In-depth reviews guided by a Pediatrician

The Best Video Baby Monitors of 2018

Tuesday October 23, 2018
  • Share this article:

Which video baby monitors are the best? We considered over 50 potential contenders before purchasing 10 top video options. We put each video monitor through a variety of rigorous side-by-side tests to compare the range, sound clarity, video quality, ease-of-use, and more. Our process and hands-on analysis are designed to determine which baby monitors will meet your needs and budget by narrowing your options and dialing in the details. The information we've learned can help you determine if you want a Wi-Fi unit or a dedicated monitor, and what features you'll find most useful. Read on for help finding the best monitor for your baby.


Compare Top Products

Displaying 1 - 5 of 10
≪ Previous | View All | Next ≫
 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award 
Price $299.00 List$188.00 List
$197.98 at Amazon
$230.00 List
$165.99 at Amazon - 28% off
$199.00 List
$159.00 at Amazon - 20% off
$220.00 List
$167.98 at Amazon - 24% off
Overall Score
100
0
86
100
0
84
100
0
60
100
0
84
100
0
72
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Awesome images, face recognition, easy to use, lots of featuresWi-Fi range, lots of features, great images, easy to useEasy to use, long battery lifeInternet range, great images, versatile long term useGreat range, clear sound, easy to use
Cons Not baby specific, expensive, poor sound, some features require subscriptionSub par sound, higher price, internet dependantLimited range, fewer features, priceNo internet / no monitor, disappointing soundNot many features, manual adjust camera
Bottom Line Fancy wi-fi with impressive video but the price may not be worth it for baby monitoringCool wi-fi option with all the bells and whistles that is easy to useSpendy monitor that is easy to use, but has a limited indoor rangeReally cool camera with lots of uses and great video for simple baby monitoringOur favorite dedicated monitor with impressive range that is very easy to use
Ratings Categories Cam IQ Indoor Wi-Fi Care M7 Wi-Fi DXR-8 Cam Indoor Wi-Fi Avent SCD630
Range (30%)
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
5
10
0
10
10
0
9
Sound Clarity (20%)
10
0
4
10
0
4
10
0
5
10
0
4
10
0
8
Video Quality (20%)
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
10
10
0
5
Ease Of Use (15%) Sort Icon
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
Battery Life (10%)
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
10
10
0
5
Features (5%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
5
10
0
8
10
0
4
Specs Cam IQ Indoor Wi-Fi Care M7 Wi-Fi DXR-8 Cam Indoor Wi-Fi Avent SCD630
Communication Technology 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHz FHSS 802.11 a/b/g/n 2.4 GHz FHSS
Indoor Range Test Anywhere You Have Connectivity Anywhere You Have Connectivity 4 Walls 65 Feet Anywhere You Have Connectivity 5 Walls 92 Feet
Open Field Range Test Anywhere You Have Connectivity Anywhere You Have Connectivity 650 Feet Anywhere You Have Connectivity 750 Feet

Update — October 2018
This review has received an overhaul including 5 new products and a few new award winners. We've removed discontinued products from the lineup, and introduced useful new contenders to consider.

Best Wi-Fi Baby Monitor


iBaby Care M7 Wi-Fi


Editors' Choice Award

$197.98
at Amazon
See It

Wi-Fi Capable: Yes | Sound Activation: Yes
Great video quality
Lots of baby-centric features
Easy to use
Remote controlled camera
Inaccurate temperature sensor
Poor sound clarity

The iBaby Care M7 Wi-Fi is an impressive Wi-Fi video monitor without equal in baby specific features. This monitor earned top scores for range, ease of use, features, and battery life with a second-place score for video quality. The iBaby's impressive performance during testing and subsequent overall score resulted in it winning an Editors' Choice award for best Wi-Fi monitor. This monitor features humidity, temperature, and air quality sensors to help ensure 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 baby even with another app running, something the other wi-fi options struggle with.

iBaby M6S Wi-Fi
if you are looking for a baby centered camera that is slightly less expensive than the M7, the M6S is very similar and easier on the wallet. A previous award winner, this model is still being produced and the differences in features are ones you likely won't miss.

This camera is more expensive than several of the other options making it a no-go if your budget is small. It also requires the internet, and if you have slow or sub-par service, you won't be able to use it. However, if you have the money and want to see your little one with lots of cool, useful baby centered features, it is hard, no, impossible, to find something more suitable than the iBaby.

Read review: iBaby Care M7 Wi-Fi

Best Dedicated Monitor


Philips Avent SCD630


Philips Avent SCD630
Editors' Choice Award

$167.98
(24% off)
at Amazon
See It

Wi-Fi Capable: No | Sound Activation: Yes
Best range for dedicated monitor
Quick setup
Best sound
Higher price
Manual camera adjustment
Shorter battery life

The Philips Avent SCD630 is the number 1 ranked dedicated monitor in this review. It has the longest range and highest ease of use scores for the dedicated options and the best score for sound clarity out of all the monitors including wi-fi options. The Philips comes with lullabies, a nightlight, 2-way talk to baby, automatic screen wakeup/sleep, sound activation, 2x zoom, and a temperature sensor.

This monitor struggles to offer true to life images and has fewer features than most of the competition, but it is hard to deny that this plug and play monitor is a simple solution for video baby monitoring, and it gets the job done with little fuss and only a small learning curve. It is also expensive for a video monitor since several dedicated and wi-fi options have lower price tags. Also, if you want a remote-controlled camera, you should look elsewhere, as this one is manual with a smaller field of view. However, if you aren't interested in wi-fi but want a quality video option, and you have the funds to spend, it is hard to do better than the Philips.

Read review: Philips Avent SCD630

Budget-Friendly Wi-Fi


LeFun 1080p Wi-Fi


Best Value Award

$39.99
(29% off)
at Amazon
See It

Wi-Fi Capable: Yes | Sound Activation: Yes
Nice video quality
Remote controlled camera
Inexpensive
Slight varying lag time
Poor sound clarity

The LeFun 1080p Wi-Fi earned a 3rd place rank thanks to high scores for range and battery life, and impressive results for video quality and features. This monitor earned a Best Value for Wi-Fi monitors for its budget-friendly list price that is the least expensive in the group; which means you can get a top performing monitor, for a reasonable price. The LeFun has motion detection, sound activation, 2-way talk to baby, zoom, and a remote-controlled camera with real pan and tilt capabilities.

This camera has a lag time when using the pan and tilt feature, and it is a little harder to use than the other Wi-Fi options we tested, but given the low price, we suspect most parents will forgive these minor flaws thanks to the impressive video images and cost almost any budget can afford.

Read review: LeFun 1080p Wi-Fi

Best Dedicated Monitor on a Budget


Levana Jena


Best Value Award

$79.99
at Amazon
See It

Wi-Fi Capable: No | Sound Activation: Yes
Easy to use
Good sound
Budget-friendly
Shorter range
So-so video

The Levana Jena is the high ranking dedicated monitor with a budget-friendly price. It comes with impressive battery life and is easy to use with more features than previous Levana models we've tested. This model has the second best sound clarity in the group and video good enough to see what you need to, even if it is missing some of the details or true to life colors. This monitor has 2-way talk to baby, sound activation, and automatic screen wake/sleep, which we feel are some of the most important features.

This monitor has a shorter range than the Philips Avent SCD630 and fewer features, but it's also about a third of the price as well. So it may not be a good choice for parents with larger homes or a distance between the nursery and the parent's bedroom greater than four walls. The Jena has no zoom, and the field of view is rather small for a camera that is not remotely operated. However, if you are looking for a dedicated monitor for the simplicity and peace of mind with less chance of a dropped signal, and your budget can't support other options, then the Jena is tough to beat.

Read review: Levana Jena

Great for Long-Term Use


Nest Cam Indoor Wi-Fi


Top Pick Award

$159.00
(20% off)
at Amazon
See It

Wi-Fi Capable: Yes | Sound Activation: Yes
True to life video
Easy to use
Features work well
Manual camera adjustment
Poor sound clarity

The Nest Cam Indoor Wi-Fi tied with the iBaby Care M7 Wi-Fi. This monitor has impressive video quality, wi-fi range, and is easy to use with enough features to keep most parents happy. Its impressive performance helped it win the Top Pick award 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 specific to baby monitoring, it lacks some of the fun features parents may want like lullabies and a nightlight. However, it does offer motion detection, sound activation, 2-way talk to baby, and 8x digital zoom.

Nest Cam IQ
Looking for a cool camera with even more features for security? The IQ has everything the Indoor offers and more with advanced features and Google assistant. If you plan to use this camera well beyond your baby watching days and want all that technology has to offer, you might take a look. Be forwarned, that while it scored well in tests, it has the largest price tag in the group and its additional features are not really useful for baby monitoring.

The Nest Cam camera does not have a remote control, but instead relies on a large field of view you can zoom into and then search. The downside to this camera is it does not continue to monitor if you use another app or take a phone call making it hard to use full-time without a second device. The Nest Cam is also expensive (though not the most expensive in the review), but it is still cheaper than some of the dedicated monitors. IOn the upside, its long-term use capabilities make it an investment we think parents will use for years to come as a nanny cam, home security feature, or checking in on pets, thereby justifying the higher cost.

Read review: Nest Cam Indoor Wi-Fi


Analysis and Test Results


We tested and compared 10 of the most popular video monitors using a comprehensive series of tests over several months. Our tests are designed to provide the information you need to make an informed decision about which product is right for your family. Each monitor is scored based on performance during our hands-on, side-by-side testing. The test results determine the metric scores, and those scores are used to create the overall scores and rank. Metric scores come from our in-house lab and user experience "in the field." We weight the overall scores with a preference for the range, video quality, and sound clarity.

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

Award-winning monitors perform well and offer parents and babies the features they need or want. Video monitors give a quick and silent look into baby's world without leaving your cozy bed or disturbing the baby.


If a trip to the nursery is required, you haven't lost much time, but if the baby is only adjusting, then you can go back to sleep without making a fuss. Getting good sleep, or as much rest as possible can be the difference between a great newborn experience and feeling like a new parent/zombie failure.

Nighttime images on the iBaby are easy to see with clear images and true to life video.
Nighttime images on the iBaby are easy to see with clear images and true to life video.

We test each product we purchase in key metrics that allow them to function as expected, or provide an additional feature or benefit. Monitors act as something of a lifeline for parents, so it is vital that they work well, have adequate range, provide useful images, and are easy to use. If a product doesn't work well enough to instill confidence, then it will fail to offer you the one thing you really want, more sleep.


Value


Now more than ever, there are cool video monitoring options that provide quality without the giant price tag. With a variety of options on the market, including wi-fi enabled cameras, there is something for every family and every budget in this lineup of winners and high ranking products. Possibly one of the most impressive choices is the wi-fi Lefun 1080p with a price below $60 you can get a cool monitor you can use anywhere with wi-fi with impressive images and a straightforward user-interface. This option is great for families on a budget with larger homes or more than four walls between the nursery and the parent's bedroom. While it has a slight delay, it isn't enough to impact useful baby monitoring, and the lack of features is something we think most parents can accept given the reasonable price. Not looking for wi-fi? The Levana Jena is a basic dedicated option that works right out of the box. Just plug in this simple beauty, and you are ready to watch your little one snoring away. The images on this monitor aren't as crisp as more expensive options but for the price, it gets the job done, and you'll see and hear enough to know whether or not you should be on the run to your baby's room in the middle of the night. With a list price of $80, the Jena is more expensive than the wi-fi Lefun, but if you don't want to mess with technology or your internet is lacking, it is the highest-ranked, budget-friendly dedicated option in the group.

The Philips Avent SCD630 has the longest range in the review for dedicated monitors. This monitor managed to keep a clear signal with consistent connection between 5 walls at 92 ft. This makes it potentially the only possible dedicated monitor for larger homes.
The Philips Avent SCD630 has the longest range in the review for dedicated monitors. This monitor managed to keep a clear signal with consistent connection between 5 walls at 92 ft. This makes it potentially the only possible dedicated monitor for larger homes.

Range


The range is the distance and number of walls between the nursery and the parent unit where the product will stay connected and working without interruption or interference. While most manufacturers offer a "line of sight" 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 won't matter how much you want a certain model or brand if it doesn't stay connected in your house it simply isn't going to work. We tested for indoor range and open field tests to provide the most complete picture. However, 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 limited to a Wi-Fi monitor. 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 Philips Avent SCD630 has the most extended 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 we tested are likely to work for your situation. Wi-Fi connected cameras, on the other hand, are limited only by the wireless router location in relation to the camera and parent unit, and the strength and speed of your Wi-Fi connection. If necessary, you can often move routers, or range extenders added, to increase the range between the components if the Wi-Fi monitor struggles to keep a clear or consistent connection. Purchasing a monitor from a retailer with a simple return policy (like Amazon) will allow you to test the monitor in your house to determine how well it works without the risk of being stuck with a useless product.

Test Now
We recommend you test your monitor the day you get it; waiting could result in missing a return window. Even if your little one hasn't arrived yet, you should set up the monitor as it will be used and work with a partner or a radio to determine if the connection and features work as you hoped they would.

Whether viewing on a large or small screen  the iBaby camera offers nice quality video with easy to see images and details that stand apart from the majority of monitors we tested. The  images are so good  it might be hard to stop watching!
Whether viewing on a large or small screen, the iBaby camera offers nice quality video with easy to see images and details that stand apart from the majority of monitors we tested. The images are so good, it might be hard to stop watching!

Audio and Visual Quality


Monitors should provide video that is clear and true to life, but they should also have quality sound that is easy to hear and clear enough for you to quickly decide if you need to look at the viewing screen, go back to sleep, or get running to the nursery. So, while you might consider video quality to be the most important metric for this kind of product, we rated both video and sound equally because, without one, the other doesn't much matter. If it has muffled sound, is difficult to decipher, or not loud enough, then parents might miss baby's cries. If the sound activation or thresholds for background noise don't work as described, then parents might lose sleep listening to a loud monitor. However, once alerted, you need a clear view of baby with enough details to determine baby's needs, day or night, or the video monitoring device isn't much better than a sound only product.

Most of the monitors we tested have average sound quality and clarity that isn't too muffled or muted. Most had bright high sound without a lot of mid-range or lower tones. This lack of tonal range isn't a deal breaker, but it does make baby's cries even harsher than they already are.


The best monitor for sound in our tests is the Philips Avent SCD630, with a score of 8 of 10. This monitor has the best sound activation and background cancellation features in the group, and while the sound is bright, it is also clear without an echo or static. Most of the competition earned 4s and 5s for sound, with all of the Wi-Fi monitors only earning 4s. It seems that no matter how good your parent device might be, for the most part, the Wi-Fi cameras struggle to transmit clear sound with useful sound features.

The Nest Cam Wi-Fi has the largest field of view  but it does not offer remote control over the camera  so there is no way to see past the edges of the initial image.
The daytime images of the Infant Optics DXR-8 are average compared to the competition  with better detail in baby's face  but no discernible letters on the eye chart.

These photos show daytime images for the Nest Cam Indoor Wi-Fi (above left), which earned a perfect 10 of 10 for video, and the Infant Optics DXR-8 (above right), which earned the highest video quality score for the dedicated monitors.

Video quality is a metric these products should all perform well in, but most of them failed to offer a true to life image even in the daytime. Given advancements in technology, it is disappointing that most dedicated video products aren't doing more than providing a blurry image of the baby in the room, and many fail to show the baby's features or what the human eye would see in the room. The night vision is even worse than their day vision video, with some images being so blurry and hard to decipher that parents may end up going to baby's room simply because their baby has no face or it looks like a small demon is in the crib.


Only the Wi-Fi cameras offer video images that reflect the room accurately with the Nest Cam Indoor Wi-Fi, Nest Cam IQ and the Lefun 1080p Wi-Fi earning perfect 10s of 10. The iBaby Care M7 Wi-Fi earned an impressive 9 matching the previous iBaby option in this review, the iBaby MS6 Wi-Fi. All of these monitors offer nice images with enough detail to let you see baby breathe, which is far better than a baby with no face.

The Lefun night vision images are crisp and clear with a full lighted view of baby's crib and the ability to zoom in for an even closer look means you won't miss a thing.
The Motorola MBP36S night images are more disappointing than the day images  with a spotlight type focus and images so blurry they look out of focus. Should baby scoot out of circle of "light" you will need to use the pan and tilt features to seem him or her.

The LeFun 1080p Wi-Fi (above left) has a top score for video quality and impressive night images, while the Motorola MBP36S (above right) has the most disappointing night video.

The Infant Optics DXR-8 earned the highest video quality score for the dedicated monitors. The color in the video is similar to real life  but the images are on the fuzzy side and not as clear as those from the Wi-Fi products.
The Infant Optics DXR-8 earned the highest video quality score for the dedicated monitors. The color in the video is similar to real life, but the images are on the fuzzy side and not as clear as those from the Wi-Fi products.

The high for dedicated monitors is only 6 earned by both the Infant Optics DXR-8 and the Summer Infant Baby Pixel. These monitors have images that are darker than the actual room and somewhat fuzzy, but they are nicer than the rest of the dedicated competition and definitely provide more information to sleepy parents.

The iBaby has a user-friendly menu with intuitive icons that feel familiar even though they aren't.
The iBaby has a user-friendly menu with intuitive icons that feel familiar even though they aren't.

Ease of Use


Ease of use may not seem like a big deal because once you know how to use something, it won't seem that hard, and after you use it for a while, it can feel intuitive even if it isn't. However, with this type of product, there can be a learning curve depending on what kind you choose and how many features it has. While the dedicated monitors were plug in and go options that even Grandma can manage, some of them took a little more skill to navigate and learn. The Wi-Fi options, on the other hand, do require some knowledge of technology and the way apps work. With all of them, you will need to set up the camera with your computer or another device, and you will need to set up an account and be able to manage things like Wi-Fi passwords and various settings inside the application. While this may seem like no big deal to some parents, it could be challenging for those that are less tech-savvy.


If you struggle with technology and don't need or want to see your baby from any other location besides your home, you might want to stick with the dedicated monitors that require little setup and have relatively intuitive user interfaces. We aren't saying that most people can't sort out the Wi-Fi monitors, but it is undeniably less work to plug the camera into an outlet and go than it is to sign up and download a software application.

Most of the commonly used buttons are on the face of the Philips Avent SCD630 parent unit  making it easy to use  even in the middle of the night while sleepy.
Most of the commonly used buttons are on the face of the Philips Avent SCD630 parent unit, making it easy to use, even in the middle of the night while sleepy.

The Philips Avent SCD630 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 very few buttons, with the most frequently used buttons are on the face of the unit. The menu options are relatively intuitive with not much chance of taking a wrong turn or getting buried in a file menu system with no way out. 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. The Levana Jena has fewer features and is even easier to use, thanks to a lack of convoluted menu options.

The Nest Cam Indoor Wi-fi setup and daily use features are easy to use compared to most of the competition  and the user interface is one many parents will feel comfortable with right away.
The Nest Cam Indoor Wi-fi setup and daily use features are easy to use compared to most of the competition, and the user interface is one many parents will feel comfortable with right away.

The iBaby Care M7 Wi-Fi and the Nest Cam IQ are the easiest Wi-Fi monitors to set up and use with scores of 9 of 10. The Nest Cam Indoor Wi-Fi camera is hot on their heels with an 8. All options walk users through the setup process step-by-step and have intuitive menus that will seem familiar to even the most novice user who is familiar with a smartphone. They all come with a quick start guide that will have you up and watching your baby in no time.

The M7 is a baby-centric wi-fi monitoring device with more features than the competition.
The M7 is a baby-centric wi-fi monitoring device with more features than the competition.

At the end of the day, if all you want is a no muss no fuss monitor that you'll be able to set up and use quickly, then most of the Wi-Fi options will work. However, if you want to plug it in and have it work without the need to learn something new, then the award-winning Philips Avent SCD630 or the Best Value, Levana Jena, will get the job done simply and fast. The cheaper price tag and simplicity of fewer buttons (easier to use) on the Levana Jena make it a great option as a secondary monitor for Grandma or travel.

The Jena has limited buttons which make the face clean but also means you have to toggle through to find the functions you need.
The Jena has limited buttons which make the face clean but also means you have to toggle through to find the functions you need.

Battery Life


Testing battery life for all the monitors 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 do not, and they are not intended for use as an all-night option. So while we would support a cordless camera for monitoring a baby, due to safety concerns with babies and strangulation hazards, none of the products in our review offer this.


For the parent devices of dedicated monitors, the battery life ranged anywhere between 6.75 and 12.25 hours. The Wi-Fi options are harder to gauge given that the battery life depends on the kind of device used, whether or not it is being used for other applications simultaneously, and how old the battery is in the device. In general, however, we feel it is relatively safe to say that most will work longer than the best dedicated monitor battery if the device is dedicated for use with the monitor only and is not running other applications simultaneously.

The longest battery life for the dedicated products in our review is the Levana Jena, which ran for 12.25 hours in full use mode. The manufacturer claims this unit will work up to 12 hours in power saving mode, but we got similar results in full use mode. The Infant Optics DXR-8 came in second place with a shorter runtime of closer to 11.5 hours. The Motorola MBP36S earned the lowest score for battery life with a runtime just under 7 hours. While not necessarily a deal breaker, there are plenty of other reasons to dislike the Motorola MBP36S, and the battery life is just a small part of a disappointing overall picture (no pun intended).

The iBaby has a user-friendly menu with intuitive icons that feel familiar even though they aren't.
The iBaby has a user-friendly menu with intuitive icons that feel familiar even though they aren't.

Features


All of the products in this review have features for convenience and function, but some also offer features for fun or additional information. All have night vision with sensors for automatic adjustment with light changes, and all offer 2-way communication with baby through the camera. Some of them come with lullabies, and others have nifty temperature and humidity sensors. Overall, whatever you might be looking for, or never knew existed but now want, can probably be found in these products.

Thanks to the use of wi-fi technology  the M7 range is as good as the internet connection in your home and on your parent device.
Thanks to the use of wi-fi technology, the M7 range is as good as the internet connection in your home and on your parent device.

The features we focus on are those we believe either increase the performance of the monitor or make it more user-friendly for parents and increase the odds of getting good quality sleep. We look for monitors with sound activation that keeps the parent unit quiet when the baby isn't crying, so parents can potentially fall asleep faster because they don't have to listen to white noise. Some of the monitors are so loud, even at low volumes, that the white noise might keep light sleeping parents awake; this defeats the purpose of having a video product. We also like the models with screens that automatically "wake" and go to sleep.


The iBaby Care M7 Wi-Fi earned a 9 of 10 for features in our tests. This monitor offers features that increase convenience for parents and things that are fun for baby. For parents, this camera works on any iOS device, can be accessed from anywhere with internet or cell phone reception (with a data plan), will work with multiple cameras, and has sound activation. The user interface is intuitive for experienced iOS users, and the zoom/pan/tilt features work well. This monitor features a true remote-controlled camera with the widest field of view range in the group, motion detection, sound activation, and it has built-in remote-controlled lullabies that include the ability to add your music of choice or your recorded voice. The iBaby M7 also monitors the temperature, humidity, and air quality of the baby's room so parents can ensure baby is cozy. If all of that isn't enough, the app will remain running when using other apps, and when parents turn the device's screen off. Possibly the only things lacking are an automatic screen wake and sleep, which we think isn't that big of a deal.

The Nest Cam has 2 way talk to baby on the main viewing screen and other features can be easily found within the menu in just a few clicks.
The Nest Cam has 2 way talk to baby on the main viewing screen and other features can be easily found within the menu in just a few clicks.

The Nest Cam Indoor Wi-Fi, Nest Cam IQ, and the LeFun 1080p Wi-Fi came in a close second to the iBaby Care M7 Wi-Fi for features, each scoring an 8 of 10. Because these cameras are designed more with surveillance in mind and are not solely about a baby, they have several features that make parents lives easier, but not anything fancy and fun for baby. They do offer 2-way communication, but no lullabies or environmental sensors. Given that many parents already have "noise makers" (aka lullabies) covered by way of another product, the lack of this feature isn't a deal breaker in our book. So while these Wi-Fi cameras lack the gadgetry fun of humidity sensing and the other bells of the iBaby M7 Wi-Fi, they still get the job of monitoring done in a way that is easy for parents to use. The bonus of the Nest Cam Indoor Wi-Fi camera is that it can be used for multiple applications when baby gets older and no longer needs an overnight monitor. This monitor can easily shift for use as a nanny cam, security, or pet camera. We think this takes the sting (if there is some) out of its lack of baby fun features, which in the end, most parents usually stop using when the novelty wears off.

The menu options on the Infant Optics DXR-8 are intuitive and few require more than one click; this is where you find most of the features of the monitor including pan  tilt  and zoom. This monitor earned the highest score for the features metric out of the dedicated monitors.
The menu options on the Infant Optics DXR-8 are intuitive and few require more than one click; this is where you find most of the features of the monitor including pan, tilt, and zoom. This monitor earned the highest score for the features metric out of the dedicated monitors.

The dedicated monitors did not score as well as the Wi-Fi products for features. It isn't that they don't have features, it's just that they don't offer as many, don't have features that make the camera easier to use or the features they have don't work that well. All of the dedicated monitors have 2-way communication, but they all also can only be viewed on the parent device that comes with the monitor. Some offer temperature sensors and lullabies, but most of them don't provide motion detection or great zoom. The highest score for features for the traditional video products was 5 of 10. Two monitors managed to earn the 5 rating, with the Infant Optics DXR-8 being the highest ranked overall with a feature score of 5. However, this monitor did not score well overall, or in key metrics, we think are essential for a good video monitor. So despite having a high score for features, we still would not recommend this monitor to a friend.

The Philips Avent SCD630 video monitor has some features like temperature sensor  lullabies  two way talk  and a nightlight  and most are accessible inside the on screen menu.
The Philips Avent SCD630 video monitor has some features like temperature sensor, lullabies, two way talk, and a nightlight, and most are accessible inside the on screen menu.

Features are important, but we encourage you to consider which features you think you will realistically use and which sound like fun in theory, but probably won't happen in practice. Many of the monitors carry a higher price tag and justify the price with the addition of features parents are unlikely to use in real life. Features like alarm clocks for feeding schedules, and alerts for low humidity might feel like something you should consider, but in practice, sound activation and quality images are more useful. In fact, more features often translate to being more difficult to use, and many of the features are novelty functions that most parents stop using over time. An excellent example of this is the Philips Avent SCD630 with an ease of use score of 8, but a features score of only 4. Try not to fall for the propaganda of bells and whistles that you might only use for the first few weeks. In the end, what you want is a good monitor with great sound and video quality.

The Nest Cam Indoor Wi-Fi has alert and notification options as part of the menu of options. These features are NOT designed for proper baby monitoring and should not be used to keep a watchful eye on baby at any time  as the messages can arrive after the fact by 30 minutes or more.
The Nest Cam Indoor Wi-Fi has alert and notification options as part of the menu of options. These features are NOT designed for proper baby monitoring and should not be used to keep a watchful eye on baby at any time, as the messages can arrive after the fact by 30 minutes or more.

Sound Activation Vs. Notifications and Alerts


Sound activation is a feature we think parents should consider. This feature creates a quiet monitor unless the baby is actively making noise and translates to parents potentially getting more sleep because they aren't kept awake by ambient noises. Having sound activation means you only hear what you want to. This feature is available in dedicated and Wi-Fi monitors.

Notifications and alerts work by sending a message or email to your device when motion or sound has occurred. This feature is only found in the Wi-Fi monitors, and isn't the best feature for the baby because it comes after the fact (sometimes up to 30 min or more after), it does not offer details of the type of sound or motion detected and could get annoying with receiving useless and excessive messages. In the end, we prefer sound activation over notifications and feel that alerts and notifications aren't all that useful for keeping tabs on your baby.

For more information on these features or terminology see our Buying Advice article.

The LeFun can be connected using an ethernet cable which can decrease the EMF it emits. Always use caution when using any item with cords in a nursery that they are well out of baby's reach.
The LeFun can be connected using an ethernet cable which can decrease the EMF it emits. Always use caution when using any item with cords in a nursery that they are well out of baby's reach.

Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Levels


Electromagnetic fields (EMF), or dirty electricity, is something we think needs to be discussed when talking about wireless baby monitors. Given that all wireless devices give off some level of EMF, we feel it would be negligent not to discuss the potential for possible 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 potentially causes health problems that we feel it is better to be cautious when it comes to children's exposure than to ignore the possibilities.


Wireless devices and dirty electricity are almost impossible to get away from in our current technological age, but it doesn't mean we can't take steps to limit the exposure to ourselves and our children. Even though the current evidence is somewhat conflicting, parents should make informed and thoughtful decisions regarding their children's exposure to potential health risks, especially given that their bodies are developing and more susceptible to this type of radiation. We can't say for sure that monitors pose a health risk, but we also don't know for sure that they don't. Given this information, we feel it is essential to test and report on the EMF levels of each monitor so parents can decide for themselves which product fits in best with their goals and concerns.

The camera with the Infant Optics DXR-8 has the lowest EMF reading out of all the dedicated monitors we tested.
The camera with the Infant Optics DXR-8 has the lowest EMF reading out of all the dedicated monitors we tested.

The Wi-Fi monitors all have lower EMF readings than the dedicated options with the lowest average EMF readings being 0.84 for the LeFun 1080p Wi-Fi and 0.91 for the Nest Cam IQ with the reader 6 ft from the camera. The lowest average value for the dedicated monitors at 6 ft is 1.89 for the Infant Optics DXR-8 and 1.91 for the Philips Avent SCD630.

Baby's exposure could potentially be even lower if parents place the camera on a wall at least 15 feet from baby (a distance still good for night vision to work correctly with most monitors). Given the sensitivity of baby's developing systems, we recommend placing the monitor as far away from the baby as possible while still being able to utilize the night vision as intended and see baby's face to determine if they are awake or sleeping at a glance. For most of the products, this distance is between 10-15 feet from the baby.

Safer Practices
Even though the jury is out on the effects of EMF on the human body, this doesn't mean parents need to wait for more definitive proof before making thoughtful adjustments that err on the side of caution. Given that exposure compounds over time and with an increased number of devices emitting, you can help limit baby's exposure by:
  • turning off devices when they are not in use
  • unplugging wireless routers at night while children sleep
  • keeping products as far from your baby as possible when in use

Even if you are not convinced that there is potential for harm, it certainly can't hurt to make choices that potentially increase the health of your home and we encourage all parents to do so.

Whether viewing on a large or small screen  the iBaby camera offers nice quality video with easy to see images and details that stand apart from the majority of monitors we tested. The  images are so good  it might be hard to stop watching!
Whether viewing on a large or small screen, the iBaby camera offers nice quality video with easy to see images and details that stand apart from the majority of monitors we tested. The images are so good, it might be hard to stop watching!

Conclusion


Video products for monitoring baby is a growing industry, and it feels like every company is jumping on the bandwagon and throwing something into the already overflowing market of monitors. This plethora of products can make sorting through options difficult and attempts to narrow the field daunting. Luckily, we have already done the legwork by doing an initial review of the top products and choosing 9 of the most popular and well-rated options to test and compare. After months of hands-on testing, we feel confident that no matter what you might be looking for in a video monitor, that you can find it in one of our award winners or the top-ranked products in this review.

The new additions to the 2018 update of video monitors. Many of these contenders impress and went on to earn awards.
The new additions to the 2018 update of video monitors. Many of these contenders impress and went on to earn awards.

If you still feel stymied or confused, don't panic! Head over to our buying advice for more information on what to consider before buying a monitor, and a handy step-by-step guide to narrowing the field and finding the best product for your family.


Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz