In Depth Baby Product Reviews Led by a Pediatrician

The 3 Best Audio Baby Monitors

We tested products by VTech, Hatch, Motorola, and more to find the best sound monitor for your baby
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Best Sound Monitor Review (Selecting a device can be tricky. Thankfully, our review helps you narrow down the options.)
Selecting a device can be tricky. Thankfully, our review helps you narrow down the options.
Credit: Abriah Wofford
By Molly Bradac, Wendy Schmitz, and the GearLab Team
Wednesday April 3, 2024

Searching for the best sound baby monitor? We've got you covered. Since 2012, we've taken on the monumental task of purchasing and testing more than 100 baby monitors, and this review features the top audio monitors available today. Our rigorous testing focuses on key performance metrics like sound clarity, ease of use, range, battery type, features, and more. Our results and hands-on experience in the real world influence scores and rank, and our insider details provide the information you need to find the best monitoring choice based on your needs.

You might also find our review of the best video monitors interesting, to help you keep your eye on little ones in their crib and best movement monitors to check movement that indicate continued breathing. Not sure what device to select? Our best baby monitor review is a good place to start.

Editor's Note: We updated the sound monitor review on April 3, 2024, with additional information on how we test and buying advice. New monitors were added in September 2023.

Top 6 Sound Monitors - Test Results

Displaying 1 - 5 of 6
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Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Value Award Top Pick Award  
Price $30 List
$18.99 at Amazon
$60 List
$59.99 at Amazon
$36 List$90 List
$89.99 at Amazon
$30 List
Overall Score
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88
81
71
70
Star Rating
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Pros Easy to use, nice range, inexpensiveGood range, sound quality, two parent units, user-friendlyLoads of features, battery backup, budget-friendlyMultiple functions, app-enabled, better range, easy to use for the tech-savvyGood sound clarity, room temp sensor, inexpensive
Cons Limited features, short battery lifeBaby unit must be plugged inSubpar range, some feedback, no online manualNot the best sound quality, few features for sound, priceyRange issues, no sound filtering, tricky interface
Bottom Line An affordable monitor set that gets the job done without any fussA sound monitor with two parent units that checks most of the must-have boxesA budget-friendly sound monitor that's adorableAn app-enabled, multi-purpose monitor that is easy to use, but it has a shorter battery life and sub-par soundA sound monitor that lacks user-friendliness and functional range
Rating Categories VTech DM111 VTech DM1211 TimeFlys QQ Portable Hatch Rest+ Motorola AM24
Sound Clarity (30%)
6.8
8.0
7.5
6.0
7.3
Ease of Use (25%) Sort Icon
10.0
9.1
9.1
8.7
6.1
Range (20%)
7.3
8.8
5.3
8.8
6.0
Battery Life (15%)
1
10.0
10.0
5.0
10.0
Features (10%)
3.3
8.7
10.0
6.1
6.2
Specs VTech DM111 VTech DM1211 TimeFlys QQ Portable Hatch Rest+ Motorola AM24
Indoor Range Test (Walls & Feet) 7 Walls
98 Feet
7 Walls
170+ Feet
7 Walls
115 Feet
8 Walls
169 Feet (WiFi)
7 Walls
110 Feet
Open Field Range Test 1350 Feet 1180 Feet 575 Feet 155 Feet (WiFi) 750 Feet
Manufacturer's Claimed Range (*Buyer Beware!) Not Listed 1500 Feet 1000 Feet NA 1000 Feet
Communication Technology DECT 6.0 Digital Technology DECT 6.0 Digital Technology DECT 6.0 Digital Technology WiFi DECT 6.0 Digital Technology
Sound Activation No Yes Yes No Yes
Adjustable Mic Sensitivity No Yes Yes No No
Sound Filtering Test Results Very Poor Excellent Excellent Very Good Average
Two-Way Talk No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Max Sound 104 dB 93 dB 92 dB 96 dB 87 dB
Temperature No No Yes No Yes
Battery Type AAA Rechargable Rechargable Not Listed Rechargable
Nursery Unit Battery Backup No No Yes Yes No
EMF @ 6 Feet Nursery Unit 2.63 V/m 1.07 V/m 1.38 V/m 0.43 V/m 1.01 V/m
Night Light No Yes Yes Yes No
Lullaby Music No No Yes Yes No
Out Of Range Alert Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Vibrate Alert No Yes Yes No Yes
Warranty 1 Year 1 year 1 Year 1 year


The Best Sound Monitors


Best Overall Sound Baby Monitor


VTech DM1211


88
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Sound Clarity 8.0
  • Ease of Use 9.1
  • Range 8.8
  • Battery Life 10.0
  • Features 8.7
REASONS TO BUY
Easy to use
Excellent range
Good sound quality
Two parent monitors
REASONS TO AVOID
No battery backup
Audible warning preset

The VTech DM1211 delivers a compelling performance, earning it a top-ranking position in the competition. It has all the essential features that many parents value, like sound activation and filtering, increasing the chances of a peaceful night's sleep (as long as the baby is snoozing, of course). It's a user-friendly device, and it demonstrated an impressive range during our testing. Bonus perk: It comes with two parent units, which may come in handy.

This monitor is undoubtedly an all-star, but it does have a few quirks, which we think are relatively minor. Without a battery backup, it must be plugged in to operate. Each time you power up the parent unit, an audible warning reminder preset is enabled, and this might become bothersome. However, you do have the option to turn off this reminder in the menu settings. Overall, this well-rounded contender ticks most of the must-haves. The DM1211 is a cost-effective option with two parent monitors, unlike the TimeFlys QQ Portable that only comes with one. It has a superior performance we think most parents will love.

Read more: VTech DM1211 review

sound monitor - the vtech dm1211 is a solid contender with an admirable performance...
The VTech DM1211 is a solid contender with an admirable performance. It also comes with two parent monitors.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Best Budget-Friendly Option


TimeFlys QQ Portable


81
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Sound Clarity 7.5
  • Ease of Use 9.1
  • Range 5.3
  • Battery Life 10.0
  • Features 10.0
REASONS TO BUY
Wallet-friendly
Lots of features
Backup battery
REASONS TO AVOID
Subpar range
Some feedback
No online manual or hard copy

The TimeFlys QQ Portable offers impressive performance at an attractive price point. Beyond its cuteness, it has many features that enhance its functionality. It's also easy to use. The rechargeable battery uses a commonly found USB cord, and the battery backup for the baby monitor could be useful in the event of power outages. For those needing a second parent device, one can be purchased at a reasonable cost.

In our evaluation, TimeFlys struggled to offer an impressive range, and its performance overall didn't compare to the VTech DM1211. The TimeFlys struggled in our open-field range tests. We did experience sound feedback when both units were in the same room with over 20 feet between them. However, the monitor functions well when the units are placed in different rooms. Overall, the TimeFlys QQ Portable is a cute monitor that gets the job done without sacrificing features and, most importantly, your wallet.

Read more: TimeFlys QQ Portable review

sound monitor - the timeflys qq portable is an economical option with an...
The TimeFlys QQ Portable is an economical option with an above-average performance.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Best Multipurpose Monitor


Hatch Rest+


71
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Sound Clarity 6.0
  • Ease of Use 8.7
  • Range 8.8
  • Battery Life 5.0
  • Features 6.1
REASONS TO BUY
WiFi range
Multipurpose
App-enabled features
REASONS TO AVOID
Sub-par sound
Shorter battery life

The Hatch Rest+ is an app-enabled monitor with several features for babies and parents. It has impressive sound filtering, a sound machine, a night light, lullabies, and more. The night light can be remote-controlled, and you can connect up to five parent devices to one monitor. When little ones get older, you can use it as a tool for teaching when it is time to get up. This unit has two-way communication and is compatible with Alexa.

This option requires WiFi and an app to operate, requiring a bit more tech-savvy knowledge compared to a standard plug-in audio monitor, such as the VTech DM1211. If you are comfortable using your smartphone and other apps, you should have no trouble operating the Hatch. Also, the sound quality isn't the best, and it isn't on par with the inexpensive sound monitors we've tested, like the TimeFlys QQ Portable. Despite some differences, we think this monitor is a modern-looking, cool addition to any nursery. The Hatch Rest+ can grow with your child, and it fills the need for many devices in one.

Read more: Hatch Rest+ review

sound monitor - the high-tech hatch rest+ is operated through presets or by touching...
The high-tech Hatch Rest+ is operated through presets or by touching the ring.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price
88
VTech DM1211
Best Overall Sound Baby Monitor
$60
Editors' Choice Award
81
TimeFlys QQ Portable
Best Budget-Friendly Option
$36
Best Value Award
77
VTech DM221
$40
71
Hatch Rest+
Best Multipurpose Monitor
$90
Top Pick Award
70
Motorola AM24
$30
65
VTech DM111
$30

sound monitor - we purchased and tested some of the most popular sound monitor...
We purchased and tested some of the most popular sound monitor options since 2012, including some seen here and other popular options we've added over time.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

How We Test Audio Monitors


Our commitment to providing our readers with the most comprehensive reviews and valuable insights regarding baby monitors dates back to 2012. Since then, we have purchased and subjected over 100 baby monitors to meticulous evaluation, including more than 35 sound monitors. When it comes to making informed decisions about baby monitors, we believe that every detail counts. It's a direct line to your baby; you need it to work as intended and reliably. The features should be easy to use and improve the device's overall functionality, and each unit should have an adequate range and offer clear sound. If a device doesn't work as intended, it could fail to help parents obtain restful sleep or respond to little ones as they intend.

We hands-on test and rate each product's performance and complete side-by-side comparisons to similar products in our in-house tests. We calculate scores with weighted values for the metrics we believe are instrumental in making a monitor exceptional and user-friendly. Sound clarity and ease of use are the most critical metrics, with range coming in next. Without quality sound transmission and sound-related features, it might not alert parents when it should.

Our testing of baby sound monitors is divided into five rating metrics:

  • Sound Clarity (30% of overall score weighting)
  • Ease of Use (25% weighting)
  • Range (20% weighting)
  • Battery Life (15% weighting)
  • Features (10% weighting)

Sound monitors go through more than 51 individual tests to rank their performance compared to the competition. The most crucial metric is sound clarity, corresponding to 30% of the overall score. Our sound clarity score is developed by four individual tests, including maximum volume, sound clarity, noise reduction, and sound filtering.

Why Trust GearLab


Leading our baby sound monitor review is BabyGearLab founder, Dr. Juliet Spurrier. Dr. Spurrier is a board-certified pediatrician, a mother of two, and a long-time tester of every type of baby monitor on the market. Working alongside Dr. Spurrier is Senior Review Analyst, Bob Wofford and father of 7. Together, they developed the testing process for this comprehensive review and our other monitor reviews. Bob has conducted the tests for our sound monitor review since 2013, making him an industry expert on the best baby monitors! Rounding out our team of expert testers is Senior Review Editor, Wendy Schmitz, and mother of 2. She brings several years of experience and knowledge of baby monitor testing to analyze tester feedback and test results to create valuable and informative reviews. The primary team members in this review have over 20 years of collective experience in testing monitors.

sound monitor - finding the right sound monitor shouldn&#039;t be hard, with our detailed...
Finding the right sound monitor shouldn't be hard, with our detailed test results.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

How to Pick the Best Baby Audio Monitor


Choosing a sound monitor isn't as hard as choosing a video or movement option, but there are still some things to consider when finding the right option for your home and needs.

What's your Range?


The size of your home, what it is made of, or what kind of appliances are in it can affect a monitor's ability to work. The nursery unit needs to connect to the parent unit, and different factors determine this range, the largest one being the distance between the two units. If the distance in your home is too far, then a monitor with limited range is unlikely to work. Some homes will require a WiFi monitor if more than five walls or concrete are being used between units. For this reason, we recommend checking your home size, doing a little measuring and wall counting, and then comparing your results with our test results.

How does it sound?


You use an audio monitor, so you have an idea of what is happening in the nursery. Is your little one cooing and playing with their feet? Perhaps they are wailing with a blowout diaper full of discomfort. Either way, you want a monitor that gives clear sound that best reflects the reality happening in the room. Robot voice, static, and other interference can impact how well the monitor works and your ability to get restful sleep.

Bring on the Features


Many parents will want to consider additional features, and we can see the appeal of options like room temperature and lullabies. While you might be looking for all the bells and whistles, we think the most important one to look for is sound activation. If you can have nothing else, we believe you want this. This feature helps keep a monitor quiet when crying isn't happening so you can sleep soundly.

The baby and parent units of the TimeFlys QQ Portable come with...
The baby and parent units of the TimeFlys QQ Portable come with battery compartments and rechargeable functions.
The VTech DM1211 has a belt clip for hands-free transport.
The VTech DM1211 has a belt clip for hands-free transport.

Analysis and Test Results


Our multi-point analysis of sound monitors involves several metrics to evaluate a product's overall performance and everyday functionality. We consider sound clarity, ease of use, range, battery, and features.


Value


Sound monitors are typically the most budget-friendly option for keeping tabs on your little one (though there are some inexpensive video options). This monitor style offers an option for any budget. We feel choosing a slightly higher-priced unit is a smart option as the overall performance of mid-price monitors is better than the absolute cheapest. Because you'll typically use your monitor daily, there is significant value in spending a little more money to get a superior product. We believe the TimeFlys QQ Portable offers good value in this category. It isn't the highest-performing device in our tests, but it delivers a decent performance at a reasonable price and includes more features.

sound monitor - in a separate space, we set up the baby unit with music playing at a...
In a separate space, we set up the baby unit with music playing at a standard volume, then we take the maximum sound DB levels emitted from the parent unit from a room next door.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Sound Clarity


Sound monitors are not uniformly designed, and there can be notable differences in sound quality among the options. Any sound you hear from the parent unit should be clear, static-free, and realistic. Ideally, it should lack distortion, and we prefer features that limit the types of sounds relayed from the nursery to the parent device or the volume of those unimportant non-baby sounds. We believe the transmission of sound and sound-related features are the critical criteria for sound monitoring. You don't want to lose precious time wondering if the sounds you hear are your baby or insignificant background noise. If features like sound activation or microphone sensitivity (that limits background noise) don't work as they should (or are not included), then you might lose sleep using a loud monitor.


Several of the competitors in our tests scored above average for sound clarity, but it is somewhat shocking how poor the sound quality is for others, given the primary goal is to relay life-like sounds. Some products offer hollow and bright transmissions without the mid-tone and bass ranges. While disappointing, we think this is acceptable. However, static and distortion shouldn't be tolerated, and we heard it from more than one competitor. The best products bring a full tonal range and can change the sound level of what is transmitted (microphone sensitivity adjustment).

sound monitor - the vtech dm221 offers top-of-the-line sound clarity.
The VTech DM221 offers top-of-the-line sound clarity.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

The VTech DM221 delivered the best sound results. This product has no distortion or static, even at max volume. The sound includes more vibrant tones, and while you wouldn't want to listen to your favorite music from them, it delivers a realistic representation of a baby's cries. The top products include sound activation that works as it should and is silent when your baby is quiet.

The worst sound quality in our tests is the Hatch Rest+. This unit isn't terrible, but it isn't as clear as the competition and lacks some of the control we prefer.

The VTech DM1211 is one of the easier options to use with a simple user panel on the parent unit.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Ease of Use


Ease of use testing captures if monitors are intuitive or complicated, the simplicity of the setup, and whether the features are helpful or complex. A product with an on/off button and volume control might be easy to use, but it might not be the pack leader if it doesn't provide anything to improve the user experience.


While many competitors offer immediate usability upon unboxing and uncomplicated features, the VTech DM111 is a standout option in this metric, mainly due to its bare-bones design, making it simple to use.

sound monitor - with a power button and volume controls, the vtech dm111 parent unit...
With a power button and volume controls, the VTech DM111 parent unit is easy to use with almost no opportunity for mistakes.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Sometimes less is more, and the VTech DM111 offers no frills or fluff. It's a straightforward monitor with few controls and minimal features. We think it's an ideal option for caregivers, such as grandparents, who will need to use your monitor with a limited tutorial, or parents who want a no-nonsense approach to baby monitoring.

sound monitor - the hatch app has a simple user interface with only a few sound...
The Hatch app has a simple user interface with only a few sound related options to worry about.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

The Hatch Rest+ requires an app and is more complex, but the app is user-friendly; we think it is a straightforward option if you are comfortable with smart devices and apps.

sound monitor - we consider the user interface on the motorola am24 less intuitive...
We consider the user interface on the Motorola AM24 less intuitive but managable.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

While the Motorola AM24 and VTech DM221 don't rank high in this metric, they are average. This doesn't mean they are challenging but more complicated than basic options. From our experiences with Motorola AM24, the user interface is clunky and less intuitive to navigate, and the VTech DM221 has several buttons on the front of the parent unit, which we think can lead to late-night button fumbles, especially when you're half-awake.

We record the distance and number of walls through which each monitor is effectively transmitted for our range tests.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Range


While it may seem that a device designed to relay sound from the nursery unit to the parent device should suffice, if the baby monitor struggles to establish a connection due to distance or too many walls, it won't matter what information or sound it tries to send. While ranges, according to our test results, are usually better for audio products than other monitor types, it is still important that you consider the range and your home before buying a monitor. Most manufacturers include their open field range on the box, but they don't all report this number accurately compared to our test results. Only a limited number of manufacturers provide a potential indoor range for their products. While indoor range can be affected by several variables, from walls and floors to appliances, our tests can give you a general idea of the potential range you might expect or, more importantly, how each unit compares to the competition side-by-side. Choosing the option with the best test results compared to your potential home setup is a good start to ensure the monitor you buy will work in your home.


Given that the indoor average range (in our tests) is close to 116.6 feet and 6.6 walls of separation, the Hatch Rest+ and VTech DM1211 excel in this metric. The Hatch Rest+ is Bluetooth-enabled, showcasing its technological advantage of communicating between the unit and your smartphone. During our indoor range test, the Hatch maintained a connection for 169 feet and through 8 walls of separation. The VTech DM1211 reached over 170 feet and through 7 walls of separation. Therefore, larger homes might be better suited to audio monitors (unless you use WiFi).

Holding the shortest range is the VTech DM221. This option maintained 90 feet and through 5 walls. Remember that your at-home results will vary depending on your style of home and competing products.

The Hatch Rest+ features a basic digital clock.
The Hatch Rest+ features a basic digital clock.
The Hatch has an infinite number of color selections for the...
The Hatch has an infinite number of color selections for the nightlight feature.

Features


Some of the contenders offer few features, concentrating mainly on the transmission of sound from one device to another without extra functionalities. While these products are designed for exactly that purpose, we appreciate the inclusion of features within the realm of practicality. We want attributes that enhance the monitor's performance or make using them easier. Many monitors incorporate a sound activation feature, something we consider vital and will help you get more coveted sleep. This feature keeps a parent device quiet when the baby is not making noise, so it doesn't transmit white noise, ambient sounds, or persistent static that could unnecessarily disturb light sleepers.


Another feature we like is two-way communication between devices. However, the absence of this feature is not a deal-breaker, as many parents find they seldom use it. But it can come in handy. Other features we take into account are night lights, lullabies, alerts, battery backup in the baby unit, a rechargeable parent unit, and room temperature sensors.

The TimeFlys QQ Portable is loaded with features, helping it earn a top spot in this metric. It has almost every feature parents want, including sound activation and two-way talk. These are the features that keep parents and babies happy. It also includes things like lullaby music, night light, low battery indicator, an out-of-range alert, sleep mode, and more. The VTech DM221 is hot on its heels with useful sound activation that keeps it quiet when your little one is quiet, among many other features.

The Hatch Rest+ integrates several functions, such as a sound machine, night light, and time-to-rise clock, all in one product. It also provides a sound level indicator, remote access to features, and sleep mode. This might be an attractive device for those seeking unique features and appreciate a multipurpose product. Yet, compared to others in the lineup, it does fall short in a few features. It's missing sound activation and adjustable mic sensitivity, which we think are useful for keeping a monitor quiet when the baby is quiet, and, therefore, are a must-have.

The product scoring low in features is the VTech DM111. Outside of the fundamental alerts for out-of-range and low battery, this monitor lacks features we feel make life easier or more enjoyable. It's pretty bare-bones and doesn't offer anything for sound control (beyond volume), and it lacks features for soothing. However, this product is inexpensive and has relatively good sound and an adequate range, making it a good option for parents who aren't concerned with features or have a limited budget.

sound monitor - the vtech dm111 doesn&#039;t offer many features, but it does have a...
The Vtech DM111 doesn't offer many features, but it does have a handy belt clip.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

While not every feature may be deemed essential, we consider sound activation to be indispensable for parents. Its value becomes evident when you're attempting to drift off to sleep and your room is silent instead of the intrusion of white noise, static, and unfamiliar sounds coming from the monitor. The other potential features are merely items of convenience. If you are a deep sleeper or enjoy white noise, the sound activation feature may be less critical, and a basic monitor like the VTech DM111 could save you money.

sound monitor - the rechargeable battery on the vtech dm1211 is easy to access and...
The rechargeable battery on the VTech DM1211 is easy to access and replaceable.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Battery Life


This metric is mainly about the parent unit you carry to monitor your baby. Those with rechargeable batteries score higher, while options that rely solely on batteries score lower.


The listening unit in the nursery typically plugs into the wall outlet. Parents usually rely on their parent unit most heavily overnight while plugged into a wall outlet near the nightstand. Batteries come into play during the daytime napping, so you can move around while keeping tabs on the baby.

We conducted battery life tests on the parent units of these monitors, and only a few contenders featured battery backup capabilities in the baby units. It is important to recognize that the batteries in the baby units are meant for temporary usage rather than being designed for prolonged overnight use. Also, not all parent devices are rechargeable. This lack of rechargeability means that you will frequently be changing batteries if you use them regularly without their AC adapters.

sound monitor - the hatch rest+ has a shorter battery life, with a 13-hour result in...
The Hatch Rest+ has a shorter battery life, with a 13-hour result in our tests. However, this is still long enough to last overnight if necessary.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

The battery life range for the devices in this review varied wildly from 13 hours for the Hatch Rest+ and VTech DM111 to 46 hours for the VTech DM221. These ranges mean most devices can make it through the night without being plugged in. Given that all had a battery life of over 13 hours, with several over 20, there is ample time for napping, which is when you are most likely to use the parent unit unplugged.

sound monitor - the battery life of the vtech dm221 is long, going 46 hours between...
The battery life of the Vtech DM221 is long, going 46 hours between charges. However, we recommend plugging it in whenever possible to save battery life for unforeseen moments when you might need it fully charged.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

The VTech DM221 once again stole the show for battery life, lasting up to 46 hours. It comes with rechargeable batteries, which is better than more extended battery life, and we prefer rechargeable batteries over disposable AA or AAA options. Some options have battery backup in the baby unit in the event the electricity goes out. These batteries are not intended for long-term use but can be an added benefit.

We measured all sound monitors for EMF. The VTech DM1211 results are taken at 6 ft from the unit.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Electromagnetic Field Levels (EMF)


Will your cell phone give you brain cancer? What about your baby monitor's health impact on your newborn? Concerns over EMF exposure have increased as the number of products we use that emit EMF increases. Add to this that infants have sensitive developing systems that are more susceptible to the effects of EMF, and we believe it is something parents should consider when making a purchasing decision.

There is no doubt that short-term exposure to very high levels of electromagnetic fields can harm health. Current public concern focuses on possible long-term health effects caused by exposure to electromagnetic fields at levels below those required to trigger acute biological responses.
   ▪ WHO, Electromagnetic Fields (EMF)

The jury is still out on the risks of long-term exposure to low-level electromagnetic fields, such as those from WiFi devices, mobile phones, portable phones, and, yes, baby monitors.


Even though the jury is still out, we believe there is enough evidence to keep EMF in mind. We've measured the EMF levels of each monitoring device to learn whether some options produce significantly higher or lower levels of EMF than others. Our tests focus on the nursery unit (the listening unit you place in the baby's room) since our concern is primarily on the potential impact of EMF on the baby's health.

Every monitor in our review emits varying levels of EMF. While the majority recorded average values under 1 V/m when tested at a distance of 6 feet from the baby device, a few managed to surpass 1 V/m. Moreover, most of the sound monitors emit EMF values that tend to be lower than top-ranked video monitors, and they have the advantage of being positioned at a greater distance from the baby, which can help limit exposure even further. These observations can help when choosing between a sound product and video options, especially for those with concerns about EMF exposure.

The Hatch Rest+ has the lowest average level of EMF at 6 feet from the baby unit, with a reading of 0.43 V/m. The monitor with the highest EMF reading is the VTech DM221, with a disappointing value of 3.11 V/m! Given that many competitors in all monitor types are below 2, this feels extra high. No matter which product you decide to purchase, we suggest you move it at least 6 feet away from the baby's crib, and most sound monitors (unlike video or movement) will still work well from the other side of the room. Remember that EMF levels usually decline rapidly with distance, so locating your monitor across the room dramatically reduces the EMF exposure to your baby. Implementing this precautionary measure can help reduce your baby's exposure to EMF, which we think is good.

It's important to note that our EMF level measurements were not factored into our overall rating scores. The best current scientific data suggests that low-level EMF from sources like sound monitors does not represent a known health risk to humans.

Need something else?
Are you interested in other gear? We've reviewed lots more baby gear to help the parenting journey!

sound monitor - the motorola am24 delivers clear sounds and minimal distortions.
The Motorola AM24 delivers clear sounds and minimal distortions.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Conclusion


Finding the right audio monitor for your new baby often isn't as straightforward as you might think. If you aren't sure about the features you want or even what some features do, the selection process can be challenging or guesswork at best. It can even be difficult to determine why one is better than another, given the variations in functionality, features, and price. We think most families will be able to find the perfect monitor for their goals and budget if they focus on the test metrics and essential features. Our winners are impressive selections offering something for most budgets and goals.

Molly Bradac, Wendy Schmitz, and the GearLab Team