Our parents used to tiptoe quietly down the hall to check on us when we were babies, fearing that they would make some type of sound that would wake us up and require a new start on our bedtime routine. Thankfully all of that has changed with technology and today many parents are able to peak in on their loved ones using a baby monitor. 24/7 access is now available thanks to a wide assortment of video and audio baby monitors.
There are 3 types of baby monitors available: video baby monitors, audio baby monitors and wearable baby monitors. Each comes with different types of monitoring, different price tags and different levels of security for parents. One style is not necessarily better than another, it will depend on your needs and comfort levels. Parents that have babies that toss and turn often may benefit from a video monitor, it allows a parent to see if the child has become tangled in the blankets. Wearable monitors will give parents vital information such as heart rate and level of sleeping. Audio monitors are more basic but let parents know that their child is sleeping and that there is no need to tiptoe down that hallway. Having a monitor helps provide a very safe environment for both parent and baby.
Tops Baby Monitors For 2021
1. Infant Optics Video Baby Monitor
There are so many things to like about this video baby monitor, not the least being that it was voted the #1 Baby Monitor by Popular Mechanics in 2018, was a Best Overall pick by Mashable in 2018 and is a #1 seller on Amazon. These are impressive results that could only have been attained by the product being outstanding and equal to any test it was put through.
First feature you will notice is just how easy this system is to set up. It’s a true plug and play set up and doesn’t require complicated syncing or authorizing of monitors. You literally unpack the unit, read some simple instructions and you are ready to go.
The second feature you will notice is that you don’t have to hook up to the internet (some baby monitors can be a load hog for some home wifi) and there is no delay on any playback. This couldn’t be easier to get your monitoring system in place and operating.
The camera system has a unique interchangeable lens system. This allows you to quickly and easily switch lenses to customize the viewing situation that your baby is in. It takes only seconds to swap out lenses that change the angle and dimensions of the video being taken.
This video system is 100% digital and eliminates the risk of hacking or someone patching into your system. This also allows for immediate playback if you want to check out activities or noises that came from your baby’s crib.
This high quality monitoring system has a sound activated LED bar which will notify you of any activity even if the screen is off. There also is an alarm function and 2 way talk microphones that allow you to comfort your child without having to be in the room. 2 USB cables are included for easy charging and the entire unit is sturdy and durable.
- Interchangeable lenses allow you to customize the view that you receive.
- Digital. You don’t have to hook up through your home’s wifi.
- Sound activated LED bar, plus an alarm and two way talk.
- Tested extremely well with Popular Mechanics, Mashable and others.
- Expensive. The standard set up retails for about $165
- Battery life is acceptable but not outstanding.
2. VTech Audio Baby Monitor
One of the types of baby monitors available is audio only. This is the most common type of monitor system in use and it is a basic radio monitor that allows the parents to listen for any sounds that may come from the crib or nursery. Audio only baby monitors have the key advantage of being far less expensive than video baby monitors as well as being smaller in size.
Our #1 pick for audio only baby monitors is the VTech DM221 system. Not only is it our #1 ranked audio only system but it is also the number one selling baby monitor on Amazon. There are good reasons for this ranking, the Vtech system is an excellent monitor and you will be very pleased with its performance.
The digital transmission allows you to hear everything that is happening in your child’s crib without any of the background noise or interference that was common in older monitors. This secure transmission is good for up to 1000 feet, meaning that ever if you carry the parent monitor outside you will still be able to hear clearly any sounds from the nursery.
The Vtech system comes with a 2 way microphone set up for those times that your child just needs to hear your voice to calm down. There also is a night light built into the handle of the unit that goes into the nursery, a nice feature. It turns off of 15 minutes of silence. The volume settings on the parent unit are easy to use and give you 5 options. Both units are battery powered and can be recharged.
There is a convenient belt loop on the parent unit that makes this hands-free. The parent unit also has a vibrating alert when it picks up sounds from the baby’s room.
- Lightweight but well made. Sturdy and durable.
- 1000 foot range. You can be in your yard and still hear your child.
- Night light feature on the handle of the child’s unit.
- Great price. This system is usually under $35.
- Only about 12 hours of battery life for each unit. USB chargeable.
3. Motorola Halo Over-The-Crib Baby Monitor
This high tech baby monitoring system is a complete package to help monitor every part of your child’s activities. The halo part of the system mounts on the crib and is situated well above the mattress, giving you a bird’s eye view of your child’s crib. It attaches quite easily but can’t be removed accidentally by even the most creative of children.
There are two ways to use the halo mounted camera. When you are at home you can use the parent unit which receives its signals digitally from the nursery. This means you will see and hear crisp images and sounds without the background noise and clutter that can occur with analog. You can also receive sounds and pictures on your smart phone, making this a great system to use travel with. The signals sent to your smart phone are encrypted, guaranteeing privacy.
The camera is detachable from the halo. As your child grows you can remove it from the halo cradle and set it on a dresser or table, meaning that this unit will be useful for many years.
One of the great features of this system is the halo itself. You can program it to play songs and lullabies, soothing sounds and bedtime stories, or record your own stories for your child to listen to. You can download favorite stories and songs to add to the assortment available. The halo can also be a soothing night light and there are 7 color options to chose from. You can also chose programmed light shows to help entertain a fussy baby.
There is a good 2 way talk system for those times that your child just needs to hear your voice. Again, being digital you won’t pick up stray noises that could spook your baby, only your calming voice.
The home parent unit has a nice big screen, 4.3″. This is larger than most screens on video baby monitors and makes it easier to see what is happening you the nursery. This system also comes with a baby development tracker app and sleep diary. Both are handy when you want to chart your infant’s patterns. You also receive a well researched parent’s guide to helping babies sleep.
- Lots of features. The ability to play songs and soothing sounds is a great option.
- Works with both a home screen and a smartphone.
- Mounted high so that you can observe the entire crib.
- Detachable camera
- Expensive. This is system is generally priced around $300.
- Doesn’t work well with Alexa
- A large list of options can cause some confusion.
4. HelloBaby Video Baby Monitor
HelloBaby recently updated their video baby monitor system and we really like the results. The old system was analog (causing problems with signal leakage, your neighbors could hear your baby monitor) and bulky. The new system is secure and the range has increased to over 900 feet, giving you lots of flexibility.
You will like the 2 way talk feature, it is clear and crisp and will give your child a sense of security. They will be able to recognize your voice because the transmission is so precise. Too many lower priced monitor systems use inferior microphones and the sounds can be tinny and harsh. There is also an nice selection of programmed lullabies that you can use to calm your baby and help it get to sleep.
We already mentioned the long range available with this system. This allows you to move around your house and yard and still be able to hear and see what is going on in the nursery. The camera itself has a 2X zoom feature that we found to be a nice addition. It allows you to zoom in and see your child closeup, handy if they are fussing and you are not sure why. The system also has a temperature readout so that you can tell if it has become too cool (or warm) in the crib. There is a small nightlight that works well on the camera unit.
- Very well priced. You can get the whole system for under $80.
- Temperature reading. Seems simple but many systems don’t have it.
- Excellent 2 way talk. Good microphone and good speakers.
- No battery source for camera. You have to plug it in.
- Video unit battery life can be short.
5. Campark Video Baby Monitor
Another best seller on Amazon, we found the Campark Video Baby Monitor to be one of the best monitoring systems available, and at a value price.
A 2.4″ video screen gives you a very crisp and clear picture of your baby’s crib and nursery. Some units have larger screens but for the price of this system you should expect a small screen. Luckily the resolution is excellent and is received in HD. On the other end the camera is solid and has a nice zoom function. You may be surprised how often you actually use the zoom feature, it allows you to focus on the baby’s face and gives you a great picture.
Another nice feature included with this system is the Auto Super Infrared Night Vision. Many parents love to watch their little baby a lot. With this system the video baby monitor is equipped with infrared lights, which can provide a crystal clear view for you in a dark environment. You can also use the ZOOM feature with the infrared vision.
There is a nice selection of programmed lullabies as well as a good 2 way talk system. Both of these are good tools to have if you have a fussy child, often you can calm them with just a few soothing words. The room temperature can be monitored from the camera, allowing you to always know the temp in the nursery. You can also set the monitor to sleep until it hears a sound, keeping your baby from being spooked by lights or noises.
The camera can be tilted and rotated easily on its base. This allows you to move the camera to get different views as well as to look around any objects in the view path.
- Very well priced. You can usually get the whole system for under $70.
- Rechargeable battery pack for the camera monitor.
- Nice assortment of lullabies.
- Can’t be mounted on the wall.
- No table mount is included for the camera although it sits nicely on a flat surface.
6. Taococo Baby Monitor Camera
This is a different type of baby monitor in that it is a camera only. It’s meant to be used with your smartphone and can be used with apps available for both PC and Mac.
Taococo is a Chinese manufacturer that specializes in cameras and other optics. While this monitor doesn’t have a control unit that syncs with the camera it does have a fabulous camera that works very well. It can deliver a full 1920 x 1080 full HD image, better than some laptops offer. The camera itself is nested nicely in a stylish shell that allows rotation of the lens, up to 355 degrees horizontally and up to 155 degrees vertically. This allows you to scan the entire nursery, not just the crib.
The infrared night vision is adequate, allowing for clear night vision of up to 20 feet. That’s right in the middle of most night vision lenses and 20 feet is usually enough for most situations.
Setting up is quite simple. Download the app from the app store that supports your smartphone and follow the installation instructions. This system works on a wireless remote program and you have lots of range, up to 800 feet. We found the instructions clear and simple and it took only minutes to have the camera synced and working. The Windows app allows you to save the videos for later playback, IOS doesn’t offer that feature yet.
The 2 way talk system works well with the clarity of a good phone conversation. The camera has a motion detector that captures movement as well as a sound detector to alert you when your baby is crying.
Because this is cloud based you can download the app to different smartphones and have different people viewing your baby at the same time (grandparents love this feature!). The super night (infrared) vision is very good and it allows you to check on your child at night without waking them.
- Price. You only have to buy a camera and sync it with your smartphone. Usually under $45.
- Excellent camera. We we amazed at the clarity of the picture.
- No-Glow LED for the night vision. The camera won’t wake the baby with a red light.
- Quality of 2 way talk is mediocre. You are receiving it through your phone’s speaker.
- Some of the install instructions are in broken English. Be patient.
Best Baby Monitors 2021 Buying Guide
We have reviewed a few of our top rated baby monitoring systems and pointed out features as well as shortcomings for all of the. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you are looking for the best baby monitor for your needs:
There Are Three Types Of Monitors
- Video baby monitoring systems. As the name says, you receive video as well as audio from your child’s crib and nursery. Most of these systems come with features such as temperature monitoring, infrared night vision, programmed lullabies and 2 way talk. They are more detailed and feature heavy, meaning they are also more expensive.
- Audio only baby monitoring systems. This is a much more basic system and sends only audio signals to your monitor. Many audio only programs have lullabies as well as 2 way talk. Most also have temperature monitors and some type of motion detector. Range is usually very good on audio only, up to 1000 feet. These systems tend to be noticeably less expensive than video systems. Audio only is the most popular setup.
- Wearable monitoring system. These systems made a huge splash a few years ago when they were introduced and some of the manufacturers and supporters hinted that wearable monitors were one way to avoid SIDS. This has since been proven false and other testing has shown more negatives than positives when it comes to wearable monitors. We don’t recommend them and we are following the advice of many medical and parent groups that have reviewed them.
2 Way Talk And Programmed Lullabies
Sometimes all your child needs to help calm down is the sound of your voice. That’s where a good 2 way talk system comes into focus. Make sure that the system you purchase has a clear broadcast and reception at both ends. The programmed lullabies can be a very nice feature, they can amuse and calm your child. Some of the more elaborate systems will let you record yourself reading a story to your baby. All are nice features but we stress that the 2 way talk option is the most important.
Night Vision (Video Systems)
One reason you have invested in a monitoring system is for ease of checking on your baby. You don’t want to make noise going into the nursery and risk waking them up and a monitor allows you to check on them remotely. Check the range of the night vision (infrared) on the cameras, it should be 20 feet or more. Also check and see if the LED for the night vision is visible to the baby. Even a single red light can create chaos for a difficult sleeper.
You’re now ready to find that perfect baby monitor! As always with children, safety is your main concern. Be sure to check with the Consumer Products Safety Commission for any updates or recalls on products that you may use.