The Best Video Baby Monitors Track Every Cry, Snore, And Heartbeat

From an inexpensive model that punches above its weight to teched-out monitors that alert you when your baby moves.

by Jonathan Stern
Video baby monitors and wifi baby monitors against a multi-colored backdrop

At their core, the best baby monitors serve a very basic function: They let parents or caregivers remotely monitor their sleeping child when they’re in a different room, or in the case of today’s wildly high-tech WiFi baby monitors, different city or country. You can spend anywhere from $50 on an audio-only monitor to the equivalent of a car payment on a baby heartbeat monitor, so before you pull out your credit card, consider your needs.

If you’re the kind of parent who requires constant reassurance that all is well in the nursery (and you know who you are), or if you simply love gazing at your baby, get a WiFi-enabled video baby monitor. There’s a camera unit placed in the baby’s room, which streams video of the baby to parents via an app. Many have 2-way talk, the ability to zoom in and out, handy night vision, and cry-detection technology. These monitors, however, are reliant on an Internet connection, so there can be glitches and in some fairly rare but highly-publicized cases, hacks.

“When you’re looking at baby monitors, look at what privacy features the brand makes available. Don’t buy one with the most features, but buy one with the features you need. Does it enable 2-factor authentication? Are there regular software updates? Can you configure it with your own password? Can you turn off listening capabilities when you’re not using it?” says Daniel Eliot, the director of education and strategic initiatives at the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA).

Once you get the monitor home, set it up with 2-factor authentication to keep your data secure. Next, change the manufacturers password to one that is long and unique. When there are software updates available, update your software. And make sure your own home network and router are updated and have a secure password that isn’t your mother’s maiden name.

If you’d rather keep things simpler, get a dedicated video baby monitor, which means you have a unit in the nursery and a unit you can carry around to see video of your child. With those, pay attention to video quality and battery life. You can also be totally retro and get an audio-only baby monitor, which really doesn’t need an explanation.

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