But these nursery essentials can be as fussy as the babies they keep tabs on. And like virtually every other household appliance, they are growing increasingly more capable and complex. In addition to conventional video baby monitors that use a camera and a handheld LCD display, often called a “parent unit,” there are now also Wi-Fi-enabled systems that connect to your home network and use your smartphone as both the display and the controller, much like DIY home security cameras. These latter models offer high-defition video, intelligent alerts, and the ability to check on your child from anywhere you have an internet connection.
Finding the best accessories that fit the needs for both you and your baby can be seriously challenging. If something isn’t perfect or doesn’t have the right features, it can drive you crazy because you want the best for your baby. When it comes to baby monitors, we stand by our pick for Best Overall, but if you want a second choice, the HelloBaby Video Baby Monitor is a great option.
The handheld unit's 5-inch screen is the largest in our review, complementing the camera's wide-angle lens. However, its resolution is the same as smaller units, so the video quality, while acceptable, is poorer. Also, you can't move the camera remotely, a feature you may not use if you only watch your baby as they sleep. The Wide View 2.0 makes up for its video quality with a user-friendly design. It only takes a few minutes to set up and a couple hours to charge the handheld unit. The handheld unit lets you adjust the volume and has an uncomplicated menu. This simplicity comes at the cost of common features – the Wide View 2.0 doesn't track room temperature, and it can't play lullabies through the camera unit. Because this is a simple video monitor, the battery lasted nine hours before it needed to recharge during our tests. The overall best baby monitor, the Infant Optics DXR-8, went 10 hours before shutting off, so this is a very good result. The Summer Infant Wide View 2.0's handheld unit has a limited indoor range compared to most other baby cameras – it’s good enough for most homes but insufficient in particularly large ones. Summer Infant offers a one-year warranty, which is average for video baby monitors.
In terms of battery life for the monitor, we had no issues once we figured out our schedule. We used it pretty much throughout the day unplugged and kept it plugged in overnight night by our bed, pretty much like our phones. Occasionally we ran out of battery but not frequently enough where we thought there was something wrong. It was all we could ask for.
If you’re looking to spend under $100 on a video monitor, Baldwin recommends the Babysense baby monitor as a solid budget pick. For $75, it comes equipped with a 2.4-inch HD LCD color screen, secure interference-free connection and 2.4 GHz digital wireless transmission, two-way intercom, digital zoom, infrared night vision, room-temperature monitoring, and more.
Claiming to be the “first-ever monitor with interchangeable optical lens capability,” allowing customizable viewing angle and zoom, the DXR-8 represents a big leap in features — and price — from the reliable Infant Optics stalwart DXR-5 model. It has a larger (3.5 inch/9 cm) full color LCD display monitor compared to the DXR-5 (at 2.4 inch/6 cm) monitor screen. There is also an optional wide angle lens sold separately. The remote PTZ camera is also a step above the DXR-5 camera. The DXR-8 is commended for its ultra-long battery life — 10 hours on power-saving mode and 6 hours with screen on — which far outlasts most competitors’ products.
One of the biggest concerns with a baby monitor is going out of range and not hearing baby crying for you. Talk about a case of mom guilt! When shopping for the best long-range baby monitor, note that the range listed on the box doesn’t account for walls or doors; it’s a line-of-sight range. So, although you may not actually be able to travel 1,000 feet away from baby, you should be able to head to the basement to do laundry or be outside in the yard without worrying about missing baby’s cries.
Perusing Amazon customer reviews, one readily sees why the FBM3501 is a popular choice. As one wrote, it delivers the “best bang for the buck.” With “clear” picture and sound quality, well-constructed and “solid” camera unit, the FBM3501 also has a handy, power-saving VOX setting that automatically shuts off the monitor after 20 seconds of silence and automatically turns it back on when noise is detected.
Withings features a high-quality 3-MP video sensor that gives clear and unfettered footage of the baby. With special features such as high-resolution digital video, image stabilization, a wide-angle lens, zoom capabilities, and more, you can position the camera in the nursery and not have to worry about constantly repositioning it. In addition to working on Wi-Fi and 3G/4G networks, Withings offers bonus features like a two-way speaker, infrared lighting, the ability to remotely turn on lullabies through the camera itself, motion detection, and room temperature and humidity monitoring. All of this monitoring is done through the complementary Withings apps for iOS and Android.
Like many monitors in this price range, the SafeVIEW provides a lot of bells and whistles: remote zoom, tilt and pan of the camera, two-way communication and a range of 900 feet so you don’t have to stress about chatting with your neighbor outside during naptime. The SafeVIEW also has a built-in nightlight that you can turn on and off using the monitor. And, if the monitor is going nuts every time a big truck drives by or during a thunderstorm, you can decrease its sound sensitivity to not pick up the background noise.