If concerns about what is happening in your baby's room are keeping you up at night, then it's probably time to invest in a baby monitor. Whether you want to keep tabs on baby's breathing or you're looking for a better night's sleep, a baby monitor is what you need. We've researched and purchased every type of baby monitoring product choosing over 50 models for hands-on testing providing you with the information you need to choose the right monitor for your budget and your needs. With test results on ease of use, range, features, and functionality, we have all the details you'll need to make a great buy.
The Best Baby Monitors of 2018
Best Overall Sound Option
The Vtech DM221 has the features you need, coupled with the best sound clarity in our sound product review. The DM221 offers easy to set sound activation and adjustable mic sensitivity to help 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 alarmed by a robotic voice or static sound we found in some of the competition. This unit is a budget-friendly choice that will work for almost any family.This unit has a shorter range than some of the competition making it a poor choice for larger houses or more than 4-5 walls of separation between the nursery and the parent device. However, if your home will work with the DM221, then it is hard to find a better option with higher quality sound than this unit.
Read review: Vtech DM221
Best Bang for the Sound Buck
The V-Tech DM111 is a bare-bones sound option that does what it should do without all the frills of a more expensive device. It relays the noise from your baby's room to the parent device with no muss no fuss and excellent sound quality. With a simple plug and play design, it is easy to use making it a great choice for parents who aren't technology savvy or for Grandma who might find more complicated products frustrating. This product is the cheapest option in any of our reviews for monitoring products, 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 baby's room and some parents may even find the sound helpful for sleeping or reassuring them 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 choices. It is also so cheap it could be a great backup monitor or useful travel option.
Read review: Vtech DM111
Sound with all the Bells and Whistles
Philips Avent DECT SCD570/10
The Philips Avent DECT SCD570/10 is a sleek, quality sound device that has a more extended range than much of the sound competition. It has a battery life over 30 hours and impressive true-to-life sound clarity. The nursery unit has a nightlight, lullabies, mic sensitivity, and a 2-way talk to baby feature providing the most popular features for today's demanding parents.Unfortunately, the DECT SCD570/10 is one of the most expensive sound monitors we tested with a price that rivals many of the video options. This higher price means you may want to consider a video product instead to get more bang for your buck. Alternatively, if you want a sound monitor with full-bodied sound and fancy features for your baby, and you aren't interested in watching your little one, then the SCD570 could be the one for you.
Read review: Philips Avent DECT SCD570/10
iBaby Care M7 Wi-Fi
The iBaby Care M7 Wi-Fi is a Wi-Fi camera designed with nurseries in mind, something not true of the other Wi-Fi video options we tested. This camera is easy to use, works using the Internet for connectivity anywhere and has features that are truly baby-centric like a nightlight. While the iBaby's overall score tied with the Nest Cam Indoor Wi-Fi in our video monitor review, the iBaby is a better choice for parents who want a camera designed specifically for watching a baby. This camera includes sensors for temperature, humidity, and air-quality (things to consider for safe sleep practices). It comes with lullabies, and you can add your own songs, voice, or stories. This option has a user-friendly interface and works well on your personal device with continual use even while running other apps, something you can't do with any Nest Cam option. You can even take pictures or record video 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.The iBaby doesn't have the best sound which is somewhat disappointing considering the impressive video quality. It is also going to look out of place should you try to use it for any other purpose outside monitoring your baby. This limited use means it doesn't retain value the way the Nest Cam will. However, if you want a baby-centric video option that has lots of fun bells and whistles designed for little ones, then the iBaby is the one for you.
Read review: iBaby Care M7 Wi-Fi
Longterm Wi-Fi Video Camera
Nest Cam Indoor Wi-Fi
The Nest Cam Indoor Wi-Fi camera is a cool camera that pairs with your smartphone or tablet. This easy to use camera has amazing visuals, can be viewed anywhere you have a connection and has several useful features. The Nest Cam is good for baby watching, but it can also be used as a nanny cam or for security after your little one is older. We love that the Nest Cam has a reasonable price and can be used for many years to come retaining its value long after the standard monitoring device is no longer useful.Because the Nest Cam 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 a dedicated option that works without the Internet. However, if you have a large house, you could be restricted to Wi-Fi options only due to range limitations of dedicated products. It also doesn't work while using other apps, so we recommend you have a single device you use only for monitoring to avoid losing your connection to the baby's room. For families looking for a product they can use for years to come that allows them to see little ones from outside the home, it is hard to beat this versatile camera.
Read review: Nest Cam Indoor Wi-Fi
The Levana Jena video product is a dedicated camera and parent unit which means you won't be tying up your personal device or need the Internet. This option is user-friendly and has a decent range that should work for most average size homes. The Jena has long battery life and a reasonable price with fewer features than much of the competition, but that is part of what makes it easy enough for Grandma to use.
The Jena video quality isn't the best, and while you can see what is happening in the room, it isn't true-to-life and could present confusing images, particularly at night. However, if you are looking for a monitor that provides images with decent sound and you aren't worried about the visual details, then the Jena is a useful monitor that is just what you've been looking for.
Read review: Levana Jena
Inexpensive Wi-Fi Baby Peeping
LeFun 1080p Wi-Fi
The LeFun 1080p Wi-Fi is an inexpensive Wi-Fi camera that makes Internet watching affordable. This useful camera works with your personal device, and it features real camera remote control. The image quality is impressive, on par with the images of monitors three times the price. This camera is a good choice if your house is bigger or you need to span more than 3-5 walls between the parent and nursery units. It is also nice if you want an inexpensive way to see your little one when you are away from home.The LeFun design is not specific to baby monitoring, and therefore, lacks features suited specifically for little ones. However, this also means it could be used as a nanny cam or security camera when your child outgrows it. It also relies on the Internet to function, so if your connection is unreliable or spotty, then your monitoring of the baby's room will be too. Despite these minor inconveniences and a slight delay from the camera to your device, this monitor is an excellent choice for families who want a Wi-Fi option but lack the budget for the higher priced products.
Read review: LeFun 1080p Wi-Fi
Best Wearable for Movement Monitoring
Snuza Hero SE
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 enough to avoid the impending alarm that will sound audibly if the baby doesn't move. This vibration feature means that false alarms may be less likely to result in a crying baby, though they could cause a lack of deep sleep if they happen continually. The Snuza is a simple, wearable choice that is easy to use, portable, and didn't have many 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 the baby is too small or their diapers don't fit well. We worry parents will rely on this kind of device to prevent SIDs and caution that there is no evidence that it does or can prevent the SIDs from happening. 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 right option that won't break the bank or require adjustments to your nursery.
Read review: Snuza Hero SE
Great Mattress Movement Pad
The Babysense 7 movement product is a sensor pad mattress product that isn't portable but 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 option is also not good for travel because of these special considerations. This product doesn't have a parent unit which means the alarm happens in the nursery with your little one and could be traumatic to sleeping little ones. If you want a movement device that works well and has a longer life than the wearable options, then the BabySense 7 is a great way to get the job done with minimal fuss.
Read review: BabySense 7
Types of Monitoring
If you hope to keep tabs on your little one while snoozing there are a few different monitoring options depending on what your goals are or what information you hope to have. The traditional baby monitoring device was designed to tell parents what was going on in the baby's room as far as a baby crying or needing assistance. Since then, monitoring products have evolved into seeing the baby and even knowing if your baby is moving. Knowing which products do what can help you determine which type meets your goals and is the right choice for your family.
Sound devices relay what is happening in baby's room via sound only. A great sound option is quiet unless the baby is making noise so that you won't be disturbed by white noise or constant static. This basic monitoring type can be all you need if your goal is being alerted when your baby is crying and needs your assistance. This style can be elementary with sound only like the V-Tech DM111 or it can have bells and whistles like a nightlight, 2-way talk, lullabies, and mic sensitivity adjustment features like the Philips Avent DECT SCD570/10. Most parents can get by with a sound only device as it provides the information you need to determine if your baby needs you or not.
Video products add the element of visual peeking on your baby, so you can see if they are crying but calming down without you or if you need to make your way to their side. Most video products work well in the dark and have adequate sound, so you can see and hear what is happening in the room. Some options are dedicated with a camera that talks to a parent unit, like the Levana Jena, while others use Wi-Fi to send information from the camera to your personal device like the Nest Cam Wi-Fi and the iBaby Care M7 Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi options are great for larger houses where range could be an issue, and it's also nice for away from home monitoring. While video images are not mandatory for getting a good night's sleep, they do provide more information that can help you determine your little one's needs before you get out of bed. With the price of video products being lower than ever, it is no longer considered a luxury product and many parents are choosing this style over sound only products. However, proceed with caution! Spying on your newborn can be addictive and lead to less sleep which defeats the purpose of getting a monitoring device in the first place.
Movement products are designed to sense the movement associated with a baby breathing. These products attempt to discern when your little one has not moved within a prescribed period that could indicate that they have potentially stopped breathing. While this may seem like a no-brainer option for parents worried about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), they are not foolproof, have not been approved by the FDA as a medical device, and are known to have false alarms where the baby is fine but then suddenly awakened by a loud alarm. While it is an interesting product idea, we caution parents that this type of device is not a substitute for safe sleeping practices and doesn't prevent SIDS. However, if you are willing to accept false alarms, it can provide another layer of monitoring to help some parents sleep better at night. Movement sensing products are only useful until babies start to roll over, at which point they become unreliable.
Movement monitoring devices do not claim to prevent SIDS, but they could potentially provide peace of mind for a better night's sleep for parents. To reduce the likelihood of SIDS, you should practice safe sleep guidelines for EVERY sleep (with or without a movement device).
- 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
The most reliable type of movement sensing product is the mattress pad option. This product is placed under the mattress, usually on a hard board and will only work with some types of mattresses. This unit relays messages to a nursery device that alerts parents on a parent device or with an alarm in the nursery (model dependent). The BabySense 7 is a good example of a sensor pad that works under your baby's mattress.
This type of monitoring device attaches to your baby via their diaper, clothing or as a sock depending on the model. Most of the wearable options alert in the room and only a handful send a message to a parent device (smartphone or similar). In our experience, many of these have high false alarms from moving and crawling babies 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.
Can One Product Do it All?
Yes and no, it depends on what you want your device to do and what levels of EMF you are willing to accept. If you are looking for video and sound then you're in luck, all of the video products offer both and products like the iBaby Care M7 Wi-Fi can give you crystal clear visuals with sound and fun baby specific features. If you are interested in sound and movement, only a handful of movement products come with sound, and they are all mattress style devices. If you want movement, sound, and video, then you are limited and potentially introducing high EMF levels to your baby's nursery. The BabySense 7 is offered as a package with a camera, but the EMF levels were high in our tests making it a combo we don't recommend. To avoid this, and to get the best of the best options, we suggest combining two products (movement and video) and potentially incurring a slightly higher cost to avoid higher EMF. Movement products are only good up to about six months or when your little one begins to roll over by themselves. Because movement can lead to false alarms and can't take the place of safe sleep practices or reduce the occurrence of SIDs, we think parents can get a good night's sleep with a video product with sound and forgo the movement options if budget is a concern.
How long will you use it?
The time you use your device depends on your needs and what type of device you choose. Movement products have the shortest lifespan and only work up to about 6-9 months old or when your little one starts rolling and moving. Sound and video options can be used for years depending on your needs. Video products can arguably be used for the longest period because it can help you keep tabs on older children as they nap and play. Wi-Fi options have the most extended use as they can also keep an eye on a nanny or work for security purposes. The Nest Cam is designed for security use and can be used for years to come in lots of applications. If the duration is a top concern for you, then the Wi-Fi video products, like the Nest Cam or LeFun 1080p Wi-Fi, should be your go-to choice.
Making a Choice
Finding the right device for your needs is easy when you narrow down your options with a few key considerations that can keep you on track and prevent you from getting overwhelmed.
Many parents find that a basic sound product more than meets their needs. They plan to run to baby's aid each time they hear them cry, and they don't need to spy on their baby with video. Using a sound option is the cheapest way to go to get a quality product that works well. However, if you need or want to see your baby, then a video option is the only way to meet this need. Choosing a Wi-Fi option means no concerns about range, the ability to see your baby when you are away from home, and usually better image quality. Wi-Fi also means you'll be able to use it for longer as potential security or nanny cam; this adds value you may not be considering right now (but should). Movement monitoring options are a luxury that most parents don't need. If you're worried about your little one and SIDs, studies show that having a baby sleep in their own bed in your room (along with standard safe sleep practices) goes a long way in helping to prevent SIDs and could potentially be more effective than movement monitoring. Choosing a great beside bassinet may be a better solution than a movement product. However, if your heart wants a movement product, then be sure to consider a sound or video option to pair with it so you can be sure to hear the alarm from another room.
The range of a product can make or break whether or not you can use certain options in your home. Depending on the distance from your room to the baby's nursery and the construction of your home or interfering appliances, you could be limited in your options of what will work for you. If your house is large or has more than a handful of walls between the two room, you'll be stuck with a Wi-Fi option only (assuming you have Internet). If your home is smaller or has fewer walls, then you'll have more options. Many of the wearable movement choices work in the baby's room and are not dependant on communicating with a parent device. However, if your room is out of earshot, then you'll never hear the alarm go off making the unit virtually useless without a sound monitoring addition. Choose your product carefully if you think the range will be an issue and purchase from retailers like Amazon that have a generous return policy. Also, don't let it sit in the box, try it out right away and send it back immediately if it doesn't work in your space. Do not rely on the manufacturer's range claim, as we have found these claims to be wildly inaccurate for many brands during our testing.
Once you've settled on a type and have considered your range, you can look at the potential choice and which features they have. The more budget-friendly choices usually lack bells and whistles but are still functional. If you want more features like nightlights, lullabies, and talk to the baby, then you may pay more, and the unit could be more difficult to use. The one feature we think is important is sound activation to help keep your device quiet when your baby is quiet, thereby increasing your chances of a full night's sleep.
Finding the right monitoring device for your baby can be fun and challenging thanks to the variety of styles and models available. However, we've narrowed the field down to the cream of the crop to provide you with options that can meet almost any need. After you determine your needs and wants, choosing the best monitor for you will be easy. You can't go wrong with any of the winners on this list, but if you need more information or details, be sure to check out our more detailed reviews on each monitoring product type in our Sound Monitor, Video Monitor, and Movement Monitor reviews.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz