The moment you know that you are expecting a baby, your mind goes haywire thinking of all the things you will need to care for and keep your little one safe – and one essential item is a baby monitor.
Why is a baby monitor essential? When your little one is sleeping in their room, you want to be able to make sure they are safe, whether they are sleeping, awake, playing, or standing in their bed.
A monitor will also help you know if they are moving, allow you to talk to them, or help you soothe the baby back to sleep. However, these are all features of fancier baby monitors.
But, before you run out and buy the most expensive baby monitor out there, take time to figure out exactly what you want from your baby monitor and how much you are able/willing to pay.
How We Picked
Let’s face it – you want your baby to have the absolute best of everything in life, and I do not blame you. I wanted the same thing when my first one was born. However, the most expensive baby monitor on the market is not always the best for you and your family.
What To Look For
There are a lot of different monitors with a variety of features. Below is a list of what to look for when choosing a baby monitor. You do not need a monitor that has all of these features, but you will need to decide which ones most are important to you.
Type of Monitor
First and foremost, you will have to determine what type of monitor you want. All baby monitors fall into three different categories.
- Audio: This type of baby monitor is similar to a walkie-talkie. It will send audio from your baby’s room to the parent unit of the monitor.
- Video (Proprietary Signal): This system sends a video feed from the camera in your baby’s room to a viewing device. The monitor uses a unique broadcast signal so it will only communicate between the baby monitor devices.
- Networked Video (Wi-Fi/3G/4G): This is a video monitor that uses your home Wi-Fi or mobile network to transmit video from your baby’s room to the parent unit. The monitor uses a tablet or smartphone app to send the video feed.
A Networked Video stream can be viewed anywhere so long as your device has an internet connection or mobile network. The monitor may have smartphone compatibility. This will allow you to check in on your wee one remotely.
However, if you have a Wi-Fi monitor, you need to make sure that your connection is secure and your firmware is up-to-date. Also, if your monitor accesses your mobile network, it will use your data. If you have a mobile plan with a data cap, this may not be a good type of monitor for you.
Finally, do not put the monitor in a place in your home that has poor Wi-Fi and mobile network connection – from personal experience, I can tell you, you lose connection often.
Sound Range, Interference, and Sensitivity
You want a baby monitor with good video and sound quality no matter where you are in your house. You will also want it to work well if you are outside in the garden or doing yard work.
Baby monitors that use common radio frequencies may end up picking up interference from other devices nearby. This could make it hard to hear your baby. You can try to combat that problem by having a device that gives you several frequencies to choose from.
Some monitors use DECT (digital enhanced cordless communication). These types of monitors are more private and will experience less interference because the frequency it uses is less common.
This feature will sound an alarm on the parent unit when your baby has not moved for a certain amount of time. The movement monitor is not essential, but it may help you feel more at ease.
Infrared cameras are very helpful at night. Baby monitor cameras without infrared can send clear pictures during the day because of the daylight in the room. However, at night the low light will not allow a clear picture.
A monitor with an infrared camera will help you get a good picture no matter what time, and no matter what amount of light makes it into the room.
Camera Viewing Angle
Think about where you can or want to put the baby monitor camera. If you purchase a monitor that does not have a wide-viewing angle, you may not get all of your baby’s environment in the picture.
Some monitors have a camera that you can remotely pan and zoom. This will help you see your baby at all times, even if they tuck themselves into the farthest corner of the crib.
Some baby monitors come with more than one camera and both can connect to the parent unit. The parent device can cycle through the different cameras, so you can set up the cameras in different rooms and turn them on/off as you need them.
Fancier baby monitors will play lullabies to help your baby fall to sleep.
Sometimes you cannot immediately get to your baby the first time he or she makes noise. If you know that you are frequently busy, having a baby monitor with two-way communication might be a good idea.
This enables you to talk to your baby and let him or her know the calls have been heard. This feature can also allow you to speak to others in the room, such as a babysitter or caretaker.
Sound Indicator Lights
Sound indicator lights are a useful feature for those who want an extra way to know if the baby is awake. If you have more than one child, your house can be noisy. This may mean that you do not hear your little one’s first cry after waking.
A sound indicator light will light up when your baby makes noise so you can ‘see’ that the baby is awake as well as hear his or her cry.
It is a good idea to purchase a portable monitor. If you have a baby monitor where the parent unit must be plugged in at all times, it can make it very difficult to get from room to room.
However, if you have a monitor where the parent unit has a battery life, you can take it with you wherever you go.
Room Temperature Monitor
Some baby monitors allow you to set temperature limits on the monitor in your baby’s room. The monitor will keep track of the temperature in your wee one’s room and alert you if it goes above or below the range you set.
Camera Mount Type
The type of camera mount you get is very important. You need to think about where you can and want to mount the camera. You also need to think about if the camera position will need to be changed over time.
If you get a camera with a clamp that attaches to the crib, you will need to move it as your baby starts to stand and grab things. There are three different types of camera mounts: flat surface, clamp, and wall mount.
Top Baby Monitor on Australia Market 2020
Top Pick: VTech BM5100-OWL Baby Monitor
The VTech Owl Baby Monitor has a 5” color display on the parent unit. The monitor has an adjustable camera angle, digital zoom, and will change automatically to infrared at night, making it easier for you to see your baby at all times.
The monitor also has temperature monitoring, 9 different lullabies, and two-way communication so you can talk to your baby. The unit for the baby’s room has a wall-mount and the parent unit has a rechargeable battery life of up to 2.5 hours.
The parent unit also has a vibrating sound alert, low battery alert, and out of range alert. You can pair the parent unit with up to 4 different cameras. Extra cameras are sold separately.
Runner Up: Oricom Babysense2
The Oricom Babysense2 monitor has many of the same features as the VTech but is more expensive. The parent unit has a 2.4” monitor and includes controls to manipulate the camera for the baby’s room.
The camera has night vision capabilities, features two-way communication, 5 different lullabies, a room temperature monitor, vibrating alert, night light, and out of range warning. You can connect up to four different cameras to the parent unit.
The Motorola Baby Monitor is audio-only. It does not provide a video feed. However, for such a low price it offers a lot more features than just audio transmission. The monitor allows you two-way communication so you can talk to your baby is needed.
The parent unit has a backlit LCD display and the baby unit has a night light. The microphone is highly sensitive and the parent unit allows you to adjust the volume. The parent unit also has a 300m range and will give a warning if you are getting too far away.
The Motorola offers other features such as a temperature sensor, built-in lullaby, visual noise alert, and DECT technology.
The HelloBaby Baby Monitor automatically connects when the baby and parent units are plugged in. The parent unit has a 292m range so you can stay connected wherever you are in the house. The monitor features motion detection and a room temperature display. The camera can be rotated 360°, so you can be sure to always see your wee one.
The HelloBaby can connect with four different cameras, record videos with a built-in 32GB storage card, features two-way communication, lullabies, and night vision.
Other Devices You Can Use
If you cannot afford one of the above baby monitors or don’t want to spend the money on one, there are always alternatives.
A cordless phone makes it so that you can put the handset in your baby’s room and have sound transmitted to the base unit.
Wireless Security Cameras
A wireless security camera can give you many of the features of a baby monitor at a fraction of the price.
Spare Smartphone or Tablet
If you have a spare smartphone or tablet in your home, you can download an app to turn your phone or tablet into a baby monitor.
The Bottom Line
Once you have figured out what your needs and wants are for a baby monitor, you will be able to find one that works for you. If you want a baby monitor that has just about every notable feature mentioned in this article at a reasonable price, go with the VTech BM5100-OWL Baby Monitor. However, if you are searching for a more affordable monitor, do not want video feed, but still want some extras, check out the Motorola MBP161TIMER Baby Monitor.