Last Updated On November 23rd, 2018
The temptation is always great, when shopping for baby furniture or equipment, to splurge for the most technologically advanced option on the market. After all, this is your baby we’re talking about. If there’s ever a situation that calls for the very best, it’s when you have a young child in the house.
The enormous selection of baby monitors on the market makes the temptation even greater. Sure, you can hear your infant crying with an audio monitor, but that’s old-school compared to the digital video, wireless and movement options now available and affordable. Why would you focus solely on audio now that we’re well into the 21st century?
The answer is obvious, if you think about how you’ll be using a baby monitor. You probably won’t be staring at the screen hour after hour and then staying awake through the night to watch for any slight movement. In almost every case, sounds will be your first warning that baby needs attention. The noises your child makes (or doesn’t make) will be what draws your attention away from the dinner you’re eating or the movie you’re watching, and what will immediately wake you while you’re dozing or sound asleep.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t buy fancy video monitor systems. Our point is that terrific audio quality is the most important component of the best baby monitor, even if it’s also able to let you watch your precious infant in high-definition from anywhere in the house.
Our baby monitor reviews will include all types of monitoring systems so you can make an informed choice. Just be sure that the one you decide on has terrific sound; all of our ranked models do, because that was our primary consideration.
Top 10 Best Baby Monitor Comparison Table
Full Buying Guide
If this is your first go-round, it’s likely that – at least for a while – you’ll be fascinated watching your baby sleep, hour after hour, no matter where you are. On the other hand, experienced parents may simply want an early-warning audio system which will do the job well. Determining exactly what you expect and need from your system is the first step to take before you shop.
We also think it’s important to stress that our opening wasn’t meant to dissuade you from deciding on video baby monitors, because they can be quite valuable. If you’re in bed and hear a brief cry, you will appreciate being able to take a quick look to see whether your infant just woke up for a moment and went right back to sleep, or if there’s a problem which needs to be addressed immediately. Video isn’t a mandatory feature, but it’s one that many parents see as a requirement; some also appreciate the convenience of wireless video models which operate via Wi-Fi, letting them watch their baby on their phone or tablet even if they’re out of the house.
In addition to simple audio monitors and modern video ones, you can also choose movement monitors. They operate via a motion-detector pad under the baby’s mattress and alert you if an infant’s normal sleep movements stop for any reason. In theory, this can let you know if the baby stops breathing, which could be reassuring for parents worried about SIDS. In practice, these monitors are difficult to calibrate and their alarm systems aren’t “medical grade,” so there’s no proof that they really work the way they’re promoted. We’ll include one in our rankings, though, for those who are interested.
The most important factors in choosing baby monitors are the systems’ range, clarity and interference. Range describes the distance over which a reliable signal can be transmitted, while clarity refers to how well you can distinguish the sounds and pictures that reach your monitor. It’s obvious what interference is, and it can be more of a problem than you’d expect because some systems transmit on the same frequencies as wireless home phone systems.
Range and interference shouldn’t be issues with Wi-Fi based models, but must be carefully considered when purchasing wired or traditional wireless systems; range is also affected by the number or type of walls the signals must pass through. Clarity is a key measure to check no matter what type of monitor you buy.
Several extras can come in quite handy. Sound activation tops the list because it eliminates the normal background noise in baby’s room and the telltale hiss of a monitor; you’ll only hear audio if your child makes an unusual noise. This can be a godsend while you’re sleeping but needless to say, you should only consider monitors on which the feature works well. The best choice on your shopping list will likely have infrared “night vision” capabilities to provide a better picture while your infant is sleeping, which we find a welcome feature. You’ll also find options with lights that turn on and get brighter (to make sure you notice) the louder your baby cries, ones that provide digital readouts of the temperature in the baby’s room, and some which allow you to record the video feed if you desire.
Finally, you’ll need to decide how many parent monitors you want your system to have, and you’ll want to check the battery life on the ones you’re considering.
That’s the quick checklist. Here are the reviews.
Top 10 Baby Monitor Reviews
1. Motorola MBP8
Whether you’re thinking about audio-only monitors because you think they’re all you need or because they’re less expensive, this is the low-priced system to choose. The wireless MBP8 has a strong indoor range of 50 metres (with an out-of-range warning alarm) and a high-sensitivity microphone that provides excellent clarity, along with LED indicators showing the volume of noise coming from baby’s room. The transmitting unit has a nightlight that can be turned off plus ECO mode, and you don’t have to worry about batteries running out because this Motorola system just plugs into the wall. One note: they operate in the same 1.8GHz DECT range as some wireless phones, so double-check for interference before throwing away your receipt.
2. Elephas Wireless Video Baby Monitor
This system packs a lot of features into an economical package. It has an unobtrusive white camera with night vision for the child’s room, and a 2.0” high-contrast colour LCD monitor for the caregiver which delivers a nice picture for a small wireless (non-WiFi) unit. Audio quality is good and it’s a two-way connection, so you can try soothing baby from a distance (operating range is 50m) before going into her room. Power comes from rechargeable lithion-polymer batteries and adapters are included with the Elephas system; transmissions are in the 2.4 GHz range leading to less interference. There’s also a temperature monitor and a selection of eight lullabies; the songs sound tinny and don’t add much, but who buys a baby monitor to play music? Overall, this is the best video baby monitor for the price.
3. Motorola MBP36S
We now move up a notch to a video system that will cost more but will deliver brilliant performance. This Motorola features a full-colour 3.5” LCD 320×240 display with outstanding video quality, a terrific infrared night-vision camera that caregivers can remotely tilt, pan and zoom to capture the exact view they desire (with the capacity to add extra cameras if desired), and an outstanding effective range of 200 metres (with an out-of-range alert). 2.4 Ghz FHSS operation ensures clear two-way audio with very little interference, and extras like a room temperature monitor, sound-activated LED lights and five lullabies (which sound better than the ones on the Elephas) are included. Motorola baby monitor reviews rave about the MBP36S, and we heartily agree with them.
There are no amazing bells and whistles on the BT300 audio-only monitor, but what you get is a small, reliable, simple system with digital HD sound. How good is the audio? You can clearly hear your baby breathing peacefully from 50 metres away – the clarity is that good. The only real downside is that the system runs only on AA batteries which don’t have a long life span before needing to be recharged. The BT300 has a talk-back feature, a night light, an LED “signal lost” indicator, low battery and out-of-range-warnings, but the real selling point here isn’t features, it’s the sound. And the it is excellent.
5. Motorola MBP160
Motorola makes a full range of baby monitors and this is their basic, old-fashioned audio-only model. The MBP160’s high-sensitivity microphone and 1.8GHz DECT range of operation lend themselves to great clarity and low interference (with the same caveat we’ve mentioned earlier regarding wireless phone system interference), and there is the standard 50 metre indoor transmission capability you’d expect from a modern baby monitor. You have the choice of using rechargeable AAA batteries or operating off of mains power. No flash, no special features – it just works.
6. Motorola MBP18
Well, we told you they had a wide range of products, didn’t we? Motorola’s MBP18 is a downsized version of the MBP36S we’ve already included in our baby video monitor reviews with a colour screen that’s about half the size, and capability for just one camera without a pan/tilt/zoom function, temperature monitor or lullabies. But all of the important stuff is still there, including infrared night vision and good audio and video performance, at a very reasonable price and with Motorola quality.
7. Tomy TF500
Tomy’s audio monitor is another simple system offered at a low cost, but it has one feature not often found on budget models which we believe deserves close attention: the sound activation mode we mentioned near the start of this article. The feature “filters out” the ambient room noise that you’re not interested in hearing, turning on the audio transmission only when baby makes a noise. This feature can be a double-edged sword; if it doesn’t work well, it hurts rather than helps. On the Tomy, it works and we love it. Other than that, this is a standard system with clear sound, good range and an attractive low profile.
8. Angelcare AC401 Movement And Sound Baby Monitor
Angelcare’s next-level baby monitor systems have been somewhat controversial ever since their release, because of their movement detector. Proponents of the technology, which works with the detector under the baby’s mattress, claim it can help alert parents worried about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome when their infant stops moving normally during the night. Critics say it’s never been proven that the detector is sensitive enough to really do what it promises, although to us it does seem to work well. In any event, the AC401 also has a good audio monitor with the sound activation feature we love plus a temperature monitor, and can run on rechargeable AAA battery or main power. If the movement sensor interests you, this is the monitor to buy.
9. Discoball Baby Monitor With Camera
This is another reasonably-priced video and audio monitor with a 2.4” LCD colour display, two-way audio and temperature detector. Transmission quality isn’t spectacular but it’s more than sufficient, and there are the usual features like a night vision camera, night light and tinny-sounding lullabies. The Discoball (they couldn’t have found a better name?) wouldn’t be our first choice, but it does the job.
10. Ex-Pro Baby WiFi Monitor Camera for iOS or Android
Why pay for a video monitor when you already have your phone or tablet with you day and night? Here’s the modern approach to baby monitors: a wireless IP camera that feeds your home WiFi network or operates on 3G/4G to send video and audio of your baby anywhere you’d like – you just have to download the associated app to get up and running. It supports resolutions up to 640×480, includes flash memory and supports an optional memory card. Sound and two-way audio quality is strong, setup is easy and we think it’s a terrific alternative to traditional ones.
You’re Ready to Choose a Baby Monitor
The characteristics of the “best baby monitor” for your home are difficult to quantify. Those who want to watch their infant’s every movement would never be satisfied with the very best audio monitor on the market, while experienced parents who simply want to keep an ear out for their child’s crying would have no interest in a high-def video monitor.
All of the products we’ve listed in our baby monitor reviews have an effective range of at least 50 metres, and provide good to excellent audio and/or video clarity and quality with a minimal amount of interference. Your final decision will most likely come down to features like two-way talkback, security, sound activation or temperature monitors, and our reviews should give you all the information you need to make an informed choice.