Looking for the best video baby monitor of 2020? In the past 6 years, we've tested 32 video monitors, including the 10 best of 2020. We put each monitor through rigorous side-by-side testing for several months to compare the range, sound clarity, video quality, ease-of-use, battery life, and more. Our comparison process and hands-on analysis help us determine which monitors can meet your needs and budget. Whether you are considering if Wi-Fi or a dedicated monitor fits your lifestyle best, or which features are the most useful, we have the details you need to find the best monitor for your family.
The Best Video Baby Monitors of 2020
Best Wi-Fi Baby Monitor
iBaby Care M7 Wi-Fi
The iBaby Care M7 Wi-Fi is an impressive Wi-Fi video monitor without equal in baby specific features. This monitor earned top scores for range, ease of use, features, and battery life with excellent results for video quality. The iBaby's impressive performance during testing and subsequent overall score resulted in it winning an Editors' Choice award for the best Wi-Fi monitor. This monitor features humidity, temperature, and air quality sensors to help ensure that your baby stays cozy, and it comes with lullabies, bedtime stories, and white noise options. The iBaby is easy to use, has true to life images, and works as it should. It offers sound activation, motion detection, 2-way talk to baby, and a remote control camera. The iBaby will continue to monitor the baby even with another app running, something many other Wi-Fi options struggle to do.
If you are looking for a baby centered camera that is slightly less expensive than the M7, the M6S is very similar and easier on the wallet. A previous award winner, this model is still available, and the differences in features are ones you likely won't miss.
This camera is more expensive than some competitors making it a potential no-go if your budget is small. It also requires the Internet, and if you have slow or sub-par service, you won't be able to use it. However, if you have the money and want to see your little one with lots of cool, useful baby-centric features, it is hard, no, impossible, to find something more suitable than the iBaby.
Read review: iBaby Care M7 Wi-Fi
Best Dedicated Monitor
Philips Avent SCD630
The Philips Avent SCD630 is a top-ranked dedicated monitor in this review. It has the longest range and highest ease of use scores for the dedicated options, and it features the best sound clarity out of all the monitors we tested. The Philips comes with lullabies, a nightlight, 2-way talk to baby, automatic screen wakeup/sleep, sound activation, 2x zoom, and a temperature sensor.
This monitor struggles to offer true to life images and has fewer features than much of the competition. Still, it is hard to deny that this plug and play monitor is a simple solution for video monitoring, and it gets the job done with little fuss and only a small learning curve. It also costs a little more than some of the competition, as several dedicated and Wi-Fi options have lower price tags. Also, if you want a remote-controlled camera, you should look elsewhere, as this one is manual with a smaller field of view. However, if you don't want Wi-Fi but need a quality video option, it is hard to do better than the Philips.
Read review: Philips Avent SCD630
Budget-Friendly Wi-Fi Monitor
LeFun 1080p Wi-Fi
The LeFun 1080p Wi-Fi is an impressive little Wi-Fi monitor with high scores for range and battery life, true to life video, and enough features to get the job done. This monitor earned a Best Value for Wi-Fi monitors for its budget-friendly list price that is the least expensive in the group, which means you get a top-performing monitor for an amazingly reasonable price. The LeFun has motion detection, sound activation, 2-way talk to baby, zoom, and a remote-controlled camera with real pan and tilt capabilities, something we didn't find in the other Wi-Fi competitors.
This camera has a lag time when using the pan and tilt feature, and it is a little harder to use than the other Wi-Fi options we tested. It also requires a reliable Internet service in your home. However, given the low price, we think most parents will forgive these minor hiccups thanks to the impressive video images and cost most budgets can afford.
Read review: LeFun 1080p Wi-Fi
Great for Long-term Use
Nest Cam Indoor Wi-Fi
The Nest Cam Indoor Wi-Fi has a similar score and overall rank as the iBaby Care M7 Wi-Fi. This monitor has impressive video images, Wi-Fi range, and is easy to use with enough features to keep most parents happy. Its impressive performance and security features help it win the Top Pick award for Long-term Use. The Nest Indoor is a cool surveillance camera you can use to watch your baby, but given that the design isn't specific to baby monitoring, it lacks some of the fun features parents may want like lullabies and a nightlight. However, it does offer motion detection, sound activation, 2-way talk, and 8x digital zoom with a large field of view that can easily encompass a baby's entire crib.
The Nest Cam camera does not have a remote control camera, relying instead on its large field of view you zoom into and then search. The downside to the Nest is it doesn't continue to monitor if you use another app or take a phone call making it hard to use full-time if you don't have a second device outside of your primary smartphone. The Nest Cam is also expensive (though not the most expensive in the review), and it is cheaper than some of the dedicated monitors. It also requires a good Internet connection and reliable service. On the upside, its long-term capabilities make it an investment we think parents will use for years as a nanny cam, home security, or checking on pets, thereby justifying the higher cost giving you a high-quality monitor you'll use long after the crib years.
Read review: Nest Cam Indoor Wi-Fi
Runner Up for Long-term Use
The Arlo Baby is a high-quality baby monitor with potential long term use, especially if you already own other Arlo products as they use the same app. We like the video images of this unit, and it has better sound clarity than much of the Wi-Fi competition. The Arlo comes with features parents want like temperature and air quality sensors, and motion detection, sound activation, and 2-way talk to the baby.
The Arlo has a higher price than much of the Wi-Fi options that are not also movement monitors. And, it requires a reliable Internet connection to work correctly. The Arlo price could be justified if you plan to use your Wi-Fi monitor as a nanny cam or security camera when the baby outgrows the need. Also, the camera is not remote-controlled, but only one Wi-Fi option in this review is. Overall, the Arlo is a user-friendly camera with a variety of useful features and video quality parents will love.
Read review: Arlo Baby
Why You Should Trust Us
Our expert group of monitor testers is overseen by BabyGearLab founder, Dr. Juliet Spurrier, Board Certified Pediatrician and mother of two. Dr. Spurrier uses her vast experience and education as a pediatrician, in conjunction with the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations and her journey as a mother to choose products for testing, including video monitors. The testing team includes Bob Wofford, father of 7, and lead in-house product tester who has been an integral part of testing development and execution for video monitor since 2014. He is joined by Senior Review Editor, Wendy Schmitz, who has been reviewing and researching video monitors professionally since 2014 and is the mother of two. Bob and Wendy have evaluated over 32 video monitors since 2014, and well over 50 baby monitors, including video, sound, and movement, during that time.
Our testing took place in the BabyGearLab in-house lab and personal homes with little ones to watch. The monitor reviews draw on over 3 months of research and data compiling information on how well the monitors work and how easy they were to use and how well they stayed "connected." We used each monitor from setup through endless features to determine which had the best features, quality sound and video, ease of use, longest range, and most reliable connection.
Related: How We Tested Video Monitors
Analysis and Test Results
We tested and compared 13 of the most popular video monitors in comprehensive tests, side-by-side over several months. Our tests provide the information you need to make an informed decision about which product is best for your family or situation. Our test metrics include range, video quality, sound clarity, ease of use, features, battery life, and EMF emissions.
Related: Buying Advice for Video Monitors
If you want to know the straight scoop on what we would do or what we'd recommend to a friend based on our years of experience, you can skip to that section and possibly save yourself some time. Spoiler Alert: it may not be what you think.
Now more than ever, there are cool video monitors that provide quality images without a high price tag. With a variety of available options, including Wi-Fi cameras, there is something for every family and budget in this lineup. Arguably, one of the most impressive choices is the Wi-Fi Lefun 1080p with the lowest price in the group. This monitor is a cool Wi-Fi option with impressive images and a straightforward user-interface. The LeFun is great for families on a tight budget with larger homes or more than four walls between the nursery and the parent's bedroom. While it has a slight delay, it isn't enough to hurt useful baby monitoring, and the lack of features is something we think most parents will easily accept, given the low price and user-friendly design. Even the Editors' Choice winner, the Nest Cam Indoor Wi-Fi, can be considered a good value at almost three times the price of the LeFun because, theoretically, you can use it for years to come as a nanny cam, family cam, or security surveillance.
The range for video monitors is the distance and the number of walls between the nursery unit and the parent unit where the product stays connected and working without interruption or interference. While most manufacturers offer a "line of sight" range to describe their monitors, this distance is not a good indication of how well it will work inside your home where walls and interference abound. It doesn't matter how much you want a certain model or brand; if it won't stay connected in your house, it simply isn't going to work.
We tested for indoor range and open field tests to provide a complete picture using the same measuring devices in the same field and house with the same walls and interference. Remember that the values inside your home are more important than those in an open field unless, of course, you are leaving a baby alone in an open field (which we don't recommend).
Larger homes with more than 4 or 5 walls between the camera and parent unit might be limited to a Wi-Fi monitor. Most of the dedicated monitors only work through up to 4 walls, except for the Project Nursery 4.3 that stopped working at 3. The Philips Avent SCD630 has the longest range for dedicated monitors in this review, with an impressive 92 ft through 5 walls. So, if your needs are higher than that, then none of the dedicated monitors in this review are likely to work in your home. Wi-Fi connected cameras, on the other hand, are limited only by the wireless router location/power in relation to the camera and parent unit, and the strength and speed of your Wi-Fi. If necessary, you can often move routers or add range extenders to increase the range between the components if the Wi-Fi monitor struggles to keep a clear or consistent connection. Purchasing a monitor from a retailer with a useful return policy (like Amazon) will allow you to test the monitor in your house to determine how well it works without the risk.
We recommend you test your monitor the day you get it; waiting could result in missing a return window. Even if your little one hasn't arrived yet, you should set up the monitor as it will be used and work with a partner or a radio to determine if the connection and features work the way you hope.
Audio and Visual Quality
Monitors should provide video that is clear and true to life, and they should also have quality sound that is easy to hear and clear enough for you to quickly decide if you need to look at the viewing screen, go back to sleep, or get running to the nursery. So, while you might consider video quality to be the most important metric, we rated both video and sound equally because, without one, the other doesn't much matter. If it has muffled sound, it is difficult to decipher, or not loud enough, then parents might miss the baby's cries and never look at the video. If the sound activation or thresholds for background noise don't work as described, then parents might lose sleep listening to a loud monitor. Then, once alerted by the sound, you need a clear view of the baby with enough details to determine the baby's needs, or the video monitoring device isn't much better than a sound monitor.
Most of the monitors we tested have average sound clarity that isn't excessively muffled or muted. Most had bright and high sound without a lot of mid-range or lower tones. This lack of tonal range isn't a deal-breaker, but it does make baby's cries harsher than they already are.
The best monitor for sound in our tests is the Philips Avent SCD630, with a score of 8 of 10. This monitor has the best sound activation and background sound cancellation features in the group, and while the sound is bright, it is also clear without an echo or static. Most of the competition earned 4s and 5s for sound. It seems that no matter how great your parent device is, the Wi-Fi cameras struggle to transmit clear sound with useful sound features. The best sound score for Wi-Fi monitors is 5 earned by the Arlo Baby, Nanit Plus, and the Miku.
These photos show daytime images for the Nest Cam Indoor Wi-Fi (above left), which earned a perfect 10 of 10 for video quality, and the Infant Optics DXR-8 (above right), which received the highest score for video in the dedicated monitors.
Video quality is a metric these products should all perform well in, but most of them failed to offer a true to life image even in the daytime. Given advancements in technology, it is disappointing that most dedicated video products aren't doing more than providing a blurry image of the baby in the room, and many fail to show the baby's features or what the human eye would see in the room. The night vision is even worse than their day vision video, with some images being so blurry and hard to decipher that parents may end up going to baby's room simply because their baby has no face or it looks like a small demon is in the crib.
Only the Wi-Fi cameras offer images that show the room accurately, with the Nest Cam Indoor Wi-Fi, Nest Cam IQ, and the Lefun 1080p Wi-Fi earning perfect 10s of 10. The iBaby Care M7 Wi-Fi earned an impressive 9. All of these monitors offer clear images with enough detail to let you see baby breathe, which is far better than a baby with no face.
The LeFun 1080p Wi-Fi (above left) has a top score for video quality and impressive night images, while the Motorola MBP36S (above right) has the most disappointing night video.
The high for dedicated monitors is only 6 earned by the Infant Optics DXR-8 and the Summer Infant Baby Pixel. These monitors have images that are darker than the actual room and somewhat fuzzy. Still, they are nicer than the rest of the dedicated competition and provide better images for sleepy parents.
Ease of Use
Ease of use may not seem important because once you know how to use it, it doesn't seem difficult, and after you use it for a while, it can feel intuitive even if it isn't. However, with monitors, there can be a learning curve depending on which type you choose and how many features it has. While the dedicated monitors are plug in and go options that even grandma can learn, some of them take more skill to navigate. The Wi-Fi options, on the other hand, require some knowledge of technology and apps navigation. With all of them, you need to set up the camera with your computer or another device, and you need to set up an account and be able to manage things like Wi-Fi passwords and other settings within the app. While this is no big deal for many parents, it can be challenging for anyone who is less tech-savvy.
If you struggle with technology and don't need or want to see your baby from any other location outside your home, you might want to choose a dedicated monitor that requires little setup and has a fairly intuitive user interface. We aren't saying that most people can't sort out the Wi-Fi monitors, but it is undeniably less work to plug the camera into an outlet and go than it is to download and sign up for an app.
The Philips Avent SCD630 is the easiest to use dedicated option with a score of 8 of 10. This monitor is a "plug and play" that pairs the camera and parent unit by itself. The parent unit has very few buttons, with the most frequently used buttons are on the face of the unit. The menu options are relatively intuitive with not much chance of taking a wrong turn or getting buried in a file menu system with no way out. The menu could be easier to use, but we think most parents will stick to the buttons on the front of the unit after a few weeks of regular use.
The iBaby Care M7 Wi-Fi and the Nest Cam IQ are the easiest Wi-Fi monitors to set up and use with scores of 9 of 10. The Nest Cam Indoor Wi-Fi and the Arlo Baby cameras are hot on their heels with 8s. All options walk users through the setup process step-by-step and have intuitive menus that will seem familiar to even the most novice user who is familiar with a smartphone. They all come with a quick start guide that will have you up and watching your baby in no time.
Testing battery life was for the parent device only. While some of the dedicated options have a battery in the camera in the event of a power outage, most don't, and they are not intended for all-night use. So our battery tests only focus on the parent device.
For the parent devices of dedicated monitors, the battery life ranges between 6.75 and 11.5 hours. The Wi-Fi options are more challenging to gauge because the battery life depends on the parent device, whether or not it is used for other applications, and how old the battery is. However, we feel it is safe to say that most personal devices will work longer than the best dedicated monitor battery if the device is only being used for the Wi-Fi camera and is not running other applications simultaneously.
The Infant Optics DXR-8 has the longest dedicated monitor battery life with a runtime close to 11.5 hours. The Motorola MBP36S earned the lowest score with a runtime of just under 7 hours. While not a deal-breaker itself, there are plenty of other reasons to dislike the Motorola, and the battery life is only a small part of a disappointing picture (no pun intended).
The Arlo Baby is the only option in the review with a battery in the camera for long term use away from a plug. While this could be useful for travel, etc., you will still need a Wi-Fi connection, so it isn't as helpful as it may seem.
All of the units we tested offer features for convenience and functionality, but some offer additional features for fun or information. All have night vision with automatic sensor adjustment as light changes, and all have 2-way communication with baby. Some come with lullabies, and others offer temperature and humidity sensors. Whatever feature you may want, or never knew existed, are likely included in these products.
The features we focus on are those we believe increase the performance of the monitor or make life better for parents and increase your chances of getting good quality sleep. We prefer monitors with sound activation to keep the parent unit quiet when the baby isn't crying. We believe this allows parents to fall asleep faster because white noise and static can keep you awake. Some of the monitors are loud enough (even at low volumes) that they might keep light sleepers awake, which defeats the purpose of having a monitor. We also like units with auto "wake" and turn off screens.
In our tests, the iBaby Care M7 Wi-Fi earned a 9 of 10 for features. It provides features that increase convenience for parents and are fun for a baby. For parents, this camera works with any iOS device, can be accessed anywhere with internet or cell reception (with a data plan), works with multiple cameras, and has sound activation. The user interface is intuitive, and the zoom/pan/tilt features work well. The iBaby features an actual remote-control camera with the widest field of view in the group, motion detection, and built-in remote-controlled lullabies that include the ability to add personal music choices or a voice recording. The iBaby M7 also has sensors for temperature, humidity, and air quality, so parents can ensure the baby is cozy. If that isn't enough, the app can remain running while using other apps, , and when parents turn the screen off. The only thing lacking is an auto screen wake and sleep, which isn't a deal-breaker.
The Arlo Baby also earned a 9 with similar features to the iBaby but without a remote control camera. Arlo features include lullabies, night lights, cord-free cameras, air sensors, and two-way talk.
The Nest Cam Indoor Wi-Fi, Nest Cam IQ, and the LeFun 1080p Wi-Fi come in a close second to the iBaby Care M7 Wi-Fi for features, each scoring 8 of 10. Because these cameras are more for security and are not solely about baby monitoring, they have features that make parents' lives easier, but nothing fun for a baby. They provide 2-way communication, but no lullabies or room sensors. Given that many nurseries have "noise makers" (aka lullabies), the lack of this feature isn't a loss, in our opinion. So while these Wi-Fi options lack the gadgetry fun, sensors, and the other bells on the iBaby M7 Wi-Fi and Arlo Baby, they get the monitoring job done in a way that is easy to use. The bonus of most of the Wi-Fi cameras is that they can work for multiple purposes when baby monitoring time is over. These options can easily shift into a nanny cam, security, or pet camera. We think this takes the sting out of the lack of baby-centric features, which in the end, most parents typically stop using when the novelty wears off.
The dedicated monitors didn't score as well as the Wi-Fi products for features. They don't offer as many features as their Wi-Fi counterparts, their features don't make the camera easier to use, or they don't work that well. All of the dedicated monitors have the 2-way talk, but they also can only be viewed on the parent device that pairs with the monitor. Some provide temperature sensors and lullabies, but most of them don't include motion detection or a real zoom. The highest score for features for the dedicated video options is 5 of 10. Two monitors managed this rating, with the Infant Optics DXR-8 having the highest overall rank of the two. Unfortunately, it didn't score well overall or in key metrics, we believe are essential to a good video monitor. So despite having a better features score, we still wouldn't recommend this monitor to a friend.
Features are important, but we encourage you to consider which features you will use and which sound like fun in theory, but probably won't be used over time. Many of the options have a higher price tag and justify this with features parents are unlikely to use. Features like alarm clocks for feeding schedules, and alerts for low humidity might seem like something you would use, but in practice, sound activation and quality images are more critical. In fact, additional features often translate to being harder to use, and many are novelty functions that most parents stop using. An excellent example of this is the Philips Avent SCD630 with an ease of use score of 8, but a features score of only 4. Don't be persuaded by bells and whistles that you might stop using in the first few weeks. In the end, what you want is a good monitor with great sound and video quality.
Sound Activation Vs. Notifications and Alerts
Sound activation is a feature that parents should seriously consider. This feature keeps a monitor quiet unless a baby is actively making noise. It translates to potentially getting more sleep because you aren't awake listening to background noise. Sound activation means you only hear what you need to hear. This feature is available in dedicated and Wi-Fi monitors.
Notifications and alerts send a message or email to your device when motion or sound occurs. This feature is only part of Wi-Fi monitors and isn't the best for a baby because it comes after baby cries (sometimes up to 30 min plus after), it doesn't provide details of the sound or motion and can get annoying with receiving excessive messages. We prefer sound activation over notifications and feel that alerts and notifications aren't useful for a crying baby.
Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Levels
Electromagnetic fields (EMF), or dirty electricity is something we believe should be discussed when considering wireless baby monitors. Given that all wireless devices emit some amount of EMF, we feel it is negligent not to discuss the potential for health risks associated with the kind of radiation emitted by wireless products. While the jury is still out, and studies are not entirely conclusive yet, there is enough evidence that EMF potentially causes health problems that we believe it is better to err on the side of caution when it comes to exposing your children than to ignore the potential.
Wireless devices and dirty electricity are almost impossible to escape from in our technologically advanced age, but this doesn't mean that you can't make an effort to limit exposure to ourselves and our children. Despite the current evidence being somewhat conflicting, we think parents should make informed and thoughtful decisions about their children's exposure to potential health risks, especially given that their developing bodies and systems are more susceptible to this type of radiation. We can't say with absolute certainty that monitors pose a potential health risk, but we also can't say for sure that they don't. Given this, we feel it is critical to test and report on the EMF levels of each product we review, so you can decide which option aligns best with your goals and beliefs.
The Wi-Fi monitors in this review all have lower EMF results than the dedicated products with the lowest average EMF readings being 0.75 V/m for the Arlo Baby, 0.77 V/m for the Miku, 0.79 V/m for the Nanit Plus, and 0.84 for the LeFun 1080p Wi-Fi with the EMF reader 6 ft from the unit. The lowest average reading for the dedicated monitors at 6 ft is 1.89 for the Infant Optics DXR-8 and 1.91 for the Philips Avent SCD630. Both are more than double the amount of EMF emitted from the Wi-Fi monitors.
The baby's exposure can potentially be lower if you set up the camera at least 15 feet from the baby (an adequate distance for night vision for most units). Given the sensitivity of a baby's developing systems, we recommend placing your monitor as far away from your baby as you can while still being able to utilize the night vision as intended. For most of the video monitors, this distance is between 10-15 feet from the baby.
While the jury is still out on the potential effects of EMF on human health, this doesn't mean you should wait for definitive proof before making thoughtful adjustments that err on the side of caution. There is enough preliminary evidence available that choosing to limit exposure "just in case" makes sense. Because EMF exposure compounds over time and we are seeing an increase in the number of devices emitting EMF, you can help limit your baby's exposure by:
- Turning devices off when not actively in use
- Unplugging wireless routers at night (not possible with Wi-Fi monitors)
- Keeping in-use products as far from your baby as possible
Even if you are not yet convinced of the potential for harm, it can't hurt to make deliberate choices that can potentially increase the health of your home, and we encourage all parents to consider doing so.
What Would We Do?
We recommend a hybrid solution that includes a combination of a Wi-Fi video monitor with a top-rated sound monitor.
Why do we suggest getting two monitors? Isn't that redundant?
The primary goal for purchasing a baby monitor is to help you get more and better sleep when your baby sleeps. It is your baby crying that alerts you to check on the baby. But the Wi-Fi video monitors universally seem to have subpar sound and often lack the advanced sound filtering features that are readily found on the best sound monitors. These advanced sound features can increase your chance of getting more sleep. So, if you use a top sound product as your primary monitoring device, you'll discover that its sound activation feature allows it to remain quiet when you and the baby are sleeping (which is extremely important), and it activates and relays clear audio when your baby needs you. You'd be surprised how important a quiet monitor is for deep sleep.
The Wi-Fi video monitor's role starts after you hear your crying baby. The sound monitor alerts you to a potential problem, and then you can use the video monitor to visually check on your baby to see if they need you. Also, a Wi-Fi monitor lets you check-in at work, or when you have a babysitter — something we love about Wi-Fi monitors.
You can also choose to rely on the video monitor's sound properties, but none of the Wi-Fi monitors offer sound clarity or features on par with the sound monitors. Generally, the Wi-Fi video monitors in this review always seem to relay some type of constant background noise (think static or white noise). This consistent sound can impact your ability to sleep, and when your baby does cry, the sound you hear can be harder to decipher.
If you buy a sound option like the inexpensive Vtech DM221 or the Philips Avent DECT SCD570/10, they provide the audio clarity and features you need to get the sleep you require. If you pair one with a video unit like the Nest Cam Indoor Wi-Fi or the wallet-friendly LeFun 1080p Wi-Fi, then you create a combination with excellent sound features and superior visuals when you need it. The Wi-Fi monitor allows you to check-in when you are away or peek on the nanny for peace of mind. And, the sound monitor ensures that you have quality sound that can wake you from a deep sleep but remain quiet when necessary.
We feel the combination of a Wi-Fi camera and a traditional sound monitor is a win-win and one you can purchase for a budget-friendly price on par with or cheaper than some of the fancier video products.
Video products for baby monitoring is a growth industry, and it feels like every company is throwing something into the already flooded market of monitors. This explosion of products can make choosing challenging and attempts to narrow the field exhausting. Fear not! We've done the homework for you in our extensive review of the most popular products. After months of hands-on testing, we believe there is something for everyone in our lineup, no matter what you are looking for in a video baby monitor. Award winner or top contender, you can find the right monitor for you with our detailed information.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz