We've heard it said that parents have eyes in the back of their heads, and we think there's some truth to that. Our senses are heightened once we become responsible for keeping alive little humans who seem bent on self-destruction. But no matter how vigilant you are, little ones always manage to get away with things—like smearing the contents of their dirty diapers all over their cribs. Even the best audio monitor in the world can’t alert a parent about those kind of disasters.
It's for situations exactly like this that video baby monitors—like our best-tested Cubo Ai Plus Smart Baby Monitor(available at Amazon) —are crucial to parenting. Babies need to be watched, not just listened to.
But deciding on the right video monitor for your family can be challenging: Do you need one that can remotely pan and tilt? Do you need one that has memory card storage? Is night vision the same from one camera to the next? Does price matter?
If price does matter, the Arlo Baby (available at Amazon) is our Best Value pick. It offers plenty of excellent features at a reasonable price.
These are the best video baby monitors we tested ranked, in order:
Cubo Ai Plus Smart Baby Monitor
Avent Digital Video Baby Monitor
Motorola Halo +
Safety 1st HD WiFi Baby Monitor
Infant Optics DXR-8
Summer In View 2.0
Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.
How much do we love the Cubo Ai? Let us count the ways. First of all, the smart monitor comes with a stand to mount the camera above the crib, allowing parents to not only see directly into the sleep area but to zoom in on your baby’s face—did that pacifier fall out? Are their eyes open?—with stunning clarity. While above-crib monitors aren’t necessarily revolutionary, the Cubo’s video quality is: The 1080p HD camera provides flawless, jaw-dropping clarity—including exceptional night vision quality—that was superior to any other camera we tried, bar none.
In fact, the Cubo Ai Plus baby monitor offers practically every feature a tired new parent could want, including sleep analytics, temperature and humidity alert, two-way audio, smart home compatibility with Amazon and Google devices, cry-detection alerts, no visible red light, and a built-in nightlight and lullabies. After setting a Detection Zone within the crib, Cubo’s AI features also go above and beyond with covered face and rollover alerts, detecting whether your baby might be in need of parental attention ASAP and sending alerts to your phone. Other AI settings include alerts when the baby is not detected in the crib, as well as auto-capture of photos throughout the night for a cute gallery of snaps sure to induce “aww”s.
Another great feature is the Sleep Analytics, which provides parents data on how many hours of total sleep, number and duration of sleep wakings, plus 18 hours of video playback to scroll through nighttime highlights. For parents who want to position the monitor directly above the crib, the Cubo comes with both a crib stand and a floor stand; those who would rather place the camera directly on a shelf, meanwhile, can use the mobile stand—all included. Plus the adorable owl design means it looks less like a piece of technology and more like a charming design choice in your baby’s nursery. Overall, a winner, from top to bottom.
At nearly $200, the Arlo isn’t the cheapest camera on our list, but it’s certainly one of the best—and especially impressive given it easily competes with monitors literally twice the price. The Arlo hits the marks across the board: speedy set-up, text or email alerts with motion or audio detection, temperature and humidity settings, smart home compatibility, and the ability to control lullaby settings, including an auto-off timer. Because it’s a smart monitor, you can keep tabs on your baby from anywhere, and the 1080p HD video quality is fantastic, with 8x digital zoom. There’s also a night light with a color wheel allowing for customization of seemingly endless hues.
The app comes with a basic plan allowing free access to recordings of motion and audio from the previous 7 days, included for up to 5 cameras per account. Videos and photos can easily be downloaded or shared with the click of a button. And while it’s a frivolous thing, the bunny rabbit design is extremely cute, adding a touch of personality and style to any nursery. Black and white puppy and yellow and white kitten designs are also available, as is a wall mount for added convenience.
Parents of multiples or children in two separate rooms have reason to rejoice for the VAVA Split Screen Baby Monitor, which offers a larger-than-average parent unit—the screen is five full inches of 720P IPS-display extreme clarity—allowing adults to both see and hear two different rooms or cameras at the exact same time.
The VAVA’s charms are ample, including 2-way audio, seven volume levels, real-time temperature monitors, and a communication range up to 900 feet. Parents have the ability to add up to four cameras, while the cameras themselves can zoom in up to three times. The parent unit features an extraordinarily long battery life—24 hours of audio, and 10 hours of live video—while you can choose how long you want the screen to be live before it powers down: 1 minute, 2 minutes, 5 minutes, or the ability to have the screen constantly on.
Minuses are few, but include the fact that, if you take too long while working on settings, you’re kicked back to the home screen, and the lack of an accompanying app, despite VAVA having apps for other products. If there were an app, we genuinely think it might be perfect.
Hi, I’m Nadine Jolie Courtney, a journalist, novelist, and former magazine editor with more than fifteen years experience reviewing products and writing about lifestyle. I started my career at the original shopping magazine, Lucky, have worked at Ladies’ Home Journal, FHM, and Jane, and have written for a variety of publications, including Town & Country, Oprah Magazine, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Architectural Digest, and Reader’s Digest. I’m a mom to a kindergartener and 4-month-old, and gave birth to my second daughter in the middle of pandemic shelter-in-place orders. Since her birth, I’ve been especially focused on parenting articles for publications like Parenting Insider, Good Housekeeping, and PBS Kids for Parents.
This video baby monitor guide was originally written by Sarah Kovac, who is the mother of three children ranging in age from 18 months to 9 years. Sarah is the Smart Home Editor at Reviewed, and has written about parenting items for many media outlets.
I started by testing video baby monitors from our original round of testing. Then, I combed through online articles and put my ears to the ground, looking for the options that people are currently buzzing about and using the most enthusiastically.
After choosing our finalists, I used each of the monitors at least twice while my baby Charlotte was between the ages of three and six months, in most cases using each monitor dozens of times. (At three months old, she was still napping four times per day!)
Once testing was complete, I filled out a detailed spreadsheet, and answers were aggregated to give us our final ranking, with both subjective and objective criteria taken into account. Metrics evaluated included everything from adjustability to comfort to whether a timer was included, to more subjective factors like enjoyment and ease of storage.
What You Should Know About Baby Monitors
Do I Need a WiFi Connected Monitor?
Not sure whether you need a standard baby video monitor or a connected one? We’re here to help. Standard video baby monitors communicate directly from the camera to the portable display (often called the “parent unit”). Often right out of the box the camera and display are already paired, so all you have to do is turn them both on and you'll immediately get the video feed on the parent unit.
Connected cameras, on the other hand, send the video feed to the internet, and then that feed streams to your mobile device. Because that signal has to bounce off of the cloud (it travels via your internet connection to a wireless server) and back to your smartphone or tablet, the signal is often delayed by a few seconds. Despite the delay, connected/WiFi baby monitors do have their merits. You can check in on your little one from anywhere, so if you are at work or are enjoying a night out and want to see if the babysitter got your kid to nap, you can peek in remotely as long as you have data signal or WiFi available on your phone.
Many of these connected cameras also offer the ability to give temporary app access to somebody who doesn't regularly babysit for you. You can invite other people to the account so that they can also monitor your little one from their phone, and most offer the ability to capture photos and video from the camera feed and save or share with friends or social media.
The big determining factors that set standard non-connected monitors apart from each other are range, video quality, and battery life of the parent unit. We tested for all of these factors and more, so you can feel confident that our best recommendations really are the best.
Can WiFi Connected Monitors Be Hacked?
Many parents are concerned, however, that their connected baby monitor could be hacked. And, yes, it is possible. We've seen a few horror stories about that exact scenario in recent years, but really, if the app that you use with your connected camera requires you to set up a unique username and password, any potential hacker would need some serious know-how to access your video monitor’s feed. Is it possible? Yes. Is it likely? No.
I might also note that it’s also possible to hack standard baby monitors that aren’t even connected to the internet. The difference is that the hacker would have to be physically close to an unconnected monitor in order to hack it. But it's still possible if someone were to, say, park across the street from your house. There is no monitor that is absolutely hack-proof, unfortunately. Comforting thought!
Other Baby Video Monitors We Tested
The iBaby M7 is a WiFi monitor that is loaded with cool features. It has an air quality sensor, humidity and temperature sensors, tons of music and lullabies, remote pan and tilt capabilities, talkback, and the ability to record clips from the livestream.
Our favorite feature, however, was the “Moonlight Soother.” The backside of the camera has a lens that can project a static image of moon and stars onto the ceiling. The lens itself can’t move, but you can select an option for the camera to twist back and forth automatically, which causes the image on the ceiling to continuously move. My toddler loved it. Of course, if your camera is continuously twisting back and forth, it’s pretty useless as a camera. But if you need a bit of a light show to get your kid to calm down at bedtime, it’s a handy little feature.
I’ve never really liked the form factor of the iBaby monitors. The camera sits on its base with no real way to secure it. It’s pretty easy to knock it off if you should bump into it. But if you know that the camera is not going to be messed with, it’s a pretty sweet little monitor.
Chances are good that you know the name Owlet from the brand’s baby monitoring Smart Sock 2. The Owlet Smart Sock wraps around the baby’s foot while they sleep and allows you to monitor oxygen levels and heart rate from an app on your phone. The new Owlet Cam adds a video element to Owlet’s monitoring capabilities, so now when you open the app, not only can you see your baby’s vitals, you can see your baby’s face.
With high definition 1080p video, background audio, a wide-angle camera, temperature sensor and two-way audio, the Owlet Cam will allow you to keep dibs on your little one no matter where you go. Other WiFi cameras that we tested had the added benefit of sending you a larger variety of smart alerts, like motion and air quality.
You don’t have to have the Smart Sock to be able to use the Owlet Cam, but if you’re already a big fan of Owlet’s Smart Sock, adding on their baby monitor camera is a logical step.
Nanit uses the router in your home to stream directly to your phone or smart device through the signal it’s broadcasting, even if it's not connected to the internet. That means the feed from your Nanit Plus will still work even if your internet service provider goes down.
If that wasn't enough, Nanit offers a paid subscription called Insights, which can be a lifesaver for parents who are trying to nail down their little one’s nap schedules or increase their quality sleep in the night (and what parent isn't?). Insights can tell when your little one is laid down, how long she's been asleep, give you feedback on how restless her night was, and even suggest routine changes that might help.
A dashboard within the app shows you how the baby’s sleep schedule has looked over time, how much sleep she's typically getting in a day, and how many times the crib was visited in the night. A video summary shows your baby’s activity throughout the night and naps, and a graph shows you how much time was spent awake, asleep, and away from the crib.
The feature we found most useful in the Nanit app lets a parent immediately see how long a baby has been asleep. If your little one is often laid down by a babysitter, this is a helpful tool for knowing how long one should expect their baby to keep sleeping.
Nanit Plus is reliable and useful and has a great camera. Of course, as most high-end monitors do, it also offers other features including lullabies, two-way talk, and a night light. Those aren't features most parents use, but hey, they’re there if you want them. This baby monitor just works well and the Insights membership is well worth the money.
You can purchase the original Nanit camera for less money than the current Nanit Plus. The only difference between these two models is that the original camera does not have a built-in speaker. So lullabies and two-way talk are not possible with the original.
The Philips Avent Digital Video Baby Monitor is … okay. It does have talkback, a nightlight, lullabies, temperature monitoring and Vox mode (which keeps the parent unit silent until sound is detected). However, the 3.5-inch screen is tiny, and the video quality is abysmal compared to the other units we tested.
The Avent has one major thing going for it, though. The smaller display equates to crazy long battery life. In our testing, the parent unit ran with the monitor on for about 12 hours! If you don’t mind sacrificing video quality for a parent unit that will last all day without dying, this may be the one for you.
The Miku smart baby monitor can monitor your baby’s breathing rate from above the crib. It also has sensors that can notify you of changes in humidity and temperature, and it can alert you of motion and sound.
The app is pleasant to use, and it even offers analytics to help you nail down your kid’s sleeping patterns. It’s a pretty cool monitor, but you can get a lot of these features for a lot less cash by opting for the Arlo Baby, our Best Value pick.
This is a middle-of-the-road camera: nothing wrong with it, but unlikely to inspire fervent devotion, either. The Panasonic benefits from remote pan, tilt, and zoom, allowing you to easily see around your child’s room. I also found it to have a very appealing design, reminding me a bit of the adorable bot in WALL-E.
Other positives include five lullabies, white noise sounds including ocean waves, a heartbeat, and a vacuum, two-way talk, and notification settings for temperature, sound, and motion alerts, with seven levels of sensitivity for the motion sensor. The rechargeable battery is decent, lasting up to 13 hours while in standby mode, and for up to five hours while continuously monitoring. However, the temperature alert settings were occasionally inaccurate, and I also found the camera slow to turn on. Compared to some of the other cameras currently on the market, the video quality was also not overly impressive, though it gets the job done. A camera wall mount is included.
Though this monitor didn’t rank higher on our list, it is, ironically, one that we continue to use every day. (In fact, our baby is sleeping as we type, and this is the monitor we’re currently using!) The Motorola Halo+ maintained a leg up over many of the other monitors we tested for one simple reason: it comes with a handheld parent unit as well as an app. The convenience of this cannot be overstated: it allows you to check in on your baby while you’re out and about, thanks to the Hubble for Motorola Monitors App. However, because there’s also a separate parent unit, you don’t have to tie up your phone if you don’t feel like it, and can keep monitoring your baby while, say, taking a phone call.
Neither the parent unit nor the app is perfect. We found the app buggy at times, and it doesn’t always properly log sleep-tracking data, although the picture quality is very good. The app also includes a Growth and Development Tracker featuring the ability to input your baby’s height and weight, feeding quantities, diaper changes, and pumping durations, among other metrics. Other highlights include motion detection, data sleep trends, and your baby’s activity levels, all captured, logged and charted for you to analyze. Meanwhile, the parent unit isn’t as sleek and sexy as, say the Vava, but with a 4.3” color screen, it gets the job done just fine—and was much better than many of the other parent units we tested (that didn’t also have accompanying apps).
As far as the monitor itself, it has a lot going for it: the HD 1080p camera is positioned above the crib, meaning you’ll get the full scope of your baby and can see their face clearly. It also works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and features two way speakers. My daughter loved the night light, which has seven color options, as well as the “light show” mobile that can be projected onto the ceiling: it bought me at least 10 happy minutes every morning while I frantically showered or brush my teeth. On the whole, a very solid option made much more appealing by the double feature.
The Safety 1st HD WiFi Baby Monitor brings something truly unique to the table, in that it marries the idea of a basic audio unit with the high-tech capabilities of a connected monitor. In the box is a sturdy little wide-angle lens camera, wall mounting accessories, and an audio-only smart parent unit.
The audio unit is what sets this monitor apart. Once the smart camera is connected to the internet, the audio unit can be activated when there is either motion or sound detected in the crib. The sensitivity levels can be adjusted in the app, so you receive the right amount of alerts on both the audio unit and on your phone via the app.
Set up within the app is extremely easy and involves just a few taps and a scan of the QR code on the bottom of the camera. The camera can easily slide onto a nail in the wall as it is, or you can utilize the included wall mount screws and clips. The audio unit has a light ring around the base that shines blue when audio or motion has been detected by the camera, and the light ring can be seen from any side of the audio unit, which we liked a lot. It stays silent until there is audio to be played, so it’s not constant noise.
Within the Safety 1st app, you can provide temporary access to a babysitter, view a free 24 hour timeline, share pictures and videos from your monitor, and digitally zoom in on the camera. It offers 720p HD video, respectable night vision, and this set up is expandable to beyond four cameras.
The Eufy SpaceView baby monitor is extremely pleasant to use. The buttons and their placement make sense, the video quality is awesome, and the battery life is great. It even has a memory card slot in the parent unit.
If you’re looking for a no-frills video monitor with a sharp image, remote pan and tilt, and sound activated alerts, you will love the Eufy. It doesn’t offer motion alerts, but it’s a solid monitor with a larger screen for a reasonable price.
Although this monitor is highly rated and frequently touted as one of the best available, we were not very impressed with it, especially considering how many truly excellent options exist right now. The image quality isn’t stellar, and the range was poor, with us frequently getting an Out of Signal coverage warning (despite living in a not huge townhouse).
The positives: the monitor features 100 degree and 330 degree remote pan/tilt/zoom, making it possible to see not just your baby closely but to easily scan the rest of the room, as well. It also bills itself as the first baby monitor to feature interchangeable lenses, allowing you to switch between a zoom lens and a wide-angle lens, though the wide-angle lens must be purchased separately. Battery life is approximately 10 hours—not overly impressive, but not horrible, either. Luckily, the monitor is on the cheaper side, making it an alternative for cost-conscious parents.
For a no-frills, gets-the-job-done baby monitor, the Summer In View 2.0 is an adequate option. Adequate, because the picture quality is only so-so, while night vision is even less impressive and the monitor has a habit of un-syncing. There are also unfortunately no bells and whistles like temperature monitoring, and the battery charge and range are weak. Still, at five inches, the monitor is large and it provides a wide-angle camera view to easily see the entire room. It can also be paired with up to four cameras simultaneously.
Sarah Kovac is an award-winning author and smart home editor for Reviewed. Previously, she worked with a multitude of outlets such as Wirecutter, TIME, PCMag, Prevention, The Atlantic, Reviews.com, CNN, GOOD, Upworthy, Mom.me, and SheKnows.
Nadine Jolie Courtney is a freelance writer based in Santa Monica, California. A former magazine editor, her work has appeared in Town & Country, Vogue, Oprah, Good Housekeeping, and Angeleno, among many other outlets. A graduate of Barnard College, she is the author of four books, including Romancing the Throne and All-American Muslim Girl, a Kirkus Best YA Book of 2019. Find her on Instagram @nadinejoliecourtney.
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