Baby monitors are an extra set of ears – and in some cases, eyes – that allow you to keep tabs on you sleeping baby when you’re not in the same room. There are two basic types:

  • audio
  • video

Audio monitors operate within a selected radio frequency band to send sound from the baby’s room to a receiver. Video monitors use a small wall – or table-mounted camera that transmits images to a TV-set-like monitor.

Still another way to keep tabs on baby is with movement sensors, under-the-mattress pads that alert you when his or her movement completely stops for more than 20 seconds. While some parents may find movement sensors reassuring, bear in mind that they’re not medical devices and shouldn’t be used in place of prescribed heart or breathing monitors to detect conditions such as sleep apnea. Nor should you rely on them to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the cause of which is still unknown.

What’s Available

The Infant Optics DXR-8 video baby monitor has many great features. The optical lens can be changed to give parents more viewing range. The lenses can be moved to create more viewable angles. Parents can enjoy this amazing feature because they will be able to keep a better viewing range of their baby. The monitor has a long battery life that lasts for up to ten hours before needing to be charged. It lets parents view their child playing and sleeping for a long period of time before needing to be recharged. Parents can carry the monitor from room to room without the need of cords, this will help parents continue their day while keeping a close eye on their baby.

Price: $165.00

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The Summer Infant Panorama Digital Color video monitor is a great choice for moms. The monitor is equipped with a 5-inch screen with high definition color display. The screen can help parents not only hear their baby but see what their baby is doing. Mom’s won’t miss any first moments when they use this type of monitor. It even has night vision for a clear view of the baby at night time in the dark. The monitor’s camera can be used with a remote control to zoom, tilt, and can move visibility to another part of the room. These are wonderful features that parents can take advantage of and it will help them watch the baby at all times of the day or night.

Price: $179.99

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The ComfortCam Pro HD monitor is a high-tech device that has great features that parents need. The monitor has a unique audio and video display that can be hooked to your Android device. The monitor is made to connect to an app on the Android phone or tablet and offers a four-screen shot of your baby. Moms can now use this monitor to correlate with their phones, instead of carrying around the device from room to room. Parents can keep the four screen security on their tablets and phones to ensure adequate visibility of their baby. The entire room visibility is complete with a 350-degree angle and view. These features are a good option for parents who want entire visibility of their baby when not in the room.

Price: $149.00

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The HelloBaby Digital Wireless video baby monitor comes with amazing features that parents will love. It has the wireless capability to allow the monitor to be moved without the use of wires. Parents can take the monitor anywhere in the home without being limited on movability. There is a 2-way walk talkie radio that parents can use to communicate with their baby or to play soothing music to get the baby back to sleep. The monitor is a great use for parents who do not want their child to get used to them being in their room every day and night. The baby will be able to hear mom’s voice and feel like she is right in the room.

Price: $149.99

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The Philip AVENT SCD630/37 video monitor has many useful functions. Parents can attach the monitor to a wall in the baby’s room for a perfect view. It is equipped with audio, video, and night vision for complete visibility of the baby at any time of the day or night. Parents can turn on the monitor or use its features with the high-quality voice activation mode. This is a nice mode to have when parents have their hands full and need the monitor to be turned on. It can also control the temperature in the baby’s room for added security and comfort. Parents will find that the monitor will provide much needed functions to ensure that the baby is watched at all times while not being in the room.

Price: $219.99

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Shopping Secrets

Decide how much you want to monitor

The latest generation of baby monitors claims to allow the constant surveillance of baby’s every whimper, breath, and movement. Some models even lets you eavesdrop on your baby when you’re in the shower because it’s battery-operated and water-resistant. For some parents, that may be comforting. For others, such nonstop monitoring is apt to be nerve-racking. So keep in mind that a monitor isn’t a must-have. If you live in a small house or apartment or feel as though you’d like a break when your baby is sleeping – which is legitimate – it’s OK to go monitorless.

Consider your home and lifestyle

In many situations you may appreciate a monitor with both sounds and lights so you can also “see” your baby’s cries. If you’ll be taking business calls during nap time, you may want to be able to turn the sound down very low and rely on the lights. A video monitor can also serve the same purpose, but it’s very expensive and not very portable. Similarly, if you love in a large house, you may want a monitor with two receivers rather than just one-although that can be a convenience in a small home as well. And, in general, look for monitors with features that make them easy to move about, such as a compact parent unit that clips onto your belt. (Try it on before buying, if possible; we found the antennas tend to poke the wearer.)

Choose between audio or audio/video

A good audio monitor will let you know whether your baby is awake or asleep, moving or stationary. Our tests showed only so-so picture quality from the one video monitor we rated. You can tell that your baby’s eyes are open, for example, but you can’t distinguish much detail.

Mind the frequency

The closer your monitor’s frequency is to that of another device, such as a cordless phone, the more likely you’ll hear static or cross talk. You may reduce interference if your monitor lets you switch to a different channel within its frequency band. Some models have more separation between channels than the others, for a greater chance of reducing interference.

Consider your phone

Choose a monitor that operates in a different frequency band than your cordless phone. Most newer cordless phones are either 2.4 gigahertz or 900 megahertz. If you have a 900 MHz cordless phone and a 900 MHz monitor, they can interfere with each other.

Check the range

All the models tested that claimed a signal-distance range met or exceeded it in our open-air test with an appropriate signal range for your home. Some home-construction materials, such as concrete and metal, can reduce the range, however.

Learn the return policy

Since you often can’t test monitors before you buy them (there usually aren’t display models available, and conditions in the store may be very different from those in your home), learn the return policy of the store or web site where you’re buying or registering. You’ll want to be able to take back a monitor if you’re unhappy with it for any reason. (Common problems include static and interference from cordless phones or answering machines, even the ambient sounds of an air conditioner or a neighbor’s barking dog.)


Features To Consider

Battery for the child unit

All of the child units tested can be plugged into the wall for power, but four also can use either 9-volt, AAA, or AA alkaline batteries. All the parent units have this option. The battery option is useful in the event of a power failure and also allows you to take the unit where there are no outlets, such as outdoors.

Compact parent unit

The smallest parent units are about the size of a fat wallet. You can use the integral belt clip to free your hands, bur the antenna may poke you.

Extra parent unit

This unit can stay in, say, your bedroom while the other is carried about the house.

Low-battery indicator

A light or tone warns of the need to recharge or replace batteries in the parent unit.

Rechargeable batteries included

This money-saving feature is provided with some parent units. You can but rechargeable or alkaline batteries for other parent units.


Nice But Not Necessary

Intercom

Pushing a button and speaking into the parent unit lets you reassure your baby that you’re on your way.

Video monitor

Its so-so picture quality limits its usefulness.

Finder feature

Press a button on the child unit to make the parent unit beep. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work if the lost unit has been switched off.