Finding The Best Baby Monitor: A Guide
If you are considering a baby monitor, these are the biggest things you are going to look at when making your decision:
Battery life is one of the most important considerations when purchasing your new monitor. The average battery life of monitors we tested is about 4 hours at moderate use.
Signal strength tells you how far away from your your monitor you can go while still maintaining contact with the monitor. If you spend a lot of time outside of your house in your yard then you’ll want to get a monitor with signal strength of at least 300 feet.
Two-way Talk Capability
Is it enough for you to be able to hear the sounds coming from baby’s room, or do you want to be able to speak back to him or her as well? If so, you’ll need a monitor with two-way talk capabilities.
Video Capability and Screen Size
You’ll need a monitor if you actually want to see what is happening in baby’s crib, and should consider a monitor with night vision capabilities as well.
This is an important one. On the low end of the market you can pay less than $100 for a monitor, but if you want to splurge you can find higher-end models of monitors for over $400.
Our Top Picks
Name and Photo
|Philips Avent DECT Baby Monitor with Temperature Sensor||$199||Audio|
|Angelcare Baby Movement||$49||Movement|
|Summer Infant Babytouch||$197.01||Temperature|
|Motorola MBP36||$220.00||2.4 ghz fhss wireless technology||3.5 hours|
|Infant Optics DXR-5 2.4 GHz Digital Video Baby Monitor with Night Vision||$99.99||Digital||12 hours|
|Snuza Hero Baby Monitor||$99.99||Digital||2000 hours|
|Levana Astra||$209.99||Digital||48 hours|
Baby monitors, sometimes called baby alarms, are one of the first things an expectant mother needs to think about. As with most consumer electronics products, there is a lot of choices on the market, and finding the right monitor can be downright confusing.
With the challenges of selecting the best baby monitor in mind, I designed Mom’s Best as a resource that helps expectant mothers navigate through the abundance of information available about baby monitors.
Following is my Buyer’s Guide that explains exactly what you need to look for in your baby monitor.
So what is a baby monitor?
It’s basically a safety monitor for parents that allows a guardian or caretaker to hear their baby even when not in the same room with them. More and more baby monitors offer video and even heat detection capabilities, though the baby monitor finds its humble origins in monitors that just transmit sound.
Pro-tip: Keep in mind that there is a difference between a baby monitor and a so-called “nanny cam”, which is used to monitor the way a nanny or caregiver is treating a baby, rather than the baby itself. Nanny cams can help you detect whether a nanny is giving your baby booze to sleep (a big no no), dancing with your baby to 80s tunes, or simply shaking your baby for fun. Fun for you, nanny, but not for the baby.
What To Look For
When shopping for a baby monitor, the first thing any prospective buyer needs to do is decide what functions they want- do they want only audio monitoring, or video as well?
For video baby monitors, pay close attention to the quality of the video feed. Most video baby monitors connect to a television screen or have a portable LCD screen, but you’ll want to make sure the monitor is of a high enough resolution that you can see what is going on in the video from the monitor itself. You may also consider a monitor that offers night vision capabilities.
One alternative to video baby monitors are models that take periodic snapshots of your baby without recording ongoing video. These usually come at lower price points than those that continuously stream video. Most video baby monitors now come with an SD card, which will take a backup of your video and allow you to see anything you may have missed the first time around.
Price is a consideration for some, but even for those who aren’t price sensitive, keep in mind that a more expensive device might give you a lot of features that are never even utilized. In other words, even if you have the money to buy the most expensive baby monitor, think about whether you actually need it or not.
Wireless Devices and Signal Strength
Expectant moms should be sure to purchase wireless, not wired, baby monitors. Wireless devices usually offer greater comfort to Mom since she can move around freely while still monitoring her baby, whereas a wired device limits the parent or guardian to one room only and requires expensive equipment and labor to install.
Wired baby monitors also come with a set of safety concerns, and there have been incidents of babies getting tangled in and choked by the cords from wired baby monitors. A wireless device allows you to monitor your baby as long as you are within range of its signal, which extends beyond 1,000 feet in some models.
The Average Range
The range of most baby monitors has improved in recent years, with products such as First Years Crisp & Clear Double Audio Monitor offering a range of 700 to 750 feet. For moms who are frequently outside gardening or working on projects throughout the house, I advise a monitor with a range of 700 feet or more. For moms who tend to spend most of their time in the house with their baby, they can go with a monitor with a range of about 350 to 400 feet.
In addition to range, you should also look at the wireless technology that your baby monitor utilizes. Some use radio frequencies while an increasing number of baby monitors make use of digital audio wireless systems with Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunication (DECT), which usually offers a range of up to 300 feet.
The advantage of using DECT over radio frequencies is that transmits data more effectively and you will receive less interference (static). DECT transits cleaner audio and video than baby monitors that use radio frequencies, which can also pick up a number of other sounds from neighbors or nearby appliances such as microwaves and cordless telephones.
Apart from interference, analog baby monitors (baby monitors that use radio waves to transmit data) are at risk of being intercepted by scanner receivers or other baby monitors, which to those who prioritize privacy, might be an issue.
The next thing you should consider is whether you want a baby monitor that makes use of one or two-way communication. A two-way communicator will allow you or a caregiver to talk or sing to the baby from a distance, which is useful for those times when baby is agitated and needs a familiar voice to soothe him or her. A one way baby monitor, on the other hand, will only allow the parent to listen in on baby. Higher end baby monitors with two way communication may also allow mom to preset soothing music and play it at any time.
While more expensive, I generally recommend going with a two-way baby monitor if your budget permits. Some models of baby monitor come equipped with two receivers so that both Mom and Dad can listen in to Baby separately so long as they are within range of the signal, and they can also communicate with one another using their receivers. Some baby monitors even integrate with wireless security cameras, though this option is probably unnecessary for most.
What about a Temperature Sensor???
Many baby monitors now also come equipped with movement and temperature sensors. These movement sensors can be adjusted to wait for a period of time after which it gives an alert if there is no movement, and temperature sensors can also be set up to trigger alerts when the monitored baby’s temperature goes beyond the normal accepted range.
Depending on the monitor, one can opt to have sound alerts, light alerts and vibration alerts, and some devices even offer a combination of two or all three of these alerts. Common alerts are low battery beeps and out-of-range alerts. The power source of your monitor is important as well. The two most commons options are battery powered monitors and and A/C powered monitors, with some devices using a combination of both.
Battery life is one of the most important considerations there is when selecting a baby monitor. Look for devices that last for a minimum of ten hours and preferably much longer. Also be sure that the monitor you choose has removable batteries (most do) so that you can swap batteries as needed.
More Minor Considerations
Other, more minor factors to take into consideration may include ability of the monitor to function at night and in low light conditions.
You may also consider what accessories, like belt clips, the monitor comes with. If you are highly active in your household (and let’s be honest, what mom isn’t) you may also consider the size and weight of the baby monitor.
Another feature worth considering is a built-in time that reminds you of feeding and medication times.
If you spend most of your time indoors and have a medium budget, you’ll want to be sure that your monitor offers both audio and video, transmits wirelessly in digital format, has an inbuilt rechargeable battery, and allows for two-way communication. The alert type should be preferably sound and vibration combined, and temperature sensors are better than motion detectors.
To learn more about baby monitors, simply check the video below.