Best Video Baby Monitor
|Price||$299 List||$199 List|
$129.99 at Amazon
|$200 List||$300 List|
$299.99 at Amazon
$179.99 at Amazon
|Pros||Awesome images, face recognition, easy to use, lots of features||Internet range, great images, versatile long term use||Good visuals, lots of features, easy to use||Easy to use, WiFi range, lower EMF||WiFi range, lots of features, great images, easy to use|
|Cons||Not baby specific, expensive, poor sound, some features require subscription||No internet / no monitor, disappointing sound||Sound could be better, harder setup||Sub-par sound, expensive||Sub par sound, higher price, internet dependant|
|Bottom Line||Fancy WiFi with impressive video but the price may not be worth it for baby monitoring||Really cool WiFi camera with lots of uses and great video for simple baby monitoring||Good for long term use if you already own other Arlo products||A relatively expensive option that is easy to use and has many features with lower EMF||Cool WiFi option with all the bells and whistles that is easy to use|
|Rating Categories||Nest Cam IQ Indoor...||Nest Cam Indoor WiFi||Arlo Baby||Nanit Pro||iBaby Care M7 WiFi|
|Sound Clarity (20%)|
|Video Quality (30%)|
|Ease Of Use (15%)|
|Battery Life (10%)|
|Specs||Nest Cam IQ Indoor...||Nest Cam Indoor WiFi||Arlo Baby||Nanit Pro||iBaby Care M7 WiFi|
|Communication Technology||802.11 a/b/g/n/ac||802.11 a/b/g/n||2.4 GHz||2.4GHz and 5GHz||802.11 b/g/n|
|Indoor Range Test||Anywhere You Have Connectivity||Anywhere You Have Connectivity||Anywhere You Have Connectivity||Anywhere You Have Connectivity||Anywhere You Have Connectivity|
|Open Field Range Test||Anywhere You Have Connectivity||Anywhere You Have Connectivity||Anywhere You Have Connectivity||Anywhere You Have Connectivity||Anywhere You Have Connectivity|
|Manufacturer's Claimed Range (*buyer beware!)||Anywhere You Have Connectivity||Anywhere You Have Connectivity||Anywhere You Have Connectivity||Anywhere You Have Connectivity||Anywhere You Have Connectivity|
|Max Sound||86 db||86 db||93 db||89 db||82 db|
|Max # of Cameras||10 Per Home with 3 Homes Per Nest App. Log In||10 Per Home with Unlimited Homes||5 simultaneous video streams free.
Up to 20 cameras with paid subscription.
|Up to 5. If you plan to use more than 5 cameras contact customer support||Not Listed (Unlimited?)|
|Pan/Tilt/ Zoom||Zoom, Close-up tracking||Zoom||Zoom||None||Pan/Tilt/Zoom|
|EMF @ 6 Feet from Camera||0.91 V/m||0.92 V/m||0.75 V/m||0.37 V/m||1.42 V/m|
|Warranty||2 Year||2 Year||1 Year||1 Year||1 Year|
Best WiFi Baby Monitor
The Nanit Pro is a cool video WiFi option that provides an above-crib viewpoint and has more baby-centric features than most WiFi contenders. This monitor is easy to use, compatible with Amazon's Alexa and has fairly true-to-life video images with an app that works even when using other apps. The Nanit had an impressive performance during testing, and its overall score is impressive compared to most of the competition. This product includes temperature and humidity sensors, motion detection, 2-way communication, a nightlight, lullabies and nature sounds, sound activation, and more. We think parents will like the intuitive user interface and the full-crib downward viewing vantage point. It even includes a breathing band for a complete "picture" of the baby.
This monitor is one of the most expensive contenders in the group, making it a potential no-go for tighter budgets. You also need adequate Internet for consistent monitoring, so it may not work for you if you have slow or sub-par service. However, if your budget allows and you're looking for a variety of baby-centric features, then the Nanit could be the monitor of your dreams.
Read review: Nanit Pro
Best Baby-Specific Features
iBaby Care M7 WiFi
The iBaby Care M7 WiFi is an impressive WiFi video monitor without many baby-friendly features. This monitor earned impressive marks for range, ease of use, features, and battery life, with excellent results for video quality. The iBaby's impressive performance during testing and subsequent overall score places it as one of the top WiFi monitors on the market. This monitor features humidity, temperature, and air quality sensors to help ensure that your baby stays cozy, and it comes with lullabies, bedtime stories, and white noise options. The iBaby is easy to use, has true-to-life images, and works as it should. It offers sound activation, motion detection, 2-way talk to baby, and a remote control camera. The iBaby will continue to monitor the baby even with another app running, something many other WiFi options struggle to do.
This camera is more expensive than some competition, making it a potential no-go for smaller budgets. It also requires the Internet, and if you have slow or sub-par service, you won't work well and could be a source of frustration. However, if you have the money and want to see your little one with various cool baby-centric features, it is challenging to find something more suitable than the iBaby.
Read review: iBaby Care M7 WiFi
Great for Long-term Use
Nest Cam Indoor WiFi
The Nest Cam Indoor WiFi offers impressive visuals, WiFi range and is easy to use with enough features to make most families happy. This product's impressive performance and security features are why it is a great choice for Long-term Use. The Nest Indoor is a cool surveillance camera you can use to watch your baby, but given that the design isn't baby monitoring-centric, it lacks some of the extra features you might be looking for, like lullabies and a nightlight. However, it offers motion detection, sound activation, 2-way talk, and 8x digital zoom with a large field of view that can easily encompass a baby's entire crib or room, depending on placement.
The Nest Cam camera does not have a remote control camera, relying instead on its large field of view you zoom into and then search via pan and scan. The downside is this option doesn't continue to relay information to your phone if you use another app or take a phone call, making it hard to use full-time if you don't have a secondary device other than your primary smartphone. The Nest Cam is also more expensive (though not the most expensive we tested), and it is cheaper than some of the dedicated monitors we've tested. It also requires a good Internet connection and reliable service. On the upside, its long-term capabilities make it an investment we think parents will use for years as a nanny cam, home security, or checking on pets, thereby justifying the higher cost. With the Nest Cam, you get a high-quality monitor you'll use long after your baby starts walking.
Read review: Nest Cam Indoor WiFi
Baby-friendly with Long-term Potential
The Arlo Baby is a high-quality baby camera monitor with potential long-term use. This option might be ideal if you've already invested in other Arlo cameras as they use the same app. We like the video images of this unit, and it has better sound clarity than several WiFi competitors. The Arlo has several features parents want, like temperature and air quality sensors, motion detection, sound activation, and 2-way talk to baby communication features.
The Arlo comes with a higher price tag than some of the WiFi options that lack movement monitors. Plus, it requires a reliable Internet connection to work well and without frustration. You can justify the Arlo price if you use your WiFi monitor as a nanny cam or security camera down the road when your baby outgrows the need. Also, the camera is not remote-controlled, but few WiFi options we tested are. Overall, the Arlo is a user-friendly camera with various useful features and video quality parents will love.
Read review: Arlo Baby
Best Dedicated Monitor
Hello Baby HB65
The Hello Baby HB65 is a dedicated style monitor that is not WiFi capable, making it one of the few options in our review that works without the internet or a smart device. The dedicated option has a quick setup of a baby camera and parent unit that automatically pair and work well straight out of the box. The camera has a remote operation, a true pan, and tilt, and the parent unit includes sound activation (a critical feature) and a simple interface.
This monitor has a shorter range than some homes may need of 65 feet and through 4 walls. However, it is average for the dedicated monitors we've tested. If you need a longer range, it is probably a WiFi situation instead of a dedicated unit. Also, it doesn't have all of the features some parents might be looking for. However, in our experience, the features you need and will use daily are included with the Hello Baby. While it can't compete with higher-end WiFi options in our review for video, this monitor is an impressive dedicated unit with good video and sound that can easily get the job done without any hassle.
Read review: Hello Baby HB65
Why You Should Trust Us
Our expert group of monitor testers is overseen by BabyGearLab founder, Dr. Juliet Spurrier, Board Certified Pediatrician and mother of two. Dr. Spurrier uses her vast experience and education as a pediatrician, in conjunction with the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations and her journey as a mother to choose products for testing, including video monitors. The testing team includes Bob Wofford, father of 7, and lead in-house product tester who has been an integral part of testing development and execution for video monitor since 2014. He is joined by Senior Review Editor Wendy Schmitz, who has been reviewing and researching video monitors professionally since 2014 and is the mother of two. Bob and Wendy have evaluated over 37 video monitors since 2014 and well over 50 baby monitors, including video, sound, and movement, over that same time.
Our testing took place in the BabyGearLab in-house lab and personal homes with little ones to watch. The monitor reviews draw on over 3 months of research and data compiling information on how well the monitors worked, how easy they were to use, and how well they stayed "connected." We used each monitor from setup through endless features to determine which had the best features, quality sound and video, ease of use, longest range, and most reliable connection.
Related: How We Tested Video Monitors
Analysis and Test Results
We tested and compared the top video products for monitoring little ones in comprehensive tests, side-by-side, over several months. Our tests provide the details you need to decide which monitor is best for your baby or situation. Our testing metrics include range, video quality, sound clarity, ease of use, features, battery life, and EMF emissions.
Related: Buying Advice for Video Monitors
If you want to know the insider opinions of the BabyGearLab parents on what we would do or what we'd tell a friend based on our years of experience and tests, you can skip to that section and possibly save yourself some time. Spoiler Alert: it may not be what you think.
Luckily, with so many options on the market, prices for cool video monitors are very reasonable, Something we couldn't say 5 or 10 years ago. There are cool video monitors with quality images and lower price tags, some on par or with lower prices than sound-only options. With various products, including WiFi cameras, there is something for every budget in this lineup.
The range for video monitors is the distance and the number of walls between the nursery and parent units where the product stays connected and works without interruption or interference. While most manufacturers offer a "line of sight" or "open field" range to describe their monitors, this distance is not a good indication of how well it will work inside your home where walls and interference abound. It doesn't matter how much you want a certain model or brand; if it doesn't have good connectivity in your home, then you won't be happy or have the monitoring you hope for.
We tested for indoor range and open field tests to provide a complete picture using the same measuring devices in the same field and house with the same walls and interference. Remember that the values inside your home are more important than those in an open field unless, of course, you are leaving a baby alone in an open field (which we don't recommend).
Larger homes with more than 4 or 5 walls between the camera and parent unit might be stuck using a WiFi camera. Most of the dedicated monitors only work through up to 4 walls, except for the Project Nursery 4.3 that stopped working at 3. The Motorola MBP36S has the longest range for dedicated monitors in this review, with an impressive 92 ft through 5 walls. So, if your needs are higher than that, then none of the dedicated monitors in this review are likely to work in your home. Also, there are other reasons not to choose the Motorola even if you need the range. On the other hand, WiFi-connected cameras are limited only by the wireless router location/power in relation to the camera and parent unit and the strength and speed of your WiFi. If necessary, you can often move routers or add range extenders to increase the range between the components if the WiFi monitor struggles to keep a clear or consistent connection. Purchasing a monitor from a retailer with a useful return policy (like Amazon) will allow you to test the monitor in your home to determine how well it works with less risk.
We recommend you test your monitor as soon as you get it. If you wait, you might miss the potential return window. Even if your baby hasn't arrived, you can set up the monitor in the locations where it will be used and work with a partner or a radio to determine if the connection and features work the way you need them to.
Audio and Visual Quality
Monitors should provide clear and true video to life, and they should have quality audio that is easy to hear and clear enough for you to determine if you need to see what is happening, go back to sleep, or get moving to the nursery. So, while you might initially believe that video quality is the most important factor, we rated video and sound equally because, without sound, the video quality doesn't matter. If it has a muffled sound, it is difficult to decipher or not loud enough, and you may miss your baby's cries and not know you should look at the video screen. If the sound activation or thresholds for background noise don't work well, you might lose sleep listening to a loud monitor generating excessive white noise or worse. Once alerted by the sound, you need a clear view of your baby with enough details to determine their needs, or the video device isn't much better than a sound monitor.
Most of the monitors in our tests have average sound quality and clarity that isn't excessively muffled or muted. Most have bright and high sounds without a lot of mid-range or lower tones. This lack of tonal range isn't a deal-breaker, but it makes babies' cries harsher than they are in real life.
The best monitor for sound in our tests is the Angelcare AC327, with a score of 6 of 10, which isn't saying much given the level of technology that goes into these products. Most of the competition earned 4s and 5s for sound. It seems that no matter how great your parent device is, the WiFi cameras struggle to transmit clear sound with useful sound features. The best sound score for WiFi monitors is 5, earned by the Arlo Baby, Nanit Pro, and the Miku. The best-dedicated option for sound is the Hello Baby with a 5.
These photos show daytime images for the Nest Cam Indoor WiFi (above left), which earned a perfect 10 of 10 for video quality, and the Infant Optics DXR-8 (above right), which received the highest score for video in the dedicated monitors.
Video quality is a metric all of the options should perform well in. However, most of them failed in our tests to offer a true-to-life image even in the daytime. Given technology advancements, it is disappointing that most dedicated video products didn't offer more than a blurry image of the baby in the room. Many don't show the baby's features or what you would see if you were standing in the nursery. The night vision images are even worse than their daylight video. Some visuals are so blurry and hard to decipher that parents may visit the nursery because their baby has no face or looks like a small demon is waiting in the crib.
Only the WiFi cameras provide video on par with reality, with the Nest Cam Indoor WiFi and the Nest Cam IQ earning perfect 10s of 10. The iBaby Care M7 WiFi earned an impressive 9, with the Nanit Pro coming in with an 8. All of these options have clear images with enough detail to let you see your baby breathe, which is significantly more impressive than viewing a faceless (and possibly terrifying) blob in the crib. Sure, you know that is your baby, but what is the point of a video feed if it doesn't show something useful.
The Motorola MBP36S (above) offers a disappointing night vision video.
The high for video quality for the dedicated monitors is a 7 earned by the Hello Baby. This option has good daytime images with unclear and fuzzy night vision visuals. The night images lack clarity, and you can't see details like open or closed eyes or breathing.
Ease of Use
Ease of use may seem less important because once you know how to use a product, it typically stops being challenging, and after a while, it can even feel intuitive when it clearly isn't. However, there can be a learning curve with monitors depending on the type you select and the features it offers. While the dedicated monitors are plug-in-and-go products that even technology-challenged grandmas can use, some take more skill or tech-savvy to negotiate. On the other hand, the WiFi monitors require some knowledge of technology and apps navigation or the patience to learn new things. With all of them, you need to set up the camera with your computer or another device, and you need to set up an account and manage things like WiFi passwords and other settings within the app. While this can be a no-brainer for some, it can be more challenging if you lack technical knowledge.
If you struggle with technology and don't need or want to see your baby from any other location outside your home, you might want to choose a dedicated monitor that requires little setup and has a more straightforward user interface. We aren't saying that most people can't sort out the WiFi monitors, but it is undeniably less work to plug the monitor into an outlet and turn it on than download and sign up for an app you need to learn.
The Infant Optics DXR-8 is the easiest to use dedicated option with a score of 8 of 10. This monitor is a "plug and play" that pairs the camera and parent unit by itself. The parent unit has limited buttons, and the menu options are relatively intuitive. The menu could be easier to use, but we think most parents will stick to the buttons on the front of the unit after a few weeks of regular use. It also comes with multiple lenses to add to the camera, which are easily interchanged even if it is annoying that you need to go into the nursery to do it. The Hello Baby HB65 is also easy to use with few features and a one-level menu.
The Miku is the easiest to set up and use with a 10 of 10 for ease of use. The Nanit Pro, iBaby Care M7 WiFi, and the Nest Cam IQ are close behind with scores of 9 of 10. The Nest Cam Indoor WiFi and Arlo Baby cameras are hot on their heels with 8s. All of the options walk users through the setup process step-by-step and have fairly intuitive menus that will seem familiar to most users familiar with smartphones. They all come with a quick start guide that will have you up and watching your baby swiftly.
Testing battery life was for the parent device only. While some of the dedicated options have a battery in the camera in the event of a power outage, most don't, and they are not intended for all-night use. So our battery tests only focus on the parent device.
For the parent devices of dedicated monitors, the battery life ranges between 6.75 and 11.5 hours. The WiFi options are more challenging to gauge because the battery life depends on the parent device, whether or not it is used for other applications, and how old the battery is. However, we feel it is safe to say that most personal devices will work longer than the best dedicated monitor battery if they are only used for the WiFi camera and is not running other applications simultaneously.
The Hello Baby HB65 has the longest dedicated monitor battery life with a close to 14 hours runtime. The Motorola MBP36S earned the lowest score with a runtime of just under 7 hours. While not a deal-breaker itself, there are plenty of other reasons to dislike the Motorola, and the battery life is only a small part of a disappointing picture (no pun intended).
The Arlo Baby is the only option in the review with a battery in the camera for long-term use away from a plug. While this could be useful for travel, etc., you will still need a WiFi connection, so it isn't as helpful as it may seem.
All of the products in our tests provide features for convenience and functionality. Some of the options also have additional features for fun or nursery details. All of the cameras have night vision with an automatic sensor that shifts as the ambient light changes, and all have 2-way communication with the baby so that you can talk to your little one from a distance. Some monitors come with lullabies, while others can relay the temperature and humidity of the nursery. No matter which features or functionality you want or need, there is likely a monitor in this review to meet your needs.
The features we focus on in our reviews are those we feel increase the monitor's performance or make life easier for parents and increase the odds of you achieving a good night's sleep. We prefer options with sound activation that keep the parent unit silent as long as the baby is quiet. We believe this functionality allows parents to fall asleep faster because any ambient noise through the monitor speaker could potentially keep you awake. Some of the monitors are loud enough (even at low volumes) that they could keep light sleepers from getting the shut-eye they need. This lack of sound filtering defeats the purpose of using a monitor. We also like units with automatic "wake" screens that turn off after a certain amount of time with no use.
In our tests, the iBaby Care M7 WiFi earned a 9 of 10 for features. It provides multiple features that increase convenience for parents and are fun for a baby. For parents, this camera works with any iOS device, can be accessed anywhere with the Internet or cell reception (with a data plan), works with multiple cameras, and has sound activation. The user interface is intuitive, and the zoom/pan/tilt functionality works well. The iBaby has an actual remote-control camera with the widest field of view in the group, motion detection, and built-in remote-controlled lullabies that include the ability to add personal music choices or a parent voice recording. The iBaby M7 also has sensors for temperature, humidity, and air quality, so parents can ensure the baby is cozy. If that isn't enough, the app will remain operating even if you use other apps or turn the screen off. The only thing lacking is an auto screen wake and sleep, which isn't a deal-breaker with all the other features onboard.
The Arlo Baby also earned a 9 with similar features to the iBaby but without a remote control camera. The Arlo includes lullabies, night light, cord-free cameras, air sensors, and two-way talk.
The Nest Cam Indoor WiFi and the Nest Cam IQ come in a close second for features, each scoring 8 of 10, with the Nanit Pro earning a 7 here. Because many WiFi cameras are more for security and are not solely about baby monitoring, they have features that make parents' lives easier but nothing fun for a baby. They provide 2-way communication but no lullabies or room sensors. Given that many nurseries have "noise makers" (aka lullabies), the lack of this feature isn't a loss, in our opinion. So while these WiFi options lack the gadgetry fun, sensors, and the other bells available on the Nanit Pro, iBaby M7 WiFi, and Arlo Baby, they get the monitoring job done in a way that is easy to use. The bonus of most WiFi cameras (possible not the iBaby) is that they can work for multiple purposes when baby monitoring time is over. These options can seamlessly shift into a nanny cam, security, or pet camera. We think this takes the sting out of the lack of baby-centric features, which in our experience, most parents typically stop using when the novelty wears off.
The dedicated products didn't score as well as the WiFi options when it came to features. They don't offer as many features as their WiFi counterparts, their features don't make the camera easier to use, or they don't work that well. The dedicated monitors have the 2-way talk, but they can also only be viewed on the parent device that pairs with the monitor. Some provide temperature sensors and lullabies, but most don't include motion detection or a real zoom. The highest score for features for the dedicated video options is 6 of 10 for the Hello Baby. It scored fairly average overall, but it is one of the best-dedicated options in the group with better than average video.
Features are important, but we encourage you to consider which features you will use and which sound like fun in theory but probably won't be used over time. Many options have a higher price tag and justify this with features parents are unlikely to use. Features like alarm clocks for feeding schedules and alerts for low humidity might seem like something you would use, but sound activation and quality images are more critical in practice. In fact, additional features often translate to being harder to use, and many are novelty functions that most parents stop using. Don't be persuaded by bells and whistles that you might stop using in the first few weeks. In the end, what you want is a good monitor with great sound and video quality.
Sound Activation Vs. Notifications and Alerts
Sound activation functionality is something all parents should seriously consider. This feature helps keep the monitor silent unless a baby is actively making noise. This feature potentially results in more sleep as you aren't exposed to unwanted, annoying background noise. Sound activation translates to hearing only what you need to hear, a fussy or crying baby. This feature isn't available on all monitors.
Alternatively, notifications and alerts relay a message or email to your personal device (i.e., smartphone) when motion or sound occurs. This kind of feature is only found on WiFi monitors. It isn't ideal for monitoring a baby because it is typically delayed, sometimes as long as 30 minutes after your little one started crying. The alert also can't provide details about the type of sound or motion, and excessive vague messages can get annoying. For these reasons, we prefer sound activation over notifications/alerts, which we believe are not useful for monitoring children.
Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Levels
Electromagnetic fields (EMF) or dirty electricity is something we feel should be discussed when considering any baby monitor. Given that all wireless devices emit some level of EMF, we believe it is negligent not to discuss the potential health risks associated with the kind of radiation emitted by wireless products. While the jury is still out, and studies are not conclusive yet, there is enough evidence that EMF can potentially cause health problems that we feel it is better to err on the side of caution when it comes to exposing children than to ignore the potential impact.
Wireless devices and dirty electricity are near impossible to avoid in our technological age, but this doesn't mean that you shouldn't make an effort to limit exposure for your family. Despite current scientific evidence being somewhat conflicting, we feel parents should make informed and deliberate decisions about their children's exposure to potential health risks. Especially given that their developing bodies and systems are more susceptible to this kind of radiation. We can't say with absolute certainty that monitors pose a potential health risk, but we also can't say for sure that they don't. Given this, we feel it is critical to test and report on the EMF emission levels of each competitor in our review. With this knowledge, you have the information you need to determine which products align with your goals and beliefs concerning EMF exposure.
The WiFi options have lower EMF emissions in our tests than the dedicated options, with the lowest average EMF readings being 0.75 V/m for the Arlo Baby, 0.77 V/m for the Miku, and 0.37 V/m for the Nanit Pro (the lowest in the group overall)with the EMF reader 6 ft from the unit. The lowest average reading for the dedicated monitors at 6 ft is 0.83 for the Hello Baby. This level is significantly lower than any other dedicated monitor we've tested, making it a good choice for parents concerned about EMF who also want a dedicated option over a WiFi product.
You can lower your baby's potential exposure if your camera setup is more than 12-15 feet away from your baby's usual resting place (adequate distance for night vision for most units). Given the sensitivity of a baby's developing systems, we recommend setting the monitor as far away from your little one as possible while adhering to night vision requirements. For most video monitors in this review, this distance is 10-15 feet away from the baby.
Even though the jury might be out concerning the potential effects of EMF on health, you don't need to wait for definitive proof before you err on the side of caution and make thoughtful adjustments or decisions. There is enough preliminary evidence on the topic that choosing to limit EMF exposure makes sense, even if it is "just in case." EMF exposure compounds over time, and there has been an increase in the number of devices emitting EMF. You can help decrease your baby's exposure by:
- Turning devices off when not in use
- Unplugging wireless routers at night (not possible if using WiFi monitors)
- Keeping in-use products as far from your baby as possible
- Don't put your WiFi router in the baby's room
Not convinced of the potential for harm? It never hurts to make thoughtful decisions to potentially increase the health of your home and the children in it. We encourage all parents to weigh the pros and cons of each home addition for how it could impact home health.
You will love the ability to peek in on your little one using a cool video monitor. Seeing what is happening in the nursery can help you determine if you need to provide in-person help or can wait for your baby to settle on their own. Our ideal scenario uses a great sound monitor as your core monitoring solution, combining it with a video WiFi monitor that allows you to watch your baby remotely. We believe our intensive months of hands-on, side-by-side testing of products can help you find the right solution for your family, no matter what your viewing needs might be.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz