baby monitor

Baby Monitor Buying Guide: What to Look for in a Baby Monitor?

How can you find the best video monitor for your home?

You might be surprised at the number of options available to you if you are new to buying a baby-monitoring device. Are you looking for a WiFi or radio frequency monitor? Are you looking for audio and video? Or a heartbeat/oxygen tracker? Are you looking for a standalone device, or an app for your smartphone?

Some options are necessary for a baby monitor’s practicality and utility in your day to day life. Others are unnecessary extras you can live without. Some manufacturers will profit from the insecurity and worries of parents to increase their prices. We have compiled our ultimate guide to buying a baby monitor to help you get through the noise.

After you have analyzed the pros and cons of each option, you can go to our top-rated baby monitors list to find the right one for you.

What is a Baby Monitor?

Parents can remotely monitor and listen to their baby using a baby monitor. It consists of a transmitter unit, which is usually a camera with a microphone that is placed close to your child’s head, and a receiver unit. The baby unit transmits sound, video, and data via radio waves or WiFi to the parent receiver.

Baby monitors are a far cry from the simple audio models of the 1940s. Monitors began as baby walkie talkies. Today’s monitors can stream live video, show you the temperature in your nursery, and play soothing music to your baby. (See additional features below).

Are You a Baby Monitor Required?

Parents often wonder if they need a baby monitor. How do you determine if your baby needs a monitor? Find out what best describes your personality:

  • If you live in a small home and are always within hearing distance of your child, a baby monitor is not necessary.
  • If you are unable to hear your baby or have been told by a doctor to monitor it, you will need a baby-monitoring device.
  • If you are wondering if a baby monitor is necessary, the answer to that question is likely yes. Parents who use a monitor report that their children sleep better when they know they will be notified if they wake up.
  • A baby monitor cannot replace a parent or guardian, however. Monitors can be extremely helpful in keeping your child safe, especially with the latest models that have impressive technical capabilities. A baby monitor is just that, a tool. It is a third pair or ears that you can use to monitor your baby.

Is your phone a baby-monitoring device?

Some parents wonder if their smartphone could be used as a camera for their baby’s room and stream the video via Skype or Facetime.

Although technically it is possible to use your phone as a baby-monitoring device, it is not recommended. A baby monitor’s ability to see in darkness with infrared night vision is one of its most important attributes. It is unlikely that your old mobile phone can do this.

Skype and Facetime cannot be used for long periods of time. You may lose the call and have to return to your baby’s room to reconnect it. You won’t be notified if the call drops while you are asleep.

We don’t recommend using your phone as a baby monitor. However, if you really feel the need to, we have compiled a list of the best mobile baby monitoring apps.

What are the Different Types of Baby Monitors?

There are many types of baby monitors. While some will show your baby’s video via your phone, others will have a dedicated monitor. While some use your WiFi network, others have their own radio frequency.

Audio, Video (WiFi and Non-WiFi), and Health Tracking Baby Monitors

You have 3 options for baby monitors:

  1. Baby monitors that are audio only
  2. Baby monitors with audio and video
  3. Monitors for baby’s health

Our most popular models are audio and video. These devices offer many useful additional features (see below), and they are well-made, mature products that have seen numerous years of product improvement.

New health-tracking baby monitors that can track your child’s health are becoming more popular as IoT devices gain momentum. Parents are increasingly concerned about their child’s risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), so these new baby monitors are becoming more popular. These tracking devices are able to monitor your baby’s oxygen levels, heartbeat, and movement. These devices aren’t always accurate so make sure you don’t get false alarms throughout the night.

Radio Frequency and WiFi Baby Monitor

There are two types of baby monitor connections that can be used to stream video and data from the baby unit to the parent unit.

Radio Frequency (RF)


Radio Frequency monitors are limited in range and may increase your child’s exposure to harmful electromagnetic radiation (read our article about safety and health). The risks of hacking baby monitors are greatly reduced by RF monitors (read our article about privacy concerns) and they come with a dedicated parent device that makes them easier to use. You can use your WiFi connection to operate them independently.

WiFi monitors on the other side stream baby’s video from your phone via your internet connection. While this opens up a lot of monitoring and functionalities, it also poses privacy concerns. This means you will need to make sure your phone is always on in order to be able to hear and see your baby. It won’t work if the WiFi network is down.

What are the Most Useful Features in a Baby Monitor?

Baby monitors do more than just alert you to your baby’s crying. You might not need a baby monitor that does more depending on how your home is set up. Here are some features that baby monitors currently have.

  • Night vision with infrared is essential. It is a feature that all the top 10 baby monitors have. Night vision allows you to see your baby even in the dark.
  • You will be notified by voice activation whenever your child wakes up. This is what some baby monitor manufacturers call VOX. Others use their own terminology. However, it’s a way to let you know when your child is awake, without needing to look at the video.
  • If you have multiple children, multiple camera support is a great option. You can view the whole family from one monitor. This option is available on all WiFi monitors, but it is only offered by the highest-end RF monitors.
  • Talking back is very useful when you need to soothe your baby, or just to let them know you’re coming to their room.
  • Another great feature is lullabies. You can choose from a variety of songs or lullabies to play on the camera.
  • If you live in an area where night temperatures vary greatly, it is important that the room temperature is maintained.

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