As a a first time mom, there can be a lot of things that scare you. (Read: my story.) As soon as your baby is born, you come to the overwhelming realization that it’s your sole responsibility to keep make sure baby thrives. This means feeding baby, changing baby, making sure baby naps and generally just keep an eye out on baby so s/he doesn’t act a fool. Get ready because these natural survival tactics are a full time job.
For parents and caretakers, monitoring devices are literally another set of eyes and ears. Baby monitors are an essential must-have because you aren’t going to be able to be attached your baby 24/7. When I was doing my research for the best monitor, I was overwhelmed with lists and reviews and underwhelmed with how helpful they were. “Okay great, you have a big color screen and a camera that zooms. What makes you better than the rest?” Do you need a WiFi monitor? Is the viewing option only on the monitor screen or can you access from your smartphone? Should I just break down and get professional cameras installed all over my house for $5,000? (No, you shouldn’t.)
First, figure out what type of monitoring you’re looking for. Do you want just sound? Video and sound? A way to tell if your baby’s heartbeat is still going strong? All of the above?! These are essentially the first questions you ask yourself. From there, you address subcategories to determine a fit based on other variables like your living situation (huge house or small apartment), budget and brand affinity. But we’re just going to keep it simple okay? I’m no expert. I’m a mom just like you. But what I am, is a researcher. I research the shit out of things before I buy them. My husband makes fun of me for it, but I believe this is the right path to take to spend money wisely. My point is this: I did all the research for you. Let’s get into it!
Owlet‘s is a ‘smart sock’ that uses pulse oximetry technology to monitor a baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels. This is a hospital grade technology to use while your child is sleeping and basically tells you if your their vitals are out of normal range. Owlet is expensive at $250, but its budding reputation justifies this spend. For parents who want peace of mind while their baby is sleeping – so that they can sleep too and not stare at a baby monitor all night – this is a smart purchase. It’s all the rage right now in the baby world since their marketing tactic is to literally scare the shit out of parents.
I liked the Mimo Smart Baby Monitor ($199) from the start because of its chic packaging, innovative product and seemingly easy design. The box comes with three kimonos, a turtle and a lilypad. When your baby wears the kimono, you attach the turtle to it in its appropriate place and it sends back your baby’s vitals wirelessly to the lilypad, which you then see on your smartphone through the app. Mimo watches the baby’s breathing, body position, skin temperature and sleep quality. There’s even an ability to listen to audio. I was really excited to try it out on my son’s first night sleeping in the crib on his own (gasp!). Unfortunately, I had multiple problems pairing the turtle with the lily pad (it uses WiFi signal) and once I finally had it, it was all lost once I unplugged the lily pad to bring it upstairs to my son’s room. I didn’t realize I’d have to reconfigure it all. If you think this is a good fit for you, make sure you try it out for a nap first and do not unplug the lilypad or it’s Start Over City for you. All that said, I think the technology here provides a lot of reassuring information for the worrying parents.
Motorola’s MBP854CONNECT ($299) is a top choice by a lot of reviewers. The WiFi video baby monitor lets parents stay connected with their baby through a handheld monitor and also on smartphones, tablets and computers. This was something that sparked my interest as a working mom. I’d love to be able to see what my nanny is doing with my son while I’m bringing home the bacon from afar. Additional features give you the opportunity to know the temperature in the house, the humidity (you know, so you can ensure your newborn is going to have a good hair day), noise, light and basic activity. My favorite part is the ability for two-way communication with both the monitor unit and through your smartphone.
The EZVIZ Mini ($70) is a cheap, light and tiny little thing that’s perfect for someone on a budget. It’s really use to use, and with a magnetic base, provides users with more placement options. That’s actually one of my pet peeves with these monitors. Placement! What if the crib isn’t near an outlet? What if your baby is sleeping in a bassinet near you and there’s just no good angle for a monitor? Annoying! I digress. This monitor comes with motion detection, audio recording and also secure cloud recording, which can be accessed with a mobile app. You can also see a live stream from your smartphone or desktop. Definitely one of my faves!
Panasonic DIY Wireless Home Baby Monitor Kit ($180) has all the bells and whistles: audio, video, two-way communication. The camera is also equipped with sound and motion sensors so parents can receive an alert when baby wakes or cries. It even plays lullabies to help them go back to sleep (because lullabies get newborns back to sleep….[insert sarcasm here]). It also lets you record video through the camera. To note, the system does not come with its own monitor, so you can only watch them from an app on a smartphone or tablet. A great feature is that the camera connects to the hub wireless, so it doesn’t need to be plugged into an outlet!
There’s something comforting in going with a tried and true baby brand like Summer’s Infant. I couldn’t decide which one I liked between two different models, so I’ll tell you about them both. The Baby Zoom WiFi Video Monitor and Internet Viewing System enables you to view your baby on a monitor and on a smartphone or tablet through an app. The monitor is not as big or crisp as their Sharp Sight HD Video Monitor, which features two times the resolutions of other monitors and offers two-way communication, temperature display, and allows you to pan, scan and zoom. That zoom feature is key when you’re trying to see if baby is a) breathing and 2) if his or her eyes are open. You cannot, however, see the baby on your smartphone. Adding that feature to this model would make it a great option. One thing I didn’t like is how close the monitor and camera have to be to have signal. When I brought the monitor into my home office, I lost signal, which is weird since my house has a lot of open space and theoretically the units weren’t that far from one another. Definitely something to consider if you live in a McMansion.
If you’re looking for purely audio monitoring, the Belly Armor Smart Nova is the way to go. It provides clear, two-way communication and releases 98% less radiation than traditional monitors on the market (or so they claim). As a bonus, it also provides room temperature. I really like it’s sleek and modern style. Sometimes, we just need to keep it simple.
So there you have it. Four thousand options, all boiled into my seven favorites. I should note that I did research (and even try!) many others, but these are the only ones that made the cut. I don’t really like to write negative things about products and brands without providing value as to why, so I kept the super bad ones off the list completely.
Curious to know what you’re using, what you’re thinking to buy after reading this and how you liked it/them. Come on back and share with me!