A smart Wi-Fi baby monitor is increasingly part of any parent's shopping list, and for good reason. Anything that makes the ultimate goal – a good sleep routine for the baby – easier is worth its weight in gold, as any bleary-eyed mum or dad will tell you.
Aside from soothing lullabies and the ability to view the camera feed using a smartphone or tablet, current high-tech designs have added extras such as ambient lighting, two-way communication so your baby can hear your voice, and tools that let you record songs and play them to your baby remotely. That's on top of features that now include humidity and temperature reporting to ensure your baby has the best chance of a good night’s sleep.
Smart baby monitors: What to consider
In many cases, the audio and visual picture quality and monitoring capabilities will depend on your Wi-Fi connection. If you have a huge house or your baby's nursery is in a Wi-Fi blackspot, you'll want to think carefully about your options before forking out.
Depending how you intend to keep tabs on your little one, the likelihood is you'll want to dedicate a tablet or phone to showing the stream, as well as getting crying alerts to your smartphones via push notifications, so having a spare device will also be a consideration. This is where devices like the Amazon Echo Show come in, letting you have the feed from your camera displayed permanently on the screen – so look out for Works with Alexa integration.
We braved bedtime with 11-month old William and tested the latest smart video and audio baby monitors, rating them in terms of ease of use, audio and visual capabilities, night-vision quality, app features, design and added extras.
These include how easy on the ear its lullaby is, and whether it offers two-way communication. Here’s our edited selection below – and don’t forget to check back as they’ll be added to later in the year as new designs launch…
It’s the eye-catching green bunny ears that initially make this 1080p HD baby monitor stand out from its competitors. You can also buy accessories to dress it as a kitten or puppy. However, its nursery-friendly appearance is hiding a host of much more impressive high-tech features.
You can set the app to record video or take a snapshot once motion or audio is detected. Alerts can be via push notifications or an email. The app can also be tailored to suit you, from settings such as the video resolution, which ranges from 360p to a high-resolution 1080p, to the camera’s field of view, which can be set from 90 to 130 degrees. It also features options for you to pause the live stream, take a snapshot and record video on demand.
Set-up on the app was very smooth compared to the other devices in our test – a few clicks and simple pairing with the QR code and we were good to go. You can then monitor your baby via your smartphone (you’ll get a push notification for movement or crying), via a tablet, or using Echo Show via a Skill. That means you can view the feed on Echo Show or Echo Spot, as well as Fire TV (second generation). A Google Assistant integration is also in the works for Google Home and Chromecast support.
You can choose from three user plans, including the free version we trialled in our test, which gives you seven days of video memory in the Cloud and records up to 1GB of footage when motion is detected. Up to five cameras can be linked on this plan, so you could have a separate camera for every room.
For £64 per year, the Premier plan will let you link up to 10 cameras and give you up to 10GB of recorded motion and 30 days of video memory in the cloud, while for £99 you can opt for the Elite plan that links up to 15 cameras and gives you 60 days of video memory in the cloud and up to 100GB of recorded motion. But unless you’re lucky enough to live in a mansion, we think the free plan is more than sufficient.
In our test, we found a one-second delay in the live video streaming, but the camera’s other features – such as its impressive night vision up to 15 feet – more than made up for it. We particularly liked the multi-coloured LED nightlight, which sits at the back of the Arlo’s camera so as not to wake the baby, but allows you to navigate the nursery with ease. The colour can be instantly changed on the app.
You get nine soothing lullabies within the app and the option to download more from the Arlo Cloud Music Library. What we love about this design, and what perhaps may not be so easy on the ear, is the fact that you can record and save your own voice to play through the camera. This is a particularly nice feature if you have a baby who is used to falling asleep to the stereo sounds of your lovely larynx.
- Alexa integration
- Two-way audio
- Temperature and humidity
- Slight delay
- Expensive plans
- Top price
Nest Cam Indoor
Not a dedicated baby monitor, but the older Nest Cam Indoor makes a superb alternative. Aside from boasting all the necessary tech for a good monitor, when baby grows up you have a great smart camera for elsewhere in your home.
With stunning 1080p quality the Nest Cam Indoor easily offers the best visual quality out of our test. What's more, it offers night vision and noise detection, so you can get a push notification to your phone or smartwatch when there's crying to deal with – handy if you step out of the room to self-medicate with some more wine.
You can monitor the camera on any Android phone/tablet, on an iPhone or iPad using the Nest app, plus via devices like Echo Show and Echo Spot, which come into their own as baby monitors. This will naturally also apply to Smart Display Google Assistant speakers when they launch this year.
Unless you have a spare tablet around (which a lot of us do) this can build up to being more expensive than the standard baby monitors outlined here. But this set-up is undeniably more useful when baby's not asleep.
The Nest Cam IQ Indoor has driven down the cost of the older Nest Cam, which gets the nod here. You get three hours of footage playback free of charge, but anything longer requires a Nest Aware subscription, which starts at $5 per month.
- Full HD recording
- Best quality on test
- Works with Alexa/Assistant
- Not a dedicated baby monitor
- No lullabies or night light
- More expensive
BleepBleeps Suzy Snooze
This vibrant, cylindrical design works as a smart light, sleep soother and audio-only baby monitor in one. It comes from the family of unique BleepBleep smart devices and connects to an app that can also be used to control the Sammy Screamer Motion Alarm.
Push down Suzy Snooze’s orange body and a gentle tweet will let you know its ready to use. To pair it you have to press the volume controls on the bottom of the Suzy Snooze. Set-up was straightforward enough, although it took us a few attempts to connect it to its dedicated app over Wi-Fi. In our test we eventually lost connection too, so we had to faff about connecting it again. This however comes with the territory when using smart baby monitors and is to be expected across the board.
Once connected to the app we could control the monitor from our smartphone and listen to William remotely. The app lets you turn on the ambient lullabies and a soothing light if your baby wakes. We found this particularly useful as this bought us time until we got to his room to comfort William and he seemed to love it too.
There’s also promise in the near future of a cry detection feature that will help soothe your baby back to sleep if they wake, but at time of writing this isn’t currently available.
Suzy Snooze can be used as a night light and sleep trainer too, so in a way the device grows with the child. Its low-energy LED stays cool to the touch and its orange colour output claims to promote natural sleep hormones. When the hat is down, this means sleep time, but when Suzy raises her hat, you can let your child know that it’s time to get out of bed. Just make sure you set it to raise well after 7am if you don’t want an early wake up call.
- Three-in-one device
- Ultra soothing sounds
- Whimsical design
- No video
- App connection issues
- Not the most reliable
Philips Ugrow Smart Baby Monitor
This sleek design offers audio and visual monitoring with a substantial 720p HD day and night vision, giving you full colour video during the day and an ample black and white picture at night. It works with 3G/4G and Wi-Fi and will automatically adjust the camera’s audio and video quality if the quality of your internet connection decreases. If the connection cuts out it will attempt to reconnect and alerts you if it fails.
We found it a little fiddly to set up as the smartphone in-app QR code took a few attempts to register the camera. And once in we got cut out a few times – but the in-app features made it all worthwhile. A first-time user guide on the app makes it easy to see what it has in store, including the ability to take a snapshot of your bundle of joy as they sleep, and soothe your baby using the two-way talk tool. App information on how to mount and position your camera in the nursery is a handy extra.
There are no integrations with smart home platforms such as Alexa or Google Assistant, so you’ll probably want to set up a dedicated tablet to show the footage after bedtime.
We liked the way you could personalise the settings on the camera via the app, including how many alerts you want to receive and the type of updates.
You can connect up to three people to view footage from this camera, which is ideal if you’re out and you want you, your partner and the babysitter to be connected to the same footage of your baby. You can link up to 10 cameras in total if needs be, and use the privacy mode for peace of mind.
The ability to manage the temperature range on the app is also a welcome feature. You will get an alert if the temperature in the nursery gets too high, and you can check up on the humidity readings via the app too.
The app lets you adjust the sound coming from the nursery and even gives you the option to be notified immediately or after a few minutes of your baby stirring. This may come in handy for those who want to put Pamela Druckerman’s (author of French Children Don’t Throw Food) ‘la pause’ into action, whereby you wait a few moments for your baby to ‘self soothe’ before running in to comfort them.
- Snapshot feature
- Personalised settings
- Handy alerts
- 720p video quality
- Fiddly to connect
- No integrations
Panasonic Baby Monitoring Camera
This comprehensive baby monitor comes with a hub and works as part of a whole home network. The home hub has to be set up first and is a relatively straightforward process. Once you have connected the hub it instantly recognises the camera and lets you view a live stream straight away, and it connects using DECT, which is more reliable than Wi-Fi with its susceptibility to interference.
As well as the baby monitoring camera, the hub can control an outdoor camera, a digital cordless phone handset, window and door sensors, motion sensors and smart plug, all from the same app.
The app includes a clever Smart Control setting that allows you to create ‘scenarios’ to control your devices. So, for example, by using a smart plug with the setup you can create a schedule so a lamp goes on or off in the nursery when your baby wakes and sleeps.
You can also choose from five soothing lullabies to play to send your child back to sleep when you hear them stir, or make use of the in-app microphone to reassure them with your own voice.
As well as motion and sound alerts sent to your smartphone or tablet, the camera will automatically start recording video when motion is detected. You’ll need to insert a micro SDHC card into the hub, which will give you up to 15 hours of record time on a 4GB card.
It has an ample 640 x 480 pixel camera, which is perfectly acceptable for this type of monitoring, as well as a good night vision range up to six metres. As with the majority of devices in our test, the camera has a temperature monitor and you will be sent an alert if the room gets too hot.
- Family of devices
- No monthly fee
- Nice lullabies
- Basic camera design
- Lack of integrations
- Low resolution
Samsung Smart Home Camera
Although this is primarily a smart home security camera, it can also be used as a baby monitor as it has two-way audio and provides a great quality picture of your baby both day and night – either on your smartphone, tablet or computer.
We were instantly impressed with the 1080p Full HD resolution it offers, plus night vision up to 16ft. It worked well when we left William with the babysitter as it sent regular alerts each time he moved. It’s the only camera in our test to feature Auto Tracking, which follows moving objects around the room, so we could also see when the babysitter entered the room to comfort William.
The in-app camera pan and tilt feature lets you move the camera in your desired direction – up, down, left and right – which is handy if the baby starts rolling around their cot. There’s also a motion zone detection feature, which lets you set a specific area to monitor such as an entrance or windows, and it can send alerts every time motion is detected in that area.
Setting up the camera took substantially longer than the other cameras in our test, but password security on the app is reassuringly tight – there’s a second password for the camera once you access the app, for example. We thought the Privacy Mode was a particularly good addition, as it allows you to automatically turn off the camera at any time.
Alas, the only thing that this camera lacks is the ability to play lullabies, although you can use the two-way communication feature on the app to comfort your child.
You can hook up the Samsung Smart Home Camera into a SmartThings hub for easier control across your devices, but there aren’t any Google or Alexa integrations at present.
- Compact design
- High-tech tracking
- Great quality
- Standard app features
- Excludes lullabies
- No temperature/humidity