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 compromise on something – picture quality, range, ease of use, sound quality – something. And this is too bad, because baby monitors are pretty useful things. We say “pretty useful” because, let’s face it, your parents probably didn’t use a baby monitor with you, and you turned out just fine. So when we heard about the Nanit, which bills itself as “the ‘Tesla’ of baby monitors”, we were skeptical. But, we also wanted to find out if a baby monitor that can easily cost you $500+ could really live up to that sort of hype.
An in-depth review of the Nanit Smart Baby Monitor
Like all of our reviews, we went all out. We’ve spent over six months with the Nanit Original, and now spent time with the Nanit Plus, kept detailed notes, built a floor stand of our own out of an old floor lamp an iPad holder (seriously – we weren’t able to get ahold of the floor stand during the original testing), and more.
We’ll start with a quick video, and then cover (click/tap on a section to skip ahead to it)
- What is the Nanit?
- What’s the difference between Nanit Plus and Nanit Original?
- How the Nanit works, broken down into its various parts
- Nanit pricing and options
- The awesome, the wish it were different, and a verdict
- The Nanit vs Nest Cam
- Nanit vs Arlo Baby
- Nanit vs iBaby
So, here we go. This is John’s Nanit review based on using the Nanit as the monitor for a new addition to his family – baby Calvin. To start, here’s a rundown of the Nanit Plus features and a short video review:
What, exactly, is a Nanit?
“Smart” technologies are infiltrating every corner of the home, from smart thermostats to smart refrigerators. When it comes to technologies for parents, smart tech is just as prevalent. (For another impressive example, check out our review of the Snoo robotic bassinette.)
The Nanit Sleep System (perhaps baby surveillance system would be more appropriate) is a smart baby monitor billed by the company as, “part baby monitor, part baby translator, part sleep guru” and “the most advanced baby monitor ever.” (Not exactly lacking for superlatives, are they?) By “smart” the company means that the Nanit not only monitors your child as she sleeps but analyzes her sleep patterns using machine learning to make a determination about the quality of sleep she got. Oh yeah, and after that Nanit offers insights into how to improve your baby’s overall nighttime sleep experience.
All right … skepticism level continues to rise … but given that sleep quality is a huge determining factor in the health and development of your child (not to mention maintaining the sanity of parents) any tool that can potentially improve life in this area is worth an in-depth look.
What’s the difference between Nanit Plus and Nanit Original?
In October 2018, Nanit launched version 2 of Nanit, dubbed “Nanit Plus“. We were able to get our hands on an early unit to do some testing (disclosure: we got the Nanit Plus for free), and compare of the Nanit Plus with the original Nanit, with both of us here at Fathercraft have been using for the last 6+ months.
So, what are the differences?
Two-way audio communication. In our review of the Nanit Original, we noted that two-way audio communication (meaning, in addition to you being able to hear your baby, you can also talk to your baby), was lacking. Nanit billed this as a security feature at the time — a hacker couldn’t hack your monitor and yell obscenities at your baby. Now, they’re confident enough in their security to have released two-way communication.
Better sound quality. In our side-by-side testing, we noticed a marked difference in sound quality between Plus and Original (Plus being the winner).
Better picture quality (slightly). Picture quality was better in the Nanit Plus than the Nanit Original, but only slightly. And they seemed nearly identical with night vision turned on in a darkened room. This isn’t a knock on the Plus – picture quality is great in the Nanit Original.
Nature sounds. Nanit Plus allows you to play nature sounds as white noise for your child. Note this feature hasn’t yet been set live, but will be made available soon as a software update.
App Upgrades. Nanit’s smartphone app has continued to get better, and the Nanit Plus benefits from these (as does the Nanit Original, for most of them).
Price. Nanit Plus is $30 more than the Nanit Original (its price was reduced $30 when the Plus launched).
Based on our testing, everything else about the Plus was the same as the Original. The Nanit Plus also looks identical to the Original. So, our opinion? It’s everything we love about Nanit Original, but more. And with only $30 separating the two of them, spend the extra few bucks and get the Plus, available on nanit.com starting at $279 (though look for savings on bundles and sales).
How does it work?
The Nanit (we’re speaking here about the Nanit Plus, any differences in the original are called out) is comprised of several parts – a monitor/camera (the child unit), several options for stands, a wall mount, and the Nanit App for your smartphone or tablet. This last part is an important distinction – unlike most monitors, the Nanit does not come with a dedicated ‘parent unit’ – a screen with a speaker that allows you to watch and hear your child – Nanit is BYOD (bring your own device) for the parent unit, via an iOS or Andriod app.
Let’s discuss each of these components individually.
The child unit (monitor/camera)
If you’ve been following the self-driving car movement, you’ve likely heard of computer vision as the process by which computers can “see” through cameras and interpret visual inputs. Nanit applies this technology to “see” your baby and interpret things your baby does (tiny movements while sleeping, larger movements when awake or crying). The monitor’s camera records high definition video, which is then run through an algorithm that learns your 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.
This all starts to feel very ‘next level AI futuristic’, but there some distinctions that bring you back to present – for example, Nanit’s sleep analysis works only if the camera is mounted directly above your baby’s crib, looking directly down in birds-eye view. So you’ll forgo the sleep analysis feature if you use the multi-stand that allows the Nanit camera to sit on a dresser.
There are some real advantages to forcing this directly overhead view – primarily that Nanit’s wide-angle lens captures the entire crib, meaning that your child is always in view. If you’ve used a traditional monitor on top of a dresser near the crib, for example, you’ll know this can create blind spots or near blind spots in the crib that can get frustrating as your child begins to roll around when sleeping.
Picture quality is one of the highlights of Nanit Plus. It boasts true HD-quality real-time images, made to look even better if you have a newer smartphone or tablet with a great-looking screen. Nanit also features infrared light for night vision, which was excellent in my testing.
Mounting Nanit’s camera
Ther are three ways to mount the Nanit camera (note that when you order Nanit the wall mount kit and multi-stand are included by default, you’ll need to add the floor stand separately for $50 if you want it, and you’ll need to do so during your initial order – the floor stand isn’t currently sold separately):
- Wall Mount. This is the default. You screw the Nanit into the wall above your child’s crib in a location that places the camera in the center of the crib. It’s critical that the camera is in the middle of the crib on a long side as the Nanit app isn’t flexible with orientation. So if you mount the camera on the end of the crib as opposed to the side, your orientation will be screwed up. (Within the app settings you can tell the Nanit exactly what area of the crib it should focus on, so even if you are forced to place the stand at the foot of the bassinet/crib the monitor should be able to capture what it needs (see app settings section for more info). The wall mount also comes with a cable cover to prevent your child from reaching through crib bars and yanking the cable. Once your wall mount is set up, the camera snaps in and out easily in case you want to bring it (along with the Multi-Stand) with you on a trip.
- Floor Stand mount. For those not wanting to drill into their walls, an optional floor stand is available for Nanit. Though for some reason, it isn’t available separately, so if you think you might want it, add it to your order from the beginning. The Floor Stand positions the Nanit in the overhead orientation, allowing you to mimic where the Nanit would be if installed via wall mount.
- Multi-Stand mount. Nanit bills the Multi-Stand as a stand you can use to bring the Nanit on the go – to grandparents’ houses, on trips, etc. It’s a small 6-inch stand that positions the camera to face outward toward a crib, pack ‘n play, bassinette, etc. Again, it’s important to be aware Nanit Insights, the sleep quality tracking and recommendations element of the Nanit Sleep System isn’t available when the camera is mounted on the Multi-Stand. I appreciated that the Multi-Stand comes with an 8’ cord, as it seems plugs are always further away than you want them to be. There’s a pretty cool video of using the Multi-Stand on Nanit’s website near the bottom of this page.
The parent unit (the Nanit App + your smartphone or tablet)
The Nanit App is available as a free download for iOS and Android, and acts as the control center for the Nanit monitor. I’ll break down the individual sections of the app below, but an important overall note is that the app *does* allow for background audio, meaning that even while the app is closed on your phone, you’ll still be able to hear your child. I also experimented using an old iPad as a “dedicated” parent unit with the Nanit by disabling auto-screen lock. This worked quite well, though did require it be plugged in if using for long periods with the screen on, as that required lots of battery life. Inside the app you’ll find:
The monitor’s live feed. Here’ you’ll see what you’d expect from a baby monitor – the HD live feed of what’s going on in the crib, the ability to see full screen, snap a picture of your baby, turn on the Nanit’s light (this is angled upward to help you see when visiting your child, but not shine a light directly in his eyes), and the ability to turn on and off audio. There are also a few bells and whistles – Nanit monitors temperature and humidity in the room. And finally, in the upper-right-hand corner a comforting “live” indicator and connection status bars, much like the cellular reception bars on your phone, indicates the monitor is working. Here’s what it looks like on an iPhone 8+
Activity. Within this section of the app, you’ll be able to scroll through a history of what your child’s been up to while in his crib, and can jump back in time to previous days (up to 30 days back with the standard Nanit Insights package, up to a year back with the “Unlimited Insights” package. Within the Activity Stream, you can view a sped-up version of your child’s previous nights, showing you when he woke up, stirred, was attended to by you or your partner, etc. More on Nanit Insights below.
Dashboard. The dashboard is a collection of your child’s sleep stats, including an overall score, when she went to sleep, the total time spent in the crib, total time asleep, how many times you or your partner visited your child, and “sleep efficiency”, a metric calculated by how much time your child spent asleep divided by the total time she spent in her crib.
Inbox. This is a beta feature that sends you personalized sleep tips and advice based on the data Nanit has collected, paired with what Nanit notes as “scientific research”. Inbox is still in “beta” and there isn’t a heck of a lot there yet.
Settings. Within settings, you can add users (adding your partner, another caregiver, etc.), add additional cameras, etc., and do some configuration – for example showing the Nanit the area of its view that constitutes your child’s sleeping area.
Nanit Insights is a software subscription service that takes all of the data collected by the Nanit camera and sensors and turns it into insights – stats, analysis, and personalized sleep recommendations for your child.
Insights allows you to see time-lapse videos of your baby’s night, keep a video history of these time lapses, and get sleep tips from Nanit’s experts. I found the time-lapse videos fun and interesting, but there’s only one speed at which you could play back the timelapse and it’s a bit slow for my taste.
You’ll have two choices when purchasing Nanit Insights – the 30-day history, and an unlimited history. It’s a little unclear to me why you’d need an unlimited video history of your baby’s sleep but hey, it’s there if you’ve got an extra $200 for it.
Nanit Plus Price & Options
The Nanit is pretty darn expensive. And it seems, given that it’s BYOD for the parent unit, that it’s a lot to pay for a camera/monitor, stand, and software. That said, it’s clear with Nanit you’re also paying for quality – a truly excellent camera and monitor (see below), well thought out design, an intuitive app, and really impressive insights.
It’s also a bit difficult to understand Nanit’s pricing. So here’s a breakdown:
Individual component prices:
Camera: $279 (Nanit Original is $249)
Floor stand: $50 <– currently, you can only purchase the floor stand at the time you purchase the camera, bringing the price for both to $329
Nanit Insights: $10/month for 30 days of history, $30/month for unlimited history, but get two months free when you pay yearly, making them $100 and $300, respectively
$279 – $498, depending on options. The cheapest end of the spectrum is to buy just the Nanit camera (comes with the wall mount for no additional cost) without the Multi-Stand, Floor Stand, or Nanit Insights, or add any or all of these components individually.
Amazon is another good option – you can purchase bundles of the camera and wall mount or the camera and floor stand. The multi stand is also sold as a standalone item. (Nanit Insights, if you want it, will need to be purchased separately directly from Nanit after the fact – you can do this anytime through the Nanit App.)
Bundles & Discounts
It’s definitely worth checking Nanit’s website as the company has been offering discounts when you bundle the above products to create what they call “the Nanit Sleep System“, and is basically all the stuff you need for a fully-functioning Nanit. If you’re not looking for their insights or history or the travel multi-stand, you can save if you just purchase the camera.
Nanit also offers a 45-day “worry free” guarantee, meaning you can return it, no questions asked, within 45 days for a full refund, less the cost of shipping it back to Nanit.
The awesome, the “wish it were different” and a verdict
Picture and sound quality is simply outstanding. The Nanit’s HD camera, paired with a retina-display-quality smartphone makes for truly excellent live video feed quality. Even when zooming in, very little picture pixelation occurs. This was one of the things that consistently surprised me about Nanit – the experience of being relatively far away from Calvin and seeing a crisp, clear picture was so unexpected versus other baby monitors I’ve used it was an ongoing positive surprise. Likewise, sound quality, produced by the Nanit’s highly-calibrated microphone and my phone’s speaker (I used my iPhone 8+ and my wife’s iPhone 7 for testing) produced extremely clear sound.
Unlimited range. When we made our complaints about baby monitors to kick off this review, lack of range was a big one, and often something you end up sacrificing. With Nanit, so long as you have a reliable wifi network where your baby is located and you and your smartphone or tablet are either connected to either that wifi network, a different wifi network, or cell service, you’ll be connected to your baby. Practically, I found this to come in handy when I was:
- Separated from Calvin by several floors (he’s currently sleeping in our room on the top floor, our traditional monitor wouldn’t reach to the basement.
- Outside doing yard work. Our wifi doesn’t reach all the way to the edge of the yard, but with cell service, I remained connected.
- At work and wanting to check in. A magic moment happened for me with the Nanit when I was at work and Calvin’s grandpa was watching him. I got a text that Calvin was moving around a lot, and wondering if he should be gotten up. I was able to check Nanit, see that he was just doing his normal stirring, and tell his grandpa to let him be for a bit. Calvin slept for another precious hour.
Portability. If you travel with your baby or have family you visit frequently, you’ll know the pain of trying to bring your monitor with you – unplugging both the parent and child units, packing them (and their individual cords) up, setting them up at your new location, etc. Nanit has two advantages here – first, since your smartphone is the parent unit, that’s coming with you anyway and isn’t an extra item (and cord) to pack up. Second, since the camera easily snaps into and out of the wall or floor stand mount, and the Multi-Stand is designed for travel, it’s as simple as grabbing the camera, the Multi-Stand, and walking out the door. When you’re back, just snap the camera into your permanent setup at home and everything’s good to go and perfectly set up. This is quite different than a monitor that doesn’t snap into and out of a permanent wall or floor stand – with those monitors, you end up trying to remember exactly where you had it set up, and needing to reposition to find that perfect angle again.
App bells and whistles. Overall, the app has an intuitive and easy to use interface. And its bells and whistles can come in handy. For example, you can have Nanit’s app alert you if the temperature drops below a certain pre-set threshold. Over the winter when we were out with Calvin for the evening, I got an alert that the temperature had dropped due to our Nest Thermostat’s Eco Mode. I was able to use the Nest App to adjust the temperature so it was a comfortable sleeping temp by the time we got home, which was good because it was emergency bedtime for Calvin upon arrival.
Safety and security. I really appreciated the fact Nanit has put so much effort into safety and security across a number of different areas. Cables are well managed and kept away from your child, which is particularly useful for older children apt to reach through crib bars. Nanit features 256-bit encryption and, according to the company, “IP addresses that can’t be hacked” to keep your baby’s images and data safe. Finally, Nanit’s wifi antenna is designed to keep wifi signals pointing away from your baby. If like us, you have some level of concern about signals from devices and wifi, this is comforting. It’s also something other forward-thinking connected-devices for kids companies are thinking about – we appreciated a similar feature in the Snoo robotic bassinet from Happiest Baby.
The bird’s eye view. Because of the way Nanit is mounted (with the wall mount or floor stand) the camera looks down on your baby from directly above. This took some getting used to vs. a typical monitor that looks at your baby from an angle, but as Calvin got older and started rolling around, I came to deeply appreciate the fact it was impossible for him to roll out of view behind crib bars or into a corner – he was always captured perfectly by the Nanit’s wide-angle lens.
The “wish it were different”
The floor stand isn’t available separately. If you haven’t bought a Nanit yet, this is something to be aware of. Currently, the floor stand can’t be purchased as a standalone item, so you have to decide up front whether you think you’ll want one, or use the wall-mount option only. For us, this was annoying because we wanted Calvin in our room for the first 6 months or so (as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for safe sleep) and didn’t want to drill a hole in our bedroom wall knowing we’d be moving Calvin, and the Nanit, into his room after that.
No two-way communication [Nanit Original Only—this feature has been added in Plus]. (You can’t speak to your baby through the Nanit’s child-unit speaker to attempt to calm her.) Nanit bills this as a safety feature (you may have read about other wifi baby monitors being hacked and some very twisted hackers with, apparently, very little to do scaring babies by screaming at them through their monitors), but you cannot talk to your baby through the Nanit. This was a disadvantage for us as with our older son and a different monitor, we were able to successfully soothe him by talking to him through the monitor and avoid having to go into his room to comfort him. While I understood why Nanit didn’t include this feature, since I’m not personally all that concerned about being hacked, I’d have preferred this feature to be available.
You can’t rotate the camera’s orientation. The Nanit’s camera captures a rectangular field of vision and is designed to only fit your child’s crib in that field of vision … if you install the camera on the long side of the crib as opposed to the end of the crib. If you don’t, you’ll still be able to see your child, but you’ll also see large swaths of the floor and a much smaller image of your child. Here’s what the view looks like if set up rotated 90 degrees from how Nanit is designed:
$500+ is a lot of money to spend on a baby monitor, and there are certainly functional, if frustrating, video monitors available for a lot less than the Nanit. So, if cost is your most important decision criteria, you might look at other monitors (though do check the Nanit website first for discounts offered when you purchase the sleep system.)
If you’re looking at a monitor as a long-term investment that’s going to serve you for years to come (and perhaps can be used for multiple kids), Nanit is by far the best monitor we’ve tried. After spending over three months using Nanit, I can confidently say it hits high marks in all the right places. From its superb picture quality to its unlimited range to its sleep insights, Nanit actively seeks to help your child get a better night’s sleep (and just maybe you too!) – and that is worth quite a bit.
There you have it, our complete Nanit review. Hopefully, that was helpful. If you have questions we didn’t answer, reach out! [email protected] If you’re looking for more thoughts on the Nanit, this page on the company’s site updates with the most recent reviews from buyers.
Before we leave, we’ll tackle:
How does the Nanit stack up vs other baby monitors?
Nanit vs Nest Cam
There’s really no comparison between Nanit and Nest (we’re talking the Nest Cam Indoor here) because the Nest Cam isn’t a baby monitor, and isn’t particularly useful when used as one, primarily because you can’t hear the sound from the Nest Cam unless the Nest App is open. Since hearing sounds your baby is making is one of the primary functions of a baby monitor, this is pretty much a non-starter for using Nest Cam as a baby monitor. (The Nest Cam *will* give an alert when it senses movement even while the app is closed, as a typical alert on your smartphone.)
As we’ve discussed, the Nanit does play sounds made by your baby even if the Nanit App isn’t open on the smartphone or tablet you’re using as your Parent Unit. If you’re interested, we further discuss using the Nest Cam as a baby monitor here.
Nanit vs Arlo Baby
The Nanit and the Arlo baby are a relatively close match for picture and sound quality (Arlo has the edge), but Arlo has severe user experience drawbacks and we don’t recommend it because of those. To dig more into the Arlo Baby, you can see our review here. The Arlo Baby edges out the Nanit when it comes to image quality and sound quality. It’s also cheaper, retailing for $199. And the Arlo packs a few features the Nanit Original does not—the ability to play white noise for your child, for example (Nanit Plus adds the ability to play white noise).
However, the Nanit is the clear winner from a user experience perspective – its app is an absolute dream compared to the mess that is Arlo’s app. And, the Nanit’s sleep insights and recommendations are in a class of their own – these aren’t even something the Arlo tries to tackle. Since reviewing the Arlo, we’ve also noticed severe latency issues, up to 4-5 seconds and heard about software issues from readers. 4-5 seconds of latency (lag time between real-world and when you see/hear through the monitor) might not sound like a lot, but in our experience, when you’re wondering or worried about a newborn, it can feel like an eternity.
Nanit vs iBaby
We reviewed various iBaby monitors in depth here. What we’ll say here is that Nanit is in a league of its own. In testing, iBaby monitors proved solid, if unintuitive, and have some cool features around air quality monitoring (though our testing brought into question just how accurate this might be). Another feature offered by iBaby and not by Nanit is two-way communication – the ability to speak to your baby through the monitor. (Again, Nanit promotes the lack of this feature as a feature – they maintain that two-way communication creates a security risk.)
Price is another consideration. Depending on setup and options, Nanit can be considerably more expensive that iBaby monitors, which start at around $135 for the iBaby M6S on Amazon and range up to a about $250 for the flagship M7. Nanit, while you can get it for as cheap as $279 for a camera + wall mount, can certainly cost more with additional accessories and features.
Overall, Nanit’s picture quality, birds-eye mounting setup, intuitive user experience, and Nanit Insights make it the superior, if more expensive choice.
- This post uses affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we may earn a commission if you click an affiliate link and make a purchase. As part of this, 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. We view affiliate links as a way to support the creation of free, high-quality content, and since we consider our brand our most important asset, we will never bias reviews to try and increase commissions. If you don’t want us to earn a commission, simply don’t click a link, or make a purchase on a different device. You can read more about our policies here.
- We purchased a Nanit Original for our original review but received a second Nanit Original and a Nanit Plus for free from the manufacturer. We never guarantee positive reviews or bias in exchange for a free product, but though you should be aware.
- This is part of our ongoing series Tools of the Modern Father, where we provide detailed reviews of stuff we believe might deserve a spot in the modern dad’s toolbox. You can read more reviews here.
- This Nanit review was originally published in January 2018 but was updated and republished in November 2018 based on new information after spending more time with the Nanit and adding the Nanit Plus to our review.