As smart as the best baby monitors have become, the one thing to look for is a device that reliably beams video from your child's nursery to wherever you are in the house. And when we test baby monitors, that's what we're looking at first.
That said, other baby monitor features are worth noting, particularly the ones that use sensors to monitor everything from the temperature in the nursery to your child's breathing. But our favorite baby cams are the ones that deliver the sharpest picture and provide the greatest peace of mind.
We looked at a wide variety of devices to find the best baby monitors for worried parents. Whether you want high-resolution images sent straight to your phone, special features like humidity and temperature sensors, or just a device that delivers a reliable picture for the lowest possible price, there's a video baby monitor out there that can fit your needs. Here's a closer look at your many options for checking in on a sleeping child and which one ranks as the best baby monitor.
What are the best baby monitors?
We've looked at more than half-a-dozen mounted cameras that beam live video from a nursery, and the best baby monitor we've tested is the Arlo Baby. It packs a number of must-have features such as clear 1080p video, two-way audio and a host of sensors. Everything's easily accessible from a well-organized mobile app that puts the Arlo Baby's controls at your fingertips.
People looking for a bargain may prefer the iBaby M6T. Though it's an older baby cam that records video in in 720p resolution, it's still a capable device offering night vision, two-way audio and helpful pan-and-tilt capabilities. On the other end of the price spectrum, the $299 Nanit Plus Baby Monitor provides a very good camera for checking in on your nursery, but it's the sleep-tracking features that will appeal to parents the most as they'll help you figure out ways to get your child to sleep through the night.
The best baby monitors you can buy today
Don't be fooled by its cute looks and adorable green bunny ears: Arlo Baby is a very capable baby monitor that delivers sharp video of your nursery to your smartphone. The Arlo Baby includes features such as night vision, temperature and air quality sensors, a color-changing nightlight and a speaker that can play lullabies. All of this is very easy to manage thanks to a well-designed mobile app.
Cuteness aside, the Arlo Baby is compact enough to fit into even the most crowded nursery; a wall mount is included if you prefer that option. While you plug the camera in to power it, you can also detach the camera and move it into any room where an impromptu nap occurs, though we only saw three hours of battery life when we tried this out.
By default, Arlo Baby records in 720p resolution, though you can switch to 1080p if you prefer. You can also adjust the field of view and fine-tune notifications on what triggers an alert. You do have to position the camera manually, however, and the gap between getting a notification on our phone and actually being able to jump to live video was a little laggy for our tastes. Still, the video delivered by the Arlo Baby was crystal clear, even at night.
A whole host of sensors — temperature, humidity and air quality — can alert you to any change in your kid's room. The versatile app can send you notifications however you want, and we were particularly impressed by an Always Listening mode that streamed audio to our smartphone.
About our only complaint with the Arlo Baby is that it's hard to find these days. But if you can track down a retailer selling the device for $199 or less — or if you buy directly from Arlo — the Arlo Baby delivers just about everything a nervous new parent could want in a package that's easy to manage, making it our pick for best baby monitor.
Read our full Arlo Baby review.
Even three years after we first tested it, the iBaby Monitor M6T still offers an impressive array of features at a manageable price. And it's a great choice if you can find this baby cam for less than $150.
iBaby's camera offers the sort of capabilities you'd expect — push-to-talk features to soothe a crying child, motion-triggered photo and video capture, and a 720p HD camera. (A newer version, the M6S, ups the resolution to 1080p.) The M6T also boasts a full-360-degree rotating pan.
The M6T streams to an app on your smartphone, and we found the Wi-Fi-enabled video streaming to be clear, even in low light. The two-way speaker offered above-average audio in all conditions, and we like how we could play lullabies preinstalled on the iBaby mobile app to lull a child to sleep.
Read our full iBaby Monitor M6T review.
Bleary-eyed parents who just want their baby to sleep soundly through the night will appreciate the insights that come from the Nanit Plus Baby Monitor. In addition to letting in you check in on your sleeping child from the comfort of your smartphone, Nanit's camera also monitors activities so that it can provide you with detailed analysis of your child’s sleeping patterns and quality of sleep.
Over time, the Nanit Plus recognizes your baby's sleep habits and uses that information to summon up articles and advice for you on ways to improve your baby's sleep. That's a subscription service and the first year is included with your Nanit Plus purchase; afterward, it's $50 a year. Since our review, Nanit has added compatibility with the Amazon Echo Show and Echo Spot to let you see the video stream through an Alexa display.
As for the camera itself, you can expect videos in 960p resolution with an aspect ratio optimized to fit in your baby's crib. We found the images clear and the camera pretty easy to set up. You'll have to pay up for the Nanit Plus and its sleep tracking features, especially compared to other top baby cams, but for parents who just want a good night's sleep, the extra cost may be worth it.
Read our full Nanit Plus Baby Monitor review.
You'll get great video quality and an easy-to-setup system with the Safety 1st HD WiFi Baby Monitor. But the real reason to consider this device is a helpful portable audio unit you can carry with you that lets you hear what's going on in the nursery without having to notice and respond to push notifications on your phone.
Another convenient thing about Safety 1st's portable audio unit — you don't have to activate the camera to check in on your child. That makes it even easier to make sure everything's all right in the nursery. There's little delay when you use the two-way audio feature, and the portable unit will even flash when the camera detects motion for a helpful visual cue to launch the companion app.
As for the camera itself, we were impressed with the 720p video, though there was an occasional delay uploading video. Parents who want features like temperature and humidity sensors with their baby monitor should consider other options.
Read our full Safety 1st HD WiFi Baby Monitor review.
If you find yourself turning to Amazon's Alexa assistant for other household tasks, you can also put Alexa to work checking in on your baby with the help of Project Nursery's baby monitor. The Project Nursery Smart Speaker with Alexa includes a 5.7 x 3.8 x 3.8-inch HD video camera and an Amazon Echo speaker for monitoring naps and sleeping. (If you've already got a speaker, you can just buy the camera.)
Why use Alexa? Because you can control the camera with voice commands in any room with a speaker. That lets you check images streaming to your smartphone without having to fiddle with the camera's controls yourself. This will require to manage multiple apps — Project Nursery's companion apps along with the regular Alexa app.
Still, Project Nursery's baby monitor is a good one, with clear HD images, good night vision, pan and tilt controls, and decent motion detection. It's a good option if you're comfortable using Alexa in other aspects of managing your smart home.
Read our full Project Nursery Smart Speaker with Alexa review.
The Miku Smart Baby Monitor can track your child's breathing while also letting you peak in on a sleeping baby via an HD video stream sent to your phone. And while the breathing monitor feature works well, Miku's setup is quite expensive, especially when compared with some of other best baby monitors.
Miku's design is simple and pretty easily to install, thanks to a sleek, compact design that fits just about anywhere. We also like the video quality delivered by the Miku's camera, though we wish the device offered the ability to zoom in on a sleeping baby. Built-in sensors for humidity and temperature are also nice to have, though unless you want the specialized breathing monitoring Miku offers, you'd be well-advised to consider a less expensive option.
Read our full Miku Smart Baby Monitor review.
How to choose the best baby monitor for you
Keep these criteria in mind will help you find the best baby monitor for your needs.
- Included Monitor: Find out whether your baby cam comes with a handheld monitor or if it relies on your phone to give you look-ins on your child. A monitor is another piece of hardware to keep track off and recharge, while you're likely to have your phone on you at all times. Cameras with handheld monitors also tend to be more expensive.
- Range: Look up the specs for how far the camera's signal extends, and make sure it can reach every area of your home.
- Camera: Check on the resolution that the camera records in. Also pay attention to the camera's pan and tilt features and just how wide a view it provides of your child's room.
- Video quality: Read reviews of the best baby monitors to see if they deliver clear images. (After all, the whole point of having a video monitor is to be able to see your child.) Baby cams that offer night vision are especially helpful as you'll be doing a lot of check-ins in the dark.
- Audio: See if the monitor has push-to-talk features so you can soothe your baby remotely. Other audio features to look for include the ability to play lullabies.
- Battery Life: The cameras we tested come with power adapters and should be plugged in to a wall. But the handheld viewers that come with some monitors run on removable, rechargeable batteries. Get a feeling for how long those batteries can go without a recharge.
- Special Features: Some monitors come with humidity and temperature sensors, which can help you check on other conditions in your child's room.
- Price: The best baby monitors offering video — the ones that come with all the latest bells and whistle — can cost around $200. That price can spike up if the monitor offers more advanced features like tracking your child's breathing, which is appearing on a growing number of baby monitors. However, you can find solid baby monitors between $100 to $150, though you'll sacrifice on video resolution and some features. Cloud storage can add to the cost of a baby monitor in the form of an ongoing subscription, though that feature is usually optional.
When setting up a baby cam, always change any default password, just like you should for any connected device you buy. (Here's a closer look at good password practices, in the wake of recent reports of hacked cameras, including one that was used as a baby monitor.)
Whatever baby monitor you end up going with, be sure to familiarize yourself with the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendations for infant sleep safety, which include making sure your baby sleeps on his or her back.
We recommend going with a dedicated baby monitor over a repurposed security camera. While the best home security cameras cost about the same as the best baby monitors with video, the latter have features better suited to checking in on your baby. We reached this conclusion after trying out a Nest Indoor Cam as a baby monitor, but we'd feel the same way if we tested other top-rated home security cameras like the Arlo Q or Wyze Cam 1080p.
How we test baby monitors
When we test a baby cam we situate each monitor at an elevated position in a child's room. Units with dedicated handheld viewers were tested from 12, 20 and 35 feet away. For baby monitors that offered Wi-Fi connectivity, we connect them to a home Wi-Fi network. We test all built-in features such as pan and zoom, motion and sound detection, temperature and humidity sensors, and sleep timers. We also take note of how easy the interfaces were on both handheld viewers and streaming apps.
Ease of setup and installation factors heavily into our ratings, including whether an account needs to be created and if there were any extra subscription fees necessary. Each unit we've reviewed has cords protruding out of its back, so design wasn't much of a factor in my choice, though parents should take care to keep dangling cords and wires away from their children's reach when setting up a monitor.
When assigning ratings, we consider special features that a baby monitor might offer and also take its price into account.