The Best Baby Monitor
The best baby monitor is easy to use and comes with extra features like volume sensitivity and two-way talk. To find our picks, we surveyed parents for their must-haves, then put seven of the most popular baby monitors to the test. In the end, we found three types of monitors that work for all types of parents.
This no-fuss monitor impressed us with its audio-visual quality, portability, and straightforward features menu. It nailed every test we threw at it too. Its picture remains clear under dim light or in the dark, and its microphone can pick up even the quietest whimpers.
This monitor connects to your smartphone, so you can watch your baby from anywhere. And while it has a ton of features, it’s still intuitive enough to set up and customize in under 10 minutes.
It offers all of the features of the HelloBaby as well as a motion-sensitive pad that alerts you to any changes in your baby’s breathing.
The Best Baby Monitor
- HelloBaby Portable Video Baby Monitor -
Best Standard Video Baby Monitor ($70)
- iBaby M6T -
Best WiFi Monitor ($160)
- Cocoon Cam -
Runner-Up WiFi Monitor ($150)
- Angelcare AC315 -
Best Motion-Sensor Baby Monitor ($200)
- Baby Delight 5″ Video, Movement and Positioning Monitor -
Runner-Up Motion-Sensor Monitor ($180)
Our favorite standard video monitor, HelloBaby, masters the basic features. It’s the easiest to set up and its video and sound quality competes with monitors twice the price. Its screen is smaller than most, but its simple interface gives you immediate access to the most important functions: talk-back, zoom, and pan; while menu button opens up customizable settings for temperature, sound, lullabies, and timers.
If you’re looking to take your baby monitor to the next level, choose a WiFi monitor. Our top pick is the iBaby M6T. You can watch your baby from literally anywhere through its Apple or Android app. There are lots of customization options too, like receiving push notifications when your baby wakes up or instructions on how to improve the room’s air quality.
Like the flexibility of an app-based monitor, but don’t want to navigate through all those features? Go with our WiFi monitor runner-up, the Cocoon Cam. It has the four important ones: you can adjust sound, screen brightness, motion sensitivity, and noise threshold.
If you want to know everything about your baby, down to the heartbeat — the Angelcare AC315 is our top motion-sensor monitor. The sensor mat slips under the mattress in your baby’s crib, and if it detects no movement after 20 seconds, it sends a loud alarm to the baby and parent units. Its touchscreen can be a little finicky. The Baby Delight is less prone to false alarms; however, our parent testers were concerned that the small clip-on sensor might be a choking hazard.
How We Found the Best Baby Monitors
We began our search by sampling the most buzzed-about video monitors on parent sites like BabyList, The Bump, and Tom’s Guide, as well as Amazon, Babies R Us, and online reviews. We wanted to find out which ones parents loved using — and which ones were as convenient as a 4AM tantrum.
We looked for monitors that had parents’ go-to features.
Nearly 100 monitors on our initial list offered infrared night vision, volume control, and support for additional cameras. To narrow our search, we earmarked particularly useful qualities we saw mentioned again and again on parenting sites. We only considered monitors that met at least two of our four criteria:
- Microphone sensitivity: There’s a difference between hearing your baby cry, and hearing every little noise. All baby monitors have the option to turn down the volume, but some offer thresholds for parents who are more comfortable with only hearing the biggest upsets, and prefer not to hear the self-comforting noises their baby makes as they fall asleep.
- Audio display: Even when the monitor is muted, an audio display will show you how loud your baby is with a little chart on the screen. If you want to listen to music for a while without the background white noise, an audio display will let you know if your baby is only quietly cooing in their sleep, or if they are well awake and need attention.
- Two-way talk: It’s not intended to let you cry at your baby for a change, but being able to talk to your little one can help soothe them in the moment, or offer just enough reassurance that they might fall back asleep. As your child gets a little older, it’s an easy way to gently remind them to stop playing around and go to sleep.
- Temperature Sensor: Babies are particularly susceptible to overheating and hypothermia because they can’t regulate their body temperature as well as adults. Monitors with these sensors display the room temperature on your screen so you don’t have to check your home system, and some will alert you when the room becomes too hot or too cold.
We grouped our finalists into three categories.
After interviewing parents and poring through pages of parenting blogs, it was clear that while some parents declared WiFi or motion sensors as must-haves in their baby monitors, others were indifferent.
So, we split our remaining finalists into three groups: WiFi Monitors for those who want to have an unlimited range or the ability to check in on their baby from anywhere, Movement Monitors for those who are comforted by hearing their baby’s vital signs, and a “standard” category for parents who want a quality monitor, but aren’t looking for that extra level of support.
Standard Video Baby Monitors
A standard video baby monitor is the first step up from audio-only baby monitors. They all come with two parts: the parent unit, consisting of a portable display screen, and the baby unit, which includes the camera and its stand. If you just want the basics or have an unreliable internet connect, a standard video monitor will help you watch over your baby without the price tag of more feature-heavy WiFi monitors.
WiFi Video Baby Monitors
A WiFi monitor gets rid of the parent unit entirely and replaces it with a smartphone app. That app connects to the baby unit over the internet, rather than standard radio frequencies. As a result, you’ll never have to worry about being out of range from your camera. If you’re at dinner and want to check in on the babysitter, you’re still connected. Since it operates from an app, it’s also easier to flip through features than trying to figure out a finicky, low-quality touchscreen, or a dozen different buttons.
Baby Movement Monitors
In addition to the standard parent and baby unit, these monitors include a device that tracks your baby’s movements, breathing, or heart rate, and offer time-sensitive alarms that alert you if your baby hasn’t moved in the last 20–30 seconds. While they aren’t proven to reduce SIDS, many new parents told us these monitors gave them added peace of mind.
Then we tested the most popular options in each category.
From each category, we hand-selected our finalists: the monitors with the most positive reviews on Amazon and parenting blogs, plus any that had all four of our parent-favorite features. Then we sent several monitors home with three different testers, to see which ones actually made parents’ lives easier, and which ones were more trouble than they’re worth.
Here's what we looked for
- Easy Setup: We timed ourselves to see how fast we could get our monitors up and running, and also checked to see if the instructions were clear, or they skipped a step or five. A new parent has a trillion things to do; struggling with setting up the baby monitor shouldn’t be one of them.
- Long Range: Monitors that don’t connect to WiFi have a limited range, usually around 600 to 1,000 feet. While this is large enough for all but the biggest houses, we asked our testers to find out how far they could wander away — and how many walls they could put between them and the baby unit — before they went out of range, as well as to report back on what happened when they did. Sometimes there was an alarm or a notification, but other times the screen simply froze.
- General Usability: This one is two-fold. First we wanted to make sure each monitor could perform under bright, dim, and no light; and pick up even the faintest sounds. Then we looked at how easy it was to use the monitor. Could we adjust the screen brightness, or were we going to be half-blinded when we picked it up at 1AM? Was the monitor voice-activated, or does it pick up white noise in the background? How sensitive were the alarms, and did they sound like a baby-waking screech or a soft ping?
Our Picks for the Best Baby Monitors
The Best Standard Video Baby Monitor
The HelloBaby might be a standard monitor, but it excels at the basics. It scored better than some of the more expensive WiFi monitors in picture clarity, and was hands-down the easiest to use. Just open the box, plug in the two devices, and you’re ready to go. No difficult packaging to tear through, and no account setup or device pairing necessary. Our testers had it up in running in less than 3 minutes each time.
We liked the sleek look of the camera, and while the base is grippy enough to feel secure on a dresser, it can be wall mounted to get that perfect angle looking over into the crib.
It has some nice extras too The center button brings up a small menu to set up a temperature alert, scan through additonal cameras, set a timer up to four hours in the future, or play a lullaby.
Its parent display unit is the smallest we tested, with a screen only 2.4 inches wide, but the video quality was among the best. By comparison, Infant Optics’ bigger screen didn’t offer a better picture, and our Motorola model had an obvious two-second delay — even when we took it off WiFi and used its direct signal mode to rule out connectivity issues. The differences are slight, but we were impressed that the HelloBaby could keep up with monitors twice its price.
We appreciated how easy it was to use the parent unit too. “It’s like an old-generation iPod,” one tester commented, noting the circular pad in the center. Volume, screen brightness, zoom, and talk-back are all available on the home screen, so it’s still easy to find the right button when you’re half asleep at 3AM.
Among our top picks, HelloBaby made up for its smaller display size with good video quality.
The Best WiFi Monitor
A good WiFi monitor is convenient and feature-rich — or else we may as well stick with the HelloBaby. The iBaby takes both aspect to the next level. It was the fastest WiFi model to set up at only five minutes. Once you download the app, a straightforward tutorial walks you through every feature. We liked that you can choose both sensitivity levels and notification options for noise, motion, temperature, and humidity — meaning the iBaby won’t alert you to those quiet falling-asleep sounds, or small movements unless you want it to.
Even better, you’d don’t need to keep your phone turned to the app to hear your baby or receive notifications. The iBaby works both in the background and when your phone is in sleep mode.
The iBaby had all of our most critical features and more. Plus, like a recent Star Wars robot, its round camera is gosh darn cute.
We also liked the iBaby because while it allowed us to invite other users to see through the camera — great if you want to give your babysitter access while you’re out — only the person who registered the iBaby monitor has administrator access to all of the features. The administrator can give some privileges to other users, like being able to move the camera around, but they can take them away just as quickly.
The iBaby app walks you through setup (left), displays activity history (center), and allows you to adjust settings (right).
The iBaby’s video and audio quality were among the best in the WiFi group, but like all WiFi monitors, quality and how well it displays real-time action depends largely on your internet quality and speed. Our testers only experienced a delay of less than a second, more noticeable than HelloBaby’s, but nowhere close to Motorola’s three-second delay.
The biggest downside to the iBaby is that its stand doesn’t attach to a wall. It’s designed to be placed on top of a table or dresser. Luckily, it’s not likely to go anywhere — it’d need a good shove to push it off.
WiFi Monitor Runner-Up
The Cocoon Cam brings the convenience of a WiFi monitor, while keeping its user interface simple and scoring high for picture and sound quality. So if you glanced over all the features of the iBaby and thought, “Just give me a good WiFi monitor without all that jazz,” you’ll like the Cocoon Cam.
This app-based monitor gave us better video and audio quality than the iBaby with just four customizations: volume, screen brightness, motion sensitivity, and noise threshold. Setup was on the longer side at nine minutes — you have to wait a few minutes for the monitor to sync to the WiFi and the app — but it’s not complicated.
The Best Baby Movement Monitor
The Angelcare AC315 earned high marks for audio and visual quality, was fairly easy to use, and comes with a movement sensor that slips under your crib’s mattress. If it ever detects more than 20 seconds of without movement, it triggers an alarm.
It’s the only monitor we tested with a touchscreen on the parent unit, though the unit we tested didn’t always recognize our clicks. Instead of buttons, the parent unit uses a touchscreen to adjust settings — but this feature actually makes the monitor harder to use. Sometimes the screen wouldn’t recognize our clicks; other times it over-clicked.
We were also disappointed that the Angelcare’s parent unit lacks an out-of-range warning. If you’re in the backyard or basement and the monitor disconnects, it’s not clear whether you’re looking at a napping baby or a frozen screen. Still, it beat out the Baby Delight for sound and video quality and offers a few customizable features: You can adjust the volume on the baby unit as well as the parent unit, and set up timed alarms and temperature alerts.
The AngelCare’s battery-operated movement sensor slips under your crib’s mattress.
Movement Monitor Runner-Up
Our testers preferred the Baby Delight’s parent unit — its buttons were more responsive than Angelcare and it was easier to set up. This movement monitor uses a cordless magnetic sensor instead of a pad. Because the sensor is clipped onto your baby’s onesie, right next to their chest, the alarm won’t go off if you forget to disarm it before a middle-of-the-night feeding.
However, the Baby Delight’s biggest flaw is one of technicality: Its button sensor is just large enough to avoid being labeled as a choking hazard, but it doesn’t leave a lot of room for error. In fact, the button does become a choking risk after your child is 3 years old, and the new parents we spoke to felt uneasy about using it after 12 months just to be safe. Still, if you’re only interested in monitoring movements for the first few months, the Baby Delight is a more user-friendly alternative to the Angelcare.
Did You Know?
Experts are skeptical about movement monitors.
Though they often perceived to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend them, saying point-blank, “There is no evidence that use of such devices decreases the incidence of SIDS.”
In addition to being untested for efficacy, physiologic monitors can increase both your stress and your baby’s stress with false alarms and unnecessary trips to the hospital. Dr. Christopher Bonafide, of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia wrote that parents are increasingly bringing healthy babies to the hospital over a false alarm, noting that changes that often set off a monitor are “just normal fluctuations.”
If it would give you personal peace of mind to see how much your baby is breathing, or how often they wiggle on their bed, you might consider a baby movement monitor. But if the idea of listening to your baby’s every breath, heartbeat, and sigh fills you with anxiety, stick to a standard or a WiFi monitor.
You can take extra steps to secure a WiFi monitor.
While there are a lot of options for putting your internet on lockdown, if you want to go the extra mile in securing your home network and your WiFi baby monitor, here are a few easy suggestions:
- Just like your WiFi network, when naming your monitor, make sure to not use any identifying information, like “Smith2A” for the Smith family in apartment 2A.
- Change the password. Manufacturers often use simple passwords as their defaults, which may be easy to remember, but are also easy to guess. Use a strong password — a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols — and don’t share this password with anyone, or use it for another website.
- Keep your baby monitor up to date. Stay on top of app updates by checking the Apple or Android app stores and keep an eye on manufacturer websites for other updates. Companies regularly roll out changes to strengthen security and improve functionality.
More features aren’t always better.
Baby monitors, despite the name, are meant more for the caregiver than they are for the baby. We asked parents about which features they felt were helpful, like a long range so they could wander carefree all over the house, and reliability so they weren’t struggling to maintain a signal. Other features like being able to play lullabies, or receive temperature alerts are only as useful as you make them. And a few features, like motion monitors, can be exceptionally comforting for some, and distressing for others.
Ultimately, all of our recommended monitors do what is absolutely necessary: give you a window into the nursery so you can look after your baby without being directly in the room. Any other features are a matter of personal preference.