Quest for the best baby monitor: our baby monitor reviews

Our top picks for best baby monitor, some cautionary advice, the best wifi baby monitors, and our full roundup of baby monitor reviews.

Best baby monitor battle royale

Ah, the baby monitor. Like an expensive walkie-talkie, but you don’t get to talk and the other person doesn’t know you’re listening. It might feel like a relatively modern invention, but the first baby monitor was actually released in 1937. These days, thanks to wifi baby monitors, you can hear and see your baby from across the house and even the other side of the world. (FaceTime works too.) Shopping for a baby monitor can be overwhelming. The sheer number of choices, the endless lists of features, and the fact that this may be your first time using one of these— how do you even know what you want?  Welcome. You’re in the right place. Between the two of us here at Fathercraft, we’ve tested and reviewed dozens of baby monitors over the past 7 years across 4 different kids. On this page, you’ll:

Please note Fathercraft is reader-supported, meaning, at no cost to you, we may earn a commission if you buy after clicking an affiliate link. Learn more. 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 Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Best baby monitor battle royale

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 almost 7 years ago are now leading the pack.

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 almost 7 years ago are now leading the pack.

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Overall Best Baby Monitor — the Nanit Plus

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

With its snap on/off functionality and multi-stand, Nanit is also our pick for best travel baby monitor. Nanit also wins in the category of best video baby monitor due to an awesome camera.

A Miku baby monitor on a table with an alarm clock

Coolest Tech — The Miku baby monitor

Using what the company calls “military grade” technology, the Miku features things like breathing monitoring without wearables, an ‘unhackable’ chip, and Dual Ole Wolff speakers.

Owlet baby monitor on a table with a plant

Best for Parents of Preemies — the Owlet

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.

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Best non-wifi baby monitor — the Eufy Spaceview

It’s no secret we think there’s a lot to love about wifi baby monitors. But, they’re not for everyone, so we’ve been testing non-wifi options recently. And, we think the Eufy is the best pick. It’s cheaper than some other options, got great picture quality, and pretty good range.

A Lollipop baby monitor and sensor on a table

Best budget baby monitor: the Lollipop Cam

While, at $149, we’re hesitant to give it the crown of ‘best cheap baby monitor’, the Lollipop Cam is relatively inexpensive compared to its wifi-monitor brethren, and it’s still pretty sweet (sorry). We experienced relatively strong connectivity, an easy-to-use app, and an innovative ‘stem’ mounting system that actually works quite well. It’s also pretty cute, if we do say so ourselves.

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The Best Wifi Baby monitor: the Nanit Plus

Hold on you say, Nanit Plus is a double-winner? Yep. Our pick for overall best baby monitor is also our pick for best wifi baby monitor. Why? Well, consider 3 common complaints made in wifi baby monitor reviews: 1) finicky connection, 2) latency, 3) smartphone battery drain. Nanit answers all 3. 1) in all our testing, Nanit’s connection was almost always rock-solid, and it features a fallback bluetooth connection. 2) Over years of testing, we’ve rarely experienced latency > 1 second. 3) again, we’ve been using this monitor for years. Battery drain is noticeable, but not meaningful, so long as you use background audio, and continuous video feed when necessary.

These are popular video baby monitors, but beware

It feels like there are hundreds of options for video monitors on the market, and nearly all of them claim to be the “best rated” in something, have the highest reviews, top camera, picture quality, or make many other boasts in their marketing materials.

We think it’s important to share a few monitors that might be near the top of the sales charts, but we, along with many others, have had issues with.

An Infant Optics DXR on a table with a plant

Infant Optics DXR-8

The Infant Optics DXR-8 loudly proclaims to be the “best selling baby monitor on Amazon” and does get high reviews. We’ve had a really poor experience with these monitors: we tested 2 review units, both of which ended up permanently losing connection. Image quality is poor compared with wifi-monitors, range is limited. We will note that some reviewers disagree with us, and Infant Optics does allow you to connect 2 cameras to one parent unit.

Arlo Baby Monitor with green bunny ears and feet on a table with a plant

The Arlo Baby

When a monitor is as cute as the Arlo Baby undeniably is, it’s hard to critique it. But, unfortunately we have to. When testing the Arlo Baby, we experienced severe latency issues, pixelation of image quality, and later, app crashes. We heard similar concerns from a Fathercraft reader, and after poking around on the internet, saw that we weren’t alone.

Nest Cam on a table with a plant

The Nest Cam Indoor

Let’s cut to the chase: the Nest Cam, while a cool piece of tech and a great security camera with a smartphone option, isn’t a baby monitor. Many people want it to be, but it lacks critical features like background audio that would allow it to be a viable baby monitor. If you’re considering the Nest Cam, be sure to read our blog post below first and watch the included video!

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. 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 include our thoughts on what was awesome about the monitor, what we wished were different, and our final verdict.

Click a box to learn more!
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Range

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Picture quality & night vision

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Usability

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Sound quality and sensitivity

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Alerts/constant audio feed

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Additional bells and whistles

How to choose a baby monitor

A primer for new parents – what to look out for, what to avoid, and our top pick for 2020.

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. Click a button to learn more.

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Reliance on wifi
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A smartphone/tablet app serves as the "parent unit"
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Unlimited range

Baby Monitor Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use an HSA or FSA account to buy a baby monitor?

If a baby monitor tracks movement, breathing, pulse, or blood oxygen level, it should be HSA or FSA eligible. You’ll need to note whether or not accessories are HSA or FSA eligible. A number of the monitors we’ve reviewed are eligible:

What’s the best baby monitor for twins/what’s the best baby monitor with two cameras?

Man, we get asked this a lot, and the answer is, it’s tough. The first thing to determine is whether you want to have a separate camera on both babies. It’s certainly possible to have one camera cover two cribs (though you’ll definitely sacrifice clarity by moving the camera back far enough to view both cribs, especially vs. a bird’s eye view option.)

Next, you’ll need to consider whether you want a wifi baby monitor for twins that allows you to use your iPhone, tablet, etc as the parent unit. If you do, consider the Nanit Plus Twin Pack. You’ll get two of our top-rated baby monitor and save vs buying them individually. Do note you’ll only get background audio from the camera that you’ve switched two, but you’ll get alerts from both, and if your babies are in the same room and close to each other, which camera has the audio feed may not matter that much.

If you want a non-wifi baby monitor option for twins, we like the Eufy Spaceview or the Summer Infant Pixel Zoom HD. And Infant Optics DXR-8 (note we particularly do not like Infant Optics based on our own testing, but it does support two cameras.)

What’s the best rated baby monitor with the highest reviews on Amazon?

This is an interesting question, and one we’d caution you to ask with caution; it’s possible to manipulate Amazon reviews—here’s an NPR Planet Money episode on that. We’re not saying that’s the case with these monitors, but it’s good to be aware and read non-Amazon reviews. Here are 4 of the highest-rated baby monitors on Amazon with at least 250 reviews: the BabyCall (5 stars),  the Vava (4.8 stars), the Victure (4.7 stars), and the Heimvision (4.8 stars).

What baby monitor has the best picture quality? What’s the best video monitor?

Of all the monitors we’ve tested, we think the Nanit Plus has the best picture quality. But, when you’re thinking about picture quality purely from a ‘what baby monitor has the best camera tech?’ perspective, you’re missing two critical pieces to the puzzle: 1) since your baby should be sleeping in the dark, you want a camera that has good night vision, and 2) where the camera is placed in relation to the baby can make a huge difference in what and how well you can see your baby. For this reason, we like cameras that can be mounted right above the crib so you can see your newborn. Because it possesses all 3 of these things (a high quality camera, very solid night vision, and bird’s-eye mounting capability, we’ve named Nanit Plus our top video monitor.

What’s the best high-end baby monitor?

Easy: Nanit Plus, with the Complete Monitoring System. It can run you up to $449 with all the bells and whitles, but it’s our overall favorite monitor, it’s smartphone app is top-notch, it’s got stellar sound & picture quality, and a built-in sleep coach that helps improve your child’s sleep. Plus it’s got thoughtful features not found elsewhere like bluetooth-fallback in case your wifi goes out.

What is the top infant baby monitor?

There are a few things to consider for a monitor that works well for infants: 1) image quality and mounting options. Since your infant is small and won’t move much, she’ll be harder to see. 2) infants are generally quieter than older babies, so sound sensitivity is important. 3) Your baby won’t be an infant for long, so you want a monitor that works well as she gets older too. Again, we think the Nanit Plus is the top of the pile here.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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A smartphone/tablet app serves as the “parent unit”

The parent unit in any baby monitor is the part 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 other things too. As noted above, this makes a wifi monitor’s backgrounding system critical.

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Unlimited range

Is long range important to you? 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, or when you head back to work.