Will Greenwald has been covering consumer technology for a decade, and has served on the editorial staffs of CNET.com, Sound & Vision, and Maximum PC. His work and analysis has been seen in GamePro, Tested.com, Geek.com, and several other publications. He currently covers consumer electronics in the PC Labs as the in-house home entertainment expert... See Full Bio
For parents of newborns, few things can be more important than knowing you’ll be there the moment your baby needs you. No wonder a baby monitor usually appears pretty high on the “must buy” list for families with expectant mothers. But don’t rush into buying the most expensive, assuming it’s the best – this is a purchase where you need to think about which features you actually need, and which ones you don’t.
The Nest Cam isn’t a dedicated baby monitor, but an all-around home protection device. Besides aiming the camera at the crib, you can also use it to keep an eye on the nanny, the dog or your empty home while you’re away. The video camera can be set up anywhere, and you can watch the live streaming from your smartphone. It also has two-way communication so you can soothe your little one to sleep, even if you’re offsite. If the device senses motion or sound, it’ll send a phone alert or an email to you. Missed what happened? From the app, you can view photos of any activity that took place over the last three hours. (There are Nest Aware subscriptions available that provide access to 5, 10 or 30 days of recordings, for $5, $10 or $30 a month, respectively). The picture quality is super sharp, too.
Today's market is saturated with a large number of products aimed towards child safety. Baby monitors come in all different shapes and sizes with features like two way communication, night vision and pre-recorded lullabies. They’re modernized with rechargeable batteries via USB, touchscreen pads, and full HD visual displays. So how does one make an informed decision on what the best type of baby monitor is for them? To help, we've compiled a list of the best baby monitors that will suit whatever baby surveillance need you have on any budget.
The obvious benefit of this baby monitor is being able to leave my baby safely in the cot and monitor him from afar, but there are also other amazing functions. The sound quality on this product is great – loud enough that you can hear as soon as your baby wakes up and react fact. The talkback function was great, as it meant I could speak to my son and soothe him without having to go into his room. These extra touches were surprising and great.
Bargain hunters may prefer the iBaby M6T. Though it's a couple years old and records video in in 720p resolution, it's still a capable monitor with night vision, two-way audio and helpful pan-and-tilt capabilities. It's also available for nearly $100 less than the Arlo Baby. If the voice-powered Alexa assistant is a part of your family, consider the Project Nursery Smart Baby Monitor, which includes a smart speaker in its $229 bundle that lets you remote control the camera.
This video monitor boasts exceptionally clear sound, which we didn’t find was affected by interference from other devices, plus there’s a clear picture, which only drops in quality in particularly low light. Signal-wise, you can go into the garden with peace of mind and it’s easy to set up with the mains-powered camera to see your baby from lots of different angles. You can zoom in remotely, although you can’t tilt the camera remotely, which may not be ideal for fidgety babies. It withstands drops and it has lullabies and other sounds, as well as various alarms and lights. Shame the battery life isn’t long longer than six hours, though.
If your internet goes down, your baby monitor goes down. A wifi baby monitor uses your home's internet connection to communicate to servers, then to your app. So if your internet connection goes down, then you will no longer be able to stream video of your baby. That's a huge consideration to keep in mind because you never know when your internet will slow down or simply stop working for several minutes or hours, and you will be stuck without a working baby monitor. There are a few wifi baby monitors that will still communicate locally (within your home's network) when the internet goes down, such as the Lollipop or Nanit. They do this by switching from internet to local area network when an outage is detected, so you can have confidence that if you're connected to your home wifi you'll still see your baby.
We began by shopping for baby monitors like anyone else would if they had dozens of hours to do it. The process started with a long list of best sellers at Amazon, Walmart, Target, BuyBuy Baby, and Costco. We found monitors recommended in editorial reviews, such as from PCMag, Reviewed, and Tom’s Guide. We also read a ton of discussion among parents in the Amazon reviews—what features they found especially useful, and what problems tend to occur. Thinking of all of this, and comparing those concerns against the things we’ve appreciated and despised in our own years of monitor use, we developed the following selection criteria:
The Nanit couldn’t be more perfect for analytical types. The camera—when placed just so—uses computer vision to watch your baby’s every move, and then tell you what it means. You get a notice on your phone, which acts like a handheld monitor, when your child is awake, acting fussy or has fallen asleep. The Nanit also assigns a sleep score to each night based on how many hours your child was actually crashed out. Other stats include how many times you went into your child’s room and how long it took for your little one to fall asleep. Because the Nanit streams live video and audio to your phone, you can also check in on your kiddo when you’re away from home. It also has a nightlight and temperature and humidity sensors.
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