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Baby sleep monitors don’t just help you ensure your baby is sleeping well. They help you sleep well at night, too, knowing your baby is safe.
Today’s baby monitors are portable, reliable, and high tech. They come with more features than ever, including smartphone apps, lullabies, temperature sensors, and more. This wealth of choice is wonderful, but it can also be overwhelming for new parents. And with prices ranging from $30 to $300, how do you know if you’re getting a good deal?
In this guide, we break down everything you need to know about baby monitors, so you can pick the best one for your needs.
Best Baby Sleep Monitors of 2019
Editor’s Pick – Nanit Sleep System
Best Audio Only – VTech DM221 Audio Baby Monitor
Best Video Quality – NETGEAR Arlo Baby Monitor
Best Breathing Monitor – Cocoon Cam Plus
Best Dual Camera – Babysense Video Baby Monitor
The Nanit Sleep System doubles as both a high-tech baby monitor and a baby sleep tracking app. Based on your baby’s movement, the Nanit will let you know, via smartphone notification, when your child is awake, asleep, or fussy.
Since the camera streams to your phone over the internet, instead of using a receiver, there’s no range limit. You can even watch your baby when you’re not home, pinching in to zoom like you would with any other photo on your phone. Thanks to multi-user functionality, multiple parents and caregivers can view the same data.
The Nanit Sleep System is one of the higher-end options, in large part due to the advanced analytics available in the Nanit Insights subscription service. The monitor comes with a one-year trial of the service (after that, it costs 100 dollars per year for 30-day storage or 300 dollars for unlimited storage). It compiles sleep data and provides detailed information about your baby’s sleep habits, including how long it took your baby to fall asleep, sleep duration and how many times you or another caregiver visited the nursery
The Nanit wall mount is placed directly over your baby’s bed, for a clear, unobstructed view of your baby. A cord management system keeps the cord safely from your baby’s reach. The monitor also includes a nightlight, as well as temperature and humidity sensors to ensure the optimal sleep environment.
Good for parents who:
The VTech DM221 Audio Baby Monitor is a top-rated audio-only monitor. Designed like a walkie talkie, it’s intuitive and easy for parents to use. Lights on the device visually indicate the level of noise coming from your baby’s room, in case you have to turn the volume down. There’s also a vibrate-only alert option.
Thanks to DECT technology, this baby monitor promises clear audio free of static and interference, over a fully private connection. Parents can travel up to 1,000 feet away with the receiver, which comes with a handy belt clip so you can easily attach it as you walk throughout your home.
Intercom functionality allows parents to talk back to their baby, soothing them back to sleep. Rechargeable batteries provide 18 hours of battery life on a full charge.
As an audio-only option, the VTech DM221 is a highly affordable baby monitor. You can buy one with a single receiver unit, or two – either way, it’s below $50.
Good for parents who:
This baby monitor is definitely the cutest. Available as a bunny, kitten, or puppy, the Arlo baby monitor fits right in with the rest of your baby’s bedroom decor.
The Arlo uses your home wireless connection and streams live video to your phone via a smartphone app. The video maintains 1080-pixel HD quality, whether you’re watching live in color or infrared at night. You can zoom in up to 8 times closer.
Like most internet-connected baby monitors, the Arlo turns your phone into a receiver, removing the need for you to carry an extra device around. As long as your phone is on, you can watch your baby no matter where you are. You can even save video recordings to the cloud for downloading up to 7 days later. App-enabled notifications let you know whenever your baby cries or moves.
Additional features include two-way talk, air and temperature sensors, nightlight, and white noise/lullaby player. This voice-activated baby monitor integrates with other smart home devices, including Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Google Assistant.
The Arlo battery is rechargeable, allowing parents to use it wire-free for extra safety. A separate floor stand or wall mount is available as an additional purchase.
Good for parents who:
The Cocoon Cam streams HD video straight to a smartphone app over your home internet connection. As a wall-mounted camera, there’s no need to worry about power cords. The camera captures audio and video, and streams in night vision when the lights are out.
The video feed is overlaid with an analysis of your baby’s breathing patterns. While your baby sleeps, the camera monitors their chest to detect whether anything abnormal happens, in which case you are immediately alerted via a notification from the app. Other notifications include your baby crying, waking up, or falling asleep. You can also talk to your baby through the app by using your phone’s microphone.
The American Academy of Pediatrics cautions against relying on baby breathing monitors to prevent SIDS risk. We’ve chosen to include The Cocoon Cam Plus in our picks because it’s highly-rated by parents, is a solid video monitor on its own, and some parents may find the breathing analysis comforting.
If that’s you, this app may be worth the price, but note that it does not include some of the other features other baby monitors in the same price range have, such as white noise players and temperature sensors.
Good for parents who:
The Babysense Video Monitor uses 2.4GHz FHSS technology instead of your home wifi, so you don’t have to worry about the internet going down. The lengthy 900-foot range allows for secure monitoring, even from rooms far away, and you can soothe and hush your baby using the two-way talk function.
With two high-quality cameras, you can view your baby from different angles of their bedroom, or or place the second camera in another room of your house, like a nursery or family room. The system can work with up to 2 more cameras, available for purchase separately.
Both of the Babysense cameras capture night vision and color video. Some panning and tilting is available remotely on the receiver, with additional adjustment available manually.
The handheld receiver comes with a stand so it can be propped up next to you. The Babysense’s “eco” power-saving mode turns off the screen while maintaining the audio, and turns back on whenever there is an abnormal sound to help alert you.
Good for parents who:
The Willcare Newborn Baby Monitor contains everything parents are looking for: an adjustable camera, night vision, two-way talk, temperature monitoring, and even a music player with 4 lullabies. The Willcare baby monitor includes a wall mount, too, for parents who want a cordless option. That’s a lot of features for a decent price.
The 3.5” LCD screen provides high-quality, constant footage of your sleeping baby. The voice-activated “eco” mode turns off the video, but keeps the audio on, reducing battery consumption by 50% while still allowing you to monitor your baby’s sleep. You can also set the eco mode to turn on automatically, whenever your baby is regularly breathing, so you can sleep better too, without an LCD display lighting up your bedroom.
Parents can rotate the camera 360 degrees, but have to do so manually. The system works with up to 3 additional cameras, which can be purchased separately.
One standout feature is the built-in food clock, which helps you stay on track with feeding your baby.
Good for parents who:
There are a lot of baby sleep monitors on the market, and all of them promise to give you peace of mind that your baby is sleeping safe and sound. All well-rated models will do this, reliably monitoring your baby while she sleeps.
Your choice as a shopper really depends on your personal preferences, and what features are most important to you based on your life- and parenting style. Here’s an overview of the common features you’ll find in baby sleep monitors.
There are two main types of baby monitors: audio-only, or audio with video. Within those two categories, there is also variation in how the signal is transmitted.
With the exception of some wireless monitors, baby monitors typically include a physical receiver unit for the parents.
A baby monitor’s range indicates how far apart the transmitter and receiver can be before you lose reception. It’s important to know your model’s range and stay well within it so you can continuously monitor your baby.
Models advertised as “long-range” have significantly larger range, usually more than 700 feet, making them a good fit for those with larger homes. Wi-Fi-enabled systems that stream video through an app typically have unlimited range, allowing parents to watch from anywhere as long as they have their smartphones.
Most baby monitors plug directly into the wall. Receivers, since they’re designed to be portable, typically operate on battery life, but many can be recharged when plugged into the wall. Short battery life is a common complaint with baby monitors, as it drains quickly in some models, so always read the reviews if this is important to you. Some models include a replacement battery, so you can continue to use the device in the event of a power outage where you’re unable to recharge it.
Some models also include power-saving modes. On video receivers, this typically involves the ability to transition from video to audio-only mode to conserve power.
Some baby monitors allow you to talk to your baby. You can speak into the receiver and the transmitter in your baby’s room will relay your voice to sooth your baby. The transmitter may also come with white noise, lullabies or nature sounds that you can turn on remotely. You may even be able to record yourself singing the lullabies for later playback.
Some baby monitors come with extra receivers, allowing you to keep them in separate rooms or share them among parents and caregivers. Some also come with extra cameras, allowing you to mount from different angles within your baby’s room, or to have a camera in another room your baby frequents, such as your own bedroom or a playroom.
Multi-camera-enabled systems may come with two cameras to start, with the option to purchase up to two additional cameras. If you’re using both cameras, you can toggle between views on the receiver.
Wi-Fi-enabled monitors are more portable—and perhaps more convenient—than other types, but some do come with security risks. While someone could technically listen in on your frequency if you have a radio-based monitor, Wi-Fi-enabled monitors are more susceptible to hacking.
Look for a Wi-Fi-enabled monitor with encryption and one that allows you to change its password. Be sure to also secure your own wireless network and keep the monitor’s firmware updated. If you choose a digital monitor, look for one with a 2.4 GHz FHSS wireless transmission
There’s variation in how baby monitor cameras operate. Some are stationary, while others can be manually pointed toward your baby’s crib. Many parents enjoy the versatility of models that provide the option to pan or tilt remotely from the parent unit.
You may want a wide-angle lens or the ability to zoom in. Also consider where your camera will sit. Some models can be mounted to the wall, while others can sit on a shelf or other surface.
Some parents are fine with basic baby monitors that simply let them know if their baby makes a sound, while others prefer crystal-clear audio and video. You’ll at least want to find a model that has a reliable audio and video feed.
If it’s important to you to be able to see your baby’s face clearly, look for a monitor with higher resolution and night vision. Devices with better audio and video quality tend to cost more, but they also allow parents to really know what’s going on in their baby’s nursery.
Many baby monitors today do more than just let you know if your baby is awake. Be sure to decide which features matter most to you as many add to the price of a unit.
By now you know the top-rated baby monitors and the features they include, but you may still have some general questions. Here are the top FAQs people have about baby sleep monitors.
Yes, baby monitors are safe, with proper use. Never place a baby monitor in your baby’s crib or within their reach, as the device can pose a choking hazard. Also ensure the cord is placed well out of your baby’s reach to avoid strangulation. Ensure that even if your baby were to stand up in the bed, they could not reach the cord.
Whether or not you decide to purchase a baby monitor depends a great deal on your parenting style and your house. If you share a room with your baby or sleep in close proximity, you may opt for no monitor. Many parents, however, appreciate the peace of mind a baby monitor provides. Especially if you’re a deep sleeper, you may sleep more soundly at night knowing that you will wake up if your baby needs you. On the other hand, light sleepers may want to turn down the volume on their units so they don’t wake up to every peep.
Baby monitors are especially useful if you have a larger house or sleep on a different floor from your child. They’re also handy for more than just bedtime. A baby monitor can save you from having to stay within earshot while your baby naps. Some parents use baby monitors as nanny cams to check-in while their children are with other caregivers. Wi-Fi-enabled devices also allow parents to check in on their babies even if they’re out of town.
If you’re not sure if a monitor is right for you, you can always start off with a basic, audio-only model and upgrade if needed. You may also decide you want a video monitor once your baby moves into her own room.
Baby monitors transmit sound and/or video from your baby’s room to the receiving device over a selected radio frequency band or internet connection.
Whenever you buy a baby monitor, it will include the transmitter (the audio or camera you place in your baby’s room), and the receiver (which you keep with you). You may place the transmitter on a surface in your baby’s room, or you may be able to mount it on a wall. The receiver will be a handheld device, and it may come with a clip so you can attach it to your person.
To avoid interference and keep your baby as safe as possible, place the baby monitor completely out of reach from your baby and any household pets. Also keep it at least a few feet away from other wireless products that may cause interference.
Ideally, your baby monitor should be placed in an area that’s positioned to give you an unobstructed view of your baby while they sleep, without endangering them from being in a place where the power cords could become tangled or the monitor could be accidentally knocked over.
The biggest complaint parents have about baby sleep monitors is interference. The video can be fuzzy or audio can have static, confusing you as to what’s your baby and what’s not. This interference occurs due to other electronic and cordless items in your home sharing the same wireless signal as the baby monitor.
To reduce interference, some audio-only monitors use Digital Enhanced Cordless Technology (DECT). DECT uses a private signal, separate from the 2.4-GHz frequency band the other wireless products are using in your home (such as cordless phones).
Besides getting a DECT model, you can also reduce interference by confirming that the frequency band your baby monitor uses is different from the one your other wireless products are using. You can typically find this information on a label on the back or side of each device.
Regardless of the technology powering your baby monitor, place it at least a few feet away from other wireless products to ensure a crystal clear feed.
The price of a baby monitor depends on the type of monitor you choose and the number of included features. Video monitors are more expensive than audio-only monitors, and the more features you can expect to enjoy, the more you can expect to pay. Typically, baby monitors range from $30 to $300.
Always check the store or manufacturer’s return policy before buying a baby monitor. Typically, you can return something as long as it hasn’t been opened, but you also want to know if you’ll be able to return it in case you do open and decide you don’t like it. Keep the receipt and original packaging just in case.
No, they cannot prevent SIDS. Baby monitors are not a replacement for adult supervision, but they can help you continue to keep an eye and ear on your baby while they sleep.
Some monitors, marketed as baby breathing or baby movement monitors, are designed to track baby’s breathing and movement. They may include a device that’s clipped to your baby, or a sensor that lies in their crib, but they usually don’t include a video camera allowing you to watch your baby. However, these claims have not been tested and, since they’re not medical devices, they are not regulated or approved by the FDA.
As such, the American Academy of Pediatrics does not endorse buying these products, and warns consumers about whether they should believe the marketing hype. They worry that because these monitors claim to prevent SIDS, parents will worry less about taking other precautionary measures that are proven to be effective at preventing SIDS.
Because they’re marketed as high-tech monitors with smartphone apps and baby health analytics, these baby breathing monitors often tend to be expensive. These types monitors pose a growing concern for the AAP because their market share is growing. Currently, the AAP’s official position is that these are not effective for preventing SIDS.
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