Baby Monitor Buying guide: What to Look For in a Baby Monitor

By: EricAdamson

How do you choose the best video monitor to fit your home?

It might surprise you to discover how many options you have when you buy a baby monitor. What type of radio frequency or WiFi monitor do you prefer? Do you require audio and/or video as well as a heartbeat and oxygen monitor? You want an app or a separate device? Some options are vital for baby monitors to work well in your everyday life. However, some are unnecessary and can be omitted. Manufacturers will exploit the fears and insecurity of well-meaning parents to raise their prices. Our ultimate baby monitor buying guide will help to cut through all the noise.

Once you’ve weighed the pros and con of each, check out our list of top baby monitors for the year to find one that suits you best.

What is a baby monitor?

A baby monitor allows parents to remotely monitor, listen and watch their baby. It includes a transmitter baby device (often a camera with microphone located near your child) as well as a receiver parent unit. In short, the baby unit transmits data, sounds and video via WiFi or radio waves to the parent receiver.

Baby monitors have advanced a lot from the primitive audio models used in the ’40s. Baby walkie-talkies were the first monitors. Today, most monitors can stream a live feed, tell you how the nursery is doing, play lullabies and more.

Do You Really Need a Baby Monitor?

Many parents are unsure if they should purchase a baby-monitoring device. How can you tell if you have a baby monitor? Choose the best description of you:

  • A baby monitor is unnecessary if your home is small and you are within an easy hearing distance of your child.
  • A baby monitor is necessary if your baby won’t be able hear you or your doctor has advised you to.
  • A baby monitor is a good investment. Parents who use a baby monitor report sleeping better knowing their child will be alerted in case of an emergency.
  • However, a baby monitor can never replace a parent/guardian. Monitors can be very helpful in keeping an eye out for your child, especially if they are the latest and most advanced models. A baby monitor is merely a tool. You can think of it as a third pair, but not more.

Can your phone be used as a baby monitor

Many parents wonder if they could not use an old smartphone as a camera and stream the video to Facetime or Skype via the WiFi baby monitors.

It is technically possible to use your mobile phone as an infant monitor, but it is not ideal. A baby monitor must be able to see in the dark using infrared nightvision. This is something your mobile phone cannot do.

Skype and Facetime can’t be used for a long time. It is possible for the call to drop, and you will have to race back to your baby’s room to turn it on again. You will not be notified of the loss of connection if it happens while you’re asleep.

Although we do not recommend that you use your mobile phone as a monitor for baby, we have written a review of the top apps for baby monitoring to help you make an informed decision.

What Are the Different Types Of Baby Monitors Available?

There are many different types of baby monitors. Some monitors will display video from your phone while others will include a dedicated monitor. Some people use the WiFi network and others have their radio frequencies.

Audio, Video (WiFi/Non-WiFi), Health Tracking Baby Monitoring Monitors

There’s 3 types of baby monitors you can choose:

  1. Baby monitors with audio only
  2. Monitors for audio and video babies
  3. Baby monitors that track baby’s health

The most requested models on our list are those that support audio and video. They have many useful features (see below) as well as being mature devices that have been improved over the years.

With IoT devices growing in popularity, IoT baby monitors with health-tracking capabilities are becoming increasingly popular. This is especially important for parents who are concerned that their child may be at risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. These new devices monitor your baby’s heartbeat, oxygen level and movements. These devices can be inaccurate so it is important to ensure that you are not getting false alarms at night.

Radio Frequency or WiFi Baby Monitoring

Two types of baby-monitor connections are available to transmit video and data from the baby device to the parent unit.

Radio Frequency (RF)


Radio Frequency monitoring devices have a limited range and could expose your child to dangerous electromagnetic radiation. Read our article for safety and health considerations. However, RF monitors greatly reduce the risk of baby monitor hacking (read this article on privacy concerns). They also come with a dedicated unit for parents that makes it much easier to use. They can also be used independently of your WiFi connection.

WiFi monitors stream video to your smartphone via the internet. You have the potential to be more private, but this also opens the door for more monitoring options and functions. You will also need to ensure that your smartphone or tablet is charged at all times if you want your baby to hear or see you. If your WiFi is down, it will not work.

What are the most useful features in a baby monitor?

Baby monitors are more than just a way to alert you if your baby is crying. A monitor might be enough to alert you of your baby’s crying, depending on the layout of your home. These are the most important features available in baby monitors.

  • Night vision infrared is a must-have. All of the baby monitors on our top 10 list have it. Night vision will enable you to see your child in the dark.
  • When your child is awake, voice activation will notify you. Some baby monitor companies call it VOX. Other brands use different marketing jargon. But, voice activation is a way for parents to be notified that their child is awake.
  • Multiple cameras support is great for families with more than one child. One monitor can be used to view all members of the family. Although all WiFi monitors can offer this option, the best RF monitors will only be able to do so.
  • Talking back can be very useful if you want to soothe your child or let them know that your are on your way to their bed.
  • Lullabies are another great way to soothe your baby to sleep. The camera can play a variety songs and lullabies from your phone or parental unit.
  • It is vital to maintain a comfortable temperature in the bedroom, especially if your baby lives in a place that can change significantly throughout the night.