The video baby monitor is one of the most common purchases by new parents (for our review of sound-only baby monitors, click here). They are super comforting when you want to keep an eye on your baby while he or she falls asleep, if they fuss during the night, or just for peace of mind when you don't want to open the door and risk waking your sleeping angel. Traditional baby monitors were audio only, allowing parents to listen in on activity.
Nowadays nearly all parents splurge for the wireless video baby monitor, since it is only slightly more expensive than the audio-only ones, and allows you to always know what is going on. All the major brands, and all the ones we recommend here, are equipped with night vision technology so you can watch your baby even when the room is completely dark. Our focus groups with moms revealed the following features that moms found important:
Clarity of Daytime and Night Vision: When wireless baby video monitors were first introduced onto the market they used somewhat outdated display technology that made for a grainy, distorted, and often unreliable picture. Newer versions use a liquid crystal display similar to the ones used in your smart phone, so they tend to have very nice color contrast and high resolution, and are also substantially more reliable. All of the ones we list below have high quality displays, and we do not recommend some of the relatively old fashioned ones that can still be found on the market. Of course, night vision doesn't use color - so the display will be either grayscale or show a slightly green or blue hue, as shown in the picture to the right. That's important to keep in mind before you try it out for the first time; not even military special operations have color night vision.
Portable Base Unit with Good Range: Babies go to bed earlier than parents, and they also nap during the day. Unless you want to spend your time sitting next to the base unit watching the video stream, you're going to want a unit that has far range and good battery life. This will let you take the unit and, say, take out the trash or let the dog out, while still being able to see your baby.
Adjustable Camera Pan/Tilt/Zoom: One of the most annoying things that can happen when you're using a video baby monitor is closing the door and then turning on the video monitor only to realize that your camera isn't aimed at the baby at all, and you can't see a thing. Most of the systems would require you to go back into your baby's room and manually adjust the camera. Some of the systems we review below have remotely adjustable camera angles, so you can pan side-to-side, tilt the camera angle upward/downward, and zoom in or out, without having to go back into your baby's room. Super convenient.
Interchangeable Camera Lenses: Some of the new systems have interchangeable lenses to best suit your baby's room. If you have the camera positioned close to the baby, like on the edge of the crib or on a nearby dresser, you might prefer the wide angle camera. If you have the camera positioned relatively far from the baby, like on a bookshelf on the other side of the room, you might prefer the regular narrow angle camera. Flexibility is nice, particularly if you end up rearranging the room or have to move things out of the reach of a growing menace.
Intuitive and User Friendly Menu and Features: What good are 25 fancy features if you can't figure out how to navigate the menu and customize settings or change options? All of the wireless video baby monitors reviewed below have great utility, with high video quality and a nice feature set, but some of them have relatively high usability, which comes in handy when you don't want to spend too much time shuffling through menus to change one silly setting.
Integrated Intercom System: Some of the new systems have a two-way intercom feature built in, allowing you to talk to your baby (sing a lullaby?), or allow the parents to talk to each other ("can you bring more wipes please!?") without yelling down the stairs or hallway.
Encrypted Wireless Communications: Here's something creepy and strange - there are reports of people tapping into baby monitors and getting some bizarre pleasure from watching your baby sleep, or watching you feed the baby in the middle of the night. A few of the manufacturers have included wireless encryption on their systems to make this much less likely.
Here are our Top Rated Video Baby Monitors for 2016
#1. Infant Optics DXR-8 3.5" Wireless Video Baby Monitor. This is the #1 best rated video baby monitor on our list, and on many of the major baby product websites. It's the Cadillac (or Lexus?) of baby monitors, and has tons of fantastic features. In our testing, we found the video display to be very high quality. We also thought it had great range and good battery life when it's not plugged in. Bells and whistles abound: this unit has the remotely adjustable pan/tilt/zoom camera, integrated two-way intercom system, baby room temperature monitor, the ability to do audio-only (camera off), and encrypted wireless communication. It is also expandable up to 4 cameras to place in various locations in your home; extra cameras are here. Parents also report that the menu is very user friendly and it's easy to take advantage of all the advanced functions. But you will pay for all this greatness, coming in around $170-180. There is also an inexpensive add-on wide angle lens that gives you better viewing angles for scenes up close (like if you place the camera along the edge of the crib). Some cons include: an audible beep when you turn the unit off (only on the base unit, not on the camera), which might wake your partner when you quickly turn the unit on/off just to check on your baby in the middle of the night. Want something about half the price with fewer features? Check out the earlier versions of this baby monitor: the Infant Optics DXR-5 and DXR-5+, both are great options for a little less cash.
#2. Samsung SEW-3043W Bright View HD Video Baby Monitor. This is the second most expensive video monitor on our list (coming in just under $250), and there is a lot to love about it. First, it has the Samsung reliability and quality control, making it a long-lasting baby monitor that isn't likely to drop signals in the middle of the night. Second, it has a large 5" display with high definition 720p resolution. Third, it has the two-way intercom that allows you to not only hear but also to speak to your baby. Fourth, it has automatic voice activation so if your baby fusses or says something, the screen will turn on and alert you that something's up. It also has a pan-tilt-zoom camera, selectable music/lullabies and a night light on the camera (you can turn on/off remotely), and is expandable up to 4 cameras with just the one display. With all these awesome features, why is it second on our list? In our side-by-side comparison of the Infant Optics and this Samsung, we found the Infant Optics to come out ahead in several regards. First, let's talk about a few advantages of the Samsung: it has a larger screen than the Infant Optics, selectable music, the nightlight, and is expandable up to 4 cameras that you can view simultaneously on the single screen (you can buy the extra cameras here ). That's a lot of great features. However, we noticed a few disadvantages relative to the Infant Optics that you might find important. First, even though Samsung touts 900-ft range, we noticed that when we went outside the signal dropped repeatedly in our back or front yards; it was quite good, however, when going up to the third floor or basement while still inside the house. Second, the Infant Optics has the baby room temperature monitor, which we found useful during a few summer nights when we didn't realize how warm it was getting in the baby's room. Third, even though the Infant Optics screen is smaller, we found it to be a bit faster and more responsive as a touch screen, and a bit brighter as a monitor. The two night vision capabilities were about the same. With all these limitations, we're surprised that the Samsung is quite a bit more expensive than the Infant Optics.
#3. Project Nursery 5" Video Baby Monitor System. If we picked a winner based on features alone, this baby monitor would take the cake! The folks at Project Nursery really pulled out all the stops with this feature-packed video monitor. Here are some of the stand-out features: remote camera pan and tilt, two-way audio intercom, infrared night vision, secure (encrypted 2.4GHz) wireless connection, motion alerts, lullaby music, convenient unintrusive sleep modes, low or high temperature warning, pairing for up to 4 cameras, accurate low battery warning system, and excellent battery life. But even with all of that, there's something really awesome and unique about this baby monitor: in addition to the huge 5" screen (there's also a 4.3" version for a bit lower price), it also comes with a 1.5" mini video monitor that you can take with you! Put it on your waist, on the kitchen counter, on your wrist (using the included strap!), or on a table or desk while you do work. You name it, we found this mini video monitor aspect super versatile, with high quality resolution and color video, and probably worth the added cost. Speaking of cost, having all these awesome features and the nifty extra monitor comes at a hefty cost, as this is the most expensive video monitor system on our list, coming in at just under $300. Is it worth it? Well, in our testing the mini monitor had a battery life of about 7 hours when fully charged, which we were really impressed with. The larger "parent" monitor is usually plugged in (like on a bedside table), but on battery mode we got it to run overnight without charging for about 14 hours. That's really game-changing battery life for such a large-screen video baby monitor! So some high quality lithium-ion batteries went into making these monitors, and it shows. The color screen and audio quality were also very high on both units. Out of the box, setup was pretty simple, and all parts appear to be high quality and well made. So with all those positives, why isn't this #1 on our list!? Well, it costs almost twice as much as some or our other high-ranking video monitors; it has the features to back up that added cost, but it seems a little excessive for us. Second, it has the remote camera pan/tilt, but we found that when the camera is tilted down too much the infrared night vision feature doesn't work so well (there's a glare/reflection). We needed to reposition it in our nursery so that it wasn't pointing down at such an extreme angle; this suspect this won't be an issue in most cases. Finally, we tried to get both the large "parent" monitor to work at the same time as the mini monitor, but couldn't get them to both show video simultaneously. We understand that may not be a common use case, but might be nice for parents to be in different locations with both being able to monitor the baby's activity. Again, not a huge issue. Overall, this is an excellent monitor system with only some minor drawbacks. Worth the cost? We'll leave that up to you: if you want these awesome features, it's probably worth every penny!
#4. Avent SCD630 Digital Video Baby Monitor. New to the market, this baby monitor has some really great features. Avent has a long history of making quality products, including their great (non-video) DECT monitor, and this one is no exception. When we unpacked this baby monitor, it took us about 20 seconds to set up. We put the screen unit in the dining room and the camera in the nursery. Plug both of them in and you're off to the races. The screen looks very good, with a high resolution 720p, and pretty good night vision. If you can't see closely enough, you can remotely zoom in by about 2x; but note that if it's not lined up perfectly this won't be so helpful since you can't removely pan or tilt the camera to get your baby into view. Some additional features include private, secure connection, and very clear sound so you can hear your baby's every little peep. One of our favorite features was the ECO mode, which saves power in the screen unit by shutting off the screen and sound. Only when it detects a sound from your baby will it turn on to notify you. This is a great feature when you're using the hand-held screen unit with battery only, unplugged from the charger. Though we'd probably never need it, you can also remotely turn on some soothing lullabies (twinkle-twinkle, rock-a-bye baby, etc). Limitations? Well, it doesn't seem like you can add multiple cameras, and the video quality isn't quite on par with some of our better-ranked units. Overall, however, a highly recommended video monitor from a company with a good track record of making safe and reliable baby products.
#5. Safe Baby Tech Baby Video Monitor. Searching for a big-screen video baby monitor that will stay put in one place, like on your bedside table, in the kitchen, or living room? Then this is the one for you. It has a sleek and truly large 7" display, that looks like a digital picture frame, and is about the size of an iPad Mini. We found the video to have a great quality signal, the monitor to be high resolution for good visibility, and the night vision to work quite well (it's grayscale, not greens). It was also really easy to setup, simply plug in the camera, and plug in the video monitor, and you're all set. It comes with great features: it has an integrated two-way intercom system, a sleep mode that dims the screen but leaves on the audio, adjustable volume, and adjustable wireless channels to ensure signal clarity even with interference from other devices. In our test, we found everything really easy to learn and use, and really enjoyed the "talk" feature that allowed us to talk to our baby in the other room. There were two primary drawbacks, however: first, it is a stationary system, meaning that the display does not have a battery. This is the biggest drawback relative to the above systems. You can move it from room to room, however, as long as you bring the power cord. Second, unlike the Infant Optics, it does not allow you to remotely control the camera tilt or zoom. Overall, it has some great features, and for a bit cheaper than the Infant Optics, it is a great purchase!
#6. Creaker 368 Wireless Tilt/Pan Baby Monitor. This option is very similar to the Gynoii (below), in terms of both looks and features. Like the Gynoii it includes no screen, instead using an app on your phone or tablet, or by logging into the website on your computer. Compared to conventional baby monitors, this makes the Gynoii and Creaker devices much more versatile: you can watch your baby (and the baby sitter!) when you're out to dinner, at work, or in any room of the house. It has 720p high definition video streams day or night (night vision). When your baby moves, it can send an alert to your device, and it also has the two-way intercom features which allows you to hear your baby and also talk back to them if needed. It has remote pan and tilt, so you can make fine adjustments to camera position right from your mobile device. So overall you're getting a great device here that is quite capable. There are two small advantages relative to the Gynoii. First, you can connect it to the internet via WiFi or an ethernet cable plugged into the back. Second, the price is usually a bit better than the Gynoii, coming in around $70-80. Note that this Creaker 368 appears to be the same exact thing as the SereneLife Pro HD.
#7. Gynoii WiFi Wireless Tilt/Pan Baby Monitor. This is an awesome and versatile option for anyone looking for a baby video monitor that uses your existing device (Android, iPhone, iPad) as the screen. Simply plug it in, install the app on your phone, and you're off to the races! And it has tons of great features. You can stream high definition (720p) daytime or nighttime (night vision) video and audio, or use audio only. It can send sound and motion alerts right to your device. It has two-way (intercom style) talk, so you can listen to your baby and your baby can listen to you. Unique on this list, it also has time lapse video so you can review what your little one was up to during the night - watch them roll around and hug their blankies and lovies! When we tested this unit, this time lapse review was my favorite feature! It also has remote pan and tilt, so if it's not in the perfect position (or your baby isn't!) you can remotely move the camera to get a better view. It also has some unique access features. For example, it uses highly secure encrypted data transmission, and allows more than one app user to watch simultaneously (so mom can watch from work while grandma puts baby down for a nap!). That's a lot of awesome features, and it only runs about $100 online. That's cheaper than most others on this list - but remember, it does not come with a screen, so you need to use your own device. We tested it on a Samsung Galaxy S5, iPhone 5, iPad, and an LG G4 phone. It worked really well on all of them, so we were impressed. So why isn't this higher on our list? Only because it's not an all-in-one package and you need to install the app and use your own device to watch the video. Other than that, this newcomer to the market is making a big splash and we're liking it!
#8. Dropcam Pro Wi-Fi Wireless Video Baby Monitor Camera. This is a powerful solution for the relatively computer savvy parents who want flexibility, accessibility, and convenience. This is not just a baby monitor, this is a wireless video camera that can be placed anywhere and will communicate with computers and smart phones. Install the Dropcam App and view your baby through your cell phone no matter where you are. Want to check in on the babysitter while you're out on date night to make sure your baby is napping on time? Want to move the camera to monitor the dog or your home while you're away? Easy, but a bit expensive at about $250. This is a powerful and flexible system that has a very high quality color and night vision camera, a wide field of view, access to cloud computing, and tons of convenient bells and whistles. This is not your mom's baby monitor. However, there are some requirements here: you need wireless internet in your home, and it needs to be rather high speed to support streaming high quality video and audio feeds. You also will need to load software onto your phones or computer devices in order to access the device. If you ask us, this is one of the best and most flexible solutions for baby monitoring. It's at the bottom of our list because because it's not technically a baby monitor. It's an all-purpose camera that you can place anywhere and use as a baby monitor when needed. Note that it seems the Dropcam is transitioning to the Nest Cam for the 2016 model year, which is newer but has been having some privacy, heating, and picture quality issues. We suggest trying to find the original Dropcam if possible, but since that seems low inventory at this time, we'll keep this down here on the list.
NOTICE: About 800,000 batteries used in the Summer Infant Baby Touch, Safe Light, and Slim and Secure Monitors (and others) have been recalled due to burn hazards. These units were sold between 2010-2012. The batteries are marked "TCL" on the lower right corner. For more information, see here .