As a new parent, finding the best baby monitor was one of my most important purchases. The thought of my toddler Jasper taking a nap, even now at 14 months, without being supervised makes me shudder. Call me paranoid, but I have two installed: one that connects to an app on my phone and another with its own screen, for backup.
I now consider myself a baby monitor connoisseur, having tested over a dozen of them, from the Owlet smart sock from Jasper’s early months to the popular VTech range and my new favorite, the Nanit. This technology has come a long way since the days when baby monitors were glorified walkie-talkies – although for those on a budget, they’re still a perfectly reliable option.
Spend a little more, though, and even most of the mid-range models we tested had features like built-in night lights, temperature sensors, and the ability to pan and zoom remotely. At the high end, you can get systems that monitor breathing, distinguish between your baby’s sounds and irrelevant background noises, and provide impressive sleep analytics for moms who need monitoring hypervigilant (guilty as accused).
I’ve tested all of the above and you can read my reviews below, followed by some tips on how to use them – but if you’re in a hurry, here’s a quick overview of my top five:
What are the best baby monitors in 2023? In one look
What to look for in a baby monitor
Baby expert and motherhood mentor Millie Poppins tells me, “The first choice is whether you want video and audio, or audio only. The second consideration is whether the camera is connected to a smartphone app or has a separate monitor.
Range will be another major factor in finding the right monitor for you. You can either opt for a model that uses a direct link between the camera and the parent unit, or a model that uses home Wi-Fi, or in many cases, both. We found that the range (the maximum working distance between the camera and the parent unit) was rarely as great as advertised. Walls and floors reduce it, so the actual range will depend on your home and the strength of your internet connection. If your Wi-Fi is dodgy, opt for a monitor that can work without it.
“Good battery life is also a must,” says Millie. “My number one tip is to fully charge the battery before using the monitor for the first time, to improve its long-term lifespan potential. I also like monitors that move easily, rather than being wall-mounted. This allows you to easily move it between rooms or even take it on a trip if necessary.
One final word – and this may sound obvious, but remember that you are on camera, not just your baby. When Jasper slept with us, his grandmother often had to remind us that there was a live video feed from our bedroom on the kitchen screen, so be careful when changing or having private conversations! Same with apps that allow approved users to access from anywhere in the world.
How we tested the best baby monitors