If you are stuck trying to decide whether to go for a baby monitor or a security camera or a webcam, this article is for you. We have details of what differentiates a baby monitor from an IP camera or from a nanny cam.
I’ve been in the security business for a long time, and I’ve picked up a lot of information before there were Nest or Arlo security cameras. To me, part of the learning process is to share knowledge so that someone else’s mistake does not end up being yours.
I recall being opposed to security cameras being used as baby monitors before I started this site. A friend of mine had one and it was a classic example of why not to get a security camera for your baby’s nursery. It had an extremely bright infrared LED light that was just unsustainable as a baby monitor. I’ll go deeper on when to use and what models of security cameras you should avoid and should never mount on your baby’s nursery. I’m delighted to share my expertise in comparing security cameras and baby monitors, which I’ve acquired over the years.
Can You Use a Security Camera as a Baby Monitor?
A quick answer to the above question is Yes. You can turn your security camera or IP camera into an excellent baby monitor with ONE major caveat. The security cameras or IP cameras have a visible or near-visible infrared LED for night vision. If the infrared LED is visible or bright, it may keep your baby up at night and therefore not good as a baby monitor in your baby’s nursery.
Security cameras such as Nest Cam Indoor and Arlo Q make great baby monitors because of their invisible infrared LED light. Other security cameras such as Ring Stick Up cam are not great as baby monitors because of their bright infrared LED light that may keep your baby up at night.
Both Wifi baby monitors and Non-Wifi baby monitors are comparable to security cameras but wifi baby monitors can be closely compared with security cams and IP cameras. The main reason is those wifi baby monitors such as Lollipop and security cameras such as Arlo Pro relay images and videos to your smartphone such as the iPhone as the display screen.
Both IP cameras and security cameras are great as baby cameras but there are a few features that make baby monitors stand out as a camera designed to monitor infants as opposed to security cameras out to catch thieves in the act (for example). These features may or may not be important to your case.
Over the past year, I’ve been committed to sharing the Nest, Netgear, and other IP camera technologies and specifications with the aim of exposing the finer details that are often downplayed and which should matter the most. Those are;
- EMF radiation of pulsing and continuously recording security cameras (most great baby monitors are voice-activated. You can read more on baby monitor radiation and how how to be safe.
- The security features of the security camera include the 2-factor authentication parameters and vulnerabilities.
There is a generally held notion that if you want a baby camera that covers a wide-angle field of view, you should go for a security camera. That is an absolute lie and we have the figures of the top-rated baby monitors for the last three years to disprove that misconception. Here is a summary:
- Field of View: Security cameras such as Nest and Arlo have a 130 degrees maximum field of view coverage while some great non-wifi baby monitors such as Infant Optics DXR 8 and Eufy baby monitor have over 250 degrees field of view. As we analyzed wifi vs. non-wifi baby monitors, this attribute was common among the respondents who responded to our product-specific surveys. There is just no credible evidence that the above assumption is true
- Cameras it supports: Another big misconception is expandability. While it is true that baby monitors may not have been manufactured and specifically optimized to be networked with several other cameras, most baby monitors are actually expandable. The traditional baby monitors such as Hellobaby, Anmeate, Infant Optics DXR 8, Axvude E632, Campark, and Eufy Spaceview are all expandable and can support up to 4 cameras. In fact, each of the non-wifi baby monitors mentioned above sells for the cost of just one camera. See the cost below
|cameras it can support||Cameras it comes with||Split Screen|
|Infant Optics DXR 8||4||1||No|
|Eufy Spaceview Baby Monitor||4||1||No|
When security cameras’ focus and resolution are compared, the technology for wifi products seems to be moving faster compared to non-wifi monitors. Currently, you generally find high-resolution feed for a narrow range of vision in IP cameras but it is now possible in 2019 to find 1080p HD baby monitors such as Arlo, Miku, and Motorola.
Unlike baby monitors that use a dedicated display unit, these surveillance cameras use the phone App or a web application (on a computer) to view the video feeds. It is also important that video baby monitors are comparable to cameras such as Nest but the equivalent of audio baby monitors is walkie-talkies. When baby monitors are compared with smart cameras, smart cameras may win but as listed below, baby monitors have features such as lullabies or night lights that enhance the look and feel of your baby’s nursery.
Security Cameras Vs Baby Monitors
It is, however, better that we present the following differences that we have confirmed:
|Feature||Security Cameras||Baby Monitors|
|Two-way talk feature||Most don’t have two-way talk feature or audio recording but recent models – from 2017 have two-way talk||Allow you to speak and to hear from your baby|
|Network with several cameras||Be wired into your monitoring network with multiple other cameras||Just one video baby monitor.|
|Continuous recording||Record continuous video of your home and neighborhood||Continuous recording can be disabled|
|Range||Unlimited network capabilities as it works over wifi and can receive notifications wherever there is the internet.|| Limited networking capability. Except for long-range baby monitors that have up to 1500 to 2000 ft range, baby monitors have a limited range of around 700 ft.|
|Screen||No display unit/screen||Dedicated screen with display ranging from 2.4 inches to 7 inches.|
|Local storage||Mostly cloud storage||Both local and cloud storage|
|Video resolution||Most of them come with 1080p HD||Most of them do not have high definition video quality. 240p to 720p quality.|
|Batteries||Most are powered by electricity||Most are powered by both electricity and batteries|
|Examples||Nest, Arlo, Kasa Cam, Logitech, Zmodo||Infant Optics DXR 8, Motorola MBP36XL, Campark, Eufy Spaceview, Hellobaby etc.|
Security cameras may have great video quality and large cloud storage space but most baby monitors also have the following specialized features that make them great for monitoring a baby:
- Heat and humidity sensors
- Two-way audio
- Remote light displays intended to help distract and soothe baby
- High-resolution feed for a narrow range of vision
- Snapshot capabilities when the baby turns in the night
- Limited networking capability for improved privacy
Baby Monitor Vs. Walkie Talkie
It is possible and thousands of families use walkie talkie as baby monitors. The table below lists all the differences between a baby monitor and a walkie-talkie. Some walkie-talkies have modified settings that allow you to choose a mode called ‘baby listener’ mode. In this mode, the walkie-talkie is just like an audio baby monitor that is voice-activated.
The fact that it is voice-activated makes it good as it does not continuously stream and emit bursts of radiation that may be harmful to your baby.
|Baby Monitor||Walkie Talkie|
|Travel||Some are very portable||Very Portable. You leave one radio in one room and you’re able to listen in on the using another|
|Voice Activated||Some baby monitors are voice-activated (VOX)||Walkie talkies do not have continuous streaming and are activated when the noise level surpasses a set threshold|
|Number of units||Some baby monitors have up to 2 baby units or up to 4 cameras. We have a list of twins baby monitors||3, 4, or more walkie-talkies can be networked and are ideal if you want to monitor twins or several kids.|
|Range of transmission||Shorter Range (non-wifi)||Longer Range|
|Tech||FHSS, non-wifi||DECT, non-wifi|
Can I use a baby monitor as a security camera?
You may use a baby monitor as a security camera but most of them do not have features designed to ensure quality surveillance. For example, some baby monitors infrared range is less than those of security cameras and do not have advanced security features such as motion detectors and activation.
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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 email@example.com.