Philips Avent SCD570/10 Baby Monitor
Philips Avent SCD570/10 Baby Monitor

Best audio baby monitor

Audio baby monitors don't get any more feature-packed than the Philips Avent SCD570/10. The monitor boasts extras including lullabies, a nightlight, a temperature sensor and vibration alerts. Reviewers say performance is also stellar: DECT technology keeps interference at bay, while clear sound and a voice activation feature that adjusts for white noise mean parents always hear what matters. Other pros include a long range of up to 1,000 feet outdoors and impressive battery life of up to 18 hours before the parent unit needs to be recharged.

Est. $100 Estimated Price
First Years Crisp and Clear Audio Monitor
First Years Crisp and Clear Audio Monitor

Cheap audio baby monitor

Many parents gravitate toward audio monitors because they're simple, and reviewers say the First Years Crisp and Clear Audio Monitor is just that, with a modest price to match. The unit has a solid 700-foot range outdoors, and four LED lights on the parent unit alert users to noise in the nursery even if the volume is turned down. Parents say the Crisp and Clear is very easy to use without a lot of distracting and unnecessary features. The monitor is also available with two parent units.

Est. $20 Estimated Price
Infant Optics DXR-8
Infant Optics DXR-8

Best video baby monitor

The Infant Optics DXR-8 occupies a sweet spot in the world of video baby monitors: It offers enough features to satisfy parents, but not so many that they inflate the price, reviewers say. Those features include interchangeable lenses that incorporate special optical zoom and wide-angle lenses; there is also a temperature sensor, remote pan and tilt, and two-way audio. Sound activation helps filter white noise, and experts say video quality is impressively detailed, even at night. The monitor is also easy to use, reviewers say.

$167.97
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Nest Cam
Nest Cam

Smartphone-compatible video baby monitor

Nest Cam isn't marketed as a baby monitor, but reviewers say it's still a great one. Android and iPhone users can view the high-resolution video on their smart phones anywhere they have a reliable high-speed Internet connection, and the 60-second setup lets users skip the tech headaches that often come with similar cameras. Other features include a wide-angle lens, zoom and two-way audio. Parents who want to save video can also pay a bit extra for a cloud-based recording service.

$185.45
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Angelcare AC401 Deluxe Movement and Sound Monitor
Angelcare AC401 Deluxe Movement and Sound Monitor

Best motion-detection baby monitor

Reviewers say the Angelcare AC401 Deluxe Movement and Sound Monitor does many things well. The motion-detection monitor sounds an alarm if no movement is detected after 20 seconds, helping ease anxious parents' minds. The clear, interference-free sound rivals that of top audio-only monitors. Extra features include a pager, temperature sensor and night-light. Parents who want to continue monitoring older children without fussing with motion detection also appreciate the ability to use the monitor without the sensors, turning it into a traditional audio monitor.

$130.00
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Snuza Hero
Snuza Hero

Best travel motion-detection monitor

Most motion-detection monitors require sensor pads to be placed under babies' mattresses, but the compact Snuza Hero can be clipped directly onto a diaper. That makes it much easier to travel with, parents say. Since the Snuza is wireless, it also doesn't pose the strangulation risk that wired monitors can. Reviewers say the monitor's alarm, which sounds after 20 seconds of no movement, is loud and clear. The Snuza also gently vibrates after 15 seconds to rouse a baby before triggering an alarm.

Est. $120 Estimated Price
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Baby monitors are designed to offer peace of mind

After those first few anxious weeks, chances are you'll stop watching baby's every breath and start wanting to get something done while baby sleeps -- or even sleep yourself. Baby monitors can ease your anxiety by linking you or another caregiver with your baby. Monitors transmit audio, video or both from the nursery to a portable parent unit. Some monitors also have sensors that detect breathing or movement, while others even alert you to baby's cries via your smartphone.

Baby monitors are just one of the essential items parents need when setting up their nursery. Be sure to check our related reports on baby safety gates and portable cribs for more buying advice.

Audio baby monitors let parents listen for their babies at a reasonable price

There are two major types of audio baby monitors: analog and digital. Analog monitors are among the cheapest out there, mostly under $30. These budget models may not have a lot of features beyond adjustable volume and sometimes sound-activated lights that let you know your baby is crying even if the parent unit is on mute. They're also susceptible to interference, since they may use the same frequency as other household electronics, or even neighbors' phones or baby monitors.

Digital audio baby monitors can still be susceptible to interference, particularly with wireless networks, but an encrypted signal means your neighbor won't hear your baby -- and your neighbor's phone conversation won't come through your monitor. The best digital monitors have DECT technology that can eliminate interference, but they are generally pricier than non-DECT models. Digital monitors often have a few more features than analog monitors, such as a voice-activation mode that keeps the monitor from transmitting background noise. Some even have nightlights or lullabies.

Video baby monitors give parents an extra set of eyes

If hearing your baby isn't enough, a video baby monitor can let you see what's going on in the nursery, too. The nursery unit still picks up audio, but a camera lets you know whether your baby is rolling around the crib (or if your toddler is escaping it). The cameras typically sit on a tabletop or are mounted on a wall. Video monitors employ the same digital and DECT technology to encrypt signals and reduce or eliminate interference. They also have a range of extras, including lullabies, nightlights and night vision that let parents see their child even when it's dark.

For parents who can't live without their smartphones, smartphone-compatible baby monitors transmit sound and images picked up by a camera in the nursery to most smartphones, tablets and computers. That means parents can check on their babies from any location as long as they have access to Wi-Fi or a cellular data plan. While the convenience of unlimited range is a huge selling point, these monitors often are subject to glitches and connection issues that may require some technical savvy to overcome.

Motion-detection baby monitors help some parents sleep easier

Motion-detection monitors continuously check for even the slightest baby movements, sounding an alarm if nothing is detected after a short period of time. Though experts say motion-detection monitors do not prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), many parents swear by the peace of mind they feel these monitors give. Some motion detection monitors attach to baby's diaper, while others sense movement via a sensor pad placed under the crib mattress. Parents should beware of false alarms, though, which can interrupt everyone's sleep. Motion-detection monitors are available with a range of features, including sound and video parent units.

How we chose the best baby monitors

Several experts have conducted hands-on testing of baby monitors. The best resources include thorough reviews and ratings by BabyGearLab.com, TheNightlight.com and PCMag.com. Reviews and ratings that include parent feedback, including resources from "Baby Bargains" and BabyCenter.com, are also very helpful. Parent feedback from Amazon.com, Target.com and Walmart.com provides real-world perspectives on baby monitors. We considered reviewers' opinions on performance, ease of use, and range of features while evaluating our sources to help you find the best baby monitors.

Elsewhere in this report:

Best Audio Baby Monitors | Best Video Baby Monitors | Best Motion Detection Monitors | Buying Guide | Our Sources

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