Are you a new mom-to-be looking for the best way to keep tabs on your precious bundle? Or are you expanding your brood with a new baby on the way and wanting to update your baby monitor? 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
- Light and vibration alerts
- Low battery alerts
- Loud, secure, digital coverage
- Good two-way audio
- Ultra-sensitive microphone
- Room temperature monitor and alarm
- Five built-in lullabies
- Split-screen viewing
- No cords wires or sensors
- Easily clips onto a diaper
- Compact for travel
- 5-hour camera battery
- Indoor range of 4,000 square feet
- Tilt, pan, and zoom control
- 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 Available
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.
Choosing the Best 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 Monitor Reviews of 2020
You now know what features to look for in a baby monitor and why you might need one. Let’s look at what we think are some of the best baby monitors available.
1. Infant Optics DXR-8 Video Baby Monitor
Double the trouble, double the monitoring, but double the joy! Having a monitor that can keep you in touch, whether your babies are in the same room or two separate ones, is a must.
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. Graco Secure Coverage Digital Baby Monitor
Not being able to hear has many challenges, especially when you have a baby. You might not hear their cries, even when you’re close. Having a baby monitor which is able to tell you when your baby is making noise could be a blessing.
This monitor from Graco offers a unit for monitoring your baby in the nursery, plus two parent units. This is handy as you can make sure one unit is always charged so you don’t have to worry about the battery running out — just change over to the charged one.
Another bonus of having two units is that each parent can carry one around. That’s especially useful if you both happen to be hard of hearing.
The parent units have lights which alert you to baby’s cries. As an additional feature, the units can also be set to vibrate. You have twice the chance of being alerted when your baby needs you.
With a massive range of up to 2,000 feet, the monitor lets you know when you move out of range of the nursery. You can clip the monitor to your belt or waistband of your skirt or pants. This leaves you hands-free to get on with other things, safe in the knowledge you’ll feel a vibration if baby wakes.
- Light and vibration alerts.
- Low battery alerts.
- Sensitive to sounds with loud, secure, digital coverage.
- Vibrate and sound can be turned on or off.
- Some find that connection can be lost for a couple of seconds when moving around the home.
3. Angelcare Sound and Movement Monitor
If you don’t want to be trapped watching a monitor all day and night, choose a good audio monitor. Let’s be honest, it’s tempting to look at the screen all the time just to make sure they are ok without us in the same room.
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
Moving around the house and garden can be a challenge when you have a little one. A monitor with a good distance range can be a lifeline.
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. Snuza Hero SE
Are you a first-time mom or do you want extra peace of mind that baby is safe when you aren’t with them? A monitor that registers your baby’s breathing and movement could be for you.
The Hero is small but mighty. It’s more versatile than some other breathing monitors, as it doesn’t require a baby to have snug-fitting clothes. Simply clip it onto the diaper — a bonus on hot summer days for afternoon naps.
Powered by a rechargeable battery, the Hero has no cords, wires, or sensor pads, hence no safety hazards in the crib. It monitors movements from the baby’s abdomen as they gently breathe in and out.
If it doesn’t sense movement or breathing for 15 seconds, it will vibrate to stimulate your baby. When it goes to 20 seconds detecting no movement, an alarm sounds, notifying you there might be a problem.
Made from medical grade plastics and silicone tip, this is suitable for babies with allergies or sensitive skin.
This monitor is compact and you can take it anywhere with you. Visiting family or friends, you can easily attach it when your little one wants to take a nap. Peace of mind wherever you go.
- No cords wires or sensors.
- Easily clips onto a diaper.
- Compact for travel.
- One year warranty comes with the machine.
- False alarms can increase once the baby starts moving about more.
- Sometimes a very wet diaper will lift monitor off the skin and it will false alarm.
This is a great device, I used it along with a camera monitor, but even when they were in our room in a bassinet, it helped us get some sleep having this extra reassurance.
Editor's Note:Katelyn Holt RN, BSN, BC
6. Dormi - Baby Monitor
We live in an age of technology, and baby monitors have not been left behind. There are apps that allow you to monitor your baby from a smartphone or tablet as long as they have a working camera. All you need is two Android compatible devices and you can get set up.
Downloadable from the Google Play store, this app works over cellular and Wi-Fi networks. There are even options for when the internet is not available, such as Wi-Fi direct or hotspots.
Once you have the app on both the monitoring and parent devices, you’re ready to go. Dormi will activate vibration alerts and two-way talk via the device’s microphone. This means you can soothe your child without visiting the nursery-as they are older this can help transition them to independent sleep.
Do you want an early night, but your partner is glued to the ball game? This app can be set up on multiple devices, so you can leave him monitoring the baby while you get some well-earned rest.
Dormi has covered all the bases with an info center, missed calls or text alerts on the monitor and parent device, automatic microphone adjustment, and night vision.
- Info center gives users critical status updates on devices.
- Works in the background when the screen is off.
- Lets multiple caregivers monitor at the same time.
- Info center gives users critical status updates on devices.
- Works in the background when the screen is off.
- Lets multiple caregivers monitor at the same time.
- Long-lasting battery.
7. Cloud Baby Monitor
When it comes to keeping eyes and ears on babies and toddlers, Apple has it covered with their Cloud Baby Monitor app. You can use it from any Apple device, including iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, Apple TV, and Apple watch.
This app can be downloaded to two or more compatible devices. One is placed as a monitor and any of the others can be used as parent devices.
If you want to keep a watch on more than one child, you can access multiple devices from one parent unit. Likewise, multiple devices can access the monitor unit. This is great when you need eyes in the back of your head, as you often do when you have more than one child.
Service is provided over cellular and Wi-Fi networks as well as via Bluetooth. The features it offers include two-way audio and video, noise and motion alerts, and night vision.
You can even play lullabies or white noise from your iTunes playlists, to soothe baby to sleep.
This may be a great option for grandma’s house, instead of taking your baby monitor over there for nap time you could set this up on your phone and an extra apple device (like an old phone).
- Works over Wi-Fi and cellular networks as well as Bluetooth connectivity.
- High-quality video and audio.
- Unlimited range.
- Compatible with multiple Apple devices.
- If your phone is in use, the live stream and alerts are pushed to your Apple watch (if you have one).
- Only available for Apple devices.
- Not a free app, but only $4, way less expensive than any monitor out there.
8. KODAK Cherish C525 Video Baby Monitor
The key purpose of a baby monitor is to let you watch them when you’re not physically in the room. For this, you ideally want a good quality video transmission you can see easily.
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, infrared video, and sound and motion notifications. It will also play lullabies or white noise.
- Good for travel, with a 4-hour monitor battery and 5-hour camera battery.
- Indoor range of 4,000 square feet.
- Tilt, pan, and zoom control from the parent unit.
- Night vision can be a little blurred.
- Some parents also complain about a static noise.
- Can record sweet moments of your baby in their crib.
9. Babysense 7
Knowing that your baby is moving, even the small rise and fall of their chest, can be reassuring for parents. A monitor that can be placed in the crib but not in contact with your baby without all the extra bells and whistles might be all you want.
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.
10. Philips Avent Dect
Weekends away or vacations with a baby in tow means less room in your luggage. With diapers, clothes, toys, and all the other paraphernalia you need, a baby monitor that’s compact and reliable is a must.
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.
11. Babysense Video Baby Monitor
Baby monitors can be a sizeable investment, especially when, as a new mom, you have so many other demands on your finances. It’s good to know there’s an affordable option that does the job well.
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.
12. Nanit Smart Baby Monitor and Wall Mount
Baby monitors are constantly evolving, becoming smaller, easier to use, and providing us with information we only dreamed of just a few years ago. With a Wi-Fi connection, your smartphone becomes the handheld unit giving you clear video and sound you never thought possible.
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.
13. DBPOWER Baby Monitor
When you want the best of both worlds in a baby monitor, a good screen and great audio are a must. It also helps if you have a long-range unit, letting you move around your home and yard with ease.
If you’re visually challenged, you will love the 4.3-inch screen on this monitor. While it has only one camera, you can add extra ones.
In the real world, doors and walls can interfere with range, but this monitor can operate up to 1,000 feet unobstructed. Built-in microphones and two-way talkback give you the ability to soothe your baby and save you a trip to the nursery.
Night vision kicks in automatically in low-light situations. The only downside is that it reduces the display to about 2 inches in the center of the screen. Not so good for tired eyes.
A 2.4 GHz wireless transmission secures your privacy. Other features include sound-activated LED lights, room temperature display, lullabies, and a nightlight.
You can insert a TF or micro SD card to record video feed for playback later. That’s a nice feature for sharing baby’s antics with family and friends.
- Out of range, low battery, and temperature alarms.
- Easy to use interface.
- Good vision with record facility and split-screen function.
- Helpful customer service.
- Can use monitor with multiple cameras.
- Some have reported poor battery life.
- Cannot turn off the screen.
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).
Frequently Asked Questions
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. There are simple baby room thermometers.
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.
Can a Baby Monitor Interfere with Wi-Fi?
Some baby monitors operate on 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz bandwidths, which can interfere with some Wi-Fi transmissions. If this is a concern, look for a monitor that operates on DECT 6.0, or a 900 GHz bandwidth (5).
What Is Sound or Noise Activation?
A sound or noise-activated baby monitor will light up the monitor screen or display lights to alert you to sounds in the nursery. This means you can put the parent device on standby or battery-saving mode, and it will reactivate when noise is detected.
The Bottom Line
Whatever you decide your needs are, there’s a baby monitor to suit. If like me, you are a technophobe, then a simple audio monitor might be all you want. On the other hand, you can have all the high tech features that a smartphone monitor and app can supply.
Our top pick as the best baby monitor is the Infant Optics DXR-8. It has an excellent camera and a good, clear monitor display, and you can change the camera lens. It gives you the best of both worlds, with options for audio or video only.
Other features, such as temperature, range and battery alarms, talk back, and the ability to add more cameras, enhance its appeal.
The ultimate choice is yours, but we hope our guide to the best baby monitors has helped make your decision easier. What did you think of our baby monitor reviews? If you enjoyed reading our insights, we would love to hear your comments or feedback.