For at least the first six months, ideally a year, your baby should be sleeping in the same room as you. After that, though, they can be safely moved to a different room. But this doesn’t mean they should be left alone overnight. Instead, you’ll want to be checking on them periodically, just to be safe. A baby monitor makes it easy to do this without leaving your room. Nowadays, baby monitors are a lot more sophisticated than the bulky, walkie-talkie-esque contraptions of our childhood. Many resemble webcams, tablets, and Alexas, come equipped with live audio and/or video, and even sync up with your smart-phone. Some are even sophisticated enough to track and analyze your baby’s vitals, sleep statistics, and breathing patterns.

In this guide, you’ll find detailed reviews of our picks for the top six baby monitors currently available on the market. We’ll walk you through how we narrowed down our choices and also give you tips on what to look out for when shopping for your own.

Our Top Picks: Summary

Best Overall: Infant Optics DXR-8
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Infant Optics DXR-8

A versatile webcam and LCD screen that provides HD video over a secure channel.

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$160.89 USD

Why we Picked It

Infant Optics’ DXR-8 Video Baby Monitor is one of the most popular choices on the market because it’s both versatile and dependable. Although many baby monitors rely on complicated apps or glitchy Wi-Fi connection to work, this one provides high-definition video and clear audio over a secure 2.4GHz channel that can’t be accessed over the Internet. It has two components: a webcam-sized camera and an LCD display screen measuring 3.5 inches across. The camera can tilt 100 degrees and pan 330 degrees, comes with interchangeable lenses, and can expand up to four cameras with Scan Mode. Meanwhile, the screen displays video without lag, and also comes with an alarm function, a two-way talk function, and a remote thermometer.

The DXR-8 Video Baby Monitor’s battery lasts for 12 hours on audio-only mode and eight hours on live screen. Its range is 700 feet and it comes with an extra charging cable for the monitor.

Keep in Mind

In order not to interfere with the signal, reviewers say you can’t keep any WiFi devices (i.e. smartphones) in between your camera and your monitor. Additionally, some people had issues charging, but the Infant Optics customer service team is very responsive in providing solutions and replacement parts.

In a Nutshell

  • Camera features include pan, tilt, zoom functions and interchangeable lens
  • Compatible with up to 4 cameras
  • Secure radio channel with no WiFi access
Best Audio-Only Monitor: VTech DM221
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VTech DM221

Two-way communication and clear sound quality at a range of up to 1,000 ft.

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$39.95 USD

Why we Picked It

VTech’s Audio Baby Monitor is our top pick for parents who don’t need video. This no-nonsense model gets the job done with few frills at a fraction of the price of most video-equipped baby monitors. It runs on an encrypted digital connection, which gets rid of the white noise you hear in analog connections while keeping you protected from Internet access. The monitor has two components: a baby unit and a parent unit, which come with a two-way talk-back function.

What sets VTech’s monitor apart from other audio baby monitors is that it works just as well on silent. The parent unit comes with a 5-level sound indicator that lets you visually track your baby’s volume without having to turn on the sound. And if your baby does happen to make a loud noise, the parent unit will alert you with a vibration.

The VTech Audio Baby Monitor has a range of 1,000 feet outdoors and 160 feet indoors. It lasts 18 hours straight on rechargeable batteries or AAA batteries (not included).

Keep in Mind

Some reviewers had issues with the baby unit and parent unit coming unlinked, sometimes multiple times, throughout the night.

In a Nutshell

  • Two-way talk-back intercom
  • Sound indicator lets you monitor your baby’s volume on mute
  • Digital technology and encrypted signal
Best Quality Video: Arlo Baby Monitor
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Arlo Baby Monitor

1080p picture quality, smarthome integration, and a useful app.

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$199.99 USD

Why we Picked It

We chose Arlo Baby as the best monitor for video quality because not only does it offer 1080p resolution, but it also comes with a host of other high-tech perks. This smart monitor has two components: a fully customizable animal-shaped camera and a smartphone app. The camera transmits high-definition video in real-time to the app, which also stores these recordings in the cloud for up to seven days and keeps you updated on motion, sound, and air alerts in the form of instant push notifications.

Other perks: Arlo Baby is compatible with smart home devices like Alexa and Apple HomeKit. Additionally, the app allows you to add guest access so multiple family members can view your video.

Arlo’s Baby Monitor has virtually unlimited range, letting you access the video feed from anywhere in the world as long as you’re connected to WiFi. According to Arlo, the battery life on the camera ranges from three hours of night-time use to six hours of day-time use, and is intended to be used while plugged in.

Keep in Mind

Some reviewers had issues with maintaining connectivity throughout the night, with a few reporting that the monitor didn’t remember WiFi passwords. Others found the app’s user interface involved too many steps before you could access video.

In a Nutshell

  • Arlo app lets you access live video from anywhere in the world via WiFi
  • Smart Home integration
  • Two-way wireless talk and night vision
Budget Pick: Firstpower Baby Monitor
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Firstpower

High-end features like 360 degree horizontal tilt and integrated lullabies at a surprisingly affordable price.

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$53.99 USD

Why we Picked It

Firstpower’s Baby Monitor was our top pick for parents on a budget. Although it’s only slightly more than the price of many audio-only monitors, it’s fully equipped with real-time, high-definition video and audio capabilities. This model comes in two components: a camera and a 3.5 inch LCD screen. The camera can pan 360 degrees horizontally and tilt 60 degrees vertically. In night-vision mode, it can view up to five meters in pitch-black darkness. Additionally, it comes with a two-way talk-back feature, built-in lullabies, and room temperature monitoring.

Firstpower’s Baby Monitor has a range of 330 feet. The screen’s battery life lasts seven hours in power-saving mode and three hours with the display screen on. The camera needs to be plugged in at all times.

Keep in Mind

Some users had issues with low battery life and limited range.

In a Nutshell

  • One monitor pairs with 4 cameras
  • Night vision, two-way audio, four lullabies, room temperature monitoring
  • 30 days money-back guarantee
Best Breathing Monitor: Owlet Smart Sock

Monitors everything from heart rate to oxygen levels for babies up to 18 months.

Why we Picked It

Owlet’s Smart Sock Monitor was our top choice for parents who need to monitor their child’s breathing overnight. This non-invasive monitor comes in the form of a washable sock that uses pulse oximetry to track your baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels. The sock sends data to a nearby base station, which syncs up with an app on multiple smartphones to give you real-time readings. If your baby’s heart rate or oxygen levels get too high or low, the base station keeps you alerted with a combination of lights, sounds, and push notifications. If all is well, the base station glows green.

Owlet’s Smart Sock Monitor has a range of 100 feet between the sock and the base station. Each unit comes with six washable socks in three sizes that fit babies between the ages of 0-18 months or between the sizes of 6-25 pounds. Due to the Smart Sock’s range and demographic, we’d recommend it be used by parents who sleep in the same room as their child. Owlet recommends you regularly wash the sock and alternate feet every night.

Keep in Mind

Some reviewers had issues keeping the sock connected to the base station. Others reported false alarms and a lag in data reporting.

In a Nutshell

  • Heart rate and oxygen-level monitoring with pulse oximetry
  • Cloud-connection lets you monitor with multiple phones
  • 30-day trial
Best for Twins: MoonyBaby 55810-2T Split Screen Monitor
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MoonyBaby 55810-2T

Includes two cameras that can be viewed on one screen for more complete coverage.

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$189.99 USD

Why we Picked It

MoonyBaby’s Monitor was our top pick for parents with twins because of its split-screen capabilities. While many baby monitors only let you keep an eye on one kid at a time, this video monitor comes equipped with two cameras that transmit clear video and audio straight to a monitor, which lets you choose between viewing one or both of the feeds at the same time. The cameras rotate 90 degrees vertically and 280 degrees horizontally, and come with interchangeable, zoomable lenses. They also come with automatic night vision, nightlights, and built-in lullabies, and have a two-way talk-back feature that lets you communicate with your child.

MoonyBaby’s Monitor has a range of around 150-250 feet indoors. The camera needs to be plugged in at all times. The monitor’s battery life is eight hours long.

Keep in Mind

Although the split-screen function allows you to see both videos at once, you can only get audio from one video while this is happening. Also, some reviewers had issues with the battery life.

In a Nutshell

  • Split-screen monitor lets you play videos from two cameras at once
  • Two-way talk-back button lets your baby talk back
  • Camera modes include a night light, room temperature monitoring, night vision, and remote pan, tilt, and zoom

How We Chose the Best Baby Monitors

We looked at the most factors any new parent would appreciate to determine the best baby monitors on the market.

Range

Baby monitors come in a variety of different ranges, from a few hundred feet to across the world. Generally speaking, baby monitors that run on radio frequency fall in the first category, while those that connect to WiFi fall in the latter. Baby monitors that can track your baby’s heart and oxygen levels will often have range restrictions as well. When choosing the best baby monitors, we made sure to look for those that had the highest ranges in their categories, which means you’ll at least be able to use them down the hall.

Transmission Type

Baby monitors rely on different types of wireless transmission to send video and audio across your house. Generally speaking, this will fall under one of three different types: radio frequency, WiFi, or a combination of the two. While radio frequency-powered baby monitors often have shorter range than those that operate on WiFi, this doesn’t mean WiFi is necessarily the better choice. Since secured radio frequency channels can’t be accessed by the internet, parents with privacy concerns may want to opt for monitors without WiFi. On the other hand, WiFi-powered baby monitors have perks like cloud storage, Alexa/Smarthome integration, and iPhone compatibility.

Image Quality

Image quality was one of our top priorities when compiling our list. The last thing you want is a baby monitor where the video is so grainy or blurry that you can’t tell how your baby’s doing, or one that only gives a clear picture in certain types of lighting. Therefore, we focused on models that could provide high-definition, clear video under a variety of circumstances. This meant monitors with lenses that could zoom in and rotate to change camera angles, as well as those enhanced with night vision capabilities.

Versatility

Since there are so many baby monitors available on the market, many with multiple high-tech components at a range of different prices, we searched for models that had more than one use. This meant we mostly considered models that could provide both video and audio, at the very least, as well as those that had extra features like two-way communication, free cloud storage, heart rate/oxygen tracking, and more. We also looked for models that could last you for more than a couple years, like those that could be reused as nanny cams or video-conference tablets.

Customer Reviews

To narrow down our choices, we combed through thousands of customer reviews to see what parents had to say about their monitors. How was the battery life? Did they have any issues with the connection cutting out? In monitors that tracked breathing patterns and vital signs, were these readings accurate or did they have issues with false positives? What about the picture quality—did the screen display grainy, security-quality footage or was it all in full color and HD? Was the system easy to set up and navigate? Most importantly, did the monitor do its job in keeping their babies safe?

Who Should Get a Baby Monitor?

There’s no getting around it: babies need a lot of constant attention. But it’s not always possible to keep an eye on things 24/7—especially overnight. Baby monitors are a good solution. They give you a second pair of eyes and/or ears that can quickly give you a heads-up, just in case something isn’t right. With a baby monitor, for example, it’s easy to tell whether your child has stopped breathing, or needs to be picked up and burped, or requires some other form of immediate attention. They’re not only for emergencies, either. Since many models can record video, send real-time data to your smartphone, and even track your child’s vital signs, they can also collect information on your child’s health that might be useful for healthcare professionals.

Most people buy baby monitors when they’re not in a position where they can keep an eye on their child for an extended period of time. So if you sleep down the hall from their baby’s room, have a baby with health needs that require extra care, or simply get nervous about checking on your baby’s well-being, you might find a baby monitor useful.

That said, a baby monitor isn’t necessary for all households. For example, if you sleep within earshot of your baby, you probably don’t need one. In fact, being able to record and track your child’s sleeping and breathing patterns could lead to some unneeded anxiety if they’re healthy. Before you purchase a baby monitor that claims to monitor your child’s health and vital signs, make sure you double-check with your doctor first.

What to Consider When Choosing a Baby Monitor

Ready to buy a baby monitor? Here’s what to look for before you make your choice.

Level of Monitoring

How heavily do you want to be monitoring your baby? Do you just want something that lets you listen in, or does your child need a monitor that gives you a reading in real-time of all their vital stats? Some are only equipped with audio transmission capabilities, while others come with real-time audio and video streaming. Those that monitor vitals also come in different levels of detail: some can provide you with heart-rate and oxygen levels, while others just stick to breathing patterns.

Display Type

Baby monitors come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and this includes the screen. If you don’t have a lot of space, it’s not a bad idea to find a webcam-sized monitor that sends the video straight to your smartphone. If you have plenty of room to spare, however, and would prefer a bigger screen, there are also those that come with their own dedicated tablets.

Range and Transmission Type

Monitors also operate at different levels of sophistication and range when it comes to transmitting audio and video. Some are designed to work over WiFi—these are best for parents who sleep far away from their babies or want something that can be used across two floors. Others send a signal and have a walkie-talkie-like range or shorter, covering a matter of feet.

Additional Features

Aside from video and audio monitoring, what other features do you want from your baby monitor? Do you want to keep a record of your child’s vital stats and breathing patterns? Do you want something that you can control from an app on your smartphone? What about a monitor that lets you communicate with your baby? Many monitors are high-tech enough to possess a range of these features or more.

Battery Life

Since baby monitors are portable devices, they’ll have to be re-charged at some point. Most can last you throughout the night, around 8 – 12 hours, give or take. The battery life can also change depending on whether you’re using audio only, or video, or both.

Related Resources

For more baby-related necessities, check out the rest of our reviews.

David Rubin