- Video baby monitors are must-have items for caregivers who want to ensure their little one is safe without intruding on the nursery during naptime or at night.
- Many of the latest baby monitors have features that go well beyond basic video and audio feeds, also tracking metrics like temperature, humidity, and more.
- The Nanit Plus Smart Baby Monitor is our top pick, thanks to the birds-eye view it gives you of a child’s crib and its motion tracking feature that keeps tabs on a baby even when you’re not checking the video feed.
Baby monitors have undergone a period of rapid innovation in the past few years, evolving from devices capable of little more than short range audio and video transmission into advanced hardware fully integrated with other types of technology, from mobile device apps to smart home devices. When my wife and I were first shopping for baby monitors back in 2013, the choices were limited to various systems that sent rather grainy images and choppy audio from a camera unit to a parent unit.
Today, caregivers can find video baby monitors that track a child’s motion and send alerts when sleeping patterns seem disrupted. They can find monitors that feature built in soothing light shows and lullabies. There are units that create virtual boundaries and inform parents if a child moves out of a designated area.
As for clarity of audio and quality of video, the latest generation of baby video monitors is hard to beat. I know, because after using my “old” 2013 vintage unit for years, I have recently tested multiple newer models.
A high-quality baby monitor is going to cost a pretty penny, but it will also give you peace of mind that is hard to put a price on. As for a baby monitor that can help babies sleep better, therefore allowing you more rest? That’s priceless.
In this list of high-tech video baby monitors you will find both familiar brand names, and in the case of our top pick, a relative newcomer to the baby product space. What all of these monitors share in common is the fact that each has at least one unique property that sets it apart from the pack and that might just make it the perfect pick for your home.
Here are the best video baby monitors you can buy:
- Best video baby monitor overall: Nanit Plus Smart Baby Monitor
- Best video baby monitor for newborns: Summer Infant Baby Pixel Cadet Monitor
- Best video baby monitor for large rooms: Infant Optics DXR-8 Baby Monitor
- Best sleep assisting video baby monitor: Motorola Halo+ Over-the-Crib Baby Monitor & Soother
- Best video baby monitor for parents who travel: Nest Security Camera
Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.
The best video baby monitor overall
The Nanit Plus Smart Baby Monitor features a motion sensor that alerts you to any unusual changes in your baby’s movements, including a worrying lack thereof.
Every parent knows the struggle: You’re leaning down over a child’s crib waiting for a clear movement or sound and trying to decide how long to wait before you wake them to reassure yourself that they’re OK. In your mind, you know everything is fine, but in your heart, you’d rather risk a crying fit than go to bed agonizing over the thought that maybe things aren’t alright, after all.
Enter the Nanit Plus Smart Baby Monitor, a system that learns your baby’s movement patterns and sleep trends and lets you know when things seem off. Doesn’t it sound better to just check your Nanit app for peace of mind instead of waking a baby at the depths of a sleep cycle? And doesn’t a birds-eye view showing the whole of the crib afforded by a wall-mounted unit sound better than a traditional monitor that must perch on a shelf or changing table, leaving corners of the crib hidden from view?
As you should expect from a monitor that costs nearly $300, the video and audio quality of the Nanit Plus are superb. So too are the temperature and humidity monitors highly accurate. Just note that you need an iPhone, Android phone, or tablet if you’re going to use a Nanit at all.
With dozens of reviews in, the Nanit Plus enjoys a 4.3-star overall status. A dad named Tom called it “everything you’d hope a kid cam could be” and loved that it was “super easy to set up.” A mom named Caitlin called it a “great monitor” with “picture quality [that’s] much better than the other [monitors] out there.”
A writer from FatherCraft was unduly impressed how the Nanit Plus can learn a “child’s sleep patterns over time and uses this pattern recognition to send you alerts (your baby is awake, for example) and make recommendations for improving her sleep quality.”
Pros: Motion monitoring, tracks humidity in room, high-quality video and audio
Cons: Very expensive
The best for newborns and young children
The Summer Infant Baby Pixel Cadet Monitor has a virtual boundary feature that will alert you if your child moves out of a predetermined safe zone, so you’ll know in heartbeat if your newborn has started to roll.
Most baby milestones are darling to experience. The first steps, of course, are huge. The first utterance of “mama” or “dada” are heartwarming. But that first rollover? That can be heart stopping. Once a baby can roll herself from back to front, she at once becomes a liability for suffocation unless her sleep environment is perfectly curated.
Once a baby is rolling over, it’s usually time to graduate from the bassinet and move into a larger crib, and it’s definitely time to assess the clothes in which she is laid down for naptime or bedtime and to make sure the crib presents no suffocation hazards. But unless you plan to watch your baby during the entirety of her slumber, you probably won’t know when she first starts rolling around.
The good news is that constantly watching your baby is the exact job of a baby monitor. And with the Summer Infant Baby Pixel Cadet video monitor, you can establish a SleepZone virtual boundary and receive an alert if the baby rolls out of the zone. This same feature is also great for watching over older kids who are in a bed but prone to sneaking out of it.
Beyond the superb SleepZone boundary feature, the Pixel Cadet is perfectly adequate in other categories though not remarkable for any, either. It has a three level digital zoom, good audio and video quality, two-way talk, and recorded lullabies, all things you’d expect from a fine baby cam system.
While most reviewers give the Pixel Cadet a five-star rating, it does have its share of less than stellar reviews. Leading complaints center on the short time the display stays on after activated and a middling battery life. The unit’s superlative night vision clarity was one of its most praised aspects.
A product tester from BabyGizmo took great comfort from using the “boundary box around a selected area” that alerts parents “when your baby exits their safe space.”
Pros: Features SleepZone virtual boundary, great night vision, three level digital zoom
Cons: Poor battery life, screen shuts off too quickly
The best for large rooms
The Infant Optics DXR-8 Baby Monitor features interchangeable lenses that can either zoom in close on a crib placed far across the room or take in a wide-angle view of a wide open nursery.
If your video baby monitor doesn’t provide a clear view of your baby, then it’s really more of an audio baby monitor with a screen thrown in for kicks. If your child sleeps in a large bedroom or plays in a large nursery, many video monitors are going to fail to provide adequate video, with the image too unclear for a useful view if the camera is placed far from the crib or too narrow of a viewing angle for large play spaces, respectively.
The Infant Optics DXR-8 Baby Monitor solves both of these issues and even leaves room for the middle ground thanks to its three interchangeable lenses, which afford a zoom, normal, and wide-angle view.
Many monitors have a digital zoom feature, but all that does is expand the pixel size a reduce the field of view, essentially presenting you a less clear albeit larger image of a smaller area. Because you actually change out the physical lens with the DXR-8, the clarity of the view remains intact whether the image is zoomed, normal, or wide. So you can use the same monitor to keep a close watch on a baby in his crib at night and then see the entire room as he plays independently during the day.
And if that’s not enough control over the view, you can also pan and tilt the camera unit remotely.
Unlike many modern baby video monitors, the Infant Optics DXR-8 uses a dedicated parent unit, not a smartphone or tablet. That means it’s safe from hacking and will work fine even if the Wi-Fi goes out, but it does mean you can’t monitor the baby from beyond the system’s 700 foot transmission range.
With a staggering 28,000-plus reviews posted on Amazon, the Infant Optics DXR-8 Baby Monitor has a solid 4.4-star averaged rating. One parent named Brandon spoke for many when he called the “picture and audio quality… exceptional” and praised “the dedicated zoom lens” included with the camera. As for the negatives? “Nothing yet!” Brandon added.
Pros: Comes with multiple optical lenses, good pan and tilt functions, long range connection to parent unit
Cons: Does not connect to smart devices
The best with sleep assistance
The Motorola Halo+ Over-the-Crib Baby Monitor & Soother uses soothing lights and sounds to lull your baby to sleep and shares data with caregivers that helps optimize a baby’s rest.
The sleep deprivation parents experience is serious stuff, so any tool that can help mitigate the exhaustion is seriously excellent. The Motorola Halo+ Over-the-Crib Baby Monitor & Soother can help assuage parental fatigue both by helping a baby fall asleep on any given night and by training the parents how to help the child sleep every night.
The Halo+ helps soothe a little one to sleep using a series of softly glowing LED lights and a light show it can project onto the ceiling above the crib. Added to this are pre-recorded soothing sounds, lullabies, or recorded bedtime stories (yes, you can upload your own recording) that further relax your baby as she nods off.
As for the parents, the monitor features a Smart Baby Sleep Assistant program that over time creates a sleep diary and offers Sleep Insights and Sleep Tips, helping you see what’s working in terms of bed time, soothing techniques, sleep duration, and more.
Oh, and also it’s great monitor. The Halo+ can be clipped right onto the side of a crib for a birds-eye view of the whole sleep space, or it can be rested on a shelf like any standard monitor. It comes with a parent unit with a crisp 4.3-inch screen for monitoring when you’re at home, but it can also be connected to a mobile device for remote viewing. Yes, it’s a $300 unit, but if it helps them sleep … it helps you sleep.
A newer model, the Motorola Halo+ Over-the-Crib Baby Monitor & Soother doesn’t have many customer reviews yet, but the few it has received are all glowing. One mom calls it “the future of baby monitors, loving that it’s “a baby camera, a white noise machine, [and] a night light and a soother” in one.
A TechHive write up called the Motorola Halo+ Over-the-Crib Baby Monitor & Soother a “pricey smart camera system” that’s “the next best thing to having a night nanny.”
Pros: Soothes baby with sound and light, tracks sleep patterns and offers tips to improve rest, works with parent unit and mobile devices
Cons: Very expensive, rather large
The best for remote viewing
The Nest Security Camera can tell the difference between various types of motion, like a baby rolling over or a nanny entering the room.
As the name suggests, the Nest Security Camera was not designed as a baby monitor, but as an integral part of a home security system. But it just so happens that several of the features that make it a great home security camera also make it an excellent baby monitor, and especially one for parents who are away for much of the day and may be as interested in monitoring the nanny as their baby herself.
The Nest Security Camera can differentiate between different types of movement, recognizing smaller and less consequential activity like a baby moving around in the crib to more notable activity like someone entering a room. You can also watch video recorded, so if you’re wondering what happened while you were away, you’ll find out.
While based on its design the Nest camera lacks a few features most baby monitors offer, like recorded lullabies, it will continue to be a useful tool long after your kid has outgrown the need for a monitor, so you can take a longer view with it. The camera can be placed on a flat surface, wall mounted, affixed to a tripod, or even held in place by a magnet.
The one major drawback most customers point out is the need for a monthly subscription fee to make use of all of the camera’s features. But with that fee comes not only a real time view of your baby, but genuinely enhanced security for the whole home.
With more than 7,000 reviews posted, the Nest Security Camera has a fine 4.1-star overall rating. One dad said: “While Nest doesn’t advertise this as a nursery camera, let me assure you that it makes a stellar camera for watching your little one.” He pointed out the value of recorded video for analyzing sleep patterns and preserving precious memories, and loved how well the app connected him and his wife to their baby when they weren’t home.
Pros: Differentiated motion detection, records and stores video, excellent remote connectivity
Cons: Monthly fee to enjoy all features