Baby Monitor Reviews

Some baby monitors sitting on a workbench with an anvil
Inside the Fathercraft baby monitor testing lab (John's house)

Fathercraft’s baby monitor reviews

Our top picks, words of caution, all about wifi baby monitors, and all of our reviews

Ah, the baby monitor. That special device that allows you constantly hear (and, these days, most likely see) your baby regardless of whether they’re in the next room or the other side of the house. And now, thanks to wifi baby monitors, perhaps the other side of the world. While it might feel like a relatively modern invention, but the first baby monitor was actually released in 1937.

So, we’re guessing you’re thinking of buying a baby monitor. And you don’t want to end up with one that drives you nuts, or you’re overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices.

Welcome. You’re in the right place. Between the two of us here at Fathercraft, we’ve tested and reviewed dozens of baby monitors across 4 different kids. Here you’ll:

  • Get our picks for best baby monitors in 2018
  • Understand the most important features you should look for in a monitor, and why they matter
  • See what you need to know about wifi baby monitors
  • Our in-depth baby monitor reviews

Please note this list uses affiliate links, meaning, at no cost to you, we may earn a commission if you click an affiliate link and make a purchase. Read more about our policies here. We view affiliate links as a way to support the creation of free, high-quality content, but if you don’t want us to earn a commission, simply don’t click a link. Also, we are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Best baby monitors for 2018

Baby monitors have come a long way in the last few years. A number of new contestants that didn’t even exist when our first kids were born are now leading the pack.

What are the best baby monitors of 2018? Here are our picks for the top baby monitors this year, across a couple of key categories.

Overall Winner – the Nanit

The Nanit is an intuitive, yet powerful wifi-based monitor. It leverages your phone for great image quality, and features sleep insights and suggestions that can actually improve your child’s (and your) sleep.

Best for parents of preemies – the Owlet

Contents of the Owlet Smart Sock 2 box on a desk

The Owlet isn’t a traditional baby monitor. In fact, you’ll probably want a video monitor too. Instead, the Owlet monitors heart rate and blood oxygen levels in your baby using clinically-proven technology.

Our reviewers who tested with their baby born 12 weeks prematurely were impressed and even compared readings against a medical-grade test administered by a nurse.

Best for first-time parents on a budget – the Cocoon Cam Plus

A Cocoon Cam mounted on a yellow wall above a crib with stuffed animals on the railing

At $149, the Cocoon Cam is the least expensive of a new generation of wifi-based, smartphone-app-powered monitors. Despite this, it’s got a killer feature – the ability to monitor your baby’s breathing, which can be a real peace of mind enabler for new parents. It’s also got fairly good image quality and an overhead view that keeps your baby in sight. Cocoon Cam is trickier to set up and mount, and isn’t portable.

The most important features in a baby monitor

For Fathercraft’s baby monitor reviews, we evaluate monitors across a multi-point framework based on what we’ve found to be the most useful features we’ve tested and personally used over the years across four different kids and four different homes. Here are the criteria for our reviews:

  1. Range. If you don’t have a strong enough signal that you can clearly and consistently connect to the child unit located where your child is sleeping, your monitor is useless. We’ve used a number of monitors with our own kids where the range of the monitor was a major issue, even in smaller houses.
  2. Picture quality & night vision. Seeing your child is a critical part of the function of a baby monitor, and picture quality in monitors can vary widely. We include night vision as part of the picture quality discussion since your baby will (and should) sleep in a dark room, at least a large portion of the time.
  3. Sound quality and sensitivity. We’d argue that sound quality and sensitivity are more important than picture quality. After all, you aren’t going to be constantly staring at your child through the monitor (hopefully sometimes you’ll be sleeping, too) so being able to hear your child clearly is hugely important.
  4. Alerts/constant audio feed. Most monitors with a dedicated parent unit constantly have an open audio channel – meaning as soon as your child makes a sound, you’ll hear it in real time. However, with wifi baby monitors we reviewed, a constant audio feed isn’t a given as the monitor app often gets relegated to the background when you do other things on your phone or tablet. So, having a rock-solid alert system or process for creating a constant audio feed is an important issue any wifi monitor needs to solve.
  5. Usability. As we’ve said before about other baby-related products – if you use it in the middle of the night, it damn well better be easy to use. As monitors add more bells and whistles, it becomes harder to have a logical, intuitive user experience.
  6. Additional bells and whistles. Speaking of bells and whistles, many of the baby monitors on the market today have an astounding number of additional features. And, based on our testing, there’s a fairly even split between features that serve a real need and features that just aren’t particularly useful.

For our reviews, we consider these features while we spend an extensive amount of time using each monitor – at least two months – and take detailed notes, photos, and videos along the way. Each one of our reviews consolidates our experience into a concise review and includes our thoughts on what was awesome about the monitor, what we wished were different, and our final verdict.

Wifi baby monitor reviews

So far, though we’ve used both wifi and non-wifi monitors with our own kids, we’ve focused our efforts on this site on wifi baby monitor reviews. Wifi monitors have an important set of advantages and disadvantages that are important to be aware of:

  1. A smartphone/tablet app serves as the “parent unit”. The parent unit in any monitor is, obviously, the part of the monitor that stays with the parent and allows him or her to see and hear the child. With wifi baby monitors, the parent unit is often your smartphone or tablet. This can be a good thing (great picture quality, one less thing to lug along if you’re wanting to bring your baby monitor on the road, etc. It can also be a bad thing as your smartphone or tablet is likely used for some other things too. As noted above, this makes a wifi monitor’s backgrounding system critical.
  2. Unlimited range. Most wifi monitors offer an unlimited range (as long as the child unit has a strong wifi signal to connect to, and the parent unit is connected to the same wifi network, a different wifi network, or has cellular reception. This is a handy benefit of wifi monitors – if you live in a big house, a multi-level house, or spend time in your yard while your child is sleeping, you’ll likely experience range issues with non-wifi monitors. It also allows you to check in on your child while you’re not home – perhaps helpful in reassuring you while your child is with a babysitter for the first time, as an example.
  3. Reliance on wifi. Like most systems, a wifi baby monitor is only as strong as its weakest link. And, often, the wifi is the weak link. If your wifi goes out, so does your monitor. If your wifi experiences a few minutes of connectivity issues, so does your monitor. Some wifi baby monitors feature a “lost connection” alert to let you know when this happens.

The reviews

So, without further ado, let’s jump into the reviews. Keep checking back as we’re continuing to add new reviews to this list.

Our Arlo Baby review was a surprise to us for a couple of reasons: we’ve always thought of Netgear (Arlo’s parent company) as a company that makes routers – turns out they have a whole line of home security cameras...
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All baby monitors exist on a scale from “very bad” to “doesn’t completely suck”. And those closer to the “doesn’t completely suck” end of the scale leave much to be desired. We’ve tried A LOT of them. You’re going to...
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The Owlet Smart Sock 2 promises parents of newborns something that they haven’t felt since they found out they were pregnant—peace of mind. The company states 94% of parents who use the smart sock report improvements in their own sleep,...
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iBaby Labs is a Silicon Valley-based company that creates smartphone-app-enabled baby monitors. A lot of them. There are 7 listed on the company’s website, which gets confusing, fast. So, we decided to try all of them to understand what, exactly,...
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  The Cocoon Cam exists in a family of baby monitors that use a combination of wifi, your smartphone or tablet as the ‘parent unit’, and computer vision to provide information about your child. Other examples include the Nanit (our...
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The Nest Cam Indoor camera is a pretty slick piece of technology and does a lot of the things you’d hope a baby monitor would do. It’s easy to install and set up, streams HD video to your smartphone or...
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