This is a revised buying guide for those looking to purchase a baby monitor of any kind. The technology of baby monitors has evolved fast over the past few years with new smart baby monitors that can integrate with the smart home ecosystem. For a regular parent, it is important to get back to the basics and get an understanding of why baby monitors are necessary.
What is a Baby Monitor?
A baby monitor is an electronic device that either transmits sound or images from a baby’s crib to another room in the house or even to a parent’s cellphone.
When you’re a new parent, there are dozens of things to worry about and keep track of. One of the most important is making sure your baby is safe and sound, especially when you can’t be right there with them. That’s where a baby monitor comes in.
A baby monitor is a device that allows you to listen and watch your baby from another room in your house. They come in all shapes and sizes, with a variety of features, so it can be tough to know which one is right for you. This comprehensive buying guide will help make the process a little easier. We’ll explain what a baby monitor is, the different types available, their pros and cons, and what to look for when purchasing one. So whether you’re just starting out on your parenting journey or are looking for an upgrade, read on for all the information you need to choose the perfect baby monitor for your family!
Do You Need a Baby Monitor?
The first factor is to consider if you actually need a baby monitor or not. There are situations where having one will be completely unnecessary. If both parents work from home or are always in the same room as the baby, then you don’t need a monitor. The only time you would need one is if you have to leave the baby unsupervised for periods of time. Even then, if you have another trusted adult in the house with the baby, a monitor might not be necessary.
The other time you might not need a monitor is if your baby sleeps in a bassinet or crib that’s right next to your bed. In this case, you can just listen for them and check on them periodically throughout the night.
What baby monitor should I get?
The answer to this question depends on several factors. First, you need to decide which type of monitor is right for you. Baby monitors can be classified by;
Signal it relays(Audio or/and video monitors):
Monitors can be classified as audio or video. Audio monitors relay audio signals and not a video while video monitors relay both audio and video signals.
Audio baby Monitors:
These monitors are useful but have some cons as well. Even though they are affordable, the main con is that they do not give a clear indication of what is happening in the baby’s room. You can only hear your baby crying or making noise, you will not be able to see if your baby is awake or asleep unless you go into the room.
- Easy to set up
- Comes with some cool features such as temperature monitors
- Some come with the ability to talk to your baby
- You can only hear your baby, so it’s hard to tell if they’re awake or asleep
- May not pick up all the noises your baby makes
- Most of them do not connect to the internet
Go for audio monitors if;
- -You are on a tight budget
- -Your baby’s room is close to yours
What to look for in an audio baby monitor:
A good sound-only monitor has come with reliable rechargeable batteries that can last for up to 24 hours on a single charge. The sound quality of top-rated brands also has minimal static with clear two-way audio that lets you hear your baby and allows the baby to hear you.
Video Baby Monitors:
These monitors are slightly more expensive than audio monitors but offer more features. The biggest advantage of video monitors is that they come with a screen, so you can actually see your baby. This is very useful, especially at night, when it can be hard to tell if your baby is awake or asleep just by listening.
- You can see and hear your baby
- Some models come with built-in lullabies and white noise machines
- Some allow you to record the video and store it
- Wifi video monitors allow you to see the video using a phone app regardless of the distance away from your baby – all you need is wifi connection
- More expensive than audio monitors
- The video quality isn’t always great
- The battery life is shorter than audio monitors
Go for video monitors if;
- -You want to see your baby as well as hear them
- -Your budget allows it
- -You want extra features such as lullabies, white noise, and the ability to record video
What to look for in a video baby monitor:
When choosing a video baby monitor, the most important factor is the video quality. Look for a monitor with HD resolution and night vision so you can see your baby clearly, even in low light. It’s also important to choose a monitor with a wide viewing angle so you can see the entire room, and not just a close-up of your baby. Other features to look for include two-way audio, temperature sensors, and the ability to record video.
The technology it uses (Non-wifi and Wifi monitors):
Non-wifi Video Monitors:
These monitors do not connect to the internet and can only be used within a certain range. The main advantage of these monitors is that they are safe as no one can hijack the signal. They utilize either 1.9 GHz(DECT) or 2.4 GHz (FHSS) technology to provide a secure and private connection.
Because they do not connect to Wifi, they do not support a smartphone app and use a dedicated screen that it comes with. The camera uses AC power and needs to be plugged in at all times while the parent unit uses rechargeable batteries.
The range of transmission ranges from 500 ft to 1500 ft with most brands promising about 800 ft.
- Safe and secure as they use FHSS technology
- Great audio and video
- More affordable than wifi monitors
- The range is limited, so you have to be within a certain distance of your baby to hear or see the video
Go for non-wifi monitors if;
- You want a more affordable option
- You do not mind being in the same room or close to your baby
- Your internet connection is not great
What to look for in a non-wifi monitor:
The most important factor when choosing a non-wifi monitor is the range. Make sure to choose a monitor with a range that suits your needs. Go for models that use hackproof FHSS technology to assure security. Also, look for a monitor with great audio and video quality so you can hear and see your baby clearly.
Wifi Video Monitors:
As the name suggests, these monitors connect to your home Wifi and can be used anywhere within the range of your Wifi network. They use an app that needs to be installed on your phone to view the video feed. The advantage of these monitors is that you can see your baby no matter where you are, as long as there is a Wifi connection.
- You can see your baby from anywhere as long as you have a Wifi connection
- Some models come with extra features such as white noise machines and the ability to record video
- More expensive than non-wifi monitors
- There is a risk of hacking as these monitors connect to the internet
- The audio and video quality can be choppy at times
Go for wifi monitors if;
- You want to be able to see your baby no matter where you are
- You don’t mind spending a little extra
- Your internet connection is good
What to look for in a wifi monitor:
The most important factor to look for when choosing a wifi monitor is security. Make sure the model you choose uses hackproof technology such as WPA2 encryption. Also, look for a monitor with HD video and night vision so you can see your baby clearly, even in low light. Another important factor to consider is the audio quality, as you want to be able to hear your baby cry.
Wifi baby monitors can further be divided into;
These are the most recent type of monitors in the market that uses the internet to connect to other devices in your smart home ecosystem, so you can keep an eye on your baby from anywhere. These could be Google Home, Alexa Home, or Apple Homekit-compatible monitors such as the Arlo baby monitor.
Google Home Baby Monitors:
Google Home is a voice-controlled assistant that can be used to control various smart devices in your home. The Google Home Hub is a smart speaker with a built-in display that can be used to view the video feed from your baby monitor.
Some baby monitors can now integrate with Google Home and can use Google Assistant to provide hands-free operation. The Google Home Hub can also be used to display information from your baby monitor such as the temperature, humidity, and even the battery level.
To set up, simply download the Arlo app and connect your phone to the Hub. Once the Arlo Baby Monitor is connected to the Hub, you can view the video feed on the Hub’s display or on your phone. You can also use voice commands to control the monitor, such as “Hey Google, show me the nursery”.
- You can view the video feed on a display or on your phone
- You can use voice commands to control the monitor
- The Google Home Hub can also display information from your baby monitor such as the temperature, humidity, and battery level.
- The Google Home Hub is not a dedicated baby monitor, so you cannot use it without a compatible baby monitor
- The video feed can only be viewed on the Hub’s display or on your phone, you cannot view it on a TV
Alexa Home Baby Monitors:
Alexa is a voice-controlled assistant that can be used to control various smart devices in your home. The Amazon Echo Show is a smart speaker with a built-in display that can be used to view the video feed from your baby monitor.
Unlike Google Home, the Echo Show cannot be used to control your baby monitor. However, it can be used to view the video feed from the camera and even talk to your baby using the two-way audio feature.
To set up, simply download the camera app and connect your phone to the Echo Show. Once the Baby Monitor is connected to the Echo Show, you can view the video feed on the Show’s display.
- The Echo Show is a dedicated baby monitor that can be used to view the video feed and talk to your baby
- The video feed can be viewed on the Show’s display
- The Echo Show cannot be used to control your baby monitor
- The video feed can only be viewed on the Show’s display, you cannot view it on a TV
Homekit Baby Monitors:
Homekit is a platform that allows you to control various smart devices in your home using your iPhone or iPad or Apple TV. The Apple TV is a streaming device that can be used to view the video feed from your baby monitor.
Homekit is different in that it does not have a dedicated app but rather is controlled using the built-in Home app on your iPhone or iPad.
To set up, simply download the Apple Homekit App and connect your phone to the Apple TV. Once the Baby Monitor is connected to Apple TV, you can view the video feed on your iPhone or iPad. You can also use Siri to control the monitor, such as “Hey Siri, show me the nursery”.
- You can view the video feed on your iPhone or iPad
- You can use Siri to control the monitor
- Homekit does not have a dedicated app, so it may be confusing to set up
- The video feed can only be viewed on your iPhone or iPad, you cannot view it on a TV
Smart monitors that use AI to obtain vital signs:
These are the most advanced type of wifi-enabled monitors that use artificial intelligence to detect and relay information about your baby’s vitals such as heart rate and breathing. They are not as common as the other types but are slowly gaining popularity.
An example of a smart monitor that uses AI is the Cubo Ai. The Cubo Ai uses machine learning to detect your baby’s breathing and will send alerts to your phone if it detects an anomaly. It can also take pictures and videos and has two-way audio so you can talk to your baby.
To set up, simply download the Cubo Ai app and connect your phone to the monitor. Once the Cubo Ai is connected, you can view the video feed on your phone.
Some recent models such as InVidyo Video baby monitor is able to detect cry sounds and report to the parents through an app.
The earlier models of monitors from the 2012s and around that period has temperature sensors built-in to the camera but they were awfully wrong by up to 20 degrees. You can imagine how scary that is to be notified that your baby is being fried alive in a room over 100-degree Fahrenheit only to realize it is a false alarm. These false alarms have been reduced in many recent models and I just found out during this research about the existence of smart thermostats that come with some home security and baby cam models such as Nest.
Nanit, Miku and Cubo AI have led the way in using the most advanced sensors including the fusion of night vision with thermal imaging in order to provide better and more accurate notifications for parents who worry about their baby during the dark hours. It is important to read about the incidences of false alarms if you decide to purchase any of these smart monitors.
I also found the face covering notification feature in the Cubo Ai monitor to be incredibly useful. This is an AI-based home and baby security camera that notifies you as a parent when your baby is sleeping in an unsafe position with their mouth covered and at risk of suffocation. With many cases of SIDS, this feature can be a godsend for any parent.
Other notable features among some of the top models include automatic night vision which utilizes in-built ultra-sensitive sensors that detect low light/nighttime conditions and shift accordingly to night vision mode which provides clear black-and-white nighttime pictures/videos. This saves you the hustle of having to manually adjust the settings or turn on a light in the room which can potentially wake up your sleeping baby.
Some monitors come with lullabies and white noise built-in to soothe and help your baby fall asleep. These can be incredibly useful if you find that your baby has difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep through the night.
Factors to Consider to Pick the Best Baby Monitor:
While there are 400+ brands of baby monitors that you can get on Amazon, Target, Walmart, Best Buy, or from any store here in the US, not all of them will be suitable for you, your baby, or generally your family’s situation. With this in mind, we have compiled a list of factors that you should consider before picking the best baby monitor for your needs.
- What you want to monitor: The first thing you need to do is decide what exactly you want to monitor. Do you want a camera to keep an eye on your baby’s movements and breathing? Do you just want to hear if they’re crying? Or both? Knowing this will help narrow down your choices and make it easier to find the right monitor for you. Go for a video-enabled model if you want to keep an eye on your little one at all times. These usually come with a range of features like two-way talk, temperature sensors, and night vision. On the other hand, if you just want to be able to hear when your baby wakes up or cries, then an audio monitor will do the trick. If your baby is a preemie or just want to monitor the breathing of your infant at the critical age before 6 months, consider a breathing or movement monitor. These monitors your baby’s vital signs and will alert you if anything seems off.
- Range: The second factor to consider is the range of the monitor. Most monitors have a range of around 600 feet, but this can vary depending on the type of monitor, obstacles in the home (like walls), and interference from other devices. If you have a large home, you’ll want to make sure you get a monitor with a long-range so you don’t have to worry about losing the signal. Remember, baby monitors, use local networks and cannot be boosted the way you can get a wifi extender to boost the wifi signal in your home. FHSS or DECT technology used in most non-wifi models have a very limited range not exceeding 1500 ft. Go for models that guarantee a 900 to 1000 ft. range of connectivity with obstacles including thick walls.We have reviewed all the extra-long range models here.
- Battery life: Most monitors will need to be recharged every few hours, but there are some that can last up to 18 hours on a single charge. If you’re going to be using the monitor frequently or for long periods of time, make sure you get one with a long battery life. Battery life on a baby monitor relies on the capacity of the battery it uses which is measured in mAh or milliampere-hours. The general rule of thumb is that the higher the mAh capacity, the longer the battery will last. Go for those with at least 3000 mAh. To give you a relatable idea of mAh and how it impacts battery life, iPhone 13Pro has 4352 mAh and its battery lasts for 16.75 watt-hours and iPhone 6 has 1810 mAh and lasts for 6.91 watt-hours as per 9to5mac. Some great top-rated models such as Eufy Spaceview, Infant Optics Pro, VAVA and VTech VM819 have decent battery capacities that will give you a full-night interrupted monitoring. You can also opt for a battery-only monitor if you plan on using the monitor offgrid where there is no electricity.
- Portability: If you want to be able to take your monitor with you when you travel or move around the house, make sure you get a portable one that is easy to mount. Some monitors come with a docking station that you can set up in different rooms, while others have a built-in clip that allows you to attach it to your clothing. Go for models that come with a mounting option so you can carry it with you or temporarily install in another room without any hassle.
- Night vision: While most video monitors come with night vision mode feature, a good number of them are crappy. The range of night vision is also an important factor to consider. The best monitors will give you a clear view of your baby even in complete darkness, while others will only work in low-light conditions. Get a monitor that uses auto-infrared (IR) technology for the best results and do not settle for a brand with an IR range of fewer than 10 ft.
- Sound quality: If you’re planning on using the audio feature on your monitor, make sure you get one with great sound quality. The last thing you want is a monitor that crackles or cuts out when your baby is crying. Look for monitors with advanced audio clarity technology that eliminates background noise and enhances the sound of your baby’s voice. Some of the recent upgraded brands such as Infant Optics DXR 8 Pro comes with a feature that reduces background noise which is pretty cool. If you have a washing machine or a dryer at home, these can also create a lot of white noise that can interfere with the baby monitor’s sound quality.
- Data security: One of the most important factors to consider when choosing any type of digital device is data security. Since baby monitors transmit data wirelessly, there is always the risk of someone intercepting the signal and accessing your private footage. Look for monitors that come with advanced encryption technologies such as WPA2 or AES to keep your data safe. Go for brands that use the most advanced, military-grade or bank-level security with AES 256-bit data encryption.
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Hi there! I am Ashley Davis, a mom of three kids and the editor here at Motherhoodhq.com. I have been a parent since 2011 and have been doing full-time consulting as a baby sleep expert since 2019. When I am not researching or testing the next baby gear hitting the market, you’ll find me teaching my toddlers a trick or two – especially over the last few months with the lockdown. I hope you’ll find my guides and reviews helpful as you make your next purchase decision. If you have any questions, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.