For the modern-day parent, a baby monitor is a must-have device. It’ll give you a peace of mind knowing that your baby is safe even if you’re not in the room. It’s also a great way to reduce separation anxiety when transitioning your baby into their own space. Plus, you can keep an eye on your child while he’s napping.
However, buying a baby monitor can be challenging because there are several options available.
On the one end of the spectrum, you have low-profile models with minimal features and reliable performance. But they don’t hold a candle to cutting-edge baby monitors that come in the form of wearable tech which can be quite cost-prohibitive.
Surprisingly enough, the low-cost models are way more effective and reliable than expensive monitors. Also, the high-end monitors aren’t scientifically backed, but they provide you with remote viewing capabilities while regular walkie-talkie models have very good audio. (Read About the best video baby monitor reviews)
The good news is that there’s a device that offers the best of both worlds. It’s known as the video baby monitor and it comes with some of the most advanced features.
In this buying guide, we will help you pick out the best video baby monitor for your needs. Like we mentioned in the beginning, you have a lot of options to choose from so you’ll need all the help you can get if this is your first time buying this type of device.
Do You Need a Baby Monitor?
Long time ago when babies and young children would sleep in the same room with their parents, baby monitors weren’t even a thought. But, in the modern world, most babies sleep in their own nurseries from a very young age. Plus, most mothers prefer to return to work within months and sometimes weeks of giving birth, which means they have to leave their babies with a babysitter.
A baby monitor comes in handy for both scenarios. You can use it to keep an eye on your baby and nanny when you’re at work or you can use it to listen in on your little one as they sleep at night. That way, you’ll be able to wake up and attend to them if necessary.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Baby Monitor
Before you buy a baby monitor, you need to consider the type of features you want and need.
Here are a few of the most important things to check for in every baby monitor you come across.
Like any other electronic device, a baby monitor works according to a particular frequency band. That frequency can easily be disturbed by other devices nearby.
That’s why a monitor that’s placed next to a cordless phone, for example, will experience a fair amount of static.
Luckily, most manufacturers have a way of getting around this problem. They use the 1.9-GHz frequency band which is reserved for voice-only applications. It’s known as DECT technology, an acronym which stands for Digitally Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications.
Your best bet as a consumer is to opt for a baby monitor whose frequency band requirements are different from those of the wireless devices that you have at home. It’s easy to determine the frequency band of a wireless device because it’s usually printed on the product itself, as regulations require it.
Your search will be much easier if you use the latest model phones at home because they work according to DECT. This remarkably reduces their chances of interfering with the baby monitor’s frequency range.
When it comes to power requirements, your choices are between non-rechargeable batteries and electrical cords. The receivers will either come with rechargeable batteries or an electrical cord.
The downside with rechargeable models is that the batteries tend to burn out quickly which means you’ll have to constantly change them. But these models are conveniently portable so you’ll have to decide what’s more important to you; convenience or having uninterrupted power.
Handheld Parent Unit
Another standard feature in baby monitors is the color LCD video screen. You’ll find this feature in both analog and digital units and it enables you to keep watch on your baby from a distance. Keep in mind though that there are different screen sizes to choose from based on the particular model and make.
Some might be too small for you to make out a clear picture, especially if you’re visually challenged, while other models enable you to control screen brightness as well.
Most baby monitors come with infrared light nowadays, a feature which is commonly referred to as “night vision.” With this feature, you’ll be able to clearly see your baby and anything that happens in his/her room at night even if the room is dark. Some models might come with a night light that you can activate and deactivate according to your needs, as well as nature or music sounds to help your baby sleep.
Be sure to look out for the adjustable sensor feature in your baby monitor which helps you determine the nursery’s temperature at any given time. According to experts, the ideal temperature for a baby’s room is between 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
Motion and Sound Sensors
A monitor with motion sensor technology will only switch on and alert you when the baby makes a sound, or when it detects movement in the room. Otherwise, the device will remain in “sleep mode” to save energy.
Sound sensors allow the monitor to filter out other sounds and focus only on the sound that your baby makes. That way, it’s able to pick it up when you’re baby’s rolling around in bed or when he/she is crying.
Sound and Lights
When you see a monitor with this feature, it means that the lights on the receiver will automatically turn on whenever the baby cries or makes a sound. In some models, the light gradually increases in brightness and/or intensity the louder your baby gets. This feature can come in handy when you’re in a noisy room.
The out-of-range feature can be quite useful. It alerts you every time the monitor goes beyond its range limit. If your baby monitor doesn’t come with this feature, then the only way you’ll be able to tell if you’re out of range is through the interference of static.
Your monitor’s range will depend on a number of factors such as its construction materials and the size of your home, for example. The rule of thumb is to get a monitor with a greater range so that you can take it with you outside.
The monitor you pick should have some type of visual indication that alerts you when the battery’s about to run out.
There are a few video baby monitors out there that come with the ability to add multiple cameras. This is a great investment if you’ve got more than one kid, as it’ll give you access to your kids from one device.
Another feature worth mentioning is that of expanded connectivity. This means that the monitor can be connected to your TV/VCR and DVD recorders.
The sound volume on your monitor should be easy to access and control. For the best results, look for a model that features volume control buttons on the side of the device where it’s easy to reach.
Types of Baby Monitors
When it comes to monitors, there are mainly two types to choose from; video audio and just audio, or digital and analog. All baby monitors operate within a specific radio frequency band, regardless of the type or make. This is what enables them to transmit the sound coming from your baby’s room to a device that’s in another room.
With monitors, price doesn’t always mean quality. Rather pay attention to the device’s construction, video reception quality and the level of video interference.
As the name implies, a sound monitor is designed to record and transmit the sounds that your baby makes throughout the night. It should cancel out all other noises and exclusively convey your baby’s cries and sounds. Other models come with additional lights that illuminate when the system is on mute.
Digital monitors come with the added benefit of safety because they offer encrypted transmission. This means your next door neighbor or anyone else that’s nearby won’t be able to pick up the sounds coming from your baby’s room. However, digital monitors are more expensive than analog models because they offer more security and better sound quality.
Video + Audio Monitors
A video and audio monitor will literally be your eyes and ears thanks to the tiny surveillance camera that it comes with. You can mount it in a discreet area of your baby’s room so no-one knows it’s there but you. Most video monitors come with awesome features like night vision, touchscreen controllability, and even multiple camera support.
Wireless Network Monitors
These monitors are easy to integrate into your existing wireless home network. This means you don’t have to purchase a separate receiver because you can use your smartphone or tablet for that purpose. The more advanced models will even notify you through the phone whenever there’s something happening in your baby’s room.
With a movement monitor, you’ll be able to keep track of your baby’s movements at all times. That way you’ll know when they haven’t moved for a long time. To achieve this, movement monitors come with a motion-sensitive pad that you can place beneath your child’s mattress.
Movement monitors are so advanced that they’re able to tell the difference between the different movements that your baby makes, from shallow breathing to calm sleeping.
Top Baby Monitor Brands
Sony baby monitors are manufactured by the renowned Sony Corporation and its US subsidiary based in New York. The Sony Corporation is well-known as one of the top manufacturers of IT, video, audio, and communication technology products. As a multinational company, it shouldn’t be hard to find a Sony baby monitor both online and at brick-and-mortar stores.
MobiCam is a new brand in the tech manufacturing industry. So far, they’re known for making baby monitors, a portable nightlight that changes color, and the Headphonies – a portable speaker that doubles as a funky children’s toy. You can purchase these and other MobiCam products straight from their website.
DropCam specializes in high-tech surveillance technology in the form of Internet cameras that are suitable for residential, commercial and warehouse use. Purchasing information is available on the DropCam website.
Fisher Price has been around for almost a century, and they’re a sub-company of the famous toy-making giant, Mattel Inc. Fisher-Price makes a wide range of products with a special focus on kids and babies’ toys. They also manufacture different types of baby monitors which you can buy online and at physical stores that stock baby monitors.
Graco is the company that brought us the Graco Swyngomatic; the first wind-up infant swing in the world. Since then, this company has expanded its line of products to include a number of children’s toys and baby monitors, which you can purchase from different online outlets.
Philips Avent is a trusted name among mothers all around the world, and for a good reason. For over a century, this company has been manufacturing high-quality bottles, nipples, baby electronics, household items, and baby monitors. You can find their baby monitors at all the major retail stores like Target, Costco, Walmart, and even Radio Shack.
Safety 1st is a subsidiary of Dorel Juvenile Products and they manufacture a wide variety of products, including play gear, booster seats, potty seats, bathtubs, baby travel ear, and baby monitors. Their baby monitors can be found in any store that sells juvenile products.
The First Years
The First Years lives up to its name by manufacturing products that help parents through their child’s first years. This includes baby monitors, breastfeeding products, car seats, and strollers. You’ll find their baby monitors everywhere.
Safety of Baby Monitors
This is a legitimate concern, especially when you consider the level of surveillance that the monitor will have over your home. After all, it’s an Internet of Things (IoT) device that can easily be hacked by hackers or anyone else who wants intel on you.
Unfortunately, this is a risk that you have to take when buying a baby monitor. The best way to mitigate it is to regularly update the product’s firmware and security features to protect your home from possible camera breaches.