Author: Travis Young
Last Updated: May, 2019
The new generation of baby monitors do a lot more than crackle and alert you to crying. They can help you keep tabs on your infant remotely at any time of day, allow you to play lullabies if need be, and are even able to do environmental and physiological checks to ensure your baby is alright.
In this guide, we’ll cover some of the features you might want to look out for, and we’ll review five devices for you. We’ll also answer some of the most frequently asked questions on the topic.
Best Baby Monitors – Reviews
With a compact and cute bunny aesthetic, this multi functional smart device comes equipped with a music player to entertain or lull, as well as a colourful night light.
Sensors detect your nursery’s temperature and humidity so you can adjust the thermostat if necessary. The sensors also record information so you can see changes over time. You can be quite selective about what triggers an alert notification.
Remote zooming enables you to get up close to your bundle of joy. Although capable of better clarity, the default recording setting is 720p, which more than suffices. The device also comes with free cloud storage for the last 7 days of event-triggered footage, which is a nice-to-have.
If you’re turning your house into a smart home, you’ll be happy to know that the Arlo Baby is compatible with Amazon Alexa and Apple HomeKit. As with any other smart device, if there are WiFi issues, the device disconnects. Local streaming is, however, possible if the internet goes AWOL.Check Best Price
- Video streaming clarity at 1080p HD.
- Advanced Night Vision up to 4.5m
- Two-way communication
- Instant air quality and motion detection alerts to your smartphone
- 130-degree field of view
- Voice recording
- Comes with 4 CR123A rechargeable batteries and a power adapter
- Dual band support
- Excellent night-time video quality
- Neat and efficient mobile app to manage the device from anywhere
- Always Listening mode streams audio to smartphone
- Adjustable field of vision
- Easy set-up
- Web access
- When unplugged, the detachable camera only provides 3 hours of battery life
- Manual, rather than automatic, positioning of camera
- Lag between alerts and live video connection
- Can’t play music from your phone’s music library
- Lack of 360° pan
The iBaby M6 looks like a little robot peeping in to check on your baby. It’s a sleek addition to any nursery and packed with many of the features parents value.
In settings, you can determine what degree of motion or sound will fire off alerts with differing levels of urgency. Push-to-talk enables you to placate your crying baby whether you’re in another room or another building entirely. You could even use the mic and speaker to talk to your babysitter.
In order to adjust your field of vision, you simply have to swipe your phone. Any motion or sound will set off a 15-second video recording which gets stored in the cloud for free. This continues until 100 clips exist. Thereafter, you will have to download any clips you wish to keep or they will be replaced with new recordings.
One of the advantages of this product is that an unlimited number of family members can check on your baby in real time, although only four people can do so simultaneously.Check Best Price
- 1080p HD video resolution and sharp night vision up to 6m away from camera
- Voice recording for replaying when necessary
- Temperature, humidity and air quality sensors
- Sound and motion alerts
- Echo-free two-way intercom
- Plug-in power source
- Smooth and quiet field of view adjustments including a 360° pan and 110° tilt
- Dual band router support (2.4GHz, 5.0 GHz).
- Multiple trusted users can access the live video feed
- Remotely control the camera to swivel around the room
- Can play songs from your phone’s music library
- Alerts even when phone’s screen is off
- Secure, encrypted streaming
- Lack of web access – without a smartphone, you can’t access the camera on a desktop
- Slight delay in loading camera feed
- Needs to be set up close to router
- Sensors work but don’t consistently send alerts
Modern baby monitors that can do heart rate and breathing checks tend to come with a hefty price tag. Marketed to the parents of newborns concerned about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), but particularly for premature babies and babies who have medical conditions, it’s recommended that this type of device only be purchased under the guidance of a paediatrician.
Monitors such as this one, are useful for detecting sleep pattern abnormalities. That being said, they also have their drawbacks as they sometimes cause false alarms. They can also create a false sense of security in situations where the device suggests everything is fine according to its sensors, but the physiological reality is different.
We’ve included this product because it’s been well-reviewed overall, but especially by its niche target demographic. The base station of the Owlet 2 lights up and rings an alarm when something is wrong, so even if your phone is off and you’re nearby doing errands or resting, you’ll be alerted to any problems.
- Pulse oximetry tracks heart rate and breathing levels
- Transmission range – 30m
- Alerts if levels go beyond preset limits
- Includes 3 washable socks of different sizes. The sock goes on baby’s foot and connects to a base station up to 30m away via Bluetooth. Fits infants from 0-18 months old.
- Real-time access to vitals on multiple smartphones
- Seller promise – if not fully satisfied, return within 45 days for a full refund
- Quick alerts
- Socks are hypoallergenic and washable when sensor is removed
- Rechargeable battery which lasts up to 18 hours
- Expensive – ConnectedCare, the companion app to this device which provides historical analytics on the data, is only available through an additional year-long subscription.
- ConnectedCare is only compatible with Apple’s iOS
- No audio or video monitoring
Finally, if you’re interested in an inexpensive, no-frills gadget, then you can’t go wrong with a classic audio baby monitor. Let’s take a look at why the VTech DM221 is a worthy contender.
In terms of audio monitors, digital monitors are more secure than analog models which don’t encrypt the transmission. With its DECT technology, the DM221 is also clearer than its analog counterparts.
Like a portable walkie talkie, it has two-way communication, operates on batteries and is lightweight. If you move beyond the range, you can set the device to beep to let you know you’ve veered too far.
There’s a graphic indicator which shows you the actual noise level in your baby’s nursery when your unit is muted and you’re having a well-deserved cup of tea in the garden. When muted, the device also vibrates to alert you of any activity. You can adjust the sensitivity, especially for night-time use when false alarms are really annoying to sleep-starved parents.Check Best Price
- Comprises 3 units – 2 parent units and 1 baby unit
- Backlit display on parent unit
- Transmission range – approximately 300m outdoors and 50m indoors
- Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) 6.0
- Intercom system
- 5-level sound indicator
- Night light
- Rechargeable batteries or two excluded AAA batteries
- Clarity of sound – no white noise or interference unless WiFi router is on the same frequency
- Big loops at the top of the units enhance portability
- Belt-clip allows you to go hands-free
- Helpful pager button on baby unit to locate misplaced parent unit
- Excellent battery life – parent unit lasts for 18 hours
- No video
- No sensors
Buying Guide – What To Look For When Purchasing A Baby Monitor
Generally speaking, the flexibility of power source, reliability and image quality lead to the greatest satisfaction amongst parents using baby monitors.
There are a number of factors to consider in order to find the right device for your specific needs. And it goes without saying that the more features a gadget has, the more expensive it’s likely to be.
Audio vs Video
Audio monitors allow you to listen in. Pick one with good sound quality and you’ll be able to hear how your child is breathing in addition to their very audible cries. They’re also much cheaper and usually operate on lower frequencies which are considered a little safer.
Video monitors tend to have audio as well, and they give you a live feed of what your baby is up to. Crisp night vision is a feature you may want.
Wi-Fi vs Traditional
Around 2010, people began using WiFi cameras to stream to smartphones and computers, and baby monitoring took on a new dimension.
Essentially, if you want access to a live view when you’re not at home for whatever reason, the only way to go is a WiFi monitor. Yes, it will use up some of your phone battery. And, if your WiFi is disrupted, your ability to check on your child will be compromised too.
The traditional baby monitor uses radio frequency and has a stand-alone viewing or listening unit. It’s a good choice, especially if you have unreliable internet access, capped WiFi or internet speeds which are not fast enough to stream high definition video.
Traditional monitors are affordable, usually less susceptible to hacking, and there’s no lag when accessing video. Other devices can, however, interfere with audio quality.
What information do you require to help your baby? Motion sensors can tell you if your infant has changed positions. Heart rate and breathing monitors can assist with vulnerable babies. Temperature, humidity and air quality sensors testing Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) may also be important to you.
If you don’t have a wide-view camera, the ability to remotely swivel and pivot the camera is handy. You can move the camera if your child moves, and have a look around the room.
Range and Intercom System
If you have a WiFi camera, the range is not an issue. If not, the range needs to extend to wherever you might go around your property. Check a product’s specs to see where the camera’s signal extends to.
Two-way audio is nifty if you want to be able to sing or talk to your baby from wherever you are.
Does the device have to be plugged in? What’s the battery life like? Are you able to use your monitor during a power outage?
Would you like a night light, a soothing lullaby player and white noise settings? How about a hands-free accessory like a belt clip?
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Are baby monitors necessary?
Short answer is no. Baby monitors came into being to give busy parents peace of mind.
Perhaps you’re a stay-at-home mom or dad who has other things to do besides sit and stare at the new addition to your family. Maybe you have a nanny (or granny!) to look after your baby while you’re at work.
Both scenarios require you to be able to keep a beady eye on your infant or toddler, preferably without opening their nursery door and waking them up!
Are Wifi monitors secure?
As much as smart technology has made life easier and more convenient for people, the Internet of Things has introduced uncertainty into everyday objects, including those in domestic spaces.
When we use connected devices, we open ourselves up to a potential loss of privacy. There’s an unsavoury element where hackers can get access to our cameras and speakers for spying, stealing and other criminal activity.
There are ways to prevent this. Taking our virtual security seriously means using optimal password protocols for devices and routers, and updating the firmware on our gadgets as often as possible.
For the ultra-cautious, going old-school is probably the only course of action and that involves avoiding WiFi-enabled smart gadgets altogether.
Can Baby Monitors Prevent SIDS?
No. Baby monitors are not approved by the USFDA for the prevention of SIDS.
The vast majority of cot deaths, about 90%, occur within six months of a baby being born. Once a baby reaches its first birthday, it moves past this vulnerable stage and parents can breathe a sigh of relief.
The general consensus is that room-sharing for the first 12 months, and ensuring your baby sleeps on its back, is the best defence.
Having said that, some of the better models can accurately give vital readings and alerts, and motion sensors can detect if a baby has changed its position.
Parents are cautioned to use these devices only after familiarising themselves with the relevant knowledge. For example, what the normal parameters are, as well as conditions that the monitor cannot detect such as obstructive apnea. Knowing how to administer baby CPR is a given.
Are Baby Monitors Safe?
Before you ever had a new baby to think about, you might have seen warnings about microwaves and electromagnetic radiation emitted from many of the devices we use, including our cellphones and WiFi routers.
Studies investigating the link between these devices and cancer have had inconclusive and contradicting results thus far. What is certain is that all radio frequencies are a possible cause of various illnesses and further research is being conducted as you read this.
Many baby monitors use technology which is similar to what hospitals use but if you’re still concerned, there are precautions you can take which minimize exposure for you and your baby.
For starters, make sure that the unit in your baby’s room is at least 1.8m away from the crib. Limit signal exposure by putting the device on only at night, during naps or when necessary. You could choose to get a low emission analog monitor but they tend to have a poor signal quality which defeats the purpose.
The Infant Optics DXR-8 is worth considering if you’re worried about your baby’s health. It lets you switch from high-frequency video to low-frequency audio when that suits you. It also has voice-activated features which maintain low-frequency functionality.
It’s important to remember that the only faculties you can truly rely on are your own senses. Even when they’re hacker-proof and cords and monitors are safely placed at least 1m away, gadgets can be glitchy. Best practice involves using them in conjunction with your watchful eyes, ears and instincts.