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10 Best Baby Monitors – Types, Features & How to Choose

Any new parent quickly learns a baby in need shrieks loud enough to wake the neighborhood. But baby monitors are still a must-have baby item for many, offering the extra reassurance that everything’s OK, even when you’re not in the room.

Baby monitors are the all-seeing, ever-present eyes and ears parents everywhere need. Video and audio, movement and breathing sensors, and even temperature and humidity monitors are just a few of the features that make parents’ lives that much less stressful.

With such a dizzying array of options, how do you know which monitor is best for you? Don’t just buy the most expensive model with a bunch of extras you don’t need. First, understand the advantages and disadvantages of each type of monitor. Then pick the model that has the features you need at a price you can afford.

Types of Baby Monitors

All baby monitors have some kind of transmitter, such as a video camera, that stays in the room with the baby and one or more receivers parents keep with them. But their features and how they work vary depending on what type of monitor you buy.

Audio Monitors

Audio monitors transmit only sound. Some include two-way talk, essentially making them function like a walkie-talkie, so you can sing to or soothe your baby.

Only a few include extras like temperature sensors, heart rate monitors, or breathing monitors. But most have lights that indicate sound levels to give parents an indication of the baby’s alertness. They also usually have indicators to alert parents when the receiver is out of range or the battery is running low. A good monitor has crystal-clear audio and reduces background noise substantially.

Video Monitors

Video monitors let you watch your baby in addition to hearing them. The camera is either wall-mounted or set on a stable surface near the baby’s crib.

As with audio-only monitors, the best ones come with two-way talk. Typically, video monitors include a color display screen on the receiver and sometimes apps for a smartphone or other device.

Night vision is another common feature. And these monitors often include digital zoom and the ability to pan side to side or tilt up and down.

Wireless Network Monitors

Wi-Fi monitors use your home’s wireless network instead of radio signals. Although they’re less secure and potentially susceptible to hacking, they’re more convenient. Wi-Fi baby monitors are the only option that allows you to check in on your little one when you’re not at home, whether you’re at work or on a date night. Just log into the app. They have virtually unlimited range.

If your Internet connection is spotty or prone to outages, a Wi-Fi monitor isn’t always a good bet. In reviews for even the best Wi-Fi monitors on the market, some parents report issues with connectivity and signal strength.

Wearable Monitors

Technology has come a long way since the first days of audio monitors. Some of today’s baby monitors also allow parents to monitor their baby’s breathing and heart rate. Some do this with a wearable sock, while others transmit the information from a connected pad under the baby.

Wearable monitors give anxious parents more information in a world rife with SIDS scares. They instantly notify parents if anything is wrong. But sometimes, too much information can backfire, leading to even more stress.


How to Choose the Right Baby Monitor for You

Baby Monitor Security Nursery White

When considering features, remember that you’ll need a baby monitor well beyond the baby years. Cameras come in handy for monitoring toddlers and preschoolers too. When transitioning a toddler from a crib to a bed, you can check to see if they’ve rolled onto the floor. And baby monitors alert parents of preschoolers when their kids are constructing elaborate Lego towers at night instead of sleeping.

Features to Consider

Feature-rich monitors are pricey. No one wants to spend hundreds on a monitor only to find they only use the features less expensive models have too. But if you use it to its fullest and get several years’ use out of it, spending a little more on a higher-end monitor could be worth it.

Display Quality & Screen Size

Video monitors vary widely in image quality. Some have higher resolutions and larger screens. Others rely on an app on your phone to display images. If video quality matters to you, look for a camera with a higher resolution, such as 1080 HD video.

Remote Pan, Tilt & Zoom

Babies don’t always stay within the camera’s view. And monitors that don’t pan, tilt, and zoom definitely don’t work as well once kiddos are mobile. The ability to remotely control the camera’s viewing angle and zoom lets you keep an eye on your little one at all times.

Night Vision

Most people use baby monitors most frequently while their baby is sleeping. But in low light, you need a camera with night vision to do that. If you opt for a video monitor, double-check that your pick has this before you purchase.

Motion & Sound Activation Sensors

Some models have video screens you can set to come on when the baby makes an unusual sound or movement. Other models include motion and sound indicators that detect when your baby wakes up. When they do, the monitor’s screen comes on or you receive an alert.

Note that although these provide extra reassurance, they’re not intended to prevent SIDS and are never a substitute for safe sleeping practices.

Temperature, Air Quality, & Breathing Sensors

Babies can’t regulate their body temperatures, which is where a sensor comes in. Most experts recommend a nursery temperature of between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. But if your favorite monitor doesn’t include one, you can also buy one separately.

Some models also come with air-quality sensors to alert you of increased levels of CO2 and volatile organic compounds. Just don’t try to use the monitor as a replacement for a proper CO2 detector.

Wearable monitors also come standard with breathing sensors.

Range

A Wi-Fi monitor’s range is virtually unlimited. You’ll be able to view your monitor’s feed on your connected device from wherever you are in the world. But if you opt for any other monitor, the model’s range is important. Look for longer-range monitors if you live in a big house or plan to take your monitor outside.

2-Way Communication

Monitors with two-way audio let you soothe tired babies back to sleep or keep rambunctious toddlers in their beds without entering the room. If you opt for a Wi-Fi monitor, you can even wish them goodnight when you’re away from home.

Multiple Cameras

Monitors that attach directly to the crib give you a close-up view of your sleeping angel. But they’ll eventually outgrow that crib and become mobile. Some systems allow you to add additional cameras so you can get multiple angles of the same room or scope out other rooms. With these models, there’s no need to remount wall cameras or move and reposition tabletop units.

Multiple Receivers

Although not a necessity, multiple receivers allow all caregivers to monitor the baby simultaneously. Most Wi-Fi monitors allow you to connect unlimited devices, even Grandma and Grandpa’s smartphones.

Wireless Encryption

Wi-Fi monitors are great for portability and range. But if you opt for a Wi-Fi monitor, choose one with extra encryption technology. And don’t stop there. Secure your home network and always keep your monitor’s firmware updated.

Avoid analog monitors, which are prone to static and interference. A lot of devices broadcast on the same signal. So you could pick up your neighbor’s conversation on their cordless phone – which means they might be able to hear you too. Instead, look for a digital monitor that’s enhanced with DECT (digital enhanced cordless telecommunications) technology or one that transmits using an encrypted 2.4 GHz frequency band.

DECT is the only secure connection technology with little to no interference. A non-DECT 2.4 GHz encryption does prevent devices’ signals from crossing paths, keeping others from listening in accidentally or intentionally. However, it doesn’t provide zero interference. Some parents report their 2.4 GHz-encryption baby monitors wreak havoc on their wireless routers or with their cordless phones.

Battery Life

Baby monitors with high-resolution video use a lot of power. Make sure the batteries on video receivers are rechargeable.

A long battery life is also crucial if you’re unable to charge the receiver frequently. You need your batteries to last while you’re doing things like chores or working outside. Similarly, if you’ve left the receiver with your babysitter and need it to last until you get home, you want batteries that won’t die on them.

Look for a video monitor with batteries that last eight to 10 hours.

Portability

Some monitors are wall-mounted, while others are just heavy and bulky. If you plan to travel frequently or have your baby to stay with others regularly, look for a system that’s easy to transport.

Ease of Use

A monitor with a bunch of extra features is nice. But more options often come with more complications. Many apps are difficult to use, and they aren’t always intuitive.

Pay attention to how the monitor or its app works. Does it make sense to you? Have reviewers complained about it online? If it seems complicated and the extra features are just nice-to-haves, choose another model.


Top 10 Baby Monitors

Baby Monitor Security Camera Playroom Toddler

Video monitors are the most popular and took all of our top spots. But if your budget is a major concern or you’re looking for something simpler, there’s a highly rated honorable mention audio-only monitor too.

1. Infant Optics DXR-8 Baby Monitor With Interchangeable Optical Lens

The Infant Optics DXR-8 is the No. 1 best overall baby monitor according to parents and baby product sites. It’s loaded with features and has garnered few complaints from reviewers. The interchangeable optical lens really sets this monitor apart. It gives parents the option of focusing on a localized area or viewing the entire room at once.

Key Features

  • Interchangeable optical lens
  • Connects to up to four cameras (additional cameras sold separately)
  • Remote pan, tilt, and zoom
  • Night vision camera
  • Two-way talk
  • Built-in room temperature sensor
  • Video or audio-only functionality

Advantages

  • Interchangeable lens system for a wide range of viewing options
  • Multicamera functionality
  • User-friendly interface
  • Crystal-clear two-way talk
  • High-quality video
  • Reports of quality receiver reception, even from the yard

Disadvantages

  • Camera isn’t wireless and must be plugged in
  • No option to play lullabies (as some other monitors do)
  • Not Wi-Fi-enabled

2. Nanit Plus Smart Baby Monitor

The Nanit Plus smart baby monitor is a high-end option that uses computer vision to learn how your baby moves and provide insight into their sleep patterns. A companion app provides reports to help you spot any changes. It also sends customized sleep coaching tips based on your baby’s patterns.

Key Features

  • Provides valuable sleep insights
  • Night vision camera
  • Built-in temperature and humidity sensors
  • Two-way talk
  • High-definition (HD) digital audio and video streaming
  • Wi-Fi and smart device-enabled
  • Zoom lens
  • App-controlled night light
  • Built-in nature sounds

Advantages

  • Monitor works with or without Internet as long as you’re connected to your home network
  • Fast, high-quality video streaming in both daytime and night vision modes
  • Wall-mountable for a better overhead view than tabletop-only models
  • Built-in audio-only functionality
  • Encrypted wireless video and digital streaming
  • Winner of the 2018 Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association Innovation Award for safety
  • Innovative sleep-tracking technology

Disadvantages

  • Expensive
  • Sleep data is subscription-based (comes with one free year)
  • No remote camera adjustment feature
  • Reports of choppy video when running on a 4G LTE connection (common among Wi-Fi cameras)

3. Summer Infant Baby Pixel Monitor

Summer Infant is a staple baby monitor manufacturer. It’s the brand my husband and I used from our son’s infancy through preschool. The Summer Infant Baby Pixel is their premium baby monitor.

Key Features

  • Remote pan, tilt, and zoom
  • Large HD color video receiver
  • Built-in white noise and lullabies
  • Two-way talk
  • Built-in temperature sensor
  • Night vision camera
  • Virtual boundary monitoring system notifies you if your baby leaves a defined area
  • Moonlight function allows soft light for full-color viewing at night
  • Connects to up to four cameras (additional cameras sold separately)

Advantages

  • Larger, higher-resolution display than comparable models
  • Power-save feature preserves battery life
  • Reports of excellent battery life of up to 12 hours
  • 6x zoom with reports of visual clarity at all levels
  • Out-of-range warning light
  • Reports of good range

Disadvantages

  • Not Wi-Fi-enabled
  • Power-save mode can’t be turned off

4. iBaby Care M7 Baby Monitor

The iBaby M7 is cute and one of the most feature-rich Wi-Fi baby monitors on the market. It’s an update of the popular M6 model with additional features including support for dual-band Wi-Fi signals, a moonlight and star projector, an air quality sensor, diaper and feeding time alerts, and an extensive lullaby and bedtime story library.

Key Features

  • Stationary or rotating moon and star projector option
  • Air- quality, temperature, humidity, and CO2 sensor
  • 360-degree remote pan and 140-degree remote tilt
  • Diaper and feeding alerts
  • Multicamera toggle
  • Two-way talk
  • Built-in lullabies, white noise, and bedtime stories, with option to connect to your smartphone’s music library

Advantages

  • Save photos and videos to your smart device
  • Movement and sound alerts
  • Reports of quality video
  • Clearest night vision quality on this list
  • Intuitive, easy-to-use app
  • Wi-Fi-enabled
  • More pan and tilt range than other cameras on this list

Disadvantages

  • Camera must be close to a router
  • Reports of a finicky Wi-Fi connection
  • Reports of initial difficulty connecting the app to the camera
  • Camera is not compact
  • No option for wall mounting

5. Safety First HD Video Baby Monitor

Like many other monitors, the Wi-Fi-enabled Safety First HD video baby monitor allows you to stream digital audio and video to your smartphone. It also features a wireless speaker pod to move around the house with you while your phone charges or after you put your screens away at night.

Key Features

  • Streams HD digital audio and video
  • Wi-Fi-enabled
  • Wide-angle camera with 130 degrees of horizontal view
  • 5x zoom
  • Night vision camera
  • Two-way talk
  • Movement and sound alerts
  • Automatic storage of the past 24 hours of camera activity with free encrypted cloud storage
  • Captures photos and videos to share
  • Companion audio-only speaker pod
  • Multicamera functionality

Advantages

  • Speaker pod battery life of 10 to 12 hours
  • Customizable sensitivity of movement and sound alerts
  • Auto-recorded clips of 30 seconds before alerts
  • Reports of high-quality night vision
  • No subscription for cloud storage

Disadvantages

  • No remote pan or tilt
  • Only toggles between cameras; no option to view multiple cameras simultaneously
  • Reports of difficulty connecting to live stream immediately

6. Arlo Baby Smart Monitor

The Arlo Baby is another highly rated Wi-Fi monitor. Want to see live footage of your little one using voice commands? It’s the only monitor on this list that integrates with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple Home.

It also comes with all the other high-tech bells and whistles, including HD video and advanced night vision, a custom music player, a multicolored night light, and air quality sensors. Plus, it’s cute. It comes with attachable bunny ears and feet; puppy and kitten accessories are sold separately.

Key Features

  • Built-in air quality, temperature, and humidity sensors
  • Movement and sound alerts
  • Free seven-day cloud storage of videos and photos
  • Built-in lullabies, white noise, and nature sounds; option to play your own music through the cloud
  • Voice-recording option
  • Built-in adjustable multicolored night light with timer
  • Built-in rechargeable battery to move the monitor up to 300 feet from the base station
  • Two-way talk
  • Night vision camera

Advantages

  • Sharp, clear digital video and audio
  • Long track record and consistently positive owner reviews
  • Built-in audio-only functionality
  • Wireless camera with rechargeable battery for mobility
  • Better features-to-price ratio than comparable monitors

Disadvantages

  • Zoom only; no remote pan and tilt
  • Reports of long waits for video streaming after an alert (30 seconds to a minute)

7. Lollipop Baby Monitor

The Lollipop baby monitor comes with a cute and playful “lollipop” camera. You can bend and twist the stem into a stand or loop it around nearby furniture for optimal positioning. The entire camera is encased in nontoxic silicone that comes in multiple colors, including turquoise, cotton candy, and pistachio. Although it’s a Wi-Fi monitor, it has an option to limit the digital audio and video streaming to your local network for added security.

Key Features

  • Built-in lullabies, white noise, and nature sounds
  • Connects to unlimited additional cameras (sold separately)
  • Noise detection with “True Cry” technology
  • Built-in temperature, humidity, and air quality sensors
  • Subscription-free data log shows a record of noise/crying alerts, 30-second event clips, and air quality
  • Night vision camera
  • Remote zoom
  • Wall-mountable

Advantages

  • Displays feeds from up to four cameras at once
  • Automatic Internet disconnectivity alerts so you know when it’s not working
  • “True Cry” technology reduces the likelihood of false alarms
  • Close-to-real-time streaming
  • Privacy mode prevents streaming through the cloud when you’re home
  • Built-in audio-only functionality
  • Reports of excellent audio and video quality
  • Compact, highly portable camera

Disadvantages

  • No remote pan or tilt
  • Reports of connectivity issues similar to other Wi-Fi monitors

8. Babysense Video Baby Monitor

The Babysense Video Baby Monitor is a budget pick loaded with features similar to pricier models’. Some of these include crystal-clear video, digital zoom, a temperature sensor, built-in lullabies, and multicamera functionality.

Key Features

  • Remote zoom
  • Sound-activated eco mode to extend battery life
  • Built-in lullabies
  • 900-foot range
  • Built-in temperature sensor
  • Night vision camera
  • Two-way talk
  • Diaper and feeding alerts

Advantages

  • Crystal-clear color LCD
  • Connects to up to four cameras (additional cameras sold separately)
  • Closed FHSS radio signal for privacy

Disadvantages

  • Reports of short battery life despite eco mode
  • Only toggles between cameras; no option to view multiple cameras simultaneously
  • Reports that camera toggle takes too long
  • Reports that advertised 900-foot range may not be accurate in some cases, such as through plaster walls
  • No remote pan or tilt

9. Owlet Smart Sock 2 + Cam Baby Monitor

The Owlet Smart Sock 2 takes baby monitoring to the next level by tracking your baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels. It sends you alerts if anything seems wrong, reducing stress for anxiety-ridden parents.

Just slip a comfortable socklike wrap over your baby’s foot to track their vitals while they’re sleeping. Then, tune into the digital audio and HD video streaming on your connected smart device for three levels of reassurance.

Key Features

  • Heart rate and oxygen sensor with alerts
  • Wi-Fi-enabled
  • Streams HD digital audio and video
  • Audio-only functionality
  • Night vision camera
  • Extra encryption for added privacy and security
  • Three washable socks in different sizes fit most babies ages 0 to 18 months and 6 to 25 pounds
  • Two-way talk
  • 4x zoom

Advantages

Disadvantages

  • Most expensive monitor on this list
  • No remote pan or tilt
  • Socks might come off by accident
  • Monitor hasn’t been shown to prevent SIDS and shouldn’t replace safe sleeping practices
  • Reports of poor video quality
  • Reports of connectivity issues similar to other Wi-Fi monitors
  • Limited camera range of 100 feet from the base station for optimal connectivity

10. Angelcare AC517 Baby Movement Monitor

Like the Owlet, the Angelcare AC517 baby movement monitor keeps an eye on your baby’s vitals. It tracks breathing through a sensor pad placed under the mattress. The system also includes video and audio transmitted through a secure radio signal rather than Wi-Fi.

Key Features

  • Wireless breathing sensor pad sends an alert if no movement is detected for more than 20 seconds
  • Tabletop or wall-mountable camera
  • Large 5-inch touch-screen video receiver
  • Built-in temperature monitor with alerts
  • Records and stores two months’ worth of movement activity and room temperature reports
  • Pans and zooms to 2x
  • Night vision camera
  • Two-way talk

Advantages

  • Adjustable movement sensitivity levels
  • Reports of excellent video quality
  • Reports that movement monitor works well
  • Encrypted FHSS radio signal is virtually unhackable
  • Camera functions as a standard audio and video monitor after your baby outgrows the breathing monitor
  • Budget price compared to models with similar features

Disadvantages

  • No tilt
  • As with all non-Wi-Fi models, video, audio, and breathing sensor are inaccessible outside the home
  • Supports only one camera
  • Reports of low video receiver battery life (about five to six hours with the screen on and eight hours with the screen on standby)
  • Monitor hasn’t been shown to prevent SIDS and shouldn’t replace safe sleeping practices

Honorable Mention Audio-Only Pick: VTech Safe & Sound Digital Audio Monitor

If you’re looking for something simpler than a video monitor or are on a tight budget, opt for the consistently top-rated audio-only monitor.

The VTech Safe & Sound Digital Audio Monitor tops the audio-only list of almost all baby product sites and gets top reviews from parents. And that’s for good reason. For its low price, it packs a lot of features, including the best representation of your baby’s voice and some of the best alert features. With its long range, two-way communication and backlit digital display, this monitor gets the job done without breaking the bank.

Key Features

  • 1,000-foot range
  • Alerts
  • Comes with two receivers
  • Two-way talk

Advantages

  • Inexpensive
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Longer range than most non-Wi-Fi video monitors
  • One of few audio-only monitors with two-way talk
  • Portable clip-on receiver
  • Alerts include audio, indicator lights, and vibration

Disadvantages

  • No video
  • Not Wi-Fi-enabled

Final Word

For many parents, a good baby monitor is a nursery essential. But it’s easy to be tempted by a wide range of features you don’t need. If any of these models were available when our son was a baby, I’m sure I would have gravitated toward the most bells and whistles money can buy. But our older, lower-tech model has suited us just fine over the years.

So don’t spend a lot of cash for a high-end baby monitor that has features you won’t even use. More tech means a steeper learning curve, anyway. But if you’ve got the money and you’re willing to spend it on certain features, then go for it.

Which baby monitor do you plan to get? Are there any you would add to this list?

Sarah Graves
Sarah Graves, Ph.D. is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance, parenting, education, and creative entrepreneurship. She's also a college instructor of English and humanities. When not busy writing or teaching her students the proper use of a semicolon, you can find her hanging out with her awesome husband and adorable son watching way too many superhero movies.

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