How to choose a baby monitor

Using a baby monitor when you put your baby to bed means you don’t have to stress over every single little sound they make (or don’t make!). You want to feel rest assured that when you’re out of the room, you have eyes and ears on them at all times. That way you can get on with doing what you need to do in the home during the day, or (fingers crossed) sleep a little more peacefully at night knowing you can check on them at any time without having to get out of bed.

How to choose a baby monitor

If you’ve started to look at baby monitors, you wouldn’t be alone in feeling overwhelmed with the number of available options and features. Trying to decide which one would suit your family depends on your budget, and whether you prefer audio, audio visual, movement monitors, or a specialised breathing and movement monitor.

When it comes to choosing a baby monitor, here is what’s important:

Types of baby monitors

  • Audio only monitors – Like a one-way walkie-talkie, it allows you to listen to your sleeping baby. Many monitors light up to alert you to your baby’s cries as they get louder, even if you have the volume turned down or muted. They usually work via radio, WIFI, or mobile data.
  • Audio-visual monitors – A small camera mounted to the wall or on a surface near your baby allows you to see and hear your baby from a receiver or phone app.
  • Movement monitors – These include a motion sensitive pad under the cot mattress or a wearable monitor that lets you know if your baby stops moving after a set time.
  • Heart rate, oxygen, and breathing monitors – A doctor may recommend a specialised monitor for babies with medical conditions, which alerts you if your baby’s vitals change or become irregular.

Key baby monitor features to look for

When comparing monitors, there are plenty of amazing add-ons but they’re often more nice-to-haves, such as the ability to play soothing lullabies and sounds, room temperature display, or nappy and feeding alerts. Here are the essential features to look for:

  • Rechargeable batteries with a long battery life
  • Baby-friendly night vision video technology so you can see your baby in the dark
  • Wireless network, which allows you to use any device as the receiver

Considerations before choosing a baby monitor

Baby monitors can be quite expensive, so before you purchase one you should ask yourself these questions:

  • How many receivers do I need? Think about where and when you would use it. Do you have a large house, and would it be handy to have more than one receiver so you can leave them in different rooms?
  • How many cameras will I need? Will your baby be sleeping in a different room during the day or night, or do you have more than one child that you would like to monitor while they sleep?
  • How strong a signal will I need? If you have a large house or multiple levels, you’ll need to make sure it has a long enough range.
  • How long will I use a monitor for? Do you want a monitor just for the first few months when your baby wakes at all different times of day or night, or would you like it to last into toddlerhood so you can keep an eye on them? This may influence the amount you want to invest in one.
  • Do I need to monitor my baby remotely? If you’re planning to return to work, or you just want to peek on your adorable sleeping baby when you’re out, there are smart monitors that can allow you to view them live anytime, anywhere via an app.
  • How much do I want to spend? Baby monitors range from approximately $60 for a basic audio monitor right up to $499 for a movement and video monitor. See our top guide to monitors here.

Using a baby monitor safely

Whilst baby monitors are designed with your baby’s safety in mind, they do not replace direct adult supervision and are not SIDS or SUDI safeguards. Even with all of their amazing features, they can possibly fail or give false alarms, and will never replace the eyes and ears of a parent or caregiver. The recommendation from Red Nose is to sleep in the same room as your baby for the first 6-12 months.