Purchasing a baby monitor is an important decision. Due to the vast amount of products on the market, this can also be a very difficult decision. Where do you start? What features should you look for? What should you avoid?
In this baby monitor buyer’s guide, I will review everything you need to know in order to get the best possible monitor for you baby. Confidence in the unit you choose is critical. The better a monitor performs, the better you will relax and sleep. If your monitor does not provide you with a comfortable sense of security, it will end up doing more harm than good. I tested quite a few of the so-called “best baby monitors” that were good for nothing more than throwing against the wall.
Which Type of Baby Monitor is the Best?
The two types of monitors are audio and audio w/ video. It will be up to you to decide which type is optimal for your situation. Parents that tend to be more anxious should select a monitor with a camera and video feed. First time parents typically fall into this category. If you don’t trust your monitor, life will become much more difficult than it needs to be.
Sound monitoring is the key component of any unit. Even with a video monitor, you will rely on sound capabilities for an initial alert. Therefore, sound monitoring quality is one of the important factors you should consider.
As I mentioned before, video monitors offer higher level of comfort. Having a visual of your baby may be of great benefit to you mentally and emotionally. Video monitors are also essential in determining whether or not a trip to the nursery is actually required. Since babies will often go back to sleep quickly, a video monitor could result in many less trips out of bed.
Digital vs Analog?
Analog signals are not encrypted. This means that other people could potentially see/hear your feed. Digital signals are encoded for your safety and privacy. I always recommend going with a digital baby monitor.
Wireless (Wifi) Network Monitors
Some digital video monitors can use your existing wireless network. Units such as the DropCam Pro (reviewed below) that automatically detect motion and sound will allow you to monitor your baby on any iPhone, iPad, Android Device or web browser. You can also set it up to receive pop-up notifications when something changes in the baby’s room.
What about Baby Monitor Prices?
Audio monitors typically range in price from $30 dollars to $150 dollars. The best video baby monitors range in price from $75 dollars to $300 dollars. However, as you’ll learn in this buying guide, a higher price tag does not always mean a better quality.
I’ll admit that Battery life is an overrated but feature but it is still an important consideration. Most of the top rated baby monitors offer a battery life of at least 5+ hours. This feature is especially important during the day when you are on the move around the house. If you remember to charge the monitor at the appropriate times, then a few hours of battery life will be more than sufficient. A lot of lower end baby monitors offer an extremely high amount of battery life. However, I caution you to not move a unit up in your rankings for this feature alone. A larger battery life will not make up for poor range and interference.
The potential for interference is what will ultimately make or break a baby monitor. A unit that encounters constant interference will be useless. Baby monitors are supposed to make your life easier. It won’t help if all you want to do is throw it against the wall.
Problem 1: The first type of interference is a result of other wireless devices running on a similar frequency. You may encounter this problem with cordless phones or if a neighbor also has a baby monitor. Low end monitors are highly susceptible to this type of interference. Their price tags will be attractive and the features on the box will sound great. However, the interference will drive you crazy.
Problem 2: The other type of interference is due to a decreased quality of sound as obstructions and distances increase. I also touch on this issue in the section about range coming up next.
Solution: There are a number of factors that can increase a baby monitor’s resistance to these 2 types of interference. Unfortunately, low end models are not equipped to adapt. This is why I recommend that you spend at least $75 dollars on a baby monitor (or not get one at all). I found each of the models listed below to be extremely resistant to all types of interference.
The biggest discrepancy I found between manufacturer claims and actual performance was with range. While some claims were accurate, others fell way short. Unless you have good reason to trust the manufacture & model, you should be skeptical when it comes to a baby monitor’s range.
Problem: Most tests performed by manufactures are done in open air. I have yet to be inside a house without walls, doors and floors. Your actual indoor range will be anywhere from 3-30 times less than open air range. Certain factors related to your home’s construction and wiring will determine how strong the signal remains in your house.
Solution: Choose a monitor with a proven track record when it comes to indoor performance. Remember, open air range claims mean nothing to us. Some monitors are simply better at receiving a clear signal through obstructions. I placed a heavy emphasis on indoor range when it came to ranking the best baby monitors on the list below.
Best Baby Monitors – Reviews and Rankings!
Without further ado, here are the top rated baby monitors according to yours truly. I have no affiliation with any of these companies and I receive absolutely no compensation for ranking them on my list. These choices were made based on my own testing and comparative research. I have also studied the results of numerous independent tests done over the last few years. I can promise you that a great deal of care and precision has gone into making this list.
(Price Range: $195 – $210)
The DXR-8 Video Monitor by Infant Optics is a great investment. What I found extremely attractive is its ability to grow and adapt with you as your family. It is the first baby monitor with interchangeable lens technology. Similar to a professional camera system, this allows you to choose the most suitable viewing angle for each specific environment. You can use the zoom lens for a comforting close-up of your infant. Then you can switch to a panoramic lens to view an entire room when your child becomes mobile. You can also connect up to 4 cameras to a single display unit and cycle through all 4 video feeds at intervals. This will allow you to create secure monitoring network throughout your home to use as your child grows up.
The video feed is transmitted in real-time to a vibrant 3.5″ LCD color display with crystal clear resolution. The monitor displays the room temperature where your baby is sleeping and has an out-of range warning just in case you venture too far. The infant optics DXR-8 also has additional safety features including a battery power indicator, customization alarm functions and sound-activated LED display in case you need to turn the volume off. This baby monitor is also packed with other fantastic features including:
- talk-back function to communicate with your infant
- remote camera pan/tilt capabilities to alter viewing angles
- infrared night vision
- 700ft open-air range that performs outstanding through walls and doors
- 2.4GHz FHSS provides excellent range and transmission quality
- built-in data encryption for extra privacy and security
- room temperature sensor
- sound-activated LEDs
- 6-10 hours of reliable batter life
- and much more!
(Price Range: $200)
Dropcam is a cloud-based video monitoring system that works on your existing Wi-Fi connection. So you’ll never need to worry about interference or range. You can watch the feed from any device such as your iPhone, iPod, Android device and PC or Mac computers. No matter where you are, you can stay connected to what you love.
Similar to the infant optics DXR-8, this monitoring system has the capability of growing with your family. Dropcam says that you can set up your monitoring system is less than a minute. I was not trying to set any records but it took me about 5 minutes. All you need to do is connect to Wi-Fi via computer or iOS mobile device. The sleek camera produces vibrant HD video with a 130 degree field of view and 8x zoom. It also comes equipped with two-way talk, night vision and Digital Zoom.
- Amazing Video Quality: Recently updated image sensor and optics.
- 130 degrees field of view, 8x zoom and night vision.
- Stay Connected to your infant with intelligent alerts and 2-way talk.
- Optional Cloud Video Recording (CVR) at additional expense. This allows you to review and edit old footage to keep all of your child’s important first moments.
The following products make up the rest of my rankings. While these may not be quite as fancy as the first 2, they are all excellent options if you don’t have as much to spend:
#3 Motorola MBP33S Wireless Video Baby Monitor (Price range: $150-$160)
#4 Levana Ayden 3.5″ Digital Video Baby Monitor (Price range $100-$120)
#5 Infant Optics DXR-5 (Price range $100-$110)
Best Audio Monitors
#1 Philips Avent DECT Baby Monitor (Price range $75-$90)
#2 Angelcare Movement and Sound Monitor (Price range $50-$60)
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