Searching for the best video baby monitor? Since 2012, we've tested more than 88 baby monitors, including the 14 top video monitors in this review. We put each monitor through rigorous side-by-side testing for several months to compare performance attributes, including the range, sound clarity, video quality, ease of use, battery life, and more. Our comparison process and hands-on analysis help us determine which monitors meet your needs and budget. Whether you are considering WiFi or a dedicated monitor, or which features are the most useful, we have the details you need to find the best video monitoring option for your family and budget size.
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 appreciate 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.
The iBaby M8 2K Smart Baby Monitor is a baby-centric WiFi monitor offering great video quality, better than average sound clarity, and so many features you might lose track. Traditionally, we've loved the iBaby video monitors, and the new M8 is no exception. This monitor offers low EMF, sound activation, lullabies, ceiling projection, and more. We think parents will love the easy-to-use app, and little ones will love all the add-ons that can potentially provide comfort at night in the nursery.
The biggest downside to the M8 is a weird camera lag time when you pan the camera within the app. The lag is slow at first, then speeds up quickly to meet what it thinks are your expectations. It lacks any kind of precision to focus on a single area remotely. While this is frustrating, we don't see it as a deal breaker. Most parents will put the camera in a single location that centers on the crib and will likely never use the pan feature. However, if you need a wider or different view, you can always position the camera manually or use all your patience skills. Overall, we are willing to overlook this minor hiccup to get a clear video and useful features.
Past Winner Alert
iBaby also makes the iBaby Care M7, which was a previous award winner in this review. It is still available and is a great monitor we love (without the camera lag). It was bumped only because the newer version has a few more features. Be sure to look at both before buying, as one might meet your needs better than the other.
The Wyze Cam V3 is a simple security camera for general home security or monitoring. It is WiFi connected, and you can add multiple cameras or viewers to your account. We appreciate the easy-to-use app and setup of this camera, and we like the small, unassuming nature of the design. The night vision video is crisp and clear, and there was no lag when moving the camera or zooming in. The real upside to this small camera is the low, low price. At this price, it is accessible to almost everyone with a new baby and could easily become addictive with multiple cameras everywhere.
This camera is not designed with babies in mind. It doesn't offer features like lullabies, nightlights, projections, etc. For many parents, this isn't a concern, as you can always buy other products to fill these niches. In fact, some parents like to use nightlights and projectors as potential nursery decor additions and want something very specific. For the price, we think it is hard to beat this camera. It delivers everything you need to monitor your little one and keeps it simple with a design you can use for years to come, long past the crib stage of life.
The Google Nest Cam 2nd Gen is a quality WiFi camera designed for security and general monitoring. This straightforward monitor offers some of the best video and better than average sound for a reasonable price that is neither high nor cheap. It connects via WiFi, so it is good for larger homes or those with a load of walls. And its new smaller round shape is pleasing to the eye and decor.
This monitor is more difficult to use than many of the competing WiFi monitors, and it doesn't offer baby-specific features. So it could be a poor fit for anyone looking for features like sounds, night lights, or projections. It also requires a Google account, and the app isn't as intuitive as it used to be in the previous testing we've done on older versions. Overall, we love the longevity potential of this camera and the ability to use it for security or monitoring children or nannies as little ones grow. We also believe it offers a lot of value given the multiple-use options and the lower-than-average price.
The LeapFrog LF920HD 7" Display is an easy-to-use and set-up dedicated monitor with a large 7-inch screen on the parent's unit. This monitor is perfect for those concerned with the security of WiFi or who want something with straightforward operation. This monitor has one of the best range results in the dedicated group and a good range for most houses with up to a distance of 80 feet and 6 walls. It is easy to use and has great range and better than average battery life.
Overall, this monitor only scored about average, but it was undeniably one of the best-dedicated options. The video is the most disappointing part, which is a bummer given the category, but it is good enough to see what you need to determine your little one's level of need. While more expensive than competing WiFi options, we think it could be the right choice for families who favor simplicity, need something for grandparents, or have security concerns about hacking into WiFi monitors.
We've purchased and tested more than 88 different baby monitors across types since 2012. Our monitor testing protocols put the products through a multi-point performance score and rank video quality and other functionalities. We've logged hundreds of monitoring hours during testing, from battery life and range to sound clarity.
Our video monitor testing is divided across 6 rating metrics:
Video Quality (30% of overall score weighting)
Range (20% weighting)
Sound Clarity (20% weighting)
Ease of Use (15% weighting)
Battery Life (10% weighting)
Features (5% weighting)
Video baby monitors went through more than 46 individual tests to compare their performance. The most important metric was video quality; it corresponds to 30% of the overall score. Our video quality rating is informed by 4 specific tests that include a color chart to review accuracy and tonal quality and an eye chart to assess clarity and ability to relay finer details. Our testing took place in the BabyGearLab in-house lab and homes with little ones to watch. The monitor reviews draw on over three 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 contender has the best features, quality sound and video, ease of use, most extended range, and most reliable connection.
Overseeing our expert group of monitor testers is by BabyGearLab founder, Dr. Juliet Spurrier , a board-certified pediatrician and mother of 2. Dr. Spurrier utilizes her extensive experience and education as a pediatrician, with the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations, and her journey as a mother to choose products for testing. Our team of expert testers 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. Plus, Senior Review Editor Wendy Schmitz, another vital team member (and mother of 2) who has been reviewing and researching video monitors professionally since 2014. Bob and Wendy have evaluated over 42 video monitors since 2014 and well over 100 baby monitors, including video, top-ranking sound monitors, and movement over that time.
What Would We Do?
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 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. There is something for every budget in this lineup with various products, including WiFi cameras. Our favorite budget camera is the Wyze Cam V3. This easy-to-use wallet-friendly camera connects via WiFi, is fairly straightforward, and can connect several cameras with multiple viewers. You can but three of these cute squares before you get close to the price of the NestCam 2nd Gen (which is also reasonably priced!). If WiFi isn't your jam, the LeapFrog LF920HD 7" Display is a dedicated option with loads of baby-centric features and a price lower than some of the dedicated WiFi competition. It is more than several WiFi options, but if dedicated is what you want, we still think it's a good value.
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 does not necessarily indicate how well it will work inside your home, where walls and interference abound. It doesn't matter how much you want a particular model or brand; if it doesn't have good connectivity in your home, you won't be happy or have the monitoring you desire.
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. Seriously, don't do that!).
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 units only work through up to 4 walls. The LeapFrog LF920HD 7" Display has the most extended range for dedicated monitors in this review, with an impressive 80 ft through 6 walls. But, if your needs are higher than that, none of the dedicated monitors in this review will likely work in your home. The LeapFrog is our favorite dedicated option, in part thanks to the impressive range we didn't see in most of the dedicated competition.
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-to-life video, 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 many mid-range or lower tones. This lack of tonal range isn't a deal-breaker, but it can make babies' cries harsher than they are in real life.
In our tests, the best sound score is 7 earned by the Angelcare AC327, Google Nest Cam 2nd Gen, and the dedicated LeapFrog LF920HD 7" Display. Most of the competition earned 5s for sound. It appears that no matter how great your parent device is, the WiFi cameras struggle to transmit clear sound with useful sound features.
These photos show daytime images for the Google Nest Cam 2nd Gen (above left), which earned a 9 of 10 for video quality, and the VTech Upgraded Smart VM901 5" Display (above right), which received one of the highest scores for video in the dedicated monitors with a 7.
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 iBaby M8 2K Smart Baby Monitor, Google Nest Cam 2nd Gen, both earning a 9 of 10. Following close behind is the Wyze Cam V3 and the Nanit Pro coming in with 8s. 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 LeapFrog (above) offers a disappointing night vision video. Much of this is related to the camera's angle in relation to the baby, so if you choose this option, we recommend a process of trial and error to find the best location with the clearest view.
The high for video quality for the dedicated monitors is a 7 earned by the VTech Smart VM901. This option has easy-to-see details with no weird coloring. There is some blurring in the image when you move the camera, but it isn't a deal breaker.
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 app 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 LeapFrog LF920HD is the easiest to use dedicated option, scoring 9 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 intuitive. We think most parents will stick to the buttons on the front of the unit without much menu searching. The Infant Optics DXR-8 PRO is also an easy-to-use dedicated monitor earning a 9 as well. It also comes with multiple lenses to add to the camera, which you can easily interchange, even if it is annoying that you must go into the nursery to do it.
Most of the app-required monitors are easy to set up for those who are comfortable downloading and setting up apps. All options walk users through the setup process step-by-step and have fairly intuitive menus that will seem familiar to most users that regularly use smartphones. They all come with a quick start guide that will have you up and watching your baby swiftly. It's still tough to beat the setup of plugging in a monitor and turning it on, which you get with the dedicated options.
Testing battery life was for the parent device only. While some of the dedicated options have a battery in the camera in 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.
The battery life ranges between 6.75 and 16 hours for the parent devices of dedicated monitors. 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 VTech VM819 has the longest dedicated monitor battery life with 16 hours of runtime. The Infant Optics DXR-8 PRO and the VTech Upgraded Smart VM901 5" Display earned the lowest score with a runtime of about 6 hours. While not a deal-breaker as most nap times last for less time, it could leave you wanting. None of the monitors in this review offer 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, which 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 goals.
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.
The iBaby Care M8 WiFi earned a 10 of 10 for features in our tests. It provides multiple features that increase convenience for parents and are fun for a baby. For parents, this camera works with WiFi, 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 it has zoom/pan/tilt functionality. The iBaby M8 has a 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 M8 and the M7 (which earned a 9 for features) also have sensors for temperature, humidity, and air quality, so parents can ensure the baby is cozy. The M8 has a ceiling mobile projector as well. 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 Miku Pro and the VTech Upgraded Smart VM901 5" Display came in a close second for features, each scoring 8 of 10. The Nanit Pro, LeapFrog LF920HD 7" Display, and Wyze Cam V3 all earned 7 out of 10. 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 and iBaby M8 and M7 WiFi, they get the monitoring job done in a way that is easy to use. The bonus of most WiFi cameras (possibly not the iBaby) is that they can work for multiple purposes when baby monitoring 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 for 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 a 2-way talk but can 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 8 of 10 for the VTech Upgraded Smart VM901 5" Display. It scored fairly average overall, but it is one of the better-dedicated options in the group. The LeapFrog LF920HD 7" Display also have a respectable number of features for baby, earning a 7.
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. Ultimately, you want 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 starts 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 0.21 V/m for the Miku Pro and 0.23 V/m for the iBaby M8 2K Smart Baby Monitor with the EMF reader 6 ft from the unit. The lowest average reading for the dedicated monitors at 6 ft is 0.18 for the Infant Optics DXR-8 PRO. 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. The LeapFrog LF920HD 7" Display is also low at 0.23.
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.
The ability to peek at your baby using a video monitor can be a game-changer, and seeing what's happening in the nursery can help you determine whether or not you need to go in or if they can 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 the competition can help you narrow the options to the right solution for your family. Don't forget that a monitor is a useful baby gift, so add your favorite to your registry.
Avoid diaper disasters with the best-performing diapers on...
Honest, objective reviews. Led by a Pediatrician.
BabyGearLab was founded by a Pediatrician Mom with a mission to provide a reliable, independent, source of information to new parents. Our experts have tested thousands of baby and kids products to share key performance, health, and safety findings. We spend tens of thousands of dollars crash testing car seats to inform our ratings. And, we combine our review work with gobs of expert parenting advice. To assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing by people who care.