Baby monitor buying guide: How to choose the best device to keep an eye on your baby

Audio or video? One or two way communication? Budget or high-end? We'll answer all your questions and walk you through the steps to choose a monitor that gives you more peace of mind.

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Baby in a crib

Quick facts about baby monitors

  • Baby monitors can offer you peace of mind when it comes to the wellbeing and safety of your child.
  • Prices start at around $50 for audio models and can reach up over $350 for once that record video.

What types of baby monitors are available?

There are two main types of baby monitor. These are:

  • Audio monitors. These are the traditional model of baby monitor. A monitor sits in your child's room and relays audio via a radio or digital signal to your receiver. These tend to be more affordable options, though cheaper models can have shorter transmission ranges. If you're looking for a simple way to keep an ear on your child's comfort, audio monitors are a safe bet.
  • Video monitors. Video monitors have become increasingly popular options as technology has developed. Video feeds allow parents to have eyes, as well as ears, on a child. They work by broadcasting across a locked (proprietary) signal between monitor and receiver or by transmitting via a mobile or Wi-Fi network. If you're going down the networked route, be sure that the connection in your home is reliable and that your network signal is password-protected.

Compare baby monitors

Updated October 21st, 2019
Name Product RRP Product More info
VTech VM9900 Pan & Tilt Video Baby Monitor
$329
Oricom BS2SC710 with 5C700 Pack
$399.99
Oricom SC850 Digital Video Baby Monitor
$279.99
Oricom BS2 with SC55 Pack
$299.99
Oricom Ultimate DECT Baby Monitor
$119.99

Compare up to 4 providers

How to compare baby monitors

You want to know that the system you pick will efficiently work to help you keep your child safe. Choosing a system will ultimately depend on your personal needs, but here are some important things to keep in mind:

Range

A wide range can allow you to sit in the garden or another area of your building with your monitor. Range can be impacted by signal strength, product design, building features such as brick walls and your Wi-Fi connection.

Portability

Being able to move your monitor easily is a convenient feature. Whether that's the camera in the baby's room or the receiver on your end, it's inevitable you'll want to move your monitors at some point.

Movement sensors

Some baby monitors come with movement sensors that are typically in the form of pads that can be fitted under a bed or into a baby's clothing. These sensors relay information regarding a baby's tossing and turning, or stillness, during the night.

Sound quality

You tend to get what you pay for when it comes to speaker quality, but an interrupted signal can also impact sound quality. You want to hear your child clearly and easily decipher the difference between a sigh, cry, groan and burp.

Camera type

If you're opting for a video monitor be sure the camera type suits the size and shape of your room. More-expensive models may offer wide-angle views or the ability to toggle and pan the camera angle.

Communication capacity

Does the monitor you're selecting have two-way communication? This will allow you to talk directly to your child, or more likely a babysitter in their room.

Design

Can you wall-mount the monitor, or does it have a flat base? Does your receiver clip onto your clothing? If you plan to use your monitor in a certain way, be sure the model you select supports those ideas.

Power

Most monitors offer rechargeable batteries while some need to be plugged into a powerpoint. Battery-powered monitors offer more flexibility. If you're opting for a model that needs to be plugged in, be sure to consider the layout and power capacity of your home.

Extra features

Newer baby monitors can be purchased with a host of extra features. These include night lights, room thermometers, the ability to play lullabies and more. Keep an eye out for features you think will suit your home and child.

Finder's roundup of the best baby monitors

Three things to consider about video monitors

  1. Camera mount type. Before you shop, take a good look at the room (or rooms) you want to station a camera in. Baby monitors can come with flat surface, clamp or wall mounts, so pick the one that will work best for your location.
  2. Camera viewing angle. Cameras that do not have wide viewing angles may not let you monitor an entire room. If you're only monitoring your baby while he or she is sleeping, this may not be a problem. Otherwise, opt for a camera that has swivel and zoom capabilities.
  3. Multi-camera system. Depending on how old your child is, or how many little ones you have, you may want to install cameras in more than one room. If this is the case, you may want to choose a system that supports multiple camera use as it is easier to monitor from the one handset and will probably be cheaper in the long run.

Alternatives to traditional baby monitors

If you're looking to keep an eye over your child without investing in a designated baby monitor, there are some alternative options to consider. These include:

  • Smartphone apps. There are apps available to download that serve the role of a baby monitor. You'll need to download the application onto two devices, one that will serve as the monitor and one as the receiver. A tablet that sits in your child's room is generally thought to be the best option. You'll need a reliable Wi-Fi or data network signal for this option.
  • Cordless phones. Home phone systems can have a monitor function. Place an enabled handset in your baby's room and it will play back to the base unit.
  • Home security cameras. Some advanced home security cameras offer the same services that baby monitors do. If your home is already wired with security cameras that record footage and sound, it may be worthwhile using that system to keep an eye on your child.
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