In-depth reviews guided by a Pediatrician

Best Baby Monitor of 2020

The ability to see your baby  as well as hear the sounds  is the most obvious difference between a simple sound monitor and a video monitor
Thursday August 20, 2020
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Are you looking for the absolute best baby monitor in 2020? We tested close to 90 baby monitors to find the best and picked our favorites for 2020. Our testing and details provide all the information you need to choose the right monitor for your family and wallet. Read on for help narrowing your options and deciding which monitor and monitor type is right for you.
We test for ease-of-use, range, features, and all the specifics you need to make the best buy.

First, Our Favorite Sound Monitors


The traditional monitor is the sound monitor. Below you'll are our top-ranked sound monitor choice. This type of monitoring product transmits sound from the nursery, so you can determine if your baby needs help or you can go back to sleep. If you want a simple solution to knowing what is happening in your little one's room, then a basic option that provides sound is all you need.

Related: Best Audio Baby Monitor of 2020

Best Overall Sound Monitor


Vtech DM221


Editors' Choice Award
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  • 5

$39.95
at Amazon
See It

Great sound
Sound activation
Wallet-friendly
Shorter range
Fewer bells and whistles

The Vtech DM221 has the features you need, coupled with the best sound clarity in our sound review. The DM221 offers easy to set sound activation and adjustable mic sensitivity to create a peaceful environment for a quality night's sleep with a parent device that only makes a peep when your little one does. The DM221's parent unit 2-way talk to baby feature sounds natural on the baby's side, so your infant won't be terrified by a robotic voice or static sound offered in some of the competition. This unit is a budget-friendly choice that will work for almost any family and easily solve monitoring needs for a reasonable price.

This unit has a shorter range than some of the competition, making it potentially less appealing for larger houses or homes with more than 4-5 walls of separation between the nursery and the parent device. However, if your home is compatible with the DM221, then it is hard to find a better sound only option with higher quality sound than this unit.

Read review: Vtech DM221

Best Bang for the Sound Monitor Buck


Vtech DM111


Best Value Award
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  • 5

$15.00 each (in 2-pack)
(50% off)
at Amazon
See It

Easy to use
Better range
Great for tight budgets
No fancy features
No sound activation

The V-Tech DM111 is a bare-bones sound option that relays sound without all the frills of a more expensive device. The DM111 relays the noise from your baby's room to the parent device with no muss, no fuss, all with excellent sound quality. With a simple plug and play design, it is easy to use, making it an excellent choice for parents who aren't tech-savvy or for grandma who may find fancier products frustrating. This monitor is the cheapest option in any of our monitor reviews, but you won't be sacrificing sound quality or usefulness for the price.

This monitor doesn't have sound activation, so there is some white noise transmission all the time. This constant noise may not be a deal-breaker if it comes from a fan or noise maker in the baby's room, and some parents even find the sound useful for sleeping or reassurance that the unit is working. The DM111 is an excellent choice for families on a budget who want to hear the baby and don't need all the frills commonly found in more expensive alternatives or monitors of other types. It is also so cheap that it could be a great backup monitor to pair with a movement or video option, and it could be useful as a travel monitor.

Read review: Vtech DM111

Top Quality Sound Monitor with Features Galore


Philips Avent DECT SCD720/86


Editors' Choice Award
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  • 5

$71.88
(40% off)
at Amazon
See It

Sound activation and adjustable sensitivity
Best sound
Baby-centric features
Harder to use
More expensive than some video

The Philips Avent DECT SCD720/86 is a high-quality sound only monitor with useful features and intuitive user interface. This monitor brings the best of parent and baby-centric features together in one easy to use device. It has sound activation and adjustable microphone sensitivity to create a silent monitor when your baby is quiet. Plus, it has a nightlight, lullaby, and temperature sensor to keep your little one content and potentially calmer.

This monitor is somewhat expensive compared to other sound units and video options. So, if your budget is tight, this may not be the one for you. Alternatively, if a monitor with the best true-to-life sound is your top priority, then the SCD720/86 should be at the top of your shortlist.

Read review: Philips Avent DECT SCD720/86


Our Favorite Video Monitors


The most addictive and fun way to monitor your baby is a video monitor. What used to be considered a luxury is now more common, with prices often similar to or cheaper than sound options. This style of monitor gives you a peek inside the nursery, so you can hear and see what is happening in your baby's room to determine their needs better. If you want an addictive monitor for peeping on your bundle of joy, then this is the monitor type for you.

Related: Best Video Baby Monitor of 2020

Best Baby-centric Wi-Fi Video Monitor


Nanit Plus


Editors' Choice Award
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  • 5

$299.99
at Amazon
See It

Good video quality
Baby-friendly features
Alexa compatible
Subpar sound
Expensive

The Nanit Plus is a Wi-Fi monitor with movement monitoring capabilities designed more with nurseries in mind than much of the Wi-Fi competition. This camera is easy to use, uses the Internet for connectivity virtually anywhere, and has may baby-centric features such as a nightlight. The Nanit is one of the best options for parents who are looking for a monitor designed especially for baby as opposed to a security camera. This monitor includes sensors for temperature and humidity. It features a nightlight and some nature sounds or white noise. The app has a user-friendly interface and will continue monitoring even if the screen is locked or while using another app. You can even take pictures or record and save videos of your little one. All of the baby centered features make this monitor a good choice for parents who want a Wi-Fi monitor but are less concerned with longevity. This option mounts above the crib for a better view and can connect to Alexa.

The Nanit doesn't offer the best sound quality, but honestly, none of the video monitors we tested do. It is also one of the most expensive options in our video lineup. However, if you like the idea of a baby-centric video monitor designed for little ones, then the Nanit Plus is the one for your shortlist.

Read review: Nanit Plus

Best Budget-friendly Wi-Fi Video Camera


LeFun 1080p Wi-Fi


Best Value Award
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$29.99
at Amazon
See It

Real-life quality video
Use anywhere
Variety of uses/Longevity
Poor sound
Requires Internet

The LeFun 1080p Wi-Fi camera is a Wi-Fi ready camera that pairs with your smartphone or tablet. This simple camera has true-to-life video, can be viewed anywhere you have a connection, and is budget-friendly. The LeFun is great for watching your baby, but it can also be used as a nanny cam or for security after your little one is older. We love that the LeFun has a very wallet-friendly price and can be used for many years retaining its value long after the standard monitoring device is useful.

Because the LeFun relies on an Internet connection, it can fail if your Internet is not reliable. So, if you'll experience sleepless nights worrying about connectivity or your Internet connection, then you'll want to consider something that doesn't need the Internet. However, if you have a large house, you could be restricted to Wi-Fi due to the range limitations of dedicated products. Pairing this option with a budget-minded sound monitor could be the perfect working solution for many families. For families looking for a product to use for years to come that allows them to see little ones from outside the home, it is hard to beat this inexpensive camera.

Read review: LeFun 1080p Wi-Fi


Our Favorite Movement Monitors


If you have concerns about SIDS and want reassurance that your baby is moving regularly enough to indicate breathing, then movement monitors are the way to go. While it cannot prevent SIDS, and no monitor a stand-in for a medical device, some parents find comfort in knowing that an alarm will sound if their baby's movement stops. We considered a variety of movement options, including mattress sensors, wearable products, and oxygen saturation monitors; our favorites are below. If you think you'll have increased peace of mind using a movement monitor, then this is the product style for you.

Related: Best Movement Monitor of 2020

Best Wearable for Movement Monitoring


Snuza Hero SE


The Snuza products are some of the easiest to use with limited features and settings.
Editors' Choice Award
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$110.00
See It

Economical
Vibration rousing
Easy to use
Potential false alarms
In nursery alarm / no parent unit
Uncomfortable

The Snuza Hero SE is a wearable device that clips to your baby's diaper. It has a unique vibration alert that aims to rouse little ones into moving to avoid the impending alarm that will sound audibly if the baby doesn't move. This vibration feature means that false alarms could be potentially less likely to result in a crying baby, but they could cause a lack of deep sleep if they happen chronically. The Snuza is a simple wearable that is easy to use, portable, and had few false alarms during our testing. While it is not a replacement for safe sleep practices, it could provide some parents with increased peace of mind for a better night's sleep.

This unit only works until babies can roll or crawl. It can be uncomfortable for some babies or ineffective if your baby is too small or their diapers don't fit snuggly in the waist. We worry parents will rely on this type of device to prevent SIDs, and therefore, caution that there is no evidence that it does or can prevent SIDs from occurring. However, if you want to know that your little one is moving at a predictable rate, and this knowledge will help you sleep better, then the Snuza could be the best choice that won't break the bank or require mattress or crib adjustments.

Read review: Snuza Hero SE

Great Mattress Movement Pad


Babysense 7


Editors' Choice Award
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$129.99
at Amazon
See It

Nothing to wear
Fewer false alarms
Easy to use
Requires a hard surface
Doesn't work with all mattress types
Nursery alarm/no parent unit

The Babysense 7 movement product is a sensor pad mattress monitor that seems to have fewer false alarms than wearable products. The BabySense 7 is easy to use and doesn't require much setup or preparation outside of placing the sensor and control unit. This unit even works well after your baby learns to roll over, unlike the wearable options that become less reliable as your little one's age.

The BabySense 7 (and other mattress sensors) require a hard surface under the mattress to work, and they don't work with all mattress types, so you'll need to research your mattress to ensure it is compatible. This requirement means it also isn't suitable for travel. The BabySense doesn't have a parent unit, which means an audible alarm will go off in the nursery to startle a sleeping baby. This design is intentional to stimulate the baby to wake up and breathe but could be upsetting to a peaceful baby who was breathing fine. Overall, if you want a movement device that works well with a longer lifespan than a wearable option, then the BabySense 7 is a great choice with minimal fuss.

Read review: BabySense 7

Finding a great monitor for baby starts by choosing the right type and features to suit your needs and wants. The sound option  Philips Avent DECT SCD570/10 shown here is a great sound option that performed well in our tests.
Finding a great monitor for baby starts by choosing the right type and features to suit your needs and wants. The sound option, Philips Avent DECT SCD570/10 shown here is a great sound option that performed well in our tests.

Why You Should Trust Us


BabyGearLab has tested over 81 different baby monitors in our quest to find the absolute best products available. Our founder, Dr. Juliet Spurrier, a board-certified pediatrician, heads our product selection team with an eye for performance, quality, and functionality. Since the beginning, Bob Wofford, Senior Review Analyst, and father of 7 created our test procedures and is constantly modifying and updating our processes to adapt to ever-changing technology and features. Bob has been testing monitors since 2013. Wendy Schmitz, a Senior Review Editor, and mother of 2 joined baby monitor testing in 2014, bringing her scientific background to the team. The monitor team is rounded out by Senior Review Editor, Abriah Wofford, who began testing monitors in 2017. With over 23 years of combined experience using and testing 81 total monitors from the video, sound, and movement types, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more experienced group of experts than this team.

The DM271 has one of the lower EMF readings in the group  though most of the video monitors are still lower.

Types of Monitoring


If you want to keep tabs on your baby while catching some zzzs, there are a few different monitoring types to consider depending on what your goals are or what information you hope to receive. Traditional baby monitoring informed parents when their baby was crying or needed assistance. Over time, monitoring has evolved into watching your baby or knowing when they stop moving predictably. Knowing which products do what can help you determine which kind of product is the right choice for your family.

One and Done
Some products offer a "one and done" solution with the ability to provide sound, video, and movement monitoring in one purchase or with add on capabilities. For the most part, these products tend to be like most "jack of all trade" solutions where they can perform all abilities, but don't do any of them particularly well. While we understand the intrigue and desire to make a single purchase for your monitoring years, we advise you to proceed with caution and be willing to accept some subpar capabilities. In our tests, we found that video monitors typically provide terrible sound quality, and many movement monitors have terrible video quality if they offer it. While some video monitors have movement features that create more false alarms than you'd want. We recommend buying any product from a retailer with an easy and free return policy, just in case your "one and done" dream isn't up to snuff. See more below.

The sound clarity for the DM111 isn't super impressive  but for the price  it is hard to quibble with no distortion and bright sounds with a sound filtering option that works well.
The sound clarity for the DM111 isn't super impressive, but for the price, it is hard to quibble with no distortion and bright sounds with a sound filtering option that works well.

Sound Style


Sound devices relay what is happening in the nursery with sound only. An excellent audio monitor is virtually silent when the baby isn't making noise so that you don't hear or are disturbed by white noise or constant static. This basic monitor maybe all you need if your goal is hearing when your baby is crying. This style can be straightforward with sound relay only like the V-Tech DM111, or it can have bells and whistles such as a nightlight, 2-way talk, lullabies, and microphone sensitivity adjustment features like the Philips Avent DECT SCD720/86. Most parents can get by with a sound only device as it provides the only information you need to respond to a crying baby.


Video Monitors


Video products add the element of visual spying on your baby. This feature allows you to determine if your baby is crying but calming down without you or if you need to head to their bed. Most video products work well in the dark and have adequate sound, so you can see and hear what is happening. Some options are "dedicated" with a camera that talks to a parent unit, like the Levana Jena or the Philips Avent SCD630. In contrast, others use Wi-Fi to send information from the camera to your personal device (smartphone/tablet) like the LeFun 1080p Wi-Fi and the Nanit Plus. Wi-Fi enabled options are great for larger houses where range might be an issue, and it's also useful for viewing your little one when you are away from home. While video capability isn't mandatory for getting a good night's sleep, it can provide more information to help you determine your little one's needs before you get out of bed, thus potentially increasing your sleep time. With the price of video products being lower than ever (some even lower than sound only options), it is no longer considered a luxury, and many parents are choosing video over the sound. However, proceed with caution! Spying on your newborn can be addictive and can potentially lead to less sleep defeating the purpose of getting a monitoring device.

The BabySense 7 had fewer false alarms thanks in part to the dual sensor pads.
The BabySense 7 had fewer false alarms thanks in part to the dual sensor pads.

Movement Monitoring


Movement monitoring products sense the type of normal movement associated with a baby's breathing. These products attempt to discern when your baby has not moved within a prescribed period (typically 20 seconds). This lack of movement could potentially indicate that they are not breathing. While this may seem like a no-brainer for parents worried about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), these devices aren't foolproof and do NOT protect against SIDS. They have not been approved by the FDA as a medical device, and are known to have false alarms where the baby is fine and then suddenly awakened by a loud (in nursery) alarm. While it is an intriguing concept, we caution parents that this type of monitor is not a substitute replacement for safe sleeping practices and doesn't prevent SIDS. However, if you are willing to accept possible false alarms, it can provide another layer of monitoring that helps some parents achieve better sleep with increased peace of mind. Be forewarned; movement sensing is only useful until your baby can rollover. At that point, they become unreliable with an uptick of false alarms (in our experience), even if the manufacturer claims otherwise.

Always, Always Practice Safe Sleep

Movement monitors do not claim to prevent SIDS, but they can potentially provide peace of mind for parents, which could lead to better quality sleep for parents. To reduce the likelihood of SIDS, you should practice safe sleep guidelines for EVERY sleep (with or without a movement device). No monitor should replace safe sleep practices, and no monitor has been proven effective at reducing the occurrence of SIDS.

  • Always put your baby on their back to sleep
  • Baby should have their own firm sleep space with a tightly fitted sheet
  • Do not use a crib bumper, blanket, or toys in the crib (we know they are cute, but don't do it)
Reading How to Protect your Infant from SIDS and other Causes of Sleep-related Deaths can provide more information about best sleep practices and setting up a healthy sleep environment for your baby.


Mattress


The most reliable kind of movement sensing product is the mattress pad design. This type of product goes under the mattress (typically on a hard surface) and is only compatible with certain kinds of mattresses. These products relay messages to a nursery located device that then alerts parents on a parent device or with a loud audible alarm in the nursery (model dependent). The BabySense 7 is an excellent example of a sensor pad that works under your baby's mattress. The problem with this kind of monitor is it will wake your baby if the alarm goes off. It startles infants that have perhaps stopped breathing (which is good). However, it also means that a false alarm will wake a peacefully sleeping baby (who is breathing fine) for no reason.

The Snuza Hero
The Snuza Hero

Wearable


A wearable movement monitor attaches to your baby's diaper, clothing, or as a sock (depending on the model). The majority of wearable monitors alert inside the room with only a handful of options relaying to a parent device (smartphone or similar). In our experience, many wearables have frequent false alarms or high Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Levels (which we try to avoid). The Snuzo Hero SE is a cost-effective wearable with a unique vibration feature and very low levels of EMF, making it an exception to this general rule. If your bedroom is a far distance from the nursery, and you may not hear an in-nursery alarm, then you should seriously consider buying a sound or video monitor to help relay the alarm directly to your room. Otherwise, your little one could be startled awake and unable to self-soothe without your assistance, and you'll be unaware, or they may need your help, and you won't know.

We tested both Wi-Fi and dedicated monitors from several different popular brands for our comprehensive video monitor review  so you have all the information you need to make the best decision for your family.
We tested both Wi-Fi and dedicated monitors from several different popular brands for our comprehensive video monitor review, so you have all the information you need to make the best decision for your family.

Can One Product Do it All?


Yes, and no, it depends on what you want the device to do and what levels of EMF or subpar metric results you are willing to accept. If you are looking for video and sound, then you're in luck, all of the video monitors have both and products like the Nanit Plus can give you clear images with adequate sound and fun baby-centric features. If you'd like sound and movement monitoring, only a handful of movement products come with sound, and they are all mattress style devices, which can impact the style of mattress or crib set up you choose. If you want movement, audio, and video in a single product (package), then you are very limited and potentially introducing high EMF levels to your baby's nursery or buying a product that has disappointing qualities. The BabySense 7 is available as a package with a camera, but the EMF levels on the camera were high in our tests, making it a combo we don't recommend. To avoid this, and to get the best of the best, we suggest combining two products (movement and video). This combo might cost you a little bit more, but we think it is worth it to avoid the higher EMF. Because movement monitors only work till about six months, have false alarms, and can't replace safe sleep practices or reduce the occurrence of SIDs, we think parents should choose a video product and forgo the movement if their budget is tight. You might also consider a Wi-Fi video monitor with a sound monitor backup. The sound monitor doesn't need the Internet to work, so you won't miss a monitoring minute even if your Internet goes down, and they typically offer better sound quality and features like sound activation for a quiet monitor. This setup would allow you to hear your little one via a good quality sound product and then peek in on them via your video option if need be.

The Nest Cam Indoor Wi-Fi monitor comes with everything you need to set up and install the camera for quick use. With superior images and easy to use features  the Nest Cam is a stand out product in our video monitor review.
The Nest Cam Indoor Wi-Fi monitor comes with everything you need to set up and install the camera for quick use. With superior images and easy to use features, the Nest Cam is a stand out product in our video monitor review.

How long will you use it?


The lifespan of your potential device depends on your needs and the type of device you choose. Movement products have the shortest lifespan with efficacy for only 6-9 months old or when your baby starts rolling and moving. On the other hand, sound and video products can often work for years, well past toddlerhood. Video products arguably have the most extended lifespan because they can help keep tabs on older children as they nap and play. Wi-Fi cameras have an extended lifespan, as some of them can graduate to watching a babysitter or for security purposes. The LeFun 1080p Wi-Fi is designed for multiple functions including for security and can be used for years to come in several applications. If the duration of use is a concern for you, then the Wi-Fi video products, like the LeFun 1080p Wi-Fi, should be your go-to choice to get the most bang for your buck.

We purchased and tested some of the most popular sound monitor options on the market  including some seen here.
We purchased and tested some of the most popular sound monitor options on the market, including some seen here.

Making a Choice


Finding the best baby monitor for your family can be simple when you narrow down your options using a few key considerations to keep you on track and prevent you from becoming overwhelmed.

The DM221 has top-of-the-line sound clarity with a 10 of 10 score for this metric.
The DM221 has top-of-the-line sound clarity with a 10 of 10 score for this metric.

First, Type


A lot of parents discover that a sound monitoring device will more than meets their needs. These parents plan to run to baby's nursery every time they hear a cry, and therefore, don't need video capabilities. Using a sound product is the cheapest option to find a quality unit that functions well. However, if you need or want to view your baby from other locations, then a video option is the only way to do this. Buying a Wi-Fi enabled monitor means no range limitations, you can see your baby away from home, and often with higher quality images. Wi-Fi also means the future potential of double duty as a security camera or nanny cam; this can add value you might not be thinking of right now (but should). And, some of the cameras are so inexpensive they will cost you less than a sound only product. Monitoring your baby's movement is a luxury that most parents don't need, and it can give a potentially false sense of safety that creates concerns. If you're worried about SIDs, studies indicate that placing your baby to sleep in their own bed, in your room , (using safe sleep practices) can go a long way in preventing SIDs and could potentially be more effective than monitoring. This set up comes with the advantage of being nearby for nighttime feedings. Choosing a great bedside bassinet may be a better solution than a movement product, or any other kind of monitor in the early months of babyhood. However, if your heart demands a movement product for peace of mind, then we encourage you to consider a sound or video option to pair with it, so you are sure to hear the alarm from another room.

The LeFun comes with the camera and a stand that can be used for wall mounting. This Wifi unit requires parents to provide their own parent device for viewing baby. But the Wi-Fi connection may be the only option for houses with issues related to range.
The LeFun comes with the camera and a stand that can be used for wall mounting. This Wifi unit requires parents to provide their own parent device for viewing baby. But the Wi-Fi connection may be the only option for houses with issues related to range.

Second, Range


A baby monitor's range can make or break whether or not it will work in your home. Depending on the distance from your room to the nursery and your home type or interfering appliances, you could have limitations in the products that will work. If your house is large or has more than a handful of walls between the two rooms, you'll likely be stuck using a Wi-Fi option (assuming you have the Internet). If your home is smaller or has fewer walls, then more products will be potential options for you. Many of the wearable movement monitors work in the baby's room and do not rely on communicating with a parent device. However, if your room is out of earshot, then you'll never hear the alarm, making the unit practically useless without pairing it with a sound monitor. If you think range might be an issue in your home, we recommend choosing your product carefully and purchasing from retailers like Amazon that traditionally have a generous and simple return policy. Also, don't let the monitor sit in the box; you'll want to try it right away and return it immediately if it doesn't work well where you plan to use it. Do not believe the manufacturer's range claim. We often find these claims to be wildly inaccurate during testing.

The iBaby offers a variety of features including 10 lullabies  recording  picture taking  two way talk and pan/tilt/zoom.
The iBaby offers a variety of features including 10 lullabies, recording, picture taking, two way talk and pan/tilt/zoom.

Third, Features


Once you've determined the type of monitor you want and have considered your indoor range (with wall count), then you can peruse the potential options and their features. Budget-friendly products usually lack bells and whistles but are often highly functional. If you desire more features such as nightlights, lullabies, and talk to the baby, then they may cost more, and the unit might be more challenging to use. The one feature we feel is practically a non-negotiable is sound activation. This feature helps keep your baby monitor silent when your baby is quiet, thereby, increasing the chance you'll get a restful full night's sleep.

The range on the DM221 isn't the best in the group  but it may work for many families as the distance and number of walls is fairly good for the average size house.
The iBaby M6S is a Wi-Fi monitor that earned the highest score for the ease of use metric thanks to a quick start guide and intuitive user interface most parents will feel instantly comfortable with.
The Babysense 7

Conclusion


Choosing the right baby monitor can be a fun and challenging task thanks to the variety of styles and models available. We narrowed the field to the best of the best in each monitor category to save you time and help provide the contenders that can meet almost any need. So, no matter what monitoring goals you may have, choosing the right option can be easy peasy.

Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz