Five Choices We Like
Here are five very different setups we have actually used and liked, from $50 or so to $250 or so.
#1: Withings Baby Monitor
Withings Baby Monitor
Withings makes high-end Wi-Fi health products. Their baby monitor is easily programmed to connect to your house's own Wi-Fi local area network.
Key features include:
- Wi-Fi camera accessible via iPhone, iTouch and iPad apps
- Zooms in and out on the baby
- Notifications to you concerning noise, movement, temperature and humidity
- Controls letting you talk to your child, start a song, or turn on the night light through the application on your phone
Our hands-on experience is that this product is top-notch, feature-rich, and stylish. While it's more expensive, it’s our most highly rated baby monitor, given its practical use of new technologies. The Withings baby monitor is for sale online.
Withings Baby Monitor Video Demonstration
#2: Angelcare "Movement and Sound" Monitor
The Angelcare baby monitor is designed for parents who want to listen to their baby and know if the baby is moving. Besides monitoring sound and room temperature, it monitors the baby’s movements with a sensor pad you put under the mattress. This device will notify you over the 927 MHz or 2.4 GHz frequencies if it doesn't detect movement for twenty seconds. Angelcare doesn’t have a video option, except in its high-end model. (Watch out for a 2013 recall of mattress-pad cords that were an entanglement hazard; this product now comes with a cord cover.)
Video: Angelcare Movement and Sound Monitor
#3: Summer Infant "Day and Night" Video Monitor
We are now striking the Summer infant "Day and Night" Video from our recommended list. April, 23, 2014 there has been a significant recall by the Consumer Product Safety Commission because of a danger posed to consumers where the batteries in the hand held video monitor can overheat and rupture. Potentially burning the consumer. We are only leaving it on the list as a warning to consumers.
#4: Linksys Compact Wireless-G Camera as a Baby Monitor
Being a geek, I wondered years ago if we could make a Wi-Fi baby monitor by hooking up a wireless video camera to our household Wi-Fi network. This can be done with most computer cameras, although when I first had this idea these cameras were not advertised as baby monitors. The best Wi-Fi camera for this is the Linksys Compact Wireless-G Internet Video Camera. It's more of a surveillance camera, like those “nanny cams” that spy on babysitters.
Linksys Compact Wireless-G Camera
Watching the Linksys Camera on your Mobile Phone
#5: iPhone, Plus Baby Monitor App, Plus Another Phone
At least one app turns an iPhone into a baby monitor with unlimited range. You turn on the app on an iPhone and leave the phone in the baby's room. It detects sound and will place a call or text message so you can listen in. The reviews have been pretty good, although the application can be pretty sensitive to noise that triggers unnecessary calls or text messages. I personally really like the idea of this application, especially for older kids (3+ years old), where we might find ourselves out of range of the ordinary wireless baby monitor. This seems like the modern-day equivalent to a parent leaving the landline on speaker phone when they go out, so they can listen in.
Vote for the Best Baby Monitor
Monitoring Your Baby? Find the Best Baby Monitor
As new parents, we were concerned that we wouldn't be able to hear the baby crying in her upstairs bedroom, if we were in the basement, or the garden, or across the street for a minute. We were worried she might wake up and find herself all alone.
The good news is that there are many products and combinations of products that will let you see or hear your baby wake up. Some will send you a text when they detect motion in the baby's room. Others can start singing a song, or zoom in on the child to see if they're moving. You can find a device that will alert you with a flashing light when your baby cries; one that is silent and lets you sleep, and only makes a loud sound when your baby makes one too; one you can clip to your belt and walk around with; or one with rechargeable and replaceable batteries. Getting the right monitor will provide comfort and convenience.
The options can be bewildering, because the technology for baby monitors is changing quickly. About all these baby monitoring setups have in common is that they have a sensing device in the baby’s room, and one or more receiving devices elsewhere that you watch or listen to. Baby equipment makers make "baby monitors" as such, but there are now also ways to combine wireless cameras, smartphones, and apps to create mobile and interactive monitors. Our family has gone both routes.
Options for Baby Monitoring
What Baby Monitors Can Detect:
- Room temperature
- Baby’s temperature, or other medical data
- A dedicated baby monitor, including a camera and/or microphone, plugged in or with replaceable batteries, or;
- An all-purpose wireless camera, or;
- A smartphone or tablet using an app
- One or more dedicated baby monitor receivers, portable or stationary, plugged in or with rechargeable batteries, or;
- A phone or other Internet device
How They Communicate:
- A radio frequency: 900 MHz, 2.4 GHz, or others
- Your home’s Wi-Fi local area network; or
- A phone network
- Analog (more subject to static, interference, listening-in)
- Digital or “DECT” (encoded, less subject to interference)
Reverse Transmission (Parent to Baby) Options:
- Audio (words or songs)
Baby Monitor Makers’ Websites
Well-known baby equipment brands with excellent baby monitor reviews include:
Conventional Baby Monitors: Transmission Range, Possible Interference
Monitor/receiver sets sold as baby monitors transmit a signal at a fixed radio frequency, like a radio station. Early versions worked in the 49-50 MHz range, and some had an A/B switch so you could try a second channel if the first was getting interference. “Analog” baby monitor transmissions are not secure; neighbors can pick up your signal on their own devices, a radio scanner can find it (unless your house is wrapped in aluminum foil), and your receiver may pick up strange things (including even from NASA).
Modern baby monitors are often digital, not analog, and generally use frequencies of 900 MHz and/or 2.4 GHz; they should have a longer range and less interference than in the past. Especially if you get a low-end audio monitor, keep the receipt, in case the range and clarity of the signal in your own home isn’t what you expected.
Creative Uses of Baby Monitors
Sometimes your baby who is a little distance away may want to watch you or hear you. By reversing your wireless baby monitor or monitoring setup, you can let your child listen to your voice and see you. You could use two baby monitors, or a two-way monitor, to talk to your child as you move about the house (one monitor will keep an eye on them, and the other will let them listen or watch you). Some mothers report success placing the receivers from video baby monitors in cribs, so that the child can see them on the screen; some have used audio monitor receivers to sing their babies to sleep, so the child doesn’t wake up when they leave the room.
If your baby tends to lie down in the stroller where you can’t see it, or if there is a risk of the baby sliding down between the seats of a double stroller, you can attach a monitoring device to the stroller and watch your baby as you walk. Similarly, a monitor or mirror can be used in a Perego infant car seat, to communicate with the child who is facing backwards as you drive.
As yet, they haven’t devised a monitor to check if your baby has a wet diaper. If you have cloth diapers, you may have to resign yourself to checking every few hours.
I saw a request to monitor a baby in a Bjorn. Now this really is overkill! A baby in a Bjorn carrier is just an inch away from another human.
Frontiers in Monitoring
Beyond movement, sound, and video, monitors have been developed to report on baby’s temperature, breathing, and heartbeat.
A baby temperature monitor, or an infant remote fever monitor, clips on to the baby's diaper and allows for a child's temperature to be taken remotely. It will signal an alarm if the baby's temperature passes a threshold.
Infant breathing monitors can be useful for premature babies, but there is little evidence that they reduce SIDS. This article suggests that the false alarms may produce more anxiety than good.
Infant heartbeat monitors exist that are designed to be used in the home, like the Doppler they use in your doctor's office to check the baby before it's born. Perhaps a doctor could advise you on whether this expensive, specialty device is a good idea.
Baby Monitor Feedback
John on November 12, 2011:
I like the IP Camera solution because I can stream to my Android phone, that way if I'm home alone with the newborn, I can make a kwik beer run (only 5 minutes, I promise) and be alerted if the UPS guy needs a signature for a package.
jfarleyhume on December 02, 2010:
Can't argue with success. Looking for one of these while I work.
Kevin J on November 26, 2010:
I am a soon-to-be dad looking for a way to keep an eye on my new baby while I'm at work (or ideally anywhere via my Android smartphone via browser or app). Is there a device that is portable, rechargeable, and sends A/V signal through a wifi link that my wife or parents could set in front of the baby and I could then connect with? Thanks! Kevin firstname.lastname@example.org
Proud Dad on September 29, 2010:
To respond to this comment:
"So I don't want to add paranoia to anyone's life, but I wouldn't get a wireless video baby monitor simply because some creep could be watching the baby using the same frequency. Worse yet, they could watch YOU in the room and wait until you're gone before sneaking in."
There is a solution. I bought a Y-Cam Knight SD from WiFi Baby which streams HD video/audio to my Mac and iPhone. It's completely secure with a username and password. I can watch my son from work, downstairs on my computer when he's on the 3rd floor etc. Easy to set up, completely secure and the picture and audio is incredible.
Ann Leavitt from Oregon on February 22, 2010:
Just checked out this hub to learn from how you do it! Got some great ideas. Thanks for being so helpful and open about how to make high quality hubs!
Lauren on January 18, 2010:
I love having a baby monitor, it makes me feel much better about my baby sleeping and makes you feel much more comfortable being able to hear them at all times!
mohu on September 17, 2008:
This sounds to be good and quiet interesting about this product.whereas it should be look over on expensiveness also with comparing other products.
Paul Edmondson (author) from Burlingame, CA on July 25, 2008:
I was at the baby store and asked if they ever heard funny stories of how people use their baby montitors. It turns out, that it's pretty common to buy a baby monitor to watch a pet. I guess that makes sense, but seems a little over the top to me.
WeddingConsultant from DC Metro Area on June 17, 2008:
I'd like to add my two cents worth to what you said. You wrote:
"Also, if your house isn't wrapped in aluminum, your signal can be easily picked up with a radio scanner."
I'd like to add that a friend was babysitting and she had a wireless video monitor for the newborn. She went around the house doing other things and when she returned she looked at the wireless monitor- she couldn't recognize the room. Oh and the baby was gone! So she ran upstairs and found the baby to be OK, but it turns out she was picking up the "signal" of another wireless video monitor user- that of a neighbor.
So I don't want to add paranoia to anyone's life, but I wouldn't get a wireless video baby monitor simply because some creep could be watching the baby using the same frequency. Worse yet, they could watch YOU in the room and wait until you're gone before sneeking in.
reversefunnelsyst from Nashville on June 17, 2008:
Thank you very much for your great information. I never used video monitor for my kids. I wish I did. It would have saved me hours of sleep!
The technology changes and there are so much more available today than it was 7 years ago!
Love for you to be my fan! Have an amazing day!
Paul Edmondson (author) from Burlingame, CA on December 02, 2007:
I'm not going to go into too much detail on this, but I believe you are free to monitor anything you want in your own home. I think I'd let a babysitter know that the house had video monitors.
However, if I had any concern that the baby sitter was harming my children, I wouldn't rely on a hidden camera to video the interactions, I just wouldn't hire the baby sitter.
Emma from Boston on October 16, 2007:
Great hub, Paul! It will be interesting to see how this experiment goes. You know what might make an interesting related hub is something on the ethics and legal ramifications of "spying on the babysitter". You do hear about it in the press sometime and I've always wondered how legal it is to spy if the babysitter is unaware of the monitoring, even in your own home.
AskSusanPeters from Oklahoma on October 13, 2007:
I am looking forward to watching this unfold. Fantastic idea. Congrats, daddy!
MM Del Rosario from NSW, Australia on October 13, 2007:
There are a lot of new products available now in the market, a bit confusing when you have also to consider the price and how long do you need these things. I wonder if you have to use rechargeble batteries or just the normal one.... Nice review Paul....
gredmondson on October 12, 2007:
Paul, this was very interesting . . . Which one do you think you will get?