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.
The latest version of the popular Nanit baby monitor features crystal clear 1080p HD video, even sharper night vision and zoom, more powerful speakers, Bluetooth support, and a cleaner, sleeker design. It also has background audio, which means you can hear what's happening in the nursery even when other apps are in use. And when paired with the brand's Smart Sheets, the Nanit even tracks and records your baby's growth. It has user permissions, an encrypted stream, and two-step verification.
If you want the whole kit and caboodle, here it is. You get the cemra, plus the breathing band and the Smart Sheet, which measures your baby's height and growth progress. As for the Breathing Band, it fits over baby pajamas and works in tandem with the camera to track breaths per minute.
The Miku is the only contactless respiratory baby monitor on the market today. The Pro also has customizable alerts for parents to track movement, sleep, sound, nursery temperatures, lighting, and humidity. The camera has a 140-degree field of view capabilities and the ability to zoom in on your infant. The speakers, too, are more powerful, and for those concerned about hacks, this model has 256-bit encryption to a local crypto chip that is exclusive to Miku. And it's loaded with new soothing sounds and lullabies.
The ever-popular Owlet has upgraded its Smart Sock, which tracks your baby's oxygen and heart rate. The Smart Sock 3 now includes wireless charging, ambient light sensing at the base station, and the ability to monitor your baby through gentle motion. Meaning, if your baby moves, the previous iteration of the sock stopped tracking your child. This one, parents still get readings if the baby has his diaper changed or burps. The Smart Sock has a 16 hour total battery life, and charges in 90 minutes. As for the camera, it streams video to your smartphone (only, not tablets) via the app, with or without the Smart Sock, which is designed for babies up to 30 pounds. It has what the brand calls a secure, encrypted WiFi connection.
This is, bar none, one of the best baby monitors, especially for the price and especially if you don't want to mess with wearables. You get up to 15 hours of battery life, a range of 500 feet, a camera that can pan 330 degrees and tilt 110 degrees to see floor to ceiling. The video quality is stellar, the user interface is smart and accessible, and the monitor even sends you alerts when your baby is crying.
This isn't a baby monitor per se, but it's one hell of a security camera. Which is basically the same thing, without the breathing monitor. If that's not a feature you want, the Ecobee is a great pick. It has smart focus, which means it recognizes when a person enters the frame and adjusts to keep them front and center. It has a live feed, night vision, and lets you automatically record important events and store them for 14 days, for $5 per month. It has two-factor authentication and video encryption, works with Amazon Alexa and Apple HomeKit, and even lets you hear your baby on your phone when your device is locked. Plus, if you set up activity zones, you'll be alerted when your baby is awake and moving around in the crib.
The baby monitor streams video right to your phone, via the app, and lets you digitally pan, tilt, and zoom the camera so you can see every part of the room. It plays pre-loaded audiobooks or lullabies, or lets you speak to your child. It has a transmission range of up to 1000 feet. You can sync the camera with Alexa or Google Assistant. And you connect up to four cameras to one account.
This particular baby monitor is notable because you can position it wherever you want, thanks to its flexible, bendable legs. You get all the usual bells and whistles: A speaker, night vision, cry detection, and sleep tracking. It records short clips when your baby cries, and the video quality is outstanding. It also has a privacy setting, so when you're home, your data isn't uploaded to the brand's cloud.
Even more next level is the Cubo, which alerts you if your baby's face is covered. Plus, parents can get a rollover alert if your baby gets stuck while, yes, rolling over. It has HD 1080p video, cry detection technology, and video capture. And one bonus is that unlike other monitors, this camera has no distracting light when it's on. Once your child is on the move, you can use the Cubo to set up geofencing, and when your kid winds up near the fireplace, for example, you get an alert. All Cubo data is encrypted and stored in the Cloud with 256 bit symmetric key encryption that is only accessible from your authenticated phone or tablet. It also has a sleep mode where you can disable streaming.
For parents who want to know everything, and we do mean everything, this is what you need. You get a baby monitor created by Logitech, with 1080p high definition and a night vision camera. It connects via encrypted Wi-Fi. There's also a feature called Lumi Lookback, a 60-second time lapse video of your baby’s past 15 hours so you don't miss a single moment. Plus, it has continuous background audio, so no matter what you're reading on your phone, you hear what's happening in the nursery. The sensor tracks your baby and attaches to Lumi diapers.
If you'd rather keep things simple, this is a great option. The unit has a 1,000 foot range, which is enough for most homes. You can monitor the nursery temperature and see your infant via the five inch CD screen; there's an adaptive nightlight feature that adjusts to the lighting of the nursery. The unit even plays melodies. It has remote zoom, automatic infrared night vision, and secure digital video and audio transmission (the brand does not specify details).
Because you get two cameras here, you get a full view of the nursery. Or you can see everything in split-screen mode, which is handy if you have twins. You set up the camera and pair it with the parent unit, which has a five inch screen. You can communicate with your partner or child using the 2-way communication feature. You can see whole room clearly, day and night, thanks to the remote pan, tilt, and zoom and infrared night vision features. And there's a temperature monitor, too. It has a battery life of 3 hours, which is on the lower side.
This baby monitor lets you set a boundary box around a selected area to alert you when your baby exits their safe space. This baby monitor is most useful when you have little climbers trying to escape their cribs. So instead of a surprise, you get an alert that your baby is on the move. The sound and picture quality are stellar: It has a 5.0 inch HD picture with 6-level zoom. Plus it plays lullabies and has a white-noise feature. It has an 800 foot range, and a battery that lasts all night.
While buying an audio-only monitor in 2020 is slightly akin to buying a flip phone, the Philips Avent has pretty much all the same features as top-of-the-line camera baby monitors, sans visuals. Even better, it uses DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Communications) technology to guarantee zero interference ⏤ so other signals in your neighborhood won't mess with your connection or sound quality. The Avent DECT has a range of more than 1,000 feet, a 10-hour battery life, and a night mode that alerts you with a silent and subtle vibration so only one parent has to get up for a crying baby. As for extra features, it includes a night light, in-room temperature monitor, night light, and lullabies. If you don't need to see your baby, it's a fantastic choice.
Every product on Fatherly is independently selected by our editors, writers, and experts. If you click a link on our site and buy something, we may earn an affiliate commission.