A baby monitor is the best way for parents to feel confident that everything is perfect in their little one’s world, even when they’re out of sight.
One of the top items we see on baby registries is a baby monitor. And it’s no wonder… Whether you’re in a smaller home, a larger home—or even outside the home—a monitor gives you peace of mind that your baby is doing just fine while alone in another room.
Choosing a baby monitor used to be straightforward. Monitors were audio-only, letting parents hear breathing and baby peeps from the nursery. Newer-generation monitors offer more features and benefits, which is a good thing, but it does make choosing a monitor a little more intentional. So you’ll want to explore your options.
Three Types of Baby Monitors to Choose From
- Audio baby monitors. Audio-only monitors are less expensive while still letting you listen in on the nursery. Even if you do opt for a video model, an audio unit can be good to have on hand as a backup.
- Video baby monitors. The in-between choice, video monitors give the added comfort of seeing baby in the crib. They’re a little more expensive than audio-only but don’t have to be prohibitively so. And while a standard video monitor won’t have the latest bells and whistles like wifi or sleep tracking, the upside is they can’t be hacked and they work independently of your cell phone, if that’s what you prefer.
- Baby movement monitors. At the higher end, movement monitors can track breathing, heart rate, wakings, oxygen saturation, even analyze sleep patterns. They’re the most advanced technologically, and they might require a “wearable” like a sock or band with sensors. A movement monitor can be combined with a video monitor, or work independently. (Note that a movement monitor is not a medical device, nor is it a replacement for safe sleep practices.)
What to Consider When Choosing a Baby Monitor
At a basic level, a baby monitor should be easy to set up, easy to use, and reliable. Beyond that, think about how you’ll use it and what features are important to you. Here are some things to consider:
- Range. Think about how large your home is, and how far away from your baby you might be hanging out. Audio-only monitors tend to offer a wider range.
- Battery life. Battery life is key if you don’t want to recharge your device multiple times a day. At the very least, you want the battery to last overnight, and keep in mind that an older baby or toddler might sleep for a 10–12 hour stretch.
- Monitor design. Are the controls easy to use and intuitive? Will it break if it’s knocked off a table?
- Image quality. Opt for image quality that will allow you to see baby’s features in a dark room, without necessarily being right up close to the screen yourself.
- Audio quality. Sound should be clear even at low volume (remember, you’ll often be trying to sleep yourself).
- Screen size. Video screens vary from a fairly large monitor to your cell phone. A 5-inch screen is big enough to see from a few feet away, and small enough to be portable.
- Camera adjustments. Once your baby’s old enough to move around during sleep, you’ll appreciate a camera you can adjust remotely. Other features to think about: zoom, pan, wide-angle lens, and the option to mount on a wall.
- Split screen. If you’re expecting multiples or have an older babe you still like to keep an eye on, the two-screens-in-one option is huge.
- Portability. If you opt for a video monitor with a wall-mount camera, you won’t be traveling with it—to a different room or on vacation.
- Two-way communication. Will you want to talk to and soothe your baby, in addition to hearing them?
- Security. Wireless-enabled monitors offer a wider range—just be sure to take proper security measures to guard against hacking.
- Additional features. Smart monitors can show baby’s breathing, heart rate, and more, plus track sleep quality.
- Expandability. For multiple children or multiple rooms, the option to add more cameras may be valuable.
Here Are 12 of Our Favorite Baby Monitors Right Now
The budget-friendly VTech DM221-2 monitor is a best-seller among parents comfortable with audio only. It’s known to pick up the smallest baby sounds without background noise, and it includes a 2-way talk feature, so your baby can hear the sound of your voice too. The parent unit has a vibrating alert, plus a visual 5-level sound indicator that lets you monitor noises with the volume muted. A nightlight on the baby unit will gently illuminate the nursery.
Ready for a closeup? This top-selling Infant Optics video monitor is easy to set up, so you can pretty much plug in and go. The 5-inch high-definition screen and upgraded camera give a sharp picture (zoom and wide-angle lens options sold separately), and there’s background-noise reduction plus a 2-way speaker for baby soothing. The rechargeable batteries are easy to replace, making it worth the price for parents who’ll use it for a couple of years, or a couple of kids.
The Miku Pro Smart monitor uses sensor technology to track breathing, sounds, and sleep patterns with no wearables or physical contact. This means your baby can wear any clothing and sleep in any position while still being monitored. Real-time alerts will let you see and hear any changes in baby and nursery conditions directly on your smart device (it’s compatible with iOS and Android), plus week-by-week reports to follow sleep patterns over time. And because there are no wearables, Miku can be used as baby grows into toddler.
The Owlet Smart Sock isn’t a traditional baby monitor, but it will still keep track of your little one from a different room. One of the most popular “smart” monitors, Owlet is a wearable sock that tracks sleep-quality indicators, including wakings, heart rate, and movement. Parents can view readings in real-time and review a detailed sleep history too. Just know that since it’s a smart monitor, it requires an app and phone to operate. The sock fits most babies ages 0–18 months (or up to 30 pounds).
What makes the Nanit Pro unique is software that tracks baby’s breathing and movement by reading the pattern on its bands and swaddles—no sensor or sock required. Information includes sleep analytics, perfect for parents who like to wake up each morning to their baby's sleep stats, plus a timelapse that replays the entire night in seconds. The high-def night-vision camera offers an overbed view of the crib, and the floor stand means no wall mounting. Compatible with iOS and Android phones and Kindle Fire or Echo Show devices.
The VAVA video monitor lets you keep an eye on your baby from anywhere in the home via a handheld, wide-ranging parent unit with a 5-inch display. Other features include an auto-pilot button, a camera that zooms, pans, and tilts, night-vision mode, seven volume levels, noise indicator lights, 2-way audio, and room temperature monitoring. The system can connect up to four cameras (sold separately), but without a split-screen option to view more than one at a time.
The key feature of the eufy Security monitor is a quality camera that can pan and tilt from the parent unit—so no more tiptoeing into baby’s room and waking them up just to check that they’re okay. The monitor’s screen is big enough to see comfortably, day and night, and has easy-to-use controls for adjusting temperature and sound alerts. It does rely on a local video feed instead of wifi, offering greater dependability and fewer security concerns, but that means you can’t check in from away from home.
The mid-priced Motorola Comfort75-2 has extra features that might make it seem like a bargain. The 5-inch color screen includes Infrared night vision, and the camera can pan, tilt, and zoom from the parent unit, helpful when you want to see all of the nursery. This one comes with two cameras, but note that while you can add additional cameras, there’s no split screen; instead, the screen toggles between cameras every 15 seconds. Compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant.
The Babysense Split Screen monitor is designed to keep an eye on more than one child at a time. If you’re having multiples, or you have an older babe you still watch at night, a split screen gives the convenience of two cameras in one. In addition to remote-controlled pan, tilt, and zoom, the camera rotates a full 360 degrees, useful with a toddler who plays alone. Babysense comes with two cameras, but you can connect up to four (you’ll still see only two in the split screen). The battery lasts an impressive 20 hours in economy mode and auto-activates based on baby sounds.
The price-friendly Anmeate video monitor is easy to install—simply plug in the camera and monitor and go. The screen may be on the small side at just under 2.5 inches, but that makes it ultra-portable while still good for streaming in color from up to 960 feet. The camera has 2x zoom, 360-degree pan, 60-degree tilt, night vision, and expandability up to four cameras. Other handy features are voice activation, sound-activated LED indicators, an alarm/timer setting, and lullabies and 2-way talk for comforting baby.
The VTech VM5254 video monitor is a solid option in the under-$100 category. For the price, this monitor covers the basics with a 5-inch screen, clear picture, remote zoom, night vision, a built-in night light that auto-adjusts to the room, nursery temperature displayed on the screen, and a 1,000-foot range. Baby-soothing features include 2-way communication and lullabies and other soft sounds.
Just under $100, the Sense-U wearable monitor tracks breathing by clipping onto a diaper, swaddle, or sleep sack. It also monitors temperature (helpful when a little one is sick or there’s concern they’re over/underdressed) and alerts if they roll onto their stomach. Sense-U operates via a parent unit and smartphone app, with one downside to consider: The app only works with one phone, not ideal for two parents who aren’t always in the same place. Video is an optional add-on.
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