cameras can interfere with sound quality.
5. VTech DM221 Digital Audio Baby Monitor
This VTech model is a top choice for deaf or hard-of-hearing parents. The sound indicator shows levels of sound, making it easy for hearing-impaired patients to see the sound in the baby’s room. There are five different levels that may appear, so you can determine how urgent the cries or noises are.
This includes one parent unit and one nursery unit. The parent unit has a vibration alert, too. You can use the belt clip, hang it onto your clothing and still feel the vibrations when there’s a notification. You can take this up to 1000 feet outdoors or 160 feet indoors, allowing you some flexibility for movement while your baby is sleeping.
On the nursery unit, the top loop also functions as a nightlight. This allows your baby to see in the dark so they’re not scared. It also allows you to keep an eye on them without waking them up when you come into the room.
You can also speak to your baby through the unit since it has a talk-back system. Soothe them, sing them a song, or when they’re a bit older, you can have a conversation with them.
- Five sound levels and vibration alerts.
- 1000 feet range when outdoors, 160 feet indoors.
- Doubles as a nightlight.
- Talk back system.
- Poor battery life; may need to remain plugged in at all times.
- Static sounding feedback.
6. Kodak Cherish C520 Video Baby Monitor
This video monitor from Kodak offers the best of both worlds. It has a 5-inch clear HD quality screen and the ability to monitor from a smartphone via Wi-Fi. This is great for parents who need to travel for work but still want to keep tabs on their mini human.
You can also record these moments for posterity using the Kodak Smart home app, or an SD card for recording. After all, it’s great to see little ones interacting with their favorite bedtime teddy, or discovering their toes. They will never forgive you for sharing these moments with their first boyfriend or girlfriend, though.
Other features include a two-way talk function, temperature alerts, night vision video, and sound and motion notifications. It will also play lullabies or white noise.
- Good for multi-tasking with split-screen mode.
- High quality video output of 720P.
- Accommodates two-way talk.
- No pan or tilt option.
7. Babysense 7 Baby Monitor
This is a straightforward monitor designed for parents who just want to know their baby is moving regularly. If you don’t want to be watching a monitor or listening to their every sound, then Babysense 7 might be for you.
It has two thin pads, which are placed under the mattress. While small and skinny, they have adequate coverage of the whole crib. Even baby’s smallest and subtlest movements are detected.
The battery-operated system has no loose wires to cause you concern and the unit doesn’t emit any radiation. This means safety for baby and less worry for you.
An alarm is sent to the control unit if the pads detect the baby has been still for more than 20 seconds. This is particularly helpful for parents of preemie babies or anyone worried about SIDS.
- Monitors micro-movements and helps monitor for SIDS.
- Baby’s environment is free from wires.
- Is listed as a medical device in Europe, Australia, and other countries worldwide.
- Requires four AA batteries, which are not included.
- Doesn’t have the extra features of many other monitors.
- Mixed reviews of too sensitive and not sensitive enough.
8. Philips Avent Dect Baby Monitor
When you’re away from home, you want a baby monitor that will easily travel with you. This simple one from Phillips could be the solution.
You don’t need to worry about Wi-Fi connections. Every sound your baby makes is transferred over a secure DECT connection, from the nursery unit to the parent unit.
The parent unit can be used plugged in or battery operated. It has a range of up to 1,000 feet, letting you sit out on your balcony while your baby sleeps in your hotel room.
If you mute the sound on the parent unit, lights will alert you if your baby wakes up crying. On the subject of lights, there is also a comforting nightlight on the nursery unit.
This can be especially soothing when your little one is in an unfamiliar crib in a strange room. It can also light your way if you need to check on baby at night, saving you from having stubbed toes.
- Compact and lightweight.
- No Wi-Fi connection needed to operate.
- Works with 220V, making it good for travel.
- Highly sensitive to baby sounds.
- Doesn’t transmit white noise.
- Nursery unit isn’t cordless.
- You can’t talk to your baby through the unit.
9. Babysense Video Baby Monitor
This video baby monitor from Babysense has a good range of coverage, up to 900 feet outside and 160 feet indoors. This lets you move about freely and still have eyes on your baby.
A wireless digital connection gives privacy and an uninterrupted signal. It also has a built-in alarm, should you move out of range or if the battery is low. You know your little one is covered at all times.
The 2.4-inch screen provides a clear picture and you can control a pan-and-zoom function on the camera from the handheld parent unit.
Other features include a two-way talkback function, temperature sensor, built-in lullabies, and infrared night vision. An LED light display alerts you if your baby cries when the unit is in silent mode.
The battery life is about eight hours, but the unit has a power-saving eco mode. When in use, this detects sound and turns the handheld unit on. Basic but smart.
- Good monitor picture.
- Affordable price.
- Will accommodate up to four cameras.
- The power cord is a little short.
- Be prepared for the unit to beep when it loses connection.
10. Nanit Smart Baby Monitor and Wall Mount
Nanit provides your eye in the sky with a wall-mounted, over-crib camera and monitoring unit. Easy to install, you pair it with your Apple or Android device, and you’re all set.
The live stream transmits via Wi-Fi, even when your internet is down. Watch what your baby is doing in the crib while you aren’t there, or just listen to the sound of their gentle snores. If you want to take a closer look, you can zoom in and out.
Soothe baby back to sleep from the comfort of your bed with the two-way talk function. Or tell an older toddler to lie down and go back to sleep instead of playing with his teddies.
You won’t miss a moment of baby’s day, or night, with the saved videos. You can also share all this with family, by granting them access to the monitor. A bonus is you can restrict this as and when you want, so Grandma can watch only when you want her to.
- Dashboard tracks sleep patterns and gives you a report.
- HD video quality picture.
- Can be accessed from anywhere.
- Built-in nightlight that can be remotely controlled.
- Subscription required for full accessibility after a 30-day free trial.
- Can drain your device’s battery quickly.
- The camera does not turn or rotate.
11. Axvue 720P 5-Inches HD Video Baby Monitor
If you’re visually challenged, you will love the 5-inch screen on this monitor. It includes two cameras for dual monitoring on different angles.
In the real world, doors and walls can interfere with range, but this monitor can operate up to 1000 feet unobstructed. Its 6x zoom and continuous room-temperature detection save you a trip to the nursery.
Night vision kicks in automatically in low-light situations, with customers saying how surprised they were with the quality of the night vision mode.
A coded wireless transmission secures your privacy. Other features include sound-activated lights and room temperature display.
Another thing to love about this baby monitor is that it does not use WiFi in transmitting the video for real-time monitoring.
- No WiFi needed.
- Easy to use interface.
- Good vision and split-screen function.
- One click shortcut.
- Can use monitor with multiple cameras.
- Some have reported difficulty using the volume control.
Baby Monitor Safety
- Don’t place a monitor directly on or in a crib: The nursery monitor should be kept well out of baby’s reach. Even a device which is cordless should not be situated in or on a cot or crib. For breathing and motion devices, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s directions for positioning.
- Secure cords away from the crib: Wires must be located at least 3 feet away from the reach of tiny hands. Babies grow quickly and learn to explore their surroundings. Make sure you reassess the positioning of wires and monitors regularly.
- Security and privacy: Analog monitors can allow other nearby devices to listen in. Digital monitors encrypt transmitted information, making them more secure. If you are using a Wi-Fi connection with a smartphone, make sure you have good security and encryption to prevent hackers from tuning in (2).
Baby Monitor FAQs
How Do I Set Up a Baby Monitor?
This is usually a pretty straightforward process. I’m not technically minded, but followed the manufacturer’s instructions and set up my system in minutes. Each monitor is different, so make sure you follow the directions carefully. They all user-friendly.
Are Baby Monitor Temperatures Accurate?
The insights given by users vary greatly concerning temperature accuracy for baby monitors. Some seem to read warmer or colder, while others are precise. If you are unsure how accurate yours is, check it against a separate room thermometer that you can rely on.
Can a Baby Monitor Be Hacked?
If passwords are not secure or the app or device you’re using does not have sufficient security certificates or encryption, yes, it can be hacked. Research the product well, make sure you set up secure passwords and change them regularly (3).
Can Baby Monitors Prevent SIDS?
SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome, is quite rare, but a worry for many parents, especially if you have a preemie. Some monitors detect breathing and movement, but they cannot prevent SIDS. There is no link between short periods of apnea (not breathing) and this infant syndrome.
Recommendations are to place your baby to sleep on their back and have a firm mattress (4). Parents often hate how firm their baby’s mattress is, but there is a safety reason for that.
When Should I Stop Using a Baby Monitor?
This is a personal choice, a baby monitor is a way to keep your baby close and also have your own space. As the baby gets bigger it’s good to keep the volume low because babies are LOUD sleepers. Some parents keep a monitor until their baby becomes a child, some feel like they can hear their baby down the hall if their baby needs them.
Each individual set of circumstances is different. If you have a large house, you might still want to use a monitor into your child’s early years. They can also still be useful for daytime naps.
The American Academy of Pediatrics in their infant safe sleeping recommendations includes room sharing with your newborn for a 1 year or at least 6 months.
Where Should I Put My Baby Monitor in the Nursery?
We mentioned this when we spoke about safety features. You will want a clear view of your baby in the cot but make sure the monitor is at least 3 feet away. There should be no wires within reach of curious, exploring little hands.