How to Choose a Baby Video Monitor
The top performers in our review are the Infant Optics DX-R8, the Gold Award winner; the Philips Avent uGrow, the Silver Award winner; and the Levana Keera, the Bronze Award winner. Here's more on choosing a baby video monitor to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of these 10 products.
New moms and dads often get very little sleep, but a high-quality baby video monitor can alleviate your worries by giving you an open window into your baby's room and help you sleep more soundly each night. A video baby monitor lets you see and hear what your baby is doing in their room anytime, as long as you're near the base. At night, the monitor alerts you when your baby wakes up. Some do this by transmitting your baby's cries, while others have sound-activated lights that flash, kick on the video or cue vibration when there's a disturbance. They also stream video from the nursery to the parent base so you can see whether your baby needs you.
Technology has advanced in the world of baby monitors. Now you can hook up some baby video monitors to your home Wi-Fi and monitor your child from an app on your phone or tablet. This means you can check on your baby in their nursery regardless of where you are in your home – or out of your home – as long as you have your device and an internet connection.
The best baby video monitor uses digital technology, which means you are likely to have less interference from other devices that employ the same frequency – 2.4GHz – than you get with traditional baby monitors. Common devices that share this frequency include Wi-Fi routers, microwaves, radios and other baby monitors. Digital monitors reduce the static that could come through on an older, audio-only baby monitor.
With the best Wi-Fi baby video monitor, you get a lot more convenience, because you can check in on your baby anytime from the app on your phone or tablet. However, there is a trade-off with these technologically advanced devices: There are more security concerns, and they're a bit harder to use. Chances are, anyone who happens upon a feed of your baby video monitor is just looking for a free connection, but to keep potential baby monitor predators at bay, you can take steps to ensure your monitor isn't viewable to just anyone. First, don't use default passwords for your Wi-Fi or the baby video monitor. Next, use strong passwords – they should be long and full of random letters in both uppercase and lowercase, numbers, and punctuation.
The Philips Avent uGrow worked very well in our tests, but not every tester was able to sync the camera with their home Wi-Fi connections. While we gave credit to those monitors that have Wi-Fi capability, each of these units also proved harder to use because of external factors like router location and weak signals, and they may have a steeper learning curve if you aren't very tech savvy.
These baby video monitors are not meant for measuring babies' vital signs. Some smart baby monitors are meant to prevent sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, which causes death in seemingly healthy babies with no explanation. However, we did not include this type of monitor in our baby monitor reviews.
Sometimes you just want a simple solution to an issue, like an audio-only baby monitor, which can be more affordable than a video monitor. If you're looking to set up a baby video monitor to your Wi-Fi but want to use home security cameras, you should look into the best IP cameras available. And when you entrust your children to a caregiver in your home, you may want to invest in a discreet security solution, so be sure read about the top 10 nanny cams available. To educate yourself even more on the best choice for you, continue reading, and check out our articles on baby video monitors.
Baby Video Monitors: What We Tested, What We Found
All of the baby video monitors in our lineup have some features that you come to expect with this type of device. After charging, the parent units are wireless, so you can slip the monitor in your pocket and take care of things around the house while your baby naps. Each of the units we reviewed has a signal indicator, so you can check to see if you have moved too far in your house from the baby camera or if the Wi-Fi signal is weak.
Another helpful option that these top rated baby monitors include is a sleep mode, so you can turn off the video and get some rest without a glaring screen at your bedside. If your baby fusses, the monitor turns back on or you get an audio notification that lets you know your baby needs you.
As with almost any video and audio device, you can control the brightness and volume levels, so you can get the clearest picture and turn the sound up or down. In the case of units that use Wi-Fi, your phone or tablet is your parent unit and you should use your phone's settings to adjust those levels.
The most important point of a video baby monitor is that it shows you and lets you hear what your baby is up to so that when you're needed, you can be there as soon as possible. Image quality is of utmost importance, because when you glance at the video monitor, you should be able to see enough detail of your child to know whether they're asleep or not. You also want to be able to clearly hear your baby through the receiver, and you want a baby video monitor that is uncomplicated so you can start using it right away instead of getting lost in a sea of instructions.
Video & Audio Monitoring
We put all of these monitors to the test with various interferences – microwaves, other baby video monitors and walls – to determine which one gave us the best display and audio. Our top-ranked monitor, the Infant Optics DXR-8, maintained the best image overall. The video was crisp and clear for the full eight-hour test. It did transmit a tiny bit of audio static as we walked the monitor farther away from the camera, but it was still mostly clear, even 120 feet away. The Levana Keera also fared well in our audio and video quality tests, and it even worked up to 149 feet away.
Screen resolution can be an indicator of the image quality you get with each monitor. However, even a crisp and clear image is marred if lag and choppiness are present, so we did not give as much weight to resolution as we did to video quality.
Most of the units we tested allow you to remotely pan and zoom the camera so you can adjust your view of your baby. As much as we liked the video displayed from the iBaby camera, though, it only lets you tilt the camera up, not down, which isn't very helpful when you need to see inside a crib.
Many of these baby video monitors, like the Motorola Connect and Snug Monitor, let you take snapshots or videos of your baby and then save those images and clips to an SD card or your cell phone or tablet. This is a fun feature that lets you capture precious moments you might have otherwise missed, but it is not necessary to the regular function of a baby video monitor. The Snug Monitor lets you hook up as many cameras as you'd like to purchase and view them all from your device, which means you can keep an eye on every corner of your nursery, play room, living room, backyard or anywhere else around your house, as long as your Wi-Fi connection remains strong.
All of the baby video monitors we tested include night vision so you can see your baby from the parent unit at night. The LEDs on a monitor's camera illuminate the camera's field of vision just enough for you to see, but not enough to disturb your little one. And if your baby just needs to hear your voice to go back to sleep, you can press a button on any of the parent units to coo or sing your baby back into slumber.
Setting up an electronic device can be child's play for some, a technological nightmare for others. We approached the setup of each monitor with that in mind, and we found that the easiest to use are the traditional baby video monitors that don't use Wi-Fi. Units like the Motorola Connect, Philips Avent uGrow and iBaby are more complicated. The Infant Optics has easy-to-decipher icons, but on the Levana Keera, it took us a while to get used to the touch panel. The Motorola Digital Wireless Monitor's directional buttons are vertical, which isn't intuitive and takes some getting used to.
If you have AV output on your cell phone or tablet, you can connect the baby monitor to your television for a bigger view of your nursery. The only monitor that includes an AV port is the Motorola Digital Wireless Monitor. If you have an SD card or other external data drive on your cell phone or tablet and the monitor's app allows it, you can save images or video. We were able to take snapshots using the Philips Avent uGrow using our iPad's screenshot function. You can mount most of these baby video monitors to a wall to save space on a shelf and make sure you have a clear view of your baby – the only one that doesn't have this option is the Levana Ayden.
Top Ten Reviews seeks, whenever possible, to evaluate all products and services in hands-on tests that simulate as closely as possible the experiences of a typical consumer. We obtained the baby video monitors in our comparison on loan from the companies and through retail purchase. The companies had no input or influence over our test methodology, nor was the methodology provided to any of them in more detail than is available through reading our reviews. Results of our evaluations were not provided to the companies in advance of publication.
What Else Is Important in Choosing a Baby Video Monitor?
You buy a baby video monitor for two reasons: security and convenience. Every setup we reviewed takes care of those basics, but if you're looking for a tricked-out setup, you want to look at the extras that some manufacturers include to make your life easier and your baby's more comfortable. A time may come when you need to contact the manufacturer about your baby monitor, so it's important that you know details of your warranty and can easily reach customer support.
One of the most helpful features that isn't quite a necessity on a baby video monitor is a room thermometer. You can check the temperature of your baby's room with just a glance at the parent unit with more than half of the units we tested. You can also play a handful of included lullabies on most of the monitors we tested. The Philips Avent uGrow has 10 different tunes for you to choose from.
In some cases, the LEDs that help with night vision also serve as a nightlight for your baby, but some of the cameras we tested specifically include nightlights. In fact, the Philips Avent uGrow has a nightlight with different color options and a timer for each, so you can choose the most soothing light for your baby that shuts off after a selected amount of time.
Help & Support
The Snug Monitor and the Philips Avent uGrow have the longest warranty of the baby video monitors we tested; your purchase of these units is protected for two years. All of the others in our lineup have a one-year limited warranty that protects against any defective parts or labor. You can easily get help from any of the manufacturers through their websites or customer care teams – by email, FAQs and help phone lines. Each manufacturer of the monitors in our review offers an online copy of the user manual, which is helpful if you've lost your physical copy or just want to take a quick look at it while online.
Our Verdicts and Recommendations
From the moment we plugged in the Infant Optics DXR-8, we knew we were going to like it. This baby video monitor is the easiest to use from setup to menu options. Although it doesn't offer the longest indoor range of the monitors in our lineup, it has the clearest image, even at the maximum range, and the best audio. In spite of its lack of some features we liked about others, such as snapshots and video recording, overall, this is the standout unit of the best baby monitors.
Although the Philips Avent uGrow is more difficult to set up than others in our lineup, once it's up and running, it's an excellent long range baby monitor. It monitors your baby from their coos to their cries, depending on the sensitivity level you set in the app. Additionally, it tracks the temperature and humidity of your baby's nursery and sends push notifications to your phone. This allows you to continue texting, working or playing a game, without video or audio of your baby on, but still know when they need you.
The Levana Keera also scored high in our video and audio tests, offering clear images and sound with only occasional lag. You also get fun features with it, like the ability to record video and save snapshots.
For a Wi-Fi baby video monitor, you would do well with the Motorola Connect. This baby video monitor lets you use either the monitor or your phone to keep tabs on your little one. The parent unit has excellent battery life – nine hours – and one of the biggest screens we've seen. It also offers five different lullabies to soothe your baby to sleep.
Although the others on our lineup didn't rise to the very top, they're excellent choices in their own right. The Summer Infant Wide View has the largest screen of them all at 5 inches, which gives you a huge view of your infant or toddler's room so you can keep an eye on all that goes on. The Snug Monitor is a Wi-Fi-capable device that allows you to use an SD card so you can save photos and video you take with the monitor. Whichever baby video monitor you choose for your family, you can be sure that if you select one from our lineup, it can provide you the peace of mind you seek.