From a pure imaging standpoint, night vision is vital for watching your baby sleep from another room, and is standard for most baby monitors. Motorized pan and tilt (which lets you swivel the camera from afar) isn't quite as common, but is very welcome if you have a toddler and want to scan an entire room. High-definition is a nice plus, but you don't need the highest-resolution sensor to keep tabs on your baby—most of the monitors we test use 720p cameras rather than 1080p.
The camera has to be plugged in at all times. The parent unit is rechargeable and it takes 12 hours to recharge fully, but half an hour to give it a little bit of juice after the battery has gone completely flat. The charging cable for the parent unit isn’t very long, but it could still be used while charging if you are happy just to let the screen turn on when your baby makes a noise instead of wanting to check the picture regularly, as it might get annoying to do so if it’s not in arm’s reach.
The VTech DM221 audio monitor is the best choice in the category—it’s consistently a best seller at multiple retailers, with strong reviews (four out five stars across 5,400 reviews on Amazon, as of September 2018) and similarly high ratings at Walmart, Target, and BuyBuy Baby. We wanted to recommend a less expensive video monitor, but every product that we tried at any price notably lower than our pick had such serious problems—usually poor video quality and ongoing connection issues—that we feel a higher-end audio-only monitor offers a much better value for a limited budget.
With a radio monitor, static is bound to occur, but to prevent unnecessary sound interference, make sure your cordless devices aren’t operating on the same frequency. To check, look at the back or side of a cordless device and make note of what frequency it operates on. So when you do purchase a baby monitor, you’ll know what frequencies to avoid or what devices could cause interference.
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.
The Cocoon Cam’s standout feature is its ability to monitor a baby’s breathing. It sounds appealing—most parents worry about this with newborns—but our reluctance to consider this item goes back to two details that set the Arlo apart from other Wi-Fi options. First, the Cocoon app has weak reviews, and second, there’s less evidence that this company can keep your data secure than you can expect with Arlo, maker of a widely adopted security camera platform.
Compared with other Wi-Fi–enabled video monitors, the Arlo has advantages. As a product from a reputable manufacturer of home-security cameras—another Arlo model is an also-great pick in our guide to the best outdoor security cameras—the Arlo’s hardware and app support have a larger owner base and a longer track record than similar platforms supporting more recently launched baby monitors. You can see the difference in comparing the tens of thousands of satisfied reviews on Arlo’s app to the weak handful of reviews you typically see about Wi-Fi–enabled competitors. Those Arlo app reviews, which span over two dozen updates dating back to 2016, suggest a history of successful app support and satisfied customers. We often see promising new Wi-Fi monitors emerge, and we consider all of them fairly, but until they withstand the test of time like Arlo has, it’s hard to justify recommending any of them over the more proven option.
Great baby camera with a lot of options. The camera is very clear and available in 1080p. It even can sense the air quality and alerts you. Negative is that the new firmware has issues with the speaker. The speaker is very glitchy and will not work at times. I hope they fix the issues with the speaker. Has free cloud service so that you can store the video for a week.
It really depends on what you feel most comfortable with. There are audio monitors that allow you to listen to any noise coming from the nursery, vital monitors that track sleep and breathing and video monitors that add sight to sound. Babylist parents overwhelmingly choose video monitors. The security of seeing what your child is up to—like if they’ve gotten tangled in their swaddle, pulled their diaper off or climbed out of the crib—can be worth the extra cost of a video monitor.