Baby monitors help you keep a watchful eye over your precious little bundle while they sleep. You now have a wide range of options available, from your basic audio monitor to wearables that keep track of baby’s heart rate, temperature and other vitals.
Data obtained May 2019. Prices are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.
Types of baby monitors
There are several types of baby monitors now available. The best pick for you will depend on how much you want to spend and which features are most important to you.
Audio. An audio-only monitor will transmit sound from the baby’s room to the receiver, which is usually portable. Many models also have indicator lights to let you know when baby’s making a noise, even when the sound is on low or mute.
Digital. Digital monitors encrypt the transmissions sent to your receiver, making it nearly impossible for other receivers — like a neighbor’s baby monitor — to pick up your signal.
Video and audio. These models are usually more expensive than sound-only monitors, since they also include a camera that lets you visually check in on your baby from another room.
Wireless network monitors. These digital monitors let you connect from your wireless devices, turning your tablet, laptop, smartphone or other devices into a receiver.
Movement monitors. There are several types of movement monitors, including ones that attach to your baby’s crib mattress and those that attach to your baby via a sock or other wearable. They let you know if your baby hasn’t moved in a set period of time, and some also let you keep tabs on baby’s vitals.
How to compare baby monitors
To narrow down your search when shopping for a baby monitor, consider these key features:
Price. Baby monitors range from around $20 for a basic audio monitor to $400 for a more advanced movement monitor. There are lots of mid-range models available as well, if your budget is somewhere in the middle.
Frequency. Ideally, you want a baby monitor that operates using what’s called DECT (digitally enhanced cordless telecommunications) technology. This frequency is reserved for voice-only communication that few other devices use in your home. This helps to ensure clear, crisp sound quality with minimal static or interference.
Receivers. Some models come with multiple receivers, making it easy to always have one on hand wherever you are.
Batteries. Some monitors come with rechargeable batteries or plug-in capability. These setups are ideal, because battery life can vary and you want to have your baby monitor in optimum working condition.
Sound/video quality. Some models come with sound activation technology where the monitor’s speakers turn on only when your baby makes a noise. That way, you can cut out white noise from the air conditioner or other background noises from coming through your receiver.
Indicators. See which indicators come with your model. Some will alert you when your receiver is out of range, and some have lights that let you know your baby is making a noise, even when the receiver is muted.
Extra features. Generally, the more expensive the monitor, the more features you’ll get, night vision video technology, a temperature sensor or a built-in heartbeat monitor.
Baby monitor safety tips
Always read the instruction manual that comes with your baby monitor before using it. Below are a few general safety tips to keep in mind:
Monitors should never stand in place of adult supervision.
Always follow all usage and care instructions exactly as listed in the product manual, especially for movement monitors.
Keep all cords out of baby’s reach.
Never place the monitor in or on the crib.
Plug in a baby monitor away from where it could get wet.
Use strong passwords to protect your Wi-Fi connection if using a wireless monitor.
Don’t get a false sense of security. Use all precautions to protect against SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), such as placing baby on their back to sleep and removing pillows, blankets and toys from their crib.
The right baby monitor for you and your little one will depend on your daily schedule, personal preferences and budget. Shop around to see what’s out there before deciding which model may be the best fit for your family.
We conducted online research to determine some of the most popular baby models currently available, comparing the type, price and overall features. We also took into consideration our own personal experiences with these products, as well as third-party product reviews.
Frequently asked questions
There are many things you can do to protect you and your family when using a baby monitor:
Choose digital over analog.
Use a strong Wi-Fi password.
Customize your network name rather than using the default factory setting.
Download the latest software for your monitor.
Use firewall protection.
Turn the monitor off when not in use.
This can vary based on your individual circumstances, but in general, you may no longer need a baby monitor when your child is sleeping through the night or is loud enough to wake you on their own.
Gabrielle Pastorek is the shopping and travel publisher at Finder, helping readers to round up the best deals, coupons, retailers, products and services to make sound financial decisions. She's contributed more than 800 articles to the site and is a quoted expert in Best Company and DealNews. She earned an MFA from the University of Pittsburgh, with essays and short stories published in The Collagist, Blue Monday Review, Blotterature and others. When she’s not writing, Gabrielle can be found out in the barn with her horse, Lucy.
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