Best Audio Baby Monitors for 2016

If you’re a new parent, nothing means more to you than making sure your baby is safe at night. An audio baby monitor allows parents to listen to their babies when they’re in another room. Knowing whether a baby is sleeping, awake, content or unhappy can give a parent peace of mind. An audio monitor can be used when the baby is sleeping at night, during naps or when an infant is playing in the crib. Here are our picks for the best audio baby monitors.

Smart Mom Pick for 2016 – Summer Infant Baby Wave

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Summer Infant Baby Wave picks up almost every noise so that parents can hear the baby breathing, moving, fussing or crying. Background noises are filtered out so that you can hone in on only the sounds that your baby is making. The volume knob lets you make the monitor as loud as you need, which is helpful when you’re vacuuming or washing dishes.

A series of LED lights are also activated when there are sounds on the receiving end of the monitor. These lights allow you to view when there’s noise on the other end. If you’re in a noisy room, in the shower or out of hearing range from the baby monitor, you can still monitor your baby. The LED lights also come in handy at night. It’s hard to sleep when the monitor next to you is projecting every sound your baby makes. Turning the volume down will help you stay asleep unless your baby is extremely fussy. You’ll still be able to sense sounds by looking at the lights.

Since it utilizes digital technology, the Baby Wave monitor provides a secure connection. Your neighbor’s baby monitor won’t be able to pick up the signal from yours, and the signal is encrypted so that it can’t be accessed from other devices on the same frequency. The baby monitor uses a 2.4 GHz signal that shouldn’t interfere with your cordless phone or wireless router, although some users report experiencing interference with certain devices.

This baby monitor has a long range, giving you freedom to move around the entire house. The unit that goes in the baby’s room must be plugged in at all times, but the other unit is lightweight, portable and has a rechargeable battery. An indicator lets you know when the battery is low so that you can plug it in.

The Baby Wave monitor isn’t an advanced baby monitor and doesn’t have a video option, but it’s a satisfactory basic model that lets you keep track of your baby when you can’t be in the room with him or her. It’s affordable, making it a great option to give to the grandparents or the babysitter.

Graco Secure Coverage

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These days, many parents have audio baby monitors for their peace of mind. Graco’s Secure Coverage Digital Baby Monitor is an excellent choice, as long as you’re willing to plunk down the money for a brand-new—not used—system.

The Graco system comes with a parent unit and a baby monitor and retails for just under $40 on Amazon.com. Unlike some monitors, the Graco operates on the 900MHz frequency; this means no interference from cordless phones or microwaves. Both units have AC adapters, although the parent unit is rechargeable.

The company estimates that the wireless connection range is 2000 feet, although very few reviewers have tried it at that length. Real-world use, as always, depends upon your surroundings. It has a vibration mode and a belt clip for the parent unit so you can take it with you. It doesn’t have two-way communication.

Recent reviewers raved about the sound quality; one buyer wrote, “You can’t go wrong with this – it works great, very reliable, and has good distance…Forget the fancy expensive things, just go with the tried and true.”

The sound quality and reliability praise was echoed across almost all buyers. One used his unit to monitor his chicken coop, while another noted the excellent sound even after accidentally misting the unit with spray paint.

One of the problems endemic to buying things online is that you can’t inspect them before buying them. For many buyers of the 2010-11 versions, the battery life was way too short and the wireless connection between the two units kept dropping out. Frustrated users noted the rechargeable batteries only lasted about a year.

It looks like Graco took the criticism to heart, because reviews have improved immensely since 2012. The main complaints now are about hearing too much sound; not only can children be heard, but so can any breezes and even outside disturbances. Whether hearing too much from your child’s bedroom is a bad thing is up to the individual parent.

Reviews on this product are generally excellent for the most recent model, but for the ones sold around 2010-11 opinion is decidedly mixed. Graco appears to have fixed the problem of the units losing wireless connection and terrible battery life, so the Graco Secure Coverage Digital Baby Monitor is a good choice as long as you’re buying it new with a warranty. Leave the used ones alone.

VTech DM221

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The VTech DM221 uses DECT 6.0 wireless technology, the same as a typical cordless house phone. There are two parts to the system: a slightly larger parent unit and the child’s unit. Both units look somewhat like padlocks, with an oval-shaped body and a large loop on the top.

The wireless range is estimated to be 1000 feet, although range depends on your house and how many walls are between the units. The VM221 has two-way communication, meaning you can talk to your child through the unit; the parent unit also has five volume settings and a vibration mode that works the same as your cell phone’s vibration mode. The parent unit has rechargeable batteries, but the child’s unit must be plugged in.

Reviewers praised the sound quality of the monitors as well as how sensitive the microphone was. As an Amazon reviewer said, “I’ve used other baby units before, but I’ve found that this particular unit is awesome!…The thing I love the most is that you don’t hear air all night long. If it’s quiet in the room no sound comes through, if it’s loud you hear it perfect.”

Many also appreciated the ability to talk to their baby through the unit, noting that it’s good for keeping track of older children as well. The DM221 child’s unit also has a night light feature that parents liked, and the ability to shut it off as well.

There were a number of complaints about the two units losing their wireless connection occasionally. The connection would reestablish itself after a minute or so, but the 1000-foot range is only a best-case scenario. Making sure your two units have as clear a line of sight as possible is key.

Others were unhappy about the parent unit’s battery life. One Amazon reviewer wrote, “Super sensitive and clear sound. This is great; just wish the battery life was better.” That was echoed throughout most of the reviews.

For just under $40, the VTech DM221 is an excellent buy, but it needs to be kept away from cordless phones due to interference. You should also remember to charge the batteries the first time for the recommended time as well, but for the price it’s hard to find better.

Best Video Baby Monitors for 2016

A video baby monitor provides a secure way to calm parents’ fears by showing them their babies while parents are in a different room. It is a great option to use in babies’ rooms, or it can be used in any room where babies may be, such as a playroom or living room. Here are our top picks for the best video monitors.

Smart Mom Pick for 2016 – Levana Stella Baby Monitor

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The Levana Stella Baby Monitor is perfect for those who would like to capture their baby’s special moments anytime of the day. Stella showcases a little princess or superhero on a large 4.3-inch screen, which is almost like being in the same room as the baby. The smooth and silent pan/tilt/zoom camera enables the users to observe a nursery 270 degrees horizontally and vertically 90 degrees. This all-encompassing view can be accomplished with the simple touch of a button.

One amazing highlight of the Levana Stellar Baby Monitor is the ability to interact with a baby with the Talk to Baby two-way communication feature. Parents can use this revolutionary feature to soothe their baby with the sound of their voice. Parents can also communicate with each other when they need some assistance in the nursery. Another highlight of the monitor is the invisible LED night vision. Unlike distracting red LED lights that are typically found on traditional baby video monitors, these invisible infrared LEDs will help a baby sleep more soundly while providing parents with a clear image of the child in the dark. Parents can view objects up to 15 feet for ideal conditions. Depending on the camera application, objects beyond this range may be partially or totally obscured.

The smart LED sound indicator ring is a unique feature that is designed to change color with the sound of a baby’s voice. The following is a list of the colors and their corresponding indications:

Pink: Disconnected
Blue: Low volume/whispers
Green: Low-medium volume/murmurs
Yellow: Medium volume/cooing
Orange: Medium-high volume/chatter
Red: High volume/yelling

Along with the smart LED sound indicator ring, the monitor is also equipped with a Private ClearVu digital signal. This proprietary technology provides the user with exceptional precision and clarity of a digital signal from up to 750 feet away. The technology also ensures a private and secure connection that is interference-free. As a result, parents can accomplish tasks inside and outside of a house while periodically checking on their baby.

The Levana Stella Baby Monitor contains three soothing lullabies, which can be activated and changed remotely by the parent unit. A crying baby is sure to love the sound of one of these soothing songs. The product can also add up to four expandable cameras so that users can view up to four areas of their home on one monitor. Stella’s expandable system is designed to grow with a family.

This exceptional baby monitor has a 36-hour battery life in PEEP mode or Power-on/off Energy Efficient Picture. When the nursery is quiet, the product is set to PEEP mode, which saves hours of valuable battery life.

VTech VM333 Baby Monitor

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The VTech VM333 comes with one parent unit with an LCD video display and one baby camera that provides both audio and video, and the system can be expanded to up to four cameras

The baby unit features a white, spherical camera on a white base that is designed to be set on a solid surface or hung on a wall. The shape and style of the camera allow it to be easily panned and tilted from the convenience of the parent unit, allowing parents to see their babies from all angles even as the infant moves about the room. Parents can also remotely zoom the camera to 2X. A small sensor on the back of the unit provides the room’s temperature, helping parents know if their babies are too hot or too cold.

The parent unit itself features a small enough size to take it from room to room easily but a big enough screen to provide decent video quality. The 2.8-inch LCD screen provides full-color video during the day as well as black-and-white images at night using infrared lights. The parent module also provides easy access buttons to pan, tilt and zoom as well as another button to speak remotely to the baby.

The VTech VM333 has very few downsides for the price. Its specifications are comparable to other units offered within the same price range. However, users do have a few complaints. Some believe that the signal strength is not the best and should reach more than 1,000 feet. Others prefer a larger video screen for viewing the baby. Finally, some parents have problems with the night vision video capabilities due to the camera having only two infrared lights.

Overall, the Safe and Sound Monitor gives most parents just what they need for monitoring their babies, ensuring that they are safe, warm and comfortable. Two-way talk lets parents soothe their babies through the monitor and a lullaby feature on the camera can help babies fall asleep. In addition, parents can see how much signal strength they have on their home screens.

VTech is a well-recognized name for baby monitors, telephones and home monitoring systems. Most parents associate this brand with a well-made yet reasonably priced product. The VM333 is a great option for parents who are looking for a moderately capable and trustworthy video monitor.

Motorola MBP18 Baby Monitor

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Parents and other caregivers are sure to enjoy the Motorola MBP18 baby bonitor. The product is equipped with many unique features so users can ensure that their baby is always safe and secure. The primary purpose of the monitor is to provide caregivers with a peace of mind as their baby is sleeping in a nearby room.

The Motorola MBP18 is extremely easy to install. Although the product can be secured at the top of a corner in a nursery, the camera’s incredible turn radius enables users to position the unit on more reachable surfaces such as a dresser or nightstand. Unlike most cameras, the user can twist the unit to face at an angle. Because of this revolutionary feature, parents can obtain an unobstructed view of the child, especially when the camera is situated on a tall surface and then angled down to focus on the crib.

Another highlight of the product is the crystal clear and vibrant images that are displayed on the 1.8-inch color LCD screen. This compact yet efficient monitor shows real-time video and sound in the baby’s room. The screen can also display images in dark settings due to the infrared night vision mode. During this night-time mode, the light on the camera is dimly lit so little sleepers can rest peacefully while parents can observe them on the monitor.

The monitor is operated by using the buttons that are displayed on the front of the panel. The designated buttons allows the user to change the brightness, adjust the volume, set a timer, switch camera units, and add/remove additional cameras. The monitor can be paired with up to four cameras. Also displayed on the monitoring unit are the battery life, current camera unit, and the range indicator.

The Motorola MBP18 baby monitor is designed for travel and home use. The product’s small and compact design can be easily tucked away in a suitcase, purse, or diaper bag. As a result, parents and caregivers can enjoy this monitoring system in a hotel, at a friend’s house, or at an office. Regardless of the location, the superior wireless range helps users stay connected to their baby up to 520 feet away. An alarm sounds when the monitor is out-of-range of the transmitting unit so parents will never have to worry if they are close enough to the baby to receive a signal. The system also sounds when the product is running low on battery.

Along with the digital wireless video baby monitoring system, the product includes a comprehensive instructional manual, AC adapters, 1 receiver, and 1 transmitter. Customers will also receive a 1-year manufacturer warranty to cover any faulty parts.