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Updated Apr 2, 2022 2:36 PM

People sometimes complain that modern parents are too nervous and overprotective and that parenting “back in our day” was a more relaxed and hands-off endeavor. But anyone with a newborn knows that the early days are a time of incredible joy … and intense neuroses. And if those supposedly “lax” parents of years past had access to the kind of technology we have now, we bet they’d be just as excited to use the best baby monitors.

In fact, in addition to being a practical and convenient way to check in on little ones, baby monitors give parents the freedom to take care of their other duties with peace of mind: They’re always just one cry, coo, or cough away from being by their baby’s side. Understanding your family’s living situation and personal preferences is key to picking the best baby monitor camera and baby items for you, so here are some things to take into consideration.

How we chose the best baby monitors

Being responsible for an entire living being is no easy feat—which means baby monitors have to be up to the challenge. Our selections are based on personal testing (we’re parents ourselves), research, reviews, recommendations, and user impressions from babies and parents—you’d be surprised to know who is more opinionated.

What to consider when buying the best baby monitors

Gone are the days when monitors were little more than CB radios delivering crackling noises that might be your child crying or might just be static interference. The best baby monitors are essential, and are much more sophisticated and allow for more technology integration, mobile device usage, stat monitoring, and much more.

Knowing your own needs is important—for example, if you have a small living space, an audio-only model may suffice—and will ensure you get a device that does what it intends and works with your parenting style. Here are some of the variables to keep in mind as you research.

Video vs. audio

Opting for a baby monitor with a high-quality video camera along with traditional audio allows for immediate peace of mind: You can literally see and hear your baby in real-time. The best baby monitors offer high-def video, a wide-screen camera for optimal viewing, night vision, and an alert system if the little one is moving too much. Some cameras offer pivoting to change views, while others are stationary.

A video baby monitor gives parents access and control so they can relax (or, you know, get laundry done). Higher-end models even utilize HD video to obtain data that can then be analyzed to offer sleep-tracking guidance. Apps can take sleep footage and replay it in a timelapse reel, allowing you to observe your baby’s sleeping patterns.

While audio-only devices might seem old-fashioned compared to their shiny new video competitors, they still get the job done. One major advantage of these types of baby products is that they’re generally cost-effective. Some audio-only options even combine older radio technology with newer Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, as well as some neat bonus features, like a two-way radio, temperature monitoring, sleep analysis, and the ability to download soothing songs and stories to play for your child through the app

It’s important when buying any monitor, but particularly a radio-based one, to consider the frequency range: You need to be sure the signal reaches anywhere you plan to go, potentially even outside. The best baby monitors have rechargeable batteries with a good lifespan. When fully charged and within range, audio monitors can be very reliable, especially if you have spotty Wi-Fi in your home. Hybrid audio-only baby monitors combine older radio technology with the ability to connect via Wi-Fi and smartphones, which gives you more modes of use.

Design

If you don’t want your baby’s room to look like the surveillance hub at a casino, there are styles that combine form and function. Some baby monitors take the necessary camera feature and playfully turn the shape into a friendly robot; others try to minimize size and use rounded organic shapes in bright colors and soft silicone material.

While enjoying the look of the monitor is important, obviously nothing is more crucial than safety and functionality. The best baby monitors offer all the features you want and still look good.

Sleep stats

For the sleep-deprived tech-savvy parent, being able to study your baby’s patterns with the hope of improving them is a pretty cool feature. By gathering digital sound files, high-definition video, and temperature, humidity, and vitals info, apps can provide helpful guidance to get the baby (and you) to sleep. A smartphone app then relays detailed charts and information to help kiddos stay healthy and sleep soundly. Some monitors that provide sleep analysis do this through audio only, some through audio and video, and others include a wearable component to monitor the baby’s oxygen and breathing.

Vitals tracking

Your particular parenting needs will determine which features matter to you. For example, baby monitors that track vitals can measure a baby’s pulse rate and blood oxygen levels via wearables like a sock or blanket wrap, or other non-wearable gadgets. The data is then sent to the product’s base station, which keeps parents informed with real-time updates and alerts in case any abnormalities are detected.

No device will ever replace good parenting, so think of a vitals-tracking monitor as an extra protection measure, like wearing a high-tech belt with suspenders. Especially because technological errors can occur—like server crashes or the wearable getting placed in the wrong position—parents could potentially receive inaccurate results or false alerts. So they should only ever be used as an addition to—not a substitution for—good parenting.

Budget

There are a variety of baby monitors available with a budget in mind. In general, you can get simple video monitors that include one small camera and a transportable parent unit to see and hear your baby (including night vision) and monitor the temperature. However, most video monitors with higher ratings are over this price point. Most monitors in the audio-only category are under $50.

The best baby monitors: Reviews & Recommendations

With Wi-Fi capabilities and even built-in cameras, the best baby monitors will give you peace of mind as your little one slumbers peacefully in their crib. Here are our picks.

Best overall: Nanit Pro – Smart Baby Monitor

Why it made the cut: This overhead baby camera uses computer vision for accurate sleep, sound, and motion tracking, and sends alerts about your baby to your favorite device.

Specs

  • Range: N/A
  • Batteries: N/A
  • HSA/FSA Eligible: Yes
  • Video: Yes
  • Phone-compatible: Yes

Pros

  • 1080p camera
  • Breathing band included
  • Personalized sleep coaching

Cons

  • Video history and data only free for one year

An award-winning, innovative baby monitor, the Nanit offers an impressive variety of video capabilities including 1080p HD bird’s-eye view, night vision, sleep tracking, sound and motion notifications, and temperature and humidity checks. You can even talk back to your baby, thanks to two-way audio. The Nanit Pro is compatible with iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, and Echo Show, which allow you to get sound, sleep, and motion alerts delivered to your devices. FSA/HSA approval gives you peace of mind when it comes to safety certification, and the included Breathing Ware gives you sensor-free motion monitoring for accuracy. Be aware that the Nanit includes a free one-year subscription to your video history and data, but after that, you’ll have to pay for access.

Best audio-only: Motorola Audio Baby Monitor

Motorola

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Why it made the cut: This audio-only baby monitor doesn’t lack features, which include app connectivity, a built-in nightlight, and a high-sensitivity microphone.

Specs

  • Range: 900 feet
  • Batteries: Yes, rechargeable
  • HSA/FSA Eligible: No
  • Video: No
  • Phone-compatible: Yes via app

Pros

  • App compatible
  • Download playable audio for baby
  • Built-in nightlight

Cons

  • Three-hour battery life

This audio baby monitor is a great option, as it’s powered by traditional radio connectivity up to 900 feet. Plus, it uses smart technology to connect to an app via Wi-Fi. A high-sensitivity microphone picks up even the slightest sound and can record and analyze noise to determine sleep quality. Two-way radio functionality allows parents to talk to and soothe a child through the monitor. You can also download songs and stories to play for your baby, as well as monitor room temperature and turn on a nightlight. Downloading the Hubble app on your device gives you access to sleep data and soundtracking.

Best stylish: Lollipop Baby Monitor with True Crying Detection

Lollipop

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Why it made the cut: This flexible baby monitor packs motion and sound sensing in its compact, whimsical design.

Specs

  • Range: N/A
  • Batteries: N/A
  • HSA/FSA Eligible: No
  • Video: Yes
  • Phone-compatible: Yes

Pros

  • Mounts anywhere
  • App connectivity

Cons

  • Sleep tracking and continuous recording only free for 30 days

This unique-looking baby monitor comes in vivid pastels and is made out of flexible non-toxic silicone. The camera is encased in a round white built-in speaker that gives the device the look of a cute cartoon eyeball. Loaded with smart capabilities, it connects through an Android/iOS app and can accurately detect crying, see in night vision, track sleep quality, and play lullabies and white noise. Although the monitor offers sleep tracking and continuous video recording, it’s only free for 30 days—you’ll need to buy a subscription to Lollipop Care to get that functionality year-round.

Best smart: Miku Smart Baby Monitor

Why it made the cut: This award-winning baby monitor uses SensorFusion technology to track breathing and sleep patterns contact-free, with insights delivered to your device in real-time.

Specs

  • Range: N/A
  • Batteries: N/A
  • HSA/FSA Eligible: Yes
  • Video: Yes
  • Phone-compatible: Yes

Pros

  • Cyber-secure
  • Great picture quality
  • Easy installation

Cons

  • No backup power source in case of an outage

This award-winning video baby monitor offers high-definition video and sound along with the ability to track sleep without any wearables. For best results, strong Wi-Fi is necessary throughout your home, as the data is transmitted and analyzed via smart tech on your smartphone app. Data is secured with an embedded tamper-resistant crypto chip, two-factor authentication, and 256-bit encryption. Parents can receive access to sleep and breathing trends, along with tips on sleep, health, and developments from experts. The monitor also features custom dual Ole Wolff speakers, which provide powerful sound clarity when playing music, lullabies, or using the two-way talk feature.

Best for vitals tracking: Owlet Smart Sock 3 Baby Monitor

Why it made the cut: This smart sock tracks important vitals like oxygen levels and heart rate, along with sleep quality indicators for in-depth data on your baby.

Specs

  • Range: 100 feet
  • Batteries: N/A
  • HSA/FSA Eligible: Yes
  • Video: No
  • Phone-compatible: Yes

Pros

  • Vitals tracking
  • Smartphone alerts
  • Sock is sturdy and comfortable

Cons

  • Expensive for a wearable children will eventually grow out of

Owlet’s smart baby monitor has advanced features which allow parents to track a baby’s vital signs and sleep quality indicators—including heart rate, oxygen levels, wakings, sleep state, movement, and more—with a wearable smart sock. Set up the base station within 100 feet of the baby’s crib and Bluetooth technology will transmit pulse rate and blood oxygen levels. The base station will glow depending on the levels reported, and parents will get alerts on their smartphones. The system can also measure room temperature and humidity levels. The company also offers the Dream Sock Plus, which tracks vitals for children up to five. And, the coordinating app includes sleep prompts and a digital sleep coach to help the wee one go to bed.

Best budget: VTech DM221-2 Audio Baby Monitor

Why it made the cut: You don’t need to shell out a lot of cash for a monitor that features customizable volume, two-way audio, and vibrating sound alerts.

Specs

  • Range: 1,000 feet
  • Batteries: 6 AAA batteries (Included)
  • HSA/FSA Eligible: No
  • Video: No
  • Phone-compatible: No

Pros

  • 16-hour battery life
  • 5-level sound indicator
  • Vibrating sound alerts

Cons

  • Battery takes 11 hours to fully charge

This highly rated baby monitor has a range of up to 1,000 feet and provides parents with a vibrating sound alert and LED-light visual when it detects sound. Additional features include a talk-back intercom that allows parents to soothe their baby, as well as a night-light feature and customizable volume. You can also choose to hear sounds from the baby unit all the time, or only hear sounds that exceed a certain level. The parent monitor can adjust the microphone sensitivity of the baby unit, and a belt clip on the parent unit lets you take it anywhere in the house.

FAQs

Q: How much does a baby monitor cost?

Basic models typically cost under $100. Smart baby monitors warrant a higher price tag and can cost between $200-$400.

Q: How long do baby monitor batteries last?

It depends on the kind of baby monitor you purchase. An audio-only monitor can last anywhere from 8-16 hours. Battery-powered video monitors can last between 7-10 hours. Those powered by an AC adapter or power cord last for as long as you want them to since they’re outlet powered. However, in case of a power outage, make sure your monitor has a backup battery so you can make sure baby is safe despite the dark.

Q: What are the different types of baby monitors?

There are two main categories of baby monitors: audio-only and audio-and-video. However, with the advent of smart baby monitors, there are more subsets of monitors than ever before: audio, audio and video, Wi-Fi camera baby monitors with receivers, Wi-Fi camera baby monitors without receivers, movement-based baby monitors, vital tracking baby monitors, and so on.

Final thoughts on the best baby monitors

Technology has been rapidly changing the baby-monitor market. The best options provide you with a reliable and secure way to check in on your baby to be sure of their safety. With loads of choices, you can go big or small, high-tech or low—but whatever you decide, you’ve now got some of the best baby monitors currently on the market to choose from—so you and your little one can catch some much deserved Z’s.

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