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The 8 Best Baby Monitors of 2023 According to a Dad

Jul 06, 2023Jul 06, 2023

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With high-end options, on-the-go choices, and one that’s a throwback to our own childhoods—here's what our expert dad recommends.

Paranormal Activity really got me. Every time I look at the baby monitor on my wife’s side of the bed, I’m always waiting for a shadowy form to take shape in the corner of the room. But the only frightful sight I ever actually end up seeing is my four-year-old son’s eyes glowing green in the darkness. And then I inevitably think, “Why the hell is he still awake?”

Monitoring our kids as they sleep (or don’t sleep) is nothing new. The first baby monitors were invented in the 1930s, spurred on by the Lindbergh Kidnapping Case. For many of these products—it must be said—the technology does not appear to have evolved much since then. The Infant Optics DXR-8 we use for both my four year old and my one year old has visuals that look like they were filmed using a potato—and it’s still considered to have some of the best optics in class. It also has the battery life of one of those insects that is alive for like half an afternoon in late August before it mates and dies. That said, the DXR-8 does the trick. Both of my kids are alive and healthy and blissfully unaware that mom and dad are using some little gadget to go full Big Brother on them while we sit on the couch, turn on the TV, and binge old episodes of Top Chef.

Baby monitors run the gamut in price, quality, and general usage. Some parents I know still use the walkie-talkie-like, sound-only, monitors my own parents used in the '80s while others use high-tech versions that can monitor not just the basics, but—like baby smartwatches or Oura Rings—also monitor vital signs, sleeping patterns, and more, all from an app on their phone. The one you choose will be right for your lifestyle, and of course your general level of parental anxiety. Here are some of the best baby monitors out there.

The Nanit Pro gets high marks for both ease of use and its camera’s quality in the dark and during daytime. Sleep tracking data comes with a subscription and you can bundle the monitor with a breathing apparatus to monitor your baby’s heart rate. The Nanit Pro also tracks sleep data, but after the first year you’ll need to pay extra for a subscription to have access to it. As you might have astutely guessed, the Nanit Pro is not cheap, but then again few things of high quality ever are.

There is very little the Miku Pro does not do. It has humidity and light tracking, motion and sound detection, two-way audio, and it plays lullabies. It also has a Crypto Chip (AES 256-bit TLS/SSL, if that means anything to you) for extra security. The monitor can pair to multiple cameras and does not come with a subscription fee. Users do report that the app is a little complex to navigate, and as you might have guessed, the Miku Pro is on the high end when it comes to cost.

Despite my earlier digs, the DXR-8 is actually pretty good. It has excellent noise reduction, relatively decent imagery, and perhaps best of all it’s easy to use. That last one may not sound like that big of a deal until you need a septuagenarian parent to operate the damn thing—at which point it becomes invaluable. It also doesn’t connect to Wi-Fi, so it’s impervious to hackers. In my experience battery life is a weakness. It basically needs to be plugged in all the time. And range can be an issue too, with reception spotty in the backyard and garage.

The Vtech VM819 is a popular choice for parents on the go because it’s compact enough to not take up a lot of room in a suitcase. It also offers a comparatively high picture quality. One annoying thing about this model is that the camera is manually operated, meaning you need to risk hell and high-water sneaking into your kid’s room to adjust it. It also doesn’t have noise cancellation, so you hear the white noise near the crib.

The Nest is not fucking around. It has high-quality video, two-way talk capabilities, and clear audio with good volume. It can be paired to multiple cameras—like the one at the front door and another one in the kitchen to watch the nanny—and it can be viewed by infinite viewers. Somewhat oddly though, it has no baby-specific features like lullabies, white noise, or a nightlight. It’s also not super-intuitive so it could easily leave a luddite confused. It’s me. I am the confused luddite.

The Eufy Spaceview Pro is a good option if you want a secure baby monitor that doesn’t connect to Wi-Fi. It has a large and clear screen which you’ll appreciate when a small child’s cries wake you up in a stupor. It’s also relatively easy on the wallet. This product doesn’t have an app so you can only monitor it when you’re home—which honestly doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. It also has no tracking functions for wake windows, vitals, etc.

The Owlet does an excellent job of keeping tabs on your child’s heart rate, oxygen level, movement, and heart rate. It also has a temperature sensor, a 120-degree tilt, and a 4x pinch-to-zoom function. Also, its camera works well in the dark. It is however a tad pricey, and is known to have connectivity issues, which drives me bonkers, personally. However, I suppose this is an excellent choice if your child is experiencing health issues, or if you’re the kind of person who wears their Whoop to play pickleball.

Honestly, having been a dad for 4.5 years now, I really think this is all you need. No video, just an audio to let you know if someone is crying. It’s got great range and is very durable. It’s very similar to the one my own parents used way back in the mid-80s, and look at me—I turned out A-OK as far as the government knows.

Kevin Koenig is a writer and father from New Jersey.

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