Five Useful Baby Monitor Features Every Parent Should Consider

Our latest batch of baby monitors tested are a mix of audio, video and smart baby monitors, ranging in price from just £30 to well over £300.

To help you navigate the market, we explain the differences between audio, video and smart baby monitors, as well as five key features to consider when buying a baby monitor.

Plus, read on to find out why parents should be careful about using certain wireless security cameras as a device to monitor your sleeping baby — our tests show they’re just not up to snuff.

Reviews of baby monitors– see all the models we’ve tested from a range of brands including BT, Tommee Tippee, Angelcare and more

Should you buy a video, audio or smart baby monitor?

In our latest batch of baby monitor reviewswe have models of all three main types – audio, video and smart.

Audio monitors consist of two parts – one that stays in baby’s room (baby unit or nursery) and one that you keep with you to hear if your baby moves while sleeping (parent unit). Audio monitors are generally cheap, with Best Buys available for under £30.

A video baby monitor has a camera unit that is placed in the nursery and sends images that you can watch on a screen in the parent unit.

You’ll pay a bit more for one – the cheapest best buy we have is around £80 – but you can see your baby and hear it.

Smart baby monitors use Wi-Fi and allow you to monitor your baby through an app on your phone. See more about this type later in this article.

Need help choosing a baby monitor? Read our guide to how to buy the best baby monitor

Five key features to look for in a baby monitor

1. Parental unit

Whether you opt for a video or audio baby monitor, it’s worth considering what you want from the parent unit, as it will be the primary device for monitoring your baby’s sleep.

If you’re going for a video monitor, consider the screen size you need – these can range from around 3 inches to over 7 inches, and there can be a substantial price difference.

Along with video and audio monitors, we test to see if the unit can safely stand on its own, how well made it is, and how long the battery will last. We’re also looking for useful features, like a clip to attach it to your belt.

Keep in mind that some smart baby monitors don’t have a parent unit, and instead you have to rely solely on your phone to keep an eye on your sleeping child.

2. Lullabies

Playing a lullaby can sometimes be the perfect tonic to soothe your baby to sleep.

Many baby monitors have pre-installed lullabies that you can play through the nursery unit and help bring your baby back to winking land.

Some monitors also have audiobooks you can play, or you can even create your own recording to play at the touch of a button.

3. Temperature sensor

You don’t want your baby to be too hot or too cold while sleeping, which is why parents often use a dedicated room temperature thermometer.

However, you can also get a baby monitor with a built-in sensor that constantly monitors the temperature of the room where your baby is sleeping.

We test each monitor to determine the accuracy of the sensor when registering the correct temperature.

We also see if the reading gives whole numbers of degrees, or more granular decimal measurements so you can more easily see if you need to open a window or cover them.

4. Sound Sensitive Lights

Sometimes you need to turn the volume down or turn it off completely on your baby monitor, for example if you have guests over for the evening or if you are making an important phone call.

In this case, sound sensitive lights give you a visual representation of the sound your baby is making from the nursery via increasing levels of lights.

The best baby monitors have five or six levels of lights so you can easily tell if your baby is sniffling or starting to cry just by the lights alone.

watch baby on phone using smart baby monitor

5. Wireless

With a Wi-Fi baby monitor, often called a smart monitor, you can monitor your baby using an app on your smartphone or tablet. Some also come with a parent unit included so you have more options.

While a parent unit will only work around the house and possibly the garden, a wi-fi monitor will continue to work wherever you have a strong wi-fi signal.

So if a parent was away for the weekend and wanted to watch their sleeping baby at home, they could do so through the app.

We test all Wi-Fi baby monitors to find out how well they protect your privacy and security from hacker attacks. All of the models we recommend have passed our rigorous testing.

Do not use a security camera as a baby monitor

Go online and you’ll find plenty of cheap wireless security cameras that claim to be usable as a baby monitor as well.

We’ve tested a number of these devices, and while some are well made, on the whole they’re just not designed to work as baby monitors.

Most security cameras lack the useful baby monitoring features listed above, and some have features designed more to scare off intruders than to monitor a baby.

For example, the Wifi Camera Littlelf Baby Monitor IP Camera 1080p of our latest batch has a siren on the camera. It’s unclear which parent would want to trigger this while their baby is sleeping.

Should I buy a motion sensor?

Some baby monitors come with additional sensors that are supposed to help monitor your baby’s movements and potentially help protect against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), also known as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

These pads vary in design, but typically they go under the crib mattress and alert you if your baby stops moving for more than 20 seconds with an alarm and/or flashing lights.

While some parents might find such monitoring reassuring, others might actually become more anxious about it, particularly if false alarms occur.

Baby safety charity The Lullaby Trust also said there is no evidence that this type of monitoring can prevent SIDS, so think carefully if such a feature is worth it.

Edward N. Arrington