Life with a newborn is sleepless nights, dirty clothes, and dreams of hot showers. And when that dream of a shower becomes reality, you’ll need an infant video monitor to let you keep an eye on your baby, even from afar.
If you would like to keep an eye on your baby while moving around the house, or even when you’re gone and a caregiver is watching your baby, they can provide great peace of mind. Here’s everything you need to know about choosing a baby video monitor for your little one.
In this article:
- Should you choose a baby monitor with video?
- How to choose a baby monitor
- Infant monitor features to know
- Are baby video monitors safe?
- Let’s compare
- Best overall baby monitor: Nanit Plus Camera Video Monitor
- Best video monitor without WiFi: Infant Optics DXR-8 Video Baby Monitor
- Best health and sleep monitor: Owlet Monitor Duo Smart Sock3 + Cam
- Best budget baby monitor: HelloBaby 3.2 Inch Video Baby Monitor
- Best no-contact monitor: The Miku Pro Smart Baby Monitor
- Best non-wearable monitor: Lumi by Pampers
- Best go-anywhere baby monitor: Lollipop Smart Baby Camera Monitor
- Best audio-only monitor: VTech DM221-2 Digital Audio Baby Monitor
- Best whole-room coverage monitor: Spaceview Pro Baby Monitor
Should You Get a Baby Monitor with Video?
Getting a baby monitor with video capabilities isn’t a necessity, but it’s a pretty convenient feature to have. Any parent with the intention of stepping away from their safely sleeping baby should consider purchasing a video baby monitor.
Even with plans to room share, there will be times baby is sleeping and parents are busy in the other room. Or, you know, do frivolous things such as take a shower or switch laundry in the other room. As much as we would love to, it isn’t realistic to dote over our sleeping beauties every second. Here are some of the benefits of having a video baby monitor:
- Freedom to move around the house. A video baby monitor gives you the opportunity to still keep an eye on your baby, even from a different spot in the house, offering parents peace of mind as well as convenience. If you hear a slight sound, you may run into the question of if you really want to risk going in to investigate and waking up the baby that took two hours to settle? With a video monitor, all you have to do is take a quick peak to see if baby is still sleeping soundly.
- Tracking abilities. Video monitors typically track your baby’s motion and display it either through a parent unit, or directly to your phone. Many video monitors can also be switches so they only display audio, with the video monitoring shut off.
- WiFi options. You’ll also want to decide what kind of video streaming service you’d like–some monitors use WiFi to display the video, while others do not.
- Hands-free. Some video monitors also allow you the option to not even use a separate handheld device and stream solely to your phone. This can be a pro or a con, depending on how you look at it. Some parents prefer not to have to lug around a separate screen while others don’t like it, because you have to have the actual video app up to watch your baby–and it won’t let you actually use your phone for anything else.
How To Choose a Baby Monitor
When shopping for the best video baby monitor, there are basic criteria that should be considered. These little pieces of tech can be pricey and are not something you want to buy more than once. A good monitor is an investment, so ask yourself the following questions to decide what features are important to you:
- How many extra features do I really need? The answer depends on your family’s lifestyle and how you intend to use the monitor. Some features may not be important to you, like the ability for two-way communication. Do you want to sing your baby lullabies through the monitor or are you OK to just go in and calm your little one in person? Before ruling out the two-way communication option, remember it may come in handy for parents to talk back and forth. One could be changing a diaper, while the other is doing the dishes. Additionally, you could continue using a video monitor long after the baby stage, so the two-way system might come in handy later as your child grows.
- Do you want a separate parent unit or a monitor that streams directly to your phone? While the convenience of streaming to your phone is nice, not all parents want that option, because it will require WiFi to work.
- How important is screen size and resolution? Do you want to see every dimple and drool drop that falls down baby’s cheek or are you OK with just getting a general idea of where baby is in the crib? Is a touch screen important to you or are you okay using the buttons on the side of the screen? Some video baby monitors also come with the option to add an additional camera or cameras.
“Personally, this is one of my deepest regrets with purchasing an infant monitor. We did not expect we would require a second camera just 15 months after our first child was born. If you’re considering having multiple children, definitely find a monitor with at least the option to add additional cameras.” -Truly Mama real mom
Baby Monitor Features to Look For
Once you get a general idea of the type of infant monitor you want, it’s time to narrow your search down to specific features to choose. You can go simple with a baby monitor or go all-out with a monitor that will track your baby’s breathing, sleeping patterns, heart rate and even give you tips on how to help them sleep better. (Yes, really.)
So, like all things with parenting, you have to find what works for you, but here are some of the features that can be found in baby monitors:
- Temperature + night vision. Many video monitors come standard with a room temperature reading. Newborns haven’t quite mastered regulating their body temperature yet, so it’s important to be able to quickly check the temperature of the room. Night vision is also standard on most monitors.
- Battery life. Battery life and range are two features that you should absolutely not compromise on. What good is having a portable device if the battery doesn’t last longer than 20 minutes?
- Range. Baby monitor cords are annoying and difficult to move around. A monitor that is required to be plugged in constantly is only going to lead to headaches. Chances are, there will be a time when baby is sleeping and you need to walk the dog out or take out the trash. Does your monitor have the range to still connect when completing these tasks? We’re not suggesting you go to the neighbors to watch the game, but you will appreciate the flexibility of being able to venture into your yard.
- WiFi. Some baby monitors work solely on WiFi, while others do not, and still others let you have the option to choose between non-Wifi or Wifi.
- Resolution. The higher the resolution, the more details you’ll be able to see in your baby’s room.
- Tracking. As we mentioned, some baby monitors go beyond just a monitor and will track vitals on your baby, such as heart rate, breathing, and sleep patterns. Some of these will require a separate monitor that your baby has to wear, like the Owlet, so be prepared to know what you’re comfortable with there.
- Handheld monitor. Some monitors offer a separate handheld monitor that you can take with you, while others will work solely through your phone so again, know what you prefer there. Some parents like the option of a more streamlined monitor just in their phone, while others want the freedom to use their phone + monitor separately.
Are Baby Video Monitors Safe?
Understandably, some parents may have safety concerns over video monitors, so you should definitely do your research before you buy. Here are some of the safety considerations you’ll want to think about:
Baby monitors do emit radiation. Any type of transmitting device–whether that’s your phone, a radio, or a baby monitor–uses frequency waves to transmit signals to the receiver. For instance, many of the monitors use a .4GHz channel or a 2.4 GHZ channel, which is the same that a microwave uses. There is limited data about the impact of the frequency waves on infants, but if you are concerned about the radiation risk, we recommend the Nanit, because it comes with a special directional antenna that redirects any waves from your baby. You should also always read and follow the set-up instructions for your baby monitor, because they note the exact distance you should install the monitor away from your baby.
The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t specifically discuss radiation, but they do note that all cords from video monitors need to be safely secured so there’s no risk of strangulation with your baby. It’s important that cords aren’t within reach, because even small cords can pose a potential danger to your baby. Safe sleep practices recommend the baby to be alone on their back in a separate sleeping area, like a crib, with all cords and cameras out of reach.
And here’s a suggestion from a Truly Mama mom to help secure those pesky cords out of the way: “To mount our camera, I found double sided 3M tape on Amazon. The camera is safely mounted in a high corner at the foot of baby’s crib. The cord is safely tucked away behind a shelf and cannot be accessed by little ones.”
WiFi + encryption
The other consideration is WiFi. Video baby monitors with Wi-Fi capabilities can be a great option, but do come with some considerations. Some parents love this feature and the ability to connect with their baby directly through their smartphone. (This may be especially handy if you work outside of the home and want to keep an eye on your baby with a caregiver.)
A Wi-Fi monitor will also give you the option to play back footage. This is useful if your intention is to set up a nanny cam. But others parents may prefer to steer away from a Wi-Fi option because there have been reports of some baby monitors being accessed outside of the network. Do your research and determine what you’re comfortable with, and if you choose a Wi-Fi enabled video monitor, verify that you have a secure, closed connection and that the WiFi can be shut off for the times you’re not using it.
“Verify that you have a secure, closed connection and that the WiFi can be shut off for the times you’re not using it."
Truly Mama’s Best Baby Monitor Picks
Now that you know what features to look for, it’s time to start shopping! What video monitor you ultimately choose is based on individual family needs, but to help you get started, we’ve gathered our top picks for the best video baby monitors of 2021.
Best Overall Baby Monitor
This baby video monitor goes so far beyond just monitoring your baby while they sleep–it’s truly an innovative piece of technology designed for the next generation of “smart parenting.” The Nanit Plus actually tracks and analyzes your baby’s sleep habits and patterns and comes with a full year of an included sleep coach to help your baby sleep better. It tracks:
- How many times a caregiver came into the room
- How long your baby slept
- How long it took your baby to fall asleep
- Baby’s sleep efficiency
And just how does the Nanit accomplish all of this? Well, it pairs with a specially-designed black-and-white breathing band that helps the camera “see” your baby’s breathing, so it doesn’t require a sensor. You can use the band with the baby swaddle during the early months, and then on a regular sleeper as your baby grows.
Based on what the monitor analyzes, it will generate suggestions for you to improve your baby’s sleep, such as putting your baby down to sleep earlier so you don’t miss her sleep-time cues.
And if that wasn’t enough, the Nanit also snaps pictures of your baby and auto-creates a photo album with special memories of your baby so you can have those precious moments preserved forever. Another really cool feature of the Nanit is that it has a built-in directional antenna in the camera, so it automatically redirects WiFi and frequency waves that would normally flow in the direction of your baby.
Nanit Plus Features
- Can be mounted to wall or use a floor stand
- HD video
- Analyzes baby’s sleep
- Sleep coach for 1 year
- Auto memory book
- Alexa-enabled (so you can prove to your SO just how many wake-ups they missed last night, ha!)
- Soothing nature noises
- Alerts your phone if it detects problems with your baby’s breathing
The Breathing Band is sold separately, and using the sleep coach feature past your baby’s first year will cost you extra.
What Do Parents Think?
“Love this monitor! Sleep and breathing tracking is amazing! Picture quality could be better IMO but still decent! I love that it has a travel mount so you can take it with you places (although travel mount doesn’t track breathing or sleeping). Since it is a smart phone app monitor it is nice that you are able to use other apps while the sound in the background of the monitor is still going. As I type out this review I am listening to the monitor (sound machine noise). Absolutely worth the price! I will get a second one for the next baby!”–Amazon.com review
Best Video Baby Monitor without Wifi
This mid-range monitor boasts a 2018 Popular Mechanics Best Baby Monitor award and over one million parent users, which is not too shabby indeed. But the reason I’m convinced that the Infant Optics monitor was made by a real-life parent is because it comes with an extra hand-held monitor and charging cable.
I can not stress enough to you how baby monitors are like phone chargers or spare socks: one always seems to go missing, so I am so impressed by this feature. I have spent countless hours of my life searching for the handheld parent monitor on our baby video monitor, so trust me when I say this is the best feature you could ever ask for in a video monitor.
- .4GHz channel with FHSS technology (no data shared on the Internet)
- Lightweight and portable
- Can be used with up to 4 cameras
- 12 hours audio-only mode, 8 hours with live screen
- Zoom feature (can also buy a separate lens for enhanced zoom capabilities)
- Night vision
- Remote thermometer
- 2-way talk
- 12-hour audio only batter life
- Remote pan and tilt
Back to Basics
“I like this monitor because it’s not connected to WiFi and does all the things that I need it to do simply…” Amazon.com review
Best Health and Sleep Monitor
You know all about the Owlet sock, and the same medical-grade technology for parents at home went into the Owlet baby monitor. Perhaps the coolest feature of the Owlet Monitor is that it uses your phone as the parent monitor–so you don’t have to haul around yet another screen with you to keep an eye on your baby. Plus, the video stream uses AES 128-bit encryption and TLS connection to WIFI for safety so only you (and whoever else you allow access to) can see it.
The Owlet monitor also pairs with the Owlet sock so you can see all of your baby’s monitoring information in one place with the app. But, you don’t need the sock to use the video monitor–you can use it on its own too.
Owlet Baby Monitor Features:
- Owlet Cam’s 1080p video
- Coordinating Owlet app
- Secure, encrypted connection
- 2-way talk
- 130-degree angle (to see the whole room)
- Background audio–lets you listen to your baby’s audio while you still use your phone for other tasks
- Night vision
- 4X zoom
Beware the Battery
While the Owlet has many convenient features, be aware that you will need at leat 2.4 gHZ WiFi in order to operate it. Additionally, some parents have cautioned that the app can be a battery-drainer, so if you plan on using it a lot, take that into consideration.
Easy to Use, Easy to Set Up
“We bought this camera after having previously bought and used Zebora baby cameras because they were cheaper. After about two months, and three returned Zebora camera later, we had a friend recommend Owlet cameras. NEVER TURNING BACK!… These cameras have great audio, night vision, and high picture quality. As far as the security of the cameras, I’m no expert, but we haven’t had any issues. Also, they aren’t bulky and don’t distract our babies with a weird red light when they are trying to sleep. They come with easy to install cable guards and a mounting plate which is awesome because our two-year-old yanks every electrical cord down every chance she gets. The box is it comes in is pretty snazzy too. We’ve gone through two different brands of cameras, and so far Owlet is the best quality. It is so intuitive and easy to set up and it pairs flawlessly with the owlet sock and app. Definitely recommend!” —Amazon.com review
Best Budget Video Monitor
This mid-range-priced monitor packs a lot of handy features into one streamlined package. Perhaps our favorite feature of this video monitor is how easy it is to set-up: it’s literally as simple as plugging the monitor in to get started.
HelloBaby 3.2 Inch Video Baby Monitor Features
- 3.2 inch LCD display
- Digital encryption technology
- Remote control camera
- 2-way audio
- Room temperature monitoring and alert
- Night vision
- Can be used in audio-only
- Parent handheld monitor uses rechargeable battery
- 960 ft. transmission
- Auto-mute function
The Amazon listing for this monitor does mention that sometimes the parent monitor video feed will freeze from time to time, but it’s “normal,” which strikes us a bit odd, but hey, at least they’re being honest, right?
“Love it! Works great. I can go all the way down the end of my driveway with no static and picture is perfectly clear! I like that it has the power saver option, so screen powers down then any movement or noise it comes back on and the sound is clear! I use it once she falls asleep so that I can shower and get some chorus done around the house.”–Amazon.com review
Best No-Contact Monitor
There’s a lot to love about this smart monitor–not only is it designed with AI so it increases accuracy and reduces the incidence of false alarms, but it also works directly with your smartphone to deliver insight on your baby’s breathing, movement, sleep patterns and nursery conditions such as temperature and humidity. Plus, it does that all without the need to for your baby to “wear” anything.
Here’s What Miku Offers:
- HD video and sound
- 256 bit encryption and 2-factor authentication, including a tamper-resistant Crypto Chip so data remains secure
- Multiple awards: What to Expect Best Baby Monitor 2020, The Bump Best of Baby Awards 2019, The Bump Best of Baby Awards 2020, BABYLIST Best of Baby Tech 2019, CES Tech for a Better World, CES Fitness Sports & Biotech, What to Expect Most Advanced Video Video Baby Monitor 2019
- No subscription fees
- Night vision
- Two-way audio
- No batteries required
- Quick and easy installation
- Custom sleep sounds and lullabies
Connection is Key
The biggest complaint with this monitor on reviews is that it can have connectivity issues, depending on your WiFi connection, so you’ll want to be sure to follow all instructions and troubleshoot directly with Miku if you run into any trouble.
“We finally found a monitor that does it all! We’ve been through it all with monitors whether they fail or just don’t work correctly but the Miku has been flawless since day one! Shipping was super fast, it took two days to get to our house. The package itself was super convenient and clean as soon as you open it and it comes with everything you need to set it up. It took no time at all to install the monitor and setting it up on my phone was quick! We’ve been using the Miku for three weeks now and I can say that we’ve slept so much better knowing our little one is sleeping sound with her breathing, motion, sound, logged sleep patterns, temperature/humidity etc. and you can watch no matter where you are. I’m usually at work before our daughter wakes up so now I can check on her any time before she wakes up which is amazing. The picture quality is crisp too! The Miku is definitely the future and I’m going to recommend it to anyone that’s lost in a world full of crappy baby monitors out there.”–Amazon.com review
Best Non-Wearable Monitor for Breathing
The Lumi by Pampers sleep system comes with two separate parts, which can also be purchased in a combination package to get the most benefit: the Smart Baby Monitor and the Smart Sleep System. Essentially, you can choose from having just the straight-up baby video monitor or go all-out and get the monitor with the system that will track your baby’s sleep and give you personalized insight into their sleep patterns (and how to improve it!)
Illuminating the Lumi
- High-def encrypted video feed
- Room temperature monitoring
- Monitor and a separate sleep system
- Alerts you to wet diapers at night
- Educational updates as your baby grows
- Camera has 1080p HD and optional 180° wide-angle view to allow you to monitor two cribs at once
Real-Life Mom Review
“It’s comforting to know that you’re getting reputable and reliable information all in one place. Having data from your baby and seeing how that correlates with the sleep habits you’re learning about is beneficial as well. I would have loved this on those late, lonely nights when I was up with my baby and searching the internet for anything that might help me get her on a better sleep schedule.”-Kelly Burch. (You can also read the whole Lumi review that Kelly wrote.)
For Pampers Only
The two main drawbacks about the Lumi are that 1) the separately-sold Sleep System, while handy, is still a pricey investment that won’t tell you other data, like your baby’s heart rate or breathing and 2) the wet diaper alert only works with Pampers diapers, so if you’re not a Pampers fan like I am, this system won’t work for you.
Best Go-Anywhere Baby Monitor
There are a lot of really cool features about this monitor system and it’s hard to know where to begin. Think of it like a layered lollipop, if you will. You get a video monitor that can be used under your own WiFi system or though their AWS cloud (optional and no additional fee for using it!) or you can switch it all and use it solely as audio-only.
Plus, if you buy more than one of these, multiple cameras will stream to the one app, so you can watch from more than one angle at a time or check in on different kids. The coolest part of this system is the fact that it auto-records 30 seconds around anytime it detects an “event,” so you can go back and check on the footage if something goes wrong. Another big bonus: you don’t need the app to be open in order for it to run.
- AWS cloud allows you to watch anywhere
- Multiple users can check in on the live feed
- Push-to-talk, even from outdoors
- Privacy mode will deactivate cloud streaming
- Audio mode only choice
- 96% true crying detection
- Data history
- 940nm LEDs invisible for near baby, and 850nm for wall mounting
- WIFI Spec – IEEE 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz
- Multiple cameras to one feed
Some reviews mentioned that the connection can be iffy depending on your WiFi, so if you have spotty connections at your home, this may not be the monitor for you.
“I have had this monitor for couple days and I keep finding more things that I love about it. The design is sleek and unique. The stick is bendable, twistable and posable making it so easy to place it in so many places. It also comes with an easy use wall mount that you may wrap the stick of the camera around. The picture quality is outstanding especially the night vision. There are so many features and notifications that I have still yet to try them all out. My favorite so far is the audio mode that I will turn on to hear my big kids were in there playing and screaming while I am busy. I’ll keep trying all the features and so far we love it. By the way in my house the connection is good so far.”-Amazon review
Best Audio-Only Baby Monitor
Choosing an audio-only monitor is a smart choice for some families, because it’s affordable and effective. Especially if your child is older or accessible enough that you just need an extra set of ears, video may not be necessary.
VTech Audio Features
- Intercom system (so you can talk to another parent from the baby’s room)
- LED 5-level sound indicator lets you know the level of audio coming from the room
- Night light on baby unit
- Backlit on parental units
- 2 parent units, 1 baby unit
- Range of 1,000 ft. (max)
- 6.0 audio
- Rechargeable batteries
- 18 hour battery life
- Wall-mountable and includes belt clip
- 1-year limited manufacturer’s warranty
Keep in Mind
This is an audio-only monitor, so you won’t be able to physically see your baby–if that’s important to you, you’ll want to go with a video monitor.
What Parents Say
“While we do have cameras in our son’s room, we aren’t able to hear or be woken up by the apps. These old school monitors allow us real time listening if our son is stirring or even tossing and turning at night, so we can go in and check on him. We have a 2 story house, and with 2 parent consoles, we easily utilize this downstairs also in our kitchen as a home intercom, since you can send/receive on the 2 parent units. The only thing I wish is that the Baby Unit could also run on battery.”–BuyBuyBaby review
Best Whole-Room Coverage Monitor
There’s a lot we really like about this monitor: it gives you an incredible view of your baby, with both sharp and clear video quality and camera pan and tilt. Plus, we really appreciate that you don’t need WiFi to set it up and that it relies on a wireless FHSS transmission that’s basically like your own private livestream of your baby’s room.
Another benefit of this monitor is that if you’re interested, it also pairs with the eufy’s entire home security system, so you can add it to your entire house’s digital protection program.
- Range of 1,000 feet
- No Wifi needed for set up
- FHSS transmission
- 2-way audio
- Sound alerts
- Wall mountable
- Plays 5 different lullabies
Sensitive + Sound-Only
It was actually a bit of a challenge to find any drawbacks to this monitor, but a few of the reviews mentioned two things: the noise sensitivity is on the higher side, so it might pick up some static on the highest setting. And secondly, there’s no sound light indicator. So if you plan on wearing a headset to exercise or work and want a monitor that lights up when noise is detected, this won’t do it.
“After reading a lot of reviews and recommendations on monitors, we decided on this one for our new baby! I was anxious to try it so we replaced our 2 yr old infant optics monitor with this one and it blew the infant optics out of the park! The picture is SO crystal clear – even when zoomed in I can still see her breathing. The night vision is amazing. We have it sitting quite a ways away from our daughter’s crib on a shelf and the picture quality is still amazing. There is very little static/background noise at all. The range of the monitor is much better than the infant optics! We plan on buying another one so we can keep this one in with our 2 yr old. HIGHLY RECOMMEND! Love this monitor!!!”-eufy.com review
Let's Compare Baby Monitors
Owlet Wi-Fi Baby Monitor
No parent monitor, uses smartphone
Infant Optics DXR-8 Monitor
8hrs with live screen
Ion battery. Not specified
Nanit Smart Baby Monitoring System
No parent monitor, uses phone
HD streaming to smartphone
The Miku Pro Smart Baby Monitor
Lollipop Smart Baby Camera Monitor
VTech DM221-2 Digital Audio Baby Monitor
Spaceview Pro Baby Monitor
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