Your instinct is to be with your child every second of every day. However work, chores – and sanity! – demand that you spend some time away from your precious bundle. The most obvious time to be away from your child is when they are sleeping.
A Baby Monitor provides you the ability to leave your child safe and sound in some quite place while you get on with all the things that cannot be done while they are around – or gives you the chance for a well deserved rest – knowing that you will hear them stir and can listen or watch them sleep from another room.
Modern Video Baby Monitors can broadcast to your TV, a hand-held receiver or even over your WiFi to your PC, iPhone, etc. So you can keep an eye on your little one from almost anywhere.
Baby Monitor Comparison Chart
The list I have put together is by no means all encompassing, and new technology is released almost every other day, however there is a good mixture of different types of baby monitors that will suit a wide range of needs and budgets.
Why Buy a Baby Monitor?
The most common reason why people buy baby monitors is because parents want to be able to hear or see their child when they are asleep in a different part of the house. This might be during the day for nap time, or during the night when the parents are also asleep.
There are actually quite a lot of different types of baby monitors that are available to buy and they all have many different functions. Some are simple and just provide audio of your baby sleeping, while others provide video and are connected via wifi. Then there are really advanced baby monitors that can measure your babies heart beat, or if they are moving in their cot.
Finding the Best Baby Monitor
Baby monitors have many different features available, and it is important to look closely at which features the model you are purchasing. It is critical to know which features fit your lifestyle best when making a decision on the best video baby monitor for you. Below are the main features you will find in the best video baby monitors.
Sound is the most important feature of your baby monitor decision. Your baby will be waking every few hours for the first few months, and you will rest much easier knowing that you will be able to accurately hear them when they do. While every monitor will have sound monitoring, we recommend that you pay special attention to the sound capabilities of each model when making a purchase.
Many models have adjustable sound sensitivity – which can be very helpful if you want to listen in closer or tune out when needed.
Video Baby Monitors
Video monitors come with a camera, which is usually mounted and plugged in to the wall, and the monitor itself. Some packages come with multiple monitors and some are expandable to have multiple cameras.
Video will not be the feature that alerts you that your baby has waken, but it will help you make the decision to go in to nurse/soothe them or not. Sometimes babies will wake for short periods and this feature will help you see if they are up for good or just a moment. It can make the difference of you going in and fully waking the baby unnecessarily, when they may have just gone back to sleep on their own.
When babies pass the six month mark, this feature is even more helpful to determine whether to check on the baby or not. Are they just fussing while laying down or are they standing on the side of the crib? Is their leg stuck in the bars of the crib? Without a video monitor you wouldn’t know.
We think the piece of mind that comes with video monitors is priceless, and well worth the additional cost in the long run.
This feature allows parents to see their child at night or in the dark. Many times this is accomplished by a LED light on the camera. Some models come with adjustable sensitivity, which is helpful in getting the picture just right. While most models come with night vision, we would not recommend going with a model without it, as it defeats the purpose of having a video baby monitor in the first place.
Each model will have a coverage range that it is supposed to work at. It is best to know how far away you plan on using your monitor. Do you have a large house or will you be out doing yardwork with the monitor? Some monitors can go up to 900′ or more.
It is important to note that sometimes the range that the manufacturer states can be misleading. The range tests done for this specification are often done in an open field, not in a home. In your home, walls, wires and doors will degrade the strength of the signal, so you can expect the range to be at least 5 times less than the manufacturer states when indoors.
WIFI / Internet Monitors
If you have a large home or you want to check on your baby while you are away, you may want to consider a video baby monitor with WIFI or internet capabilities. There are no distance limitations on this type of monitor set up. It is very important with these types of monitors to ensure that they have an encrypted signal and a secure login.
WIFI Baby monitors
Many baby monitors have WIFI capabilities built in to their system to support a digital signal and a wifi signal. Some monitors offer both of the options in addition to an app that can be used on your phone. These systems do require you have wireless internet (wifi) in order to operate the video baby monitor.
Iphone and Android video monitors
Several monitors on the market have the capability for you to use your android phone or iphone as the monitor itself, instead of having a separate monitor. For some parents, this can be especially convenient since they always have their phone with them anyways. These systems do require you have wireless internet (wifi) in order to operate the video baby monitor.
Video and sound clarity
Clarity plays an important role in monitor performance and how well you can see and hear your child. Video clarity will allow you to see exactly what your child is doing. Are their eyes open? Do they have their pacifier? Good video clarity will allow you to determine these things, and will make your video monitor a worthwhile purchase.
Sound clarity refers to the crispness of the sound. Static can interfere with how well you can hear your baby. Static can also interfere with you – lower end monitors will require you to turn the volume up louder to hear the baby, requiring you to listen to static in order to hear your baby cry. Parents may have trouble sleeping with this additional noise.
Frequency: Digital vs. Analog baby monitors
Analog video monitors function at 49 MHz or 900 MHz. Using these frequencies often means interference from other household electronics or other baby monitors. Digital monitors operate at 2.4 GHz, which is a more stable frequency at which you will experience much less interference.
Multiple parent units/ Expandable camera units
Several monitor models come with multiple parent units. This can be beneficial if you would like to have one monitor in the master bedroom, and one in the living room. In this instance you wouldn’t have to worry as much about keeping track of the monitor.
Some models offer expandable camera units when you want to add additional cameras – either for another child or another room in the house. The motarolla model we have has this. If you have more than one child this is a great feature which allows you to only have one monitoring system instead of two. You could also put the second camera in a play area, to keep an eye on your child when you need to go to another room.
Models refer to this as microphone sensitivity, background noise filter or sound-activated.
Sound-activated features (often found on higher end models) only operate the monitor when a certain level of noise(crying) has been reached. This provides a much quieter operation, which can help you rest if you are easily disturbed by light noises.
Sound sensitivity features can be helpful to allow you to adjust the monitor to tune out background noises but allow the baby’s voice to come through.
Remote control pan, scan, multi-level zoom camera
This is another feature often found on higher end models. These features can be very useful, especially when the baby moves to the opposite side of the crib than the camera is pointed at. Most cameras are not able to capture the entire crib, so if your baby moves to the side of the crib nearest the camera, you may not be able to see them without moving the camera.
If you have this feature, you will be able to adjust the camera via the remote without going into the baby’s room and readjusting. Additionally, if you want to see details
Budget is a deciding factor in almost everyone’s video baby monitor decision. Monitors range in price from less than50 to over 200. Usually, the higher the price, the more features and quality you will get. Great video monitors can usually be found around 120 and up.
Some models come with additional “bell and whistle” features that are nice such as:
room temperature monitoring
Some monitors provide temperature readings on your baby’s room. Some parents, such as myself, may find this material very useful for several reasons. One benefit of the room temperature monitoring was that the baby’s room temperature varied widely from other portions of our house. Another benefit for us was that our child was VERY sensitive to temperature at night, so having this reading on the video monitor allowed us to adjust the temperature to be just right. I understand that many babies are not very sensitive to room temperature, but for us this was a huge benefit.
two-way communication (talk-back)
This feature allows you to use the video baby monitor as a microphone and talk to your baby. This feature may not be very useful for parents when children are infants, but being able to talk to toddlers is often seen as a great feature.
playing lullaby songs
Some monitors have pre-programmed lullaby songs that you can play to soothe, calm or occupy your baby. This can help calm them down or even put them to sleep. Although we had this feature, we did not find it particularly useful at all. If you are choosing a baby monitor that has this, we would recommend making sure the volume is adjustable – ours was not.