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Shopping Guide for Best Baby Monitors

A baby monitor is an ever-present, all-seeing guardian that offers peace of mind while your baby naps. A good monitor blends into the background while your child sleeps but has the technology to alert you in seconds.

Technology has changed the way parents monitor their babies. With today’s audio and video, parents can keep an ear peeled and an eye out for the most subtle changes in their little ones. Whether you want to simply hear your baby’s first cry or you’re looking for a high-tech video monitor with a sleep sensor, there’s a baby monitor out there for you.

At BestReviews, we’re dedicated to honest, unbiased reviews. We never accept free products or perks from manufacturers. Instead, we buy products ourselves, test them in our labs, consult experts, and gather feedback from real-life owners. All so we can give you the information you need to make the most informed shopping decisions.

If you’re ready to buy, check out the matrix above for our top five baby monitors.

If you want to know more, including what features to consider and how much to spend, just keep reading.

Babies primarily communicate through sounds, so it’s key to have a baby monitor that can play you all of those sounds without feedback.

Types of Baby Monitors

All baby monitors consist of a transmitter that stays in the room with the baby and one or more receivers. There are three different types of baby monitors.

Types

Audio Baby Monitors

These baby monitors only transmit audio. Most audio monitors have lights that indicate sound, too. As sound increases, more lights turn on, giving a good indication of the baby’s level of alertness.

Aimee
EXPERT CONSULTANT

Aimee is a pediatric occupational therapist practicing in the neonatal intensive care unit and pediatric out-patient at Central Pennsylvania Rehab Services at the Heart of Lancaster Hospital. She has been working in pediatrics for 18 years and is also the owner/operator of Aimee’s Babies LLC, a child development company. Aimee has published 3 DVDs and 9 apps which have been featured on the Rachael Ray Show and iPhone Essentials Magazine. Also certified in newborn massage and instructing yoga to children with special needs, Aimee Ketchum lives in Lititz, PA with her husband and two daughters.


Aimee  |  Pediatric Occupational Therapist
Types

Audio/Video Baby Monitors

Audio/video monitors incorporate the use of a camera, either on top of the transmitter or mounted to a wall. Images are then transmitted to the receiver.

Types

Wireless Network Baby Monitors

Wireless network monitors utilize your home computer or other similar device as a receiver. Once the digital camera system is installed, you can view video from your device. Some systems use multiple cameras that only turn on once motion is detected. This type of system requires logging into the company website to view the video feed.

Product in Depth

Product in Depth

Infant Optics DXR-8 w/Interchangeable Optical Lens

Features

The Infant Optics DXR-8’s interchangeable optical lens, which allows for customized viewing angles, truly sets this monitor apart. It gives the option of focusing in on a localized area or taking in the whole room. Couple that with the remote pan/tilt control and night vision and you’ve got a monitoring system that not only grows along with your baby, but one that can be adjusted to follow her around the room as she plays. Parents can calm their baby with the two-way talk feature and monitor the temperature to make sure the baby is safe and secure.

How to Stop Interference

Interference from other devices is the number one complaint parents have about baby monitors. Many household electronics, including cordless phones, Bluetooth devices, game consoles, and laptops, transmit on the same frequency as a baby monitor.

And the issue is not only getting a clear signal but also privacy. Some monitors transmit on a frequency that can be picked up by anyone with an RF scanner or similar device.

Here’s what you can do to reduce the potential of interference.

EXPERT TIP

When your baby outgrows his monitor, don’t throw it away! Use it to keep an eye on other areas of your home, like a playroom, front door area, or yard.


Aimee  | Pediatric Occupational Therapist
Preventing interference

Frequency Bands

Check the frequency bands of your wireless devices. This is a simple step that can save you time and money. You should be able to find the frequency listed in the manual or on the device itself. Look for a baby monitor that either has several frequency options or does not operate on the same frequency as your other devices.

Preventing Interference

Digital vs. Analog

Digital monitor transmissions are encoded, protecting data, but come with a higher price tag. Analog monitors offer little to no privacy from RF scanners but are less expensive.

FOR YOUR SAFETY

Many baby monitor companies pride themselves on the security of their feeds, but as long as you stay away from WiFi-based options, you should be safe.

Preventing interference

DECT

Audio monitors with Digital Enhanced Cordless Technology (DECT) transmit on the 1.9 GHz frequency band, which is reserved for voice-only communication. Therefore, monitors with DECT are less susceptible to interference from other devices.

Infant Optics
VTech
Angelcare
Babysense
Samsung
Range (Through Five Walls)

What to Look For When Buying a Baby Monitor

Considerations

Batteries

Some baby monitors use a lot of power, especially video monitors. Rechargeable batteries will help save money. Look for a monitor with a battery indicator symbol or light that lets you know when the battery is losing power.

If your baby monitor is charged by battery, consider the long-term costs. If it’s got a power cord or rechargeable battery, you’ll save money down the line.

Staff
BestReviews
Considerations

Volume

Volume control should be easily accessible without having to scroll through a menu. It’s even better if you can adjust volume with one hand.

Considerations

Light/Sound Indicator

Lights that indicate sound levels allow parents to monitor activity without having the receiver volume on high.

DID YOU KNOW?

Most baby monitors light up when they register noise. This can be helpful if you’re in a loud setting or don’t want the sound to go off.

Considerations

Remote Activation

If you plan to purchase a baby monitor with lots of extra features, look for one that lets you control those features from the receiver. When you want to activate music, night vision, or the night light, you can do it from the receiver, rather than sneaking into your baby’s room.

Considerations

Night Light

Some monitors can be used as night lights. This gives tired parents a way to see during nighttime feedings with one less device in the room. Although not a necessary feature, it is a convenient one.

Product in Depth

Product in Depth

VTech Safe & Sound Digital Audio

Design

With a 1,000-foot range and DECT technology, the VTech Safe & Sound Digital Audio relays sound with excellent clarity. Two-way communication offers a way to calm a baby when he or she is waking up or trying to fall asleep. It also includes a night light for late-night feedings. The digital display indicates signal strength and power/battery life. This monitor offers a full range of alarms when your baby wakes — audio, indicator lights, and vibration.

Considerations

Night Vision

Some audio/video monitors have an infrared feature or “night vision.” This lets parents keep an eye on their babies in the darkest of rooms.

Considerations

Motion and Sound Activation Sensors

To save on battery life, some audio/video models only turn on when the baby makes an unusual motion or sound. Some models come with a motion-detector pad that fits under the crib sheet. This type of motion sensor is intended to prevent SIDS. Sensitive enough to detect changes in breathing, an alarm sounds if there is no movement after 20 minutes. However, if the baby simply rolls off the pad, the alarm may sound.

DID YOU KNOW?

Some monitors have an automatic mute function when the baby is quiet. However, some parents may feel uncomfortable when there is silence coming from their child’s room.

Considerations

Temperature Sensor

Babies cannot regulate their body temperatures. A temperature sensor tracks the room temperature to alert parents if it falls outside the normal range, which is between 69° and 72° Fahrenheit. The temperature is displayed on the receiver screen.

Considerations

Two-Way/Talk-Back Communication

To help parents soothe tired babies, some monitors come with a talk-back feature that functions like a walkie-talkie. Babies can hear through the transmitter while parents talk into the receiver. It’s good for quieting a baby at bedtime or talking to him or her for reassurance.

EXPERT TIP

If your monitor has a cord, make sure that it is well away from your baby. Monitors should also be kept away from water.


Aimee  | Pediatric Occupational Therapist
Considerations

Range Indicator

This feature lets you know when you’ve reached the limit of the monitor’s range. Some monitors may indicate by a sound or light, while others may only have static to indicate you’ve left the transmission range. In general, it’s best to have the longest range possible, especially if you plan to go outside with the receiver.

Considerations

Extra Receivers

Having multiple receivers lets both parents monitor the baby. Some models have up to four receivers, which means you can leave them in different areas of your house instead of carrying them around.

CAUTION

Always follow other safety tips when leaving your baby alone. Simply having a monitor is not enough.

Considerations

Music

Some babies only need quiet music to rock them to sleep. Look for a monitor where music can be activated from the receiver.

Considerations

Connectivity Options

If you want a bigger picture, there are monitors that connect to a DVD player, television, or laptop.

Considerations

Ease of Use

A monitor loaded with extra features might sound nice, but if it requires you to scroll through endless menus, it may not be the best choice. Be sure to check how all the features are activated and controlled. This can make a big difference in how easy the monitor is to manage.

Testing Results
Infant Optics Testing
  • FUNCTIONALITY
    The Infant Optics one-way talk was incredibly clear, so your baby can hear your voice all the time even when you’re in different rooms. But we did wish that it had two-way talk. The camera delivered good-quality images at first, but the quality dropped a little after several uses. In dim conditions, the images became nearly black and white.
  • EASE OF USE
    While it took us some efforts to pair the devices up, we like that the monitor doesn’t need internet to function. The camera is not wireless, and we had to keep the camera constantly charged.

How Much Do Baby Monitors Cost?

Price

Inexpensive

For under $50, there are many high-quality audio monitors that come with extra features like music, temperature indicators, and talk-back ability. Inexpensive and easy to use, these monitors work well if video isn’t a concern for you.

Price

Mid-Range

Between $50 and $100 are digital audio/video monitors with a few extra features, one camera, and usually one receiver. If you want to get a basic audio/video monitor, you can find one in this price range that won’t disappoint.

Some baby monitors come with additional products you can purchase, such as wide lens cameras, additional receivers and more.
Price

Expensive

In the $100 to $200 range, are digital audio/video monitors that often come with more than one camera. Loaded with features like night vision, night lights, and talk-back, these monitors require more advanced installation and set-up.

Price

Premium

At over $200, are advanced audio/video monitoring systems with multiple cameras and receivers with large screens, as well as the ability to connect to several mobile devices. While they are loaded with features, it’s important to look closely at the audio and video quality. Expensive monitors are just as susceptible to interference as inexpensive ones.

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