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 they sleep.
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.
Types: There are two main types of baby monitors: audio-only, or audio with video. Within those two categories, you can also choose a type based on how the signal is submitted.
- Analog monitors, which are less expensive, transmit the frequency directly from the transmitter to the receiver. This means anyone with a device on the same frequency can technically listen into the sound.
- Digital monitors encode the signal, so other people can’t listen in. Either type of radio-based monitor (analog or digital) is a good safeguard in areas with poor internet connection.
- Wireless monitor uses your home’s wireless network to transmit the signal. Instead of a physical receiver, wireless-based systems often allow you to use an app on your phone or laptop to monitor your baby, which many parents consider a plus. However, if your internet connection gets interrupted, so will the feed.
Receiver unit: With the exception of some wireless monitors, baby monitors typically include a physical receiver unit for the parents.
- Audio receivers typically allow you to mute or adjust the volume of the device, so it doesn’t interfere with the other activites you’re doing. Some audio models, when muted, have LED lights that light up according to the volume, so if your baby is crying, you’ll know even if it’s on mute.
- Video receivers have full-color video screens, with adjustable brightness. The size of the video receiver is important, as this largely dictates how clearly you can see your baby. Ensure the screen size is suitable for you. Many video receivers also have night vision, so you can still see your baby even when they are sleeping in the dark.
Range: The baby monitor’s range indicates how far apart the transmitter and receiver can be before you’ll lose reception. It’s important to know this and stay well within range so you can continuously monitor your baby. Models advertised as “long-range” have significantly larger range, making them a good fit for those with larger homes. Wireless systems that stream the video through an app typically have unlimited range, allowing parents to watch from anywhere as long as they have their smartphone.
Device health indicators: Baby monitors come with indicators that let you know if the device is in danger of not working properly. If you get close to being out of range, the device may beep or light up. The same goes for if you’re low on battery life.
Battery life: Most baby monitors come with a cord you can plug in to ensure the transmitter stays on. Receivers, since they’re designed to be portable, typically operate on battery life, but many can be recharged by plugging in the device into the wall. Short battery life is a common complaint, as some models drain battery life quickly, so always read the reviews if this is important to you. Some models include a replacement, so you can continue to use the device in the event of a power outage where you’re unable to recharge it.
Power save mode: Another way many baby monitors tackle the battery life issue is through “eco” power-saving modes. On video receivers, this typically involves the ability to transition from video to audio-only mode, where the screen turns off but the audio stays on, loud and clear.
Two-way audio: Some baby monitors allow you to “talk back” to your baby. You can speak into the receiver and the transmitter in your baby’s room will relay your voice, soothing your baby. Additionally, the transmitter may 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.
Temperature sensors: Some baby monitors allow you to monitor the temperature of your baby’s room. The ideal temperature for babies to sleep in is slightly warmer than it is for adults, between 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Nightlight: Many baby monitors come with a nightlight, which makes it easier for you to walk in and check on your child during the night, without bumping into anything and injuring yourself.
Extra receivers and transmitters: 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 they frequent, such as your own bedroom or a playroom. Multi-camera-enabled systems may come with 2 cameras to start, with the option to purchase up to 2 additional cameras. If you’re using both cameras, you can toggle between views on the receiver.
By now you know the top-rated baby monitors and the features they include. You may still have a few questions, though. Here are the top FAQ people have about baby sleep monitors.
Are baby monitors safe?
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.
Always ensure the transmitter and the cord are 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. Unfortunately, babies can die from being strangled by their monitor’s cords.
How do baby sleep monitors work?
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.
Where should I place the baby monitor?
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.
How do I reduce interference?
The biggest complaint parents have about baby sleep monitors is interference. The video or audio can be fuzzy, buzzing, or 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.
How much do baby monitors cost?
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.
Can I return my baby sleep monitor?
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.
Do baby breathing monitors prevent SIDS?
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.