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8 best baby monitors for peace of mind, from video to audio models

Baby monitors allow you to keep an eye on your baby or toddler when you’re not in the same room as them, whether that’s by listening to the sounds they make or by watching and interacting with them via a video monitor.

There is a baby monitor to suit every parenting style, whether you’re happy with just audio or you are more comfortable with something able to track elements such as the room temperature or even your baby’s breathing.  

While most offer night vision, two-way talking, and play a selection of lullabies or sleep sounds, but technology means you can also now buy a monitor which will measure everything from your baby’s heartbeat to the amount of sleep they’re getting.

When buying a monitor, you first need to look at what you are buying one for. Do you just want to be able to listen out for your baby crying or making noise, watch them on a screen to check they’re asleep instead of attempting an escape out of the cot, or do you want the peace of mind of keeping track of your baby’s sleep and breathing patterns.

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Once you’ve decided the elements you most like, key things to look for include the range, so you can make sure it will reach from your baby’s room to wherever you are in the house, battery life, and the quality of the picture and sound.

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Smart cameras, which run through your wifi, enable you to connect to a baby monitor from an app on your phone. You can look at the camera even when you’re not in the house and they will detect any movement in the room they’re in.

With one you’ll have the flexibility of only needing an app, instead of a separate handheld unit, although these have sparked controversy in the past, as some monitors could be used by hackers, and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), said it was important to change passwords on these monitors for extra security. If you are going for one of these models, read the security instructions carefully and make sure you’re regularly updating them, as you would with any smart technology product.

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The final choice will come down to personal preference but to give you an idea of where to start we tested eight of the most popular models on the market. These include the all bells and whistles versions which monitor a range of different things, those with audio and video, and standard audio-only monitors. Each monitor was tried for a week-long period so we could get a feel for how it works and what kind of parent, and baby or child, it would suit.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

BT smart baby monitor

The ease of setting up this monitor from BT was one of the immediate selling points, which our tester said was key for sleep and time-deprived new parents. It’s very quick and straightforward to get going and doesn’t require much assembly or form filling before you can begin using it.

It comes with a five-inch screen on a handheld unit and you can also check in on your child from an app on your phone, from wherever you are in the world. If you have other smart devices, such as an Amazon Echo, you can also connect these to the monitor.

The picture quality, both on the handset and phone, is really clear especially at night when it becomes infrared night vision. This is ideal if you hear your little one making a noise at night and want to check on them without entering the room and waking them up.

It’s easy to move the camera position, from the unit or app, which is handy if you have a baby like our tester who likes to move a lot at night. You can also talk through the monitor to your baby, either to reassure them or remind them to go back to sleep, and it has a range of lullabies to help them sleep.

As there is an app you don’t have to worry so much about the range of the monitor, however our tester was able to watch their baby from the garden with the handheld unit.

This model has a five-inch screen to give a bigger view of your baby but there are several similar options from BT to suit all budgets. If you don’t need the “smart” element, and would prefer just the handheld app, there are models starting at £80.

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Angelcare AC337

If you’re looking for peace of mind, this monitors a wide-range of factors to reassure you.

It’s the latest model from Angelcare, a brand which specialises in baby monitors which use a non-contact monitoring system with a sensor pad which goes underneath a baby’s mattress, which takes a little time to set up. There’s also a separate sensor in the same room, and a camera as well as a separate handheld unit for parents and carers.

The monitor includes all of the standard elements of a camera like this including infrared vision, a 4.3-inch video screen on the handheld unit, the ability to talk to your little one, and temperature controls.

For those who want the peace of mind, this monitor is one of the best we tried. If there is no movement from a baby after 20 seconds, an alarm will go off from the parent unit so for those who want this reassurance, it’s a great choice. Just make sure you’re not letting the batteries run low as this also sets off a similar alarm.

However, for older babies or toddlers or for carers who don’t want to be alerted when breathing patterns change, a more basic model would work just as well.

There’s a range of similar monitors from Angelcare and this is the most expensive, as it has the video element. 

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Nanit plus

The nanit plus is the only camera we tested which gives a bird’s eye view of your baby, showing the whole of the cot or crib where they are sleeping and a small area outside.

It takes a little work setting it up, with a unit attached to the wall which is placed over the cot, and a sleeping bag you can use to measure your baby’s breathing, but if you’re after a monitor which covers all bases, this is it.

The design of the monitor is very sleek and it can be easily taken off the mount, if you want to monitor your baby in a different room or take it with you on a weekend away, for example.

It connects to an app on a smartphone and the picture quality is crystal clear, showing an impressively clear video image both in the day at night with infrared vision.

You can speak to your baby through the monitor as well as changing the sounds (our tester’s baby was very keen on the white noise), and checking the temperature and humidity.

The extra selling point with this monitor (and the reason it’s more expensive) is because it also allows you to monitor your baby’s sleeping and breathing. It’s impossible to really monitor your baby’s sleep if you’re not in the room, and if you do want to do this, the nanit plus is a good option. 

For breathing, there is a black and white sleeping bag, which you need to put your baby into. The camera is then able to pick up your baby’s breathing patterns without there being any wires or tech in the material, however this might only be suitable for a young and relatively wriggle-free baby. Our tester found it a bit of a struggle wrestling a nine-month old baby into the bag before nap and bedtimes.

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EZVIZ indoor 1080p

The beauty of this baby monitor is not just the price, but also the fact it doubles up as a home security camera, for when you’re away on holiday.

It’s pretty basic compared to other monitors we tested but it also provides a wide-angle lens, two-way talking, and night vision. If you’re looking for something simple which will provide you with an easy way to check your little one, without the extras such as temperature, sleeping, or breathing checks, this is a great camera to buy.

When motion is detected you will be sent an alert to your smartphone app, along with images to show you what’s happening in the room at the time.

As with other smart monitors, it operates via your wifi. It can also be linked to other smart devices, including Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

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Arlo baby

The design for this one made it a strong contender in our list of baby monitors, and our tester loved the playful design, and the extra covers including a kitten and puppy design which are available to buy.

Aside from the pleasing design, it’s also a really good monitor and covers all bases.

To start with it’s really easy to set up, in fact one of the quickest of those we tried and connects to a smartphone app where you can check in on the camera.

It also has everything you’d expect from a monitor at this price including a selection of lullabies to play to your baby, a colour-changing night light, a two-way speaker, rechargeable battery, and a 1080p HD video.

Our tester kept the camera plugged in to the mains overnight, as the battery life wasn’t great, but it was fine for naps which means you can move it to wherever your little one is easily.

If you have other Arlo products (such as cameras in other parts of your house) you can connect them together and view them through the app.

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Bluebell smart monitor

If you’re looking for the monitor which has everything, this is it. The bluebell has (and can measure) pretty much anything you think you might need to through its wearable tech and mobile app.

It works a little differently to the other monitors we tested, and our tester loved the fact it can connect you to your baby but also keep an eye on parents.

For babies, it measures breathing, skin temperature, crying, activity level and sleeping patterns. If a baby rolls onto their tummy or has breathing issues, it’ll also set off a small alert.

While for parents and carers it has sleep, step, and mood tracking through the small wrist watch which alerts you to your baby’s movements and sleep.

Instead of having a separate handheld unit which you need to remember to charge (and not to lose which is easier said than done in those sleep-deprived early months), the watch stays with you at all times while the monitor part clips onto your baby’s nappy.  

It also has everything you’d expect from a high-spec baby monitor including white noise, lullabies, a night light, temperature monitoring and the ability for two-way talking. On the app you can also track breastfeeds and nappy changes.

This monitor won’t suit everyone, but if you are someone who is looking for a monitor with the ability to track most elements of your baby (and your) health and sleeping routines, this is the best we tested.

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Kodak cherish C525

The picture quality of this baby monitor is one of the best of those our tester tried, and you have the option of the handheld unit or an app on your phone. It also has a built-in SD card so you can save images and video clips to look back on.

The monitor itself is a compact, stylish model and it has a clever remote pan, tilt, and zoom feature to capture your little one from every angle. You can change the position of the camera remotely with an 85-degree viewing angle, helpful for wriggly little ones. While it doesn’t make any noise when changing position so there’s no risk of this disturbing your baby.

You can chat directly through the camera if you need to and it has five different lullabies to choose from, which can be turned on and off from the separate unit or app. There’s also infrared night vision and you can set up notifications for sound and movement.

If you want to analyse how your little one is sleeping, the app has a space for measuring sleep patterns.

Our tester also liked the fact it was easy to set up extra protections through the app to add an extra layer of security, which would give peace of mind to those worried about this. It also passed the garden test, and is designed to cover a home of 4,000 square feet.

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BT audio monitor

This monitor may be a little bog standard but that’s also exactly what some people will be after, a cheap model which lets you listen in on any sounds your little one is making.

The quality of the sound was impressive, clearly detecting everything from sighs and singing to our tester’s baby babbling away to herself. If you don’t want to hear every noise, you can also turn off the volume and instead be alerted by a light system.

It stood the range test as well reaching 300m outdoors and 50m indoors. It doesn’t have a video, but some parents and carers may not want or need one and if this is your case, this is a great monitor to use. It could also be used as a spare, to take away or keep at a grandparent’s house if you do want a more high-spec model for your home.

If you do want a little extra without breaking the budget, for £20 more BT has a similar model which can play lullabies and display a light show to help your little one to drop off.

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Baby monitor FAQs

Do you need a baby monitor?

While you do not necessarily need a baby monitor, the gadgets can help to give you peace of mind that your little one is safe and sound when you’re not in the same room.

You’ll most likely need one when your baby moves into their own room or if they nap in a different room to where you are during the day.

Audio vs video: What type of baby monitor is best?

There are many different types of baby monitor on the market, but the two most popular are audio and video. So, which one should you buy?

Audio monitors allow you to listen in on your baby when you’re not in the room and some models also have a visual representation of the level of volume too. This type of monitor usually comes with two separate units: one that stays in the room that your baby sleeps and another that stays with the parent. These can be either wired or battery-powered, depending on how much flexibility you need.

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Alternatively, video monitors allow you to both see and hear what your baby is up to for greater peace of mind. Just like an audio monitor, they feature two units: one with a camera that stays in the room your baby is sleeping and another for the parent which has a screen for easy viewing. Some cameras can be mounted to the wall, while others will need to be placed on a flat surface.

Other features that can be found on both audio and video models include a night light, “two-way talk”, which allows your baby to hear you so you can comfort them from a different room, and the ability to play songs to soothe your restless baby.

The verdict: Baby monitors

Buying a baby monitor is a very personal thing, all babies are different as are all parents and carers and the model you choose will be based on this.

Of those we tested, the most all-round model which provided all the basics as well as value for money was the BT smart baby monitor.

It’s incredibly easy to set up and almost instantly provides access to your little one along with the extras of music, movement notifications, and two-way talking as well as a clear video and excellent range.

If budget is not an option, and you’re after something with the ability to track more elements of your baby’s health and sleeping patterns, the Bluebell would be our second choice.

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IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.