Baby Monitors

The Basics of Baby Monitors

A baby monitor can give parents peace of mind, providing the freedom to move around the home or fall into a deep sleep. All monitors include a transmitter and a receiver. The transmitter is a camera or microphone in the nursery that sends information to the parents’ receiver. Motion monitors add another level by detecting baby’s continued movements. Here are the basics on baby monitors.

Audio, Video, or Movement

Audio monitors transmit only baby’s sounds. Video monitors allow you to see whether baby is settling in or ready to party. Movement monitors record baby's vital signs on an app and sounds an alarm if they haven't moved after a certain period of time.

Analog, Digital, or Wi-Fi

Analog monitors are susceptible to interference, which can lead to poor sound and image quality. They are also the least secure, since their transmissions are not encoded and could be picked up by neighbors.

Digital monitors use encryption, making sounds indecipherable to anyone outside your home. They are susceptible to interference, but DECT monitors minimize that by using an alternate frequency.

Wi-Fi monitors depend on how reliable your wireless connection is. They allow you to receive transmission anywhere you get service on your smartphone or device. Because they use the Internet, they could be hacked, but updating software and passwords makes it safer.

How Will You Use It?

Will you keep one receiver plugged into an outlet in your bedroom? Or will you need one you can carry around your home during naptime? If so, you’ll need a rechargeable battery, portability, and good range. Think about the nursery set-up and whether you’ll need a camera that pans or zooms in. If you expect to add units for more kids, look for an expandable system. If you want to use a monitor as a nanny camera, you’ll need a Wi-Fi model.


Many monitors feature night vision, out-of-range and low-battery alerts, video recording, and room temperature reading. A sound indicator that lights up or vibrates when baby makes noise is a nice thing to have. It allows you to mute the receiver while you’re on the phone or enjoying some quiet without having to worry you'll miss their cries. Other popular extras are prerecorded lullabies and two-way talk back that allow you to soothe baby remotely.


When installing your monitor, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says to keep all cords at least three feet from baby to avoid strangulation.

For a closer look at baby monitors, check out our detailed guide.