The Best Video Baby Monitors
The best video baby monitors for parents of all kinds
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I've heard it said that parents have eyes in the back of their heads, and I 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 the time my baby decided to smear the contents of her dirty diaper all over the crib. Even the best audio monitor in the world couldn’t have alerted me to that disaster.
It's for situations exactly like this that video baby monitors—like our best-tested (and my personal favorite) Panasonic Video Baby Monitor (available at Amazon for $189.90)—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?
After considering about 20 of the best-selling and most interesting monitors on the market today, including video monitors that connect to WiFi, we narrowed down our testing list to 13 monitors. A few of them were eliminated for terrible video quality or range, and we were left with these 10.
These are the best video baby monitors we tested ranked, in order:
- Panasonic Video Baby Monitor
- Safety 1st HD WiFi Baby Monitor
- Nanit Plus
- Eufy SpaceView
- iBaby M7
- Owlet Cam
- Homiee Video Baby Monitor
- Cocoon Cam
- Avent Digital Video Baby Monitor
I had around 15 monitors in my house at all times during our baby monitor testing. Despite the fact that I had so many choices, my husband and I always reached for the Panasonic when it was our toddler’s naptime. It doesn’t offer the remote viewing capabilities of connected monitors, but it’s loaded with so many other thoughtful features that I very rarely found myself missing the “smarts” boasted by other more high-tech baby monitors. And that’s saying something because as Reviewed’s Smart Home editor, I’m basically obsessed with smart stuff.
Despite the fact that the Panasonic monitor doesn’t connect to the internet, it’s pretty darn intelligent. Just use the monitor’s pan/tilt function to get your little one centered in the video window, turn on the smart alarm feature, and the parent unit will light up when there is any motion within the camera’s field of view. You can also enable alerts for noise in the room.
The parent unit plays a pretty loud melody (it’s adjustable, but when it’s turned up, I can leave the parent unit on the table, wander the house, and still hear the alert from almost everywhere). The alarm light is orange for sound detection or green for motion. The area of the monitor that lights up for the smart alerts is a bar just above the video display. Its placement is such that you can see the light even if you’re standing behind the monitor because the light bar is split between the front and the top of the unit.
Audio and motion detection sensitivity can be adjusted, the buttons on the front of the parent unit are easy to use, the smart notifications have a dedicated button on the front so that they can be adjusted on the fly, and it’s just super reliable and easy to use.
The parent unit does have a kickstand, but it will stand up just fine without it. It also has a fold-up antenna, but in my 2,100 square-foot house we’ve never needed to use it. My one and only gripe about this monitor is the green light on the back of the camera itself. Our toddler’s crib is in our bedroom, and since I’m fairly sensitive to light when I sleep, I ended up draping a sock over the back of the camera to block the status light. I’ve seen much brighter lights on baby cameras, and chances are it wouldn’t be that much of a bother to most parents. But if it is, just slap a piece of black electrical tape on it and call it good.
Several Amazon reviewers note that the night vision isn’t great, and I’d have to agree. However, we had such a great experience with it otherwise, we didn’t think it was a deal breaker.
Both the camera and the monitor feel solid and durable. We’ve been using it for months, have dropped it many times, and it looks just like new.
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 our 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.
If you're looking for a WiFi connected baby monitor that you can rely on, you've probably discovered that WiFi-dependent baby video monitors can be dishearteningly unpredictable. If you suffer from internet outages, fluctuating WiFi speeds, or dead spots in your house where the internet is particularly slow, you might be worried that your connected baby monitor won't be able to notify your smart device when your little one needs you. That concern is extremely justified, and in my time spent with many baby monitors, connected and otherwise, my biggest issues were the delay in notifications and loss of signal repeatedly and without warning.
Nanit sets itself apart in this regard, because it 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. Nanit is the only connected camera that I have ever felt safe using overnight with my little ones.
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 her sleep better. Nanit suggested to me that I be a little more consistent with my baby’s bedtime and notified me when I was successful in doing so.
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 I’ve found most useful in the Nanit app, though, will let me immediately see how long the baby has been asleep. My little one is often laid down by my husband or babysitter, so it's helpful to me when I want to know how long I should expect the 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. For all of these reasons, the Nanit is our best WiFi connected monitor.
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.
How We Tested
Hi there, I'm Sarah Kovac. I am a mother of three children ages 9, 5, and 18 months. After nearly ten years of parenthood, I've decided that it's just one long experiment. You keep trying new approaches until you find something that works. Hopefully. I've also been reviewing parenting items for several years and for many media outlets.
Even before I did so professionally, I was trying out parenting products from day one. It's just who I am. Whether they were strollers, bassinets, potty chairs, or baby monitors — I saw a new one and I just had to try it.
I've experienced firsthand that baby monitor needs change as the baby grows. In infancy, you want to be able to see more closely to make sure that the baby's breathing and hasn't rolled into a dangerous position.
Once you've moved to a toddler bed, you want a wider view and probably movement detection so that you know if your little one decides to crawl out and start exploring without your realizing it. At these older ages, the talkback function is also somewhat helpful. It's how I trained my oldest to stay in his bed. I watched like a hawk for a couple days, and any time he put a leg over the edge of the mattress to slide out of bed, I immediately spoke into the camera from the parent unit, gently telling him to lay back down. I'm sure it seemed like the voice of God coming out of the sky, but it worked, and he learned to stay in his toddler bed after a couple of days of direction.
To find the best baby monitor available, we rounded up 13 of the most loved, best-selling, and most intriguing video baby monitors on the market today. I spent weeks testing each of these monitors with my own children, and we scored each monitor on criteria such as ease of setup, video quality, latency, audio quality, reliability, battery life, signal strength, build quality, and simply whether the monitor was pleasant to work with.
After spending plenty of quality time with each monitor and finalizing our test scores, we feel confident that the Panasonic Video Baby Monitor is the best video baby monitor right now.
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 Eufy SpaceView baby monitor is extremely pleasant to use, and a close runner-up to the Panasonic. 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 like our top recommended Panasonic Video Baby Monitor, but it’s a solid monitor with a larger screen for a reasonable price.
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.
The Homiee’s monitor and parent unit don’t have a high-quality feel to them, and the navigation on the parent unit isn’t terribly intuitive.
However, the video quality is pretty decent at 720p, the display is a good size (5 inches), it has pan and tilt, and it has sound and temperature alarms. Once you get the hang of which buttons to push when, it’s not a bad little system.
Since it’s one of the lowest-priced units we tested, it might be a great choice for those who are on a budget and don’t mind a slight learning curve.
There’s no shortage of bells and whistles available on baby monitors right now, but perhaps the feature that is postured to most dramatically ease parental anxiety is the breathing monitor.
Cocoon Cam Plus monitors breathing simply by looking straight down on your baby from above the crib. There are no physical sensors—it’s all done by the camera. The Cocoon Cam app displays your baby’s breathing rate and even shows a live breathing graph in real time. It also offers a unique feature called vision mode, which looks a bit like a heat map, but it’s more of a motion map. Vision Mode shows you where the baby is moving most. So, if your baby has been moving her arms a lot, there will be an overlay of pink around her arms. Neat? Yes. Useful? Meh. I wouldn't consider it a major selling point, but it’s a fun feature that I haven't seen elsewhere.
The Cocoon Cam Plus took a little longer to connect than I’d like after launching the app, and at one point it briefly gave me a breathing rate for the stuffed teddy bear that had been left in the crib. (I know, I know—no stuffed animals in the crib!) I don’t think that I would feel comfortable relying on any baby monitor as if it were a medical device, but it is one of the few that is approved for purchase using Health Savings Account and Flexible Spending Account funds, so perhaps there’s something to the science. HSA approval is rare for a baby monitor!
The Philips Avent Digital Video Baby Monitor is … OK. 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.
However, if crisp video quality is a must, you’ll be better off spending a little less on our top recommended Panasonic.
Much like the Cocoon Cam Plus, 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 Cocoon Cam Plus or the Nanit Plus (our highest recommended connected baby video monitor).
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