Oh baby! How to find the best baby monitor

A baby monitor can provide great peace of mind during the exciting and sometimes stressful first few months of your child's life.

There are, however, a few important factors to consider when choosing the best baby monitor for your needs. Below we’ll take a look at the different types of baby monitors available, as well as the features, advantages, and disadvantages of each.

Types of Baby Monitors

There are three kinds of baby monitors: audio-only baby monitors, video baby monitors, and WiFi video baby monitors.

  • Audio-only monitors  These monitors are the least expensive, with prices ranging from $30 to $150. Many audio-only monitors have LED lights that flash when there is a change in your baby’s movements or environment. If monitoring more than one child in the same room, however, using an audio-only monitor can lead to confusion and false alarms.
  • Video monitors Video monitors use up to four baby cameras per unit, which can be useful when supervising more than one child. These monitors offer extra features like two-way talkback and video recording. These monitors generally cost more than audio-only monitors, with prices ranging from $50 to $250.
  • WiFi video monitors These monitors are packed with special features like dedicated viewers, live video feeds, baby monitor apps, and smartphone notifications. Of course, all of these bells and whistles come at a price; you can expect to pay $100 to $4,000 for a WiFi-enabled monitor.

Baby Monitor Features

Price isn’t the only factor to consider when choosing the best baby monitor for your home. You’ll also need to think about the monitor’s audio quality, range, and ease of use. Below are a few key terms and features to know when shopping for a monitor.

  • Range of signal – Generally, the greater a range a baby monitor has, the better it is — especially if you plan to use the monitor outside.
  • Audio quality – Clear audio is the most important thing to look for in a baby monitor. To avoid problems with static and interference, choose a monitor that operates on a different frequency band than other wireless devices in the home.
  • Wall-mount options – Many monitors have a wall-mount option. If your baby keeps knocking the monitor down, this feature can come in very handy.
  • Screen resolution – A good video monitor will have a screen resolution of at least 720p HD. Avoid units with low VGA resolutions.
  • Navigation system – Many monitors have a touch-screen navigation system for easily configuring features and settings.
  • Out-of-range signal – Many monitors have an out-of-range indicator — such as a beeping sound or a flashing LED — to alert you when you’ve reached the device’s range limit. Without this feature, static is usually the only sign that the receiver is out of range.
  • Sound and motion sensor – With this feature, you’ll only hear sounds from your baby’s room when the baby makes an unusual sound or movement. Normal motions and sounds are filtered out.

Every family is different, so it’s important to choose the right baby monitor for your home, lifestyle, and budget. Before you rush out to purchase a monitor, take a moment to consider the above and decide which features are must-haves and which ones you can do without. Remember, the monitor you choose will make all the difference between a night spent awake “checking on the baby” and a restful, worry-free night.