The best nanny cam could be the difference between settling in to a worry free evening or stressing about your child being alright – worth getting right then. Once upon a time a nanny cam meant spending big for a luxury that not everyone afford or run. Nowadays, thanks to WiFi connectivity, cloud storage and high-resolution imagery, there are plenty of nanny cam options with something to suit everyone.
Lots of smart home cameras that are made for security purposes can also double as nanny cams, in fact some are better than purpose built models. There's lots to look out for when buying the model for you. Does it need to have night vision? Will it need to be wireless? Should it store video locally? Is facial recognition a factor? Perhaps price is the most important deciding factor. There's lots to consider, here's what you need to know.
- Places to hide a nanny cam
- Pros and cons of nanny cams
- Is it illegal to use a nanny cam in a nursing home?
What video quality do I need?
In most cases a nanny cam is going to benefit from a decent resolution of 1080p or higher. This will mean that detail is picked up so you can see clearly what's going on. This also means when night vision mode kicks-in – which is a must for kid's bedroom surveillance – the black and white infrared lit image will also be clear enough to pick out details.
While there are some cameras that offer 4K resolution footage this is likely overkill for a lot of people. If the camera is in one room with a fixed vantage point then 1080p resolution should do the job just fine. Although, of course, it depends on how big the room is.
The viewing angle is another factor here, especially for smaller spaces. A wide-angle lens will mean that the camera can be tucked away in a corner and still manage to pick up everything that's going on across the entire room. No blind spots is always a safe bet when setting up a nanny cam.
Does the camera need to be hidden?
If you are into secretive surveillance then a hidden camera could be of use. Perhaps you don't want your kids, or nanny, to know that you're keeping an eye on them. In these cases a camera that's designed to look like a household item can be useful.
You should bear in mind that you'll probably end up paying more for a specially made hidden camera. Your money may go further on a more mass produced home security camera that will get you higher specs but at the cost of losing some subtlety.
How much should a nanny cam cost?
The price you're willing to pay depends on what you need in terms of specs like video quality, cloud storage and connectivity. But, generally speaking, you're going to need to spend somewhere between $80 and $200 for a decent nanny cam.
1. Nest Cam Indoor: Best overall
Our best nanny cam for overall ease of use, specs and connectivity is the Nest Cam Indoor – the wireless smart camera that started the whole home smart camera revolution. While this was made for security, primarily, it's perfect as a nanny cam. The high resolution 1080p video, superb night vision and smart alerts for movement or noise make it ideal for kid capture. The wide viewing angle lets you place this wherever is convenient to plug it into power and it'll capture most rooms entirely. Connect to WiFi and you can access this via the app for smart alerts on your cell wherever you go.
Little one waking up? If you've got Nest heating too, you can turn that up to keep them toasty and send them back off to sleep. This camera will even work with Alexa voice commands for the ultimate ease of use. This is more affordable than most cameras, including the higher resolution Nest Cam IQ Indoor, while still doing everything you need to monitor your child perfectly. Cloud video storage will cost you but with 24 hours of access for free this'll probably be enough for most parents.
- Read the review: Nest Cam Indoor
2. Logitech Circle 2: Most affordable
The price of this camera doesn't match up to the specs, in a good way, it's packed full of features. One of the best is the ability to use this totally wirelessly as it can be battery powered, allowing you to pop it in a child's room overnight or when you're out and the babysitter is in. Video quality is great with 1080p resolution, a massive 180-degree wide angle lens and night vision mode.
Smart alerts come as standard so you won't be pestered too often, only when there's a noise and movement worth your attention. Activity zones, that allow you to set areas to ignore (like movement in the the dog's bed) will cost you more as you need to subscribe to extra cloud storage for that. With cloud storage space free as standard this will be for those that really specifically want that feature.
- Read the full review: Logitech Circle 2
3. Arlo Go: best mobile camera
The Arlo Go is a 4G LTE connected smart camera. That means you can place it anywhere and it'll capture what's going on, making it ideal not only for the home but also when away camping, at a hotel on holiday or even at a sleepover if you're visiting friends and the little one is in another, unfamiliar room. The lack of reliance on WiFi also makes this more reliable than some home cameras that could lose connection if a burglar cuts power or takes the WiFi router.
The downside is that you'll have to pay for data to use this and you're limited to a 720p resolution. That said, the quality is still decent, you get movements and noise alerts and night vision.
- Read the full review: Arlo Go
4. BrickHouse Camscura Micro: best hidden camera
The BrickHouse Camscura Micro is a type of nanny camera known as a black box camera. This means that the unit doesn't come with a clever disguise but is small enough to be concealed near or within other objects such between books on a bookshelf. BrickHouse Security even sells a few premade disguises such as a smoke detector.
The camera has continuous, scheduled, motion and vibration recording modes and can capture video up to 720p, which is quite nice for hidden nanny cams. Although sound can trigger recording, be aware that this camera does not actually record audio in accordance with federal and state wiretapping laws. The Camscura Micro uses a microSD card to store video, though it doesn't come with one in the box.
5. Conbrov T10: best battery life hidden camera
The Conbrov T10 nanny cam is disguised as a photo frame, which makes it great for mounting on walls and desks. You can leave the picture that comes with the frame or replace it with one of your own 5x7 prints. The controls are cleverly hidden behind the photo, so it won't be easily discovered.
This nanny cam comes with a large battery that allows it to run in standby mode with motion detection recording for up to two years. Aside from daytime recordings, the hidden camera can record in the dark using night vision LED lights. The Conbrov T10's 720p gets saved to a microSD card, not included, that you insert by the control panel. Although the T10 can record audio, you can turn this function off if it's not allowed in your area.