The best baby monitor
As much as you'd love to spend every waking -- and sleeping -- moment with your baby, there are times where you have to step away. With a video baby monitor, however, you're always able to see and hear your child, no matter where you are in your home.
All video baby monitors consist of a camera, but the way they transmit sound and images varies. Some models provide you with a screen, whereas others send the information to a companion app. If you want to interact with your baby from a distance, there are also two-way monitors.
Not sure which one is best? Take a look at our buying guide on video baby monitors. Our top choice is the Infant Optics DXR-8 Video Baby Monitor with Interchangeable Optical Lens. Its camera provides near-panoptic views of your nursery.
Considerations when choosing baby monitors
Cameras vary the most when it comes to video baby monitors, so expect to spend the most amount of time comparing them. Some models have fixed lenses, whereas others can pan, tilt, and even zoom. There are also monitors that come with interchangeable lenses, so you're able to switch from wide-angle to close-up lenses with ease.
In the age of information security, it's important to make sure your connection is private. Video and images are transmitted, so make sure it's across a secure connection between your devices only. Many video baby monitors are now equipped with FHSS technology to ensure your data won't end up on the internet.
Another feature worth splurging on is the battery life. Video baby monitors with quick-charging capabilities or extended battery life up to 12 hours are especially convenient and appealing.
Some monitors are also equipped with power save modes, which help to prolong your battery life. These modes dim your screen until movement or audio is detected in your baby's room.
Every video baby monitor offers a different range, though the average is between 500 and 900 feet. There are also some long-range models on the market if you think you need something beyond that, with some reaching nearly 2,000 feet.
Some video baby monitors offer visual notification modes, in which your audio notifications are set to silent in lieu of a lights system. The series of LED lights flashes once motion or sound is detected. This can be hit or miss with parents, as some feel the audio notifications get their attention more easily, since lights can be missed if your back is turned to the monitor.
There's no set screen size with video baby monitors, but for the most part, their displays are around 3 inches wide. If you want a screen 4 inches or larger, you end up spending significantly more money.
Talk back mode
Talk back mode (also referred to as two-way mode) allows for two-way communication. It lets you chime in and soothe your baby with your voice. Sometimes it's enough to help your baby calm down and get back to sleep, or it lets your baby know you're on the way for a cuddle or a feeding.
The temperature of your baby's room is important to know for safety reasons, which is why many video baby monitors now come with temperature monitoring. These monitors send you alerts if the room temperature drops or increases outside the 68°F to 72°F range.
While there are plenty of video baby monitors for $50 and below, reliability can be hit or miss. If you spend closer to $100, you can find those with better connectivity and more programmable features. For those interested in high-tech bells and whistles like larger screens and camera adjustability options, you're shopping in the $100 to $200 price range.
Q. Many video baby monitors have a lullaby setting. What does it do?
A. Lullaby settings are basic soundboards with a few baby-friendly tunes to help children wind down for napping or sleeping. You can set up modes to play songs continuously, or set a timer to turn them off after a while. While it's not a standard feature, many parents say it's a helpful perk that can actually eliminate another media device in their baby's room.
Q. Are video baby monitors travel-friendly?
A. Most video baby monitors are compact for easy setup, though some have smaller footprints than others. This can make them easier to pack, plus they're space-savvy for hotel or guest rooms. There are also some video baby monitors that come with their own travel cases.
Baby monitors we recommend
Our take: High-tech option with all the bells and whistles. Great for travel.
What we like: Interchangeable lens and can zoom in and out. Can be paired with 4 cameras. Transmits information across a secure 2.4GHz channel.
What we dislike: Expensive, but well worth the investment given its functionality.
Best bang for your buck: Babysense's Video Baby Monitor with Infrared Night Vision
Our take: Popular choice for those on a budget. Quality LCD screen.
What we like: Long-range (900-foot) two-way audio. Programmable lullaby sounds. Auto night vision and room-temperature alerts.
What we dislike: Cord is on the shorter side. There could be some connectivity interference with other devices.
Our take: Wall-mounted monitor that utilizes secure FHSS to keep your connection private.
What we like: Two-way audio feature and programmable sounds. Has nightlight as well as voice-activation mode.
What we dislike: Some challenges with charging ports.
Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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