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A good baby monitor doesn't just tell you when your child is crying — it can show you when it's too hot in their room, if they're beginning to stir quietly, or if they've fallen asleep on the floor (it happens). If you're on the hunt for yourself or for a new mom-to-be, here are the best baby monitors you can buy today, and how to pick the one that’s right for you.
Shopping for the best baby monitor, simplified
Baby monitors are a tough product category. Much like refrigerators with built-in ice makers, there's no perfect model, each exhibiting its own quirks and garnering mixed reviews — likely due to the challenges that come with wireless technology. But after researching dozens of options in my life as a father of two, there are a few that manage to stand out from the pack.
Video vs audio
If you're on a budget, an audio-only monitor (like your parents probably used) will do the trick in a pinch: You'll be able to hear the baby cry and maybe talk to older toddlers over an intercom-like system.
But once you get a video monitor, you'll never want to go back. Being able to see if our child is stirring or sleeping soundly lets us know when the nap is coming to an end before they start crying or whining. And seeing if and when they transition to a new sleep cycle can let you know when to rest easy for another hour. When we began our search, I thought video monitors were overkill — and I've eaten my words time and time again over the past four years.
Wireless connectivity and range
It may seem like Wi-Fi baby monitors are the way to go in 2021, but that isn't necessarily the case. For many people, the best monitors will still use the old-school Frequency-Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) radio signals, since they're less prone to the never-ending Wi-Fi signal quirks that plague so many homes.
Plus, you won't need to keep an app open on your phone all the time — there's something to be said for that old-school parent unit. That said, Wi-Fi options can offer extra features and might be right for you depending on your home.
While the audio and video feeds are your primary method of monitoring the little ones, many baby monitors offer other indicators that can be useful.
For example, they might include temperature sensors so you can see if the baby's room is too hot. Others may offer lights or even vibration that lets you know when the baby's crying, so you can turn the volume down when you're in a Zoom meeting. These things seem small but can come in extremely handy.
Best baby monitors to shop in 2021
Best baby monitor overall: Infant Optics
Infant Optics' DXR-8 video monitor offers the best balance between features, price and reliability. You get a basic video screen with night vision, multiple lenses for wider angles, and pan and tilt features so you can get the position just right. It has audio indicators for noise and temperature sensors, and can handle multiple cameras if you use it for more than one child. The DXR-8 has been oft-recommended for years, and is what I currently use at home. It's not perfect, and its range is a bit shorter than some of its competitors, but I'd buy it again in a heartbeat. (In fact, I did — we purchased a second unit when we had our second child.)
Best affordable baby monitor: VTech
If you aren't ready to spend over $100 on a baby monitor, VTech's audio-only monitors have the most important features at a fraction of the price: a 1,000 foot range, light-up audio indicators and a small screen that shows you signal strength and battery life.
Best range and video quality: Eufy
If you want something a bit more modern, Eufy's SpaceView monitor boasts a 5-inch 720p screen that looks much better than many of its competitors. The superior video quality is its main selling point, but many reviewers also note a longer range than competing models, plus the ever-useful pan and tilt and extra wide-angle lens. Eufy's track record isn't as long as Infant Optics, though, and despite its 4.5-star rating from over 3,000 Amazon users, it has its detractors due to quirks regarding battery life and build quality. For that reason, both models are worth a look.
Best baby monitor with advanced Wi-Fi features: Nanit
There are plenty of Wi-Fi baby monitors out there, but few have advanced smart features like the Nanit Pro system. Not only does it come with a camera that can be monitored from your phone or tablet, but it can also track sleep and wake times, monitor your baby's breathing, offer insights on how your child tosses and turns around the bed and more. If you want the whole nine yards, this is it.
Best baby monitor hybrid with Wi-Fi: Motorola
Wi-Fi baby monitors allow you to see your video feed away from home and make use of other features within an app — but many Wi-Fi monitors only let you view the feed from your phone, which isn't always convenient. Motorola's Connect series uses FHSS for a more traditional handheld unit, while also offering Wi-Fi viewing through the Hubble app when you want remote access. It's the best of both worlds.