Best baby monitors 2020: smart baby cams with video and audio tested
Sleep easy with our pick of the best baby monitors to buy in 2020 - real-life tested!
The word baby is like the word wedding. Even though buying the best baby monitor around doesn't necessarily mean paying a premium, as it's focused on your baby, pound signs flash up everywhere. If having a small human in your care wasn’t overwhelming enough, the sheer volume of products available to new parents will be.
UPDATE: Did you know that nurses in Intensive Care Units up and down the country have found another rather handy use for baby monitors? It seems that sometimes the simplest ideas are the most effective, as medical professionals use the devices to interact with patients who are being kept in isolation. Both in the UK and US, staff have been using the two-way devices to communicate. I think that means we can officially call baby monitors the ultimate multi-tasker.
Don’t panic. For the past month, we’ve tested the best baby monitors, comparing how each of them performs. Want to know if you should get an Arlo, BT or Motorola baby monitor? You're in the right place.
Remember to upvote or downvote to have your say, or scroll down to get our expert's view on the best baby monitors
Below you can read what we liked and disliked with all the monitors we tested but, for clarity, the best baby monitor for value we tested was the Smart WIFI Arlo Baby. The best monitor overall was the 5-inch Video BT Smart Baby
There are some more great choices in our list but whatever you want from your monitor, you’ll find it here.
Best baby monitors for value and overall
The Shortlist: Best baby monitor
1. Kodak Cherish C525
The Kodak Cherish C525 streams video to both a large, bright display monitor and a smartphone app. It has two-way talk, lullabies and remote control of the camera position. The camera can also run on batteries for up to five hours, and there are temperature and humidity sensors, too.
2. BT Smart Baby Monitor
The BT Smart Baby Monitor is our best overall choice. It streams Full HD video to a monitor and smartphone app. It offers remote camera control, two-way talk, and is compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa so you can use voice commands to play one of the five lullabies.
3. Arlo Baby
Streams Full HD video to the Arlo app on your smartphone or tablet, allowing for great picture quality whenever and wherever you are. It also has numerous features including two-way talk, enhanced night vision, a music player and multi-coloured night light.
4. AOGE Baby Monitor
This neat design streams Full HD video to a smartphone app and offers remote control of the camera, two-way talk, night vision and a microSD slot for storage of videos. The camera has a wide-angle lens and 360-degree panoramic viewing, meaning there are no blind spots.
5. Hello Baby HB32
As well as two-way talk this monitor has temperature monitoring, with warning alerts if the temperature goes beyond a set value. There is night vision, a medium-sized display monitor and up to four cameras can be used with one monitor. Each camera can play up to eight polyphonic lullabies.
6. Philips Advent SCD620
The Philips Advent SCD620 has a small-sized display monitor with two-way talk, five lullabies and an 'Eco Mode'. It claims up to ten hours of battery life for overnight monitoring, along with an outdoor range of up to 300 metres and an indoor range of up to 50 metres.
7. Nuk Eco Control Video Display 550VD
The Nuk Eco Control Video Display 550VD has a nightlight integrated into its camera, which comes with a timer, while the camera boasts both zoom and night vision. There is a room temperature sensor feature and the Nuk baby monitor also has four lullabies that can be set to loop, shuffle or set on timer modes.
8. Motorola MBP36S
The Motorola MBP36S has a medium-sized display monitor that offers two-way audio communication and a room temperature sensor. There is infrared night vision on board and motorised pan, tilt and digital zoom is present. The camera offers up to a 270-degree viewing angle when moving side to side.
9. Angelcare AC1300
This alternative choice comes with a sensor pad that is placed under the mattress to monitor movement, accompanying the video monitoring from the adjustable camera that has pan and zoom. Night vision is present and the handheld monitor has a medium-sized display but there is no two-way talk functionality.
10. Motorola MBP50
With its large, curved display monitor this offers two-way communication, along with night vision, a temperature sensor and a lullaby player. Up to four cameras can be connected to the monitor and the monitor also offers remote pan, tilt and zoom control of the camera.
The Expert's View
Best baby monitors: how we selected
The baby market is huge. There are hundreds of products available to buy, many of which promise to make your life that little bit easier as a new parent. Who doesn’t want that? Baby monitors are just one part of that huge range of products, but they are particularly important as they offer peace of mind.
The problem is, there’s far too much choice. Go on Amazon, for example, search for baby monitors, filter by average customer review and you’ll be confronted with an endless list of devices.
Some on that list will be trusted brands – the Motorolas and BTs of this world. Others will be names you might never have heard of until you had a baby – the Angelcares and Nuks. Then you’ll find the completely obscure brands that are far cheaper than the more popular ones but with four- or five-star reviews. Are they really that good? Should you take a chance on them?
We took a selection of the best-rated devices and tested them. In our list, you’ll find a range of manufacturers, from those with a long-standing presence in the baby monitor sector, like Motorola and Angelcare, to those that are newer to the field, such as Arlo.
There are two Motorola devices at different price points on our shortlist, along with the best-rated or most highly recommended baby monitor from each other brand. We’ve included Philips, BT, Kodak, Nuk and Angelcare, along with Hello Baby, Arlo and a company called AOGE.
To keep tests fair, we chose the monitors that offered both visual and audio capabilities rather than just audio. At the time of writing, all the baby monitors we tested came in under the £250 price bracket based on RRP. There are a couple of sub £90 devices on our list, too - Hello Baby and AOGE – which were chosen as they had great reviews elsewhere and we wanted to see how they'd match up to the more expensive monitors.
We looked at all aspects of each product, from ease of use to display quality and audio capabilities. A baby monitor should be simple to set up, easy to use, offer a good signal range and enable you to see and hear your baby clearly.
If you’re paying between £100 and £200, you want something that offers that peace of mind. You want a device that allows you to easily keep tabs on your little one without disturbing them. God forbid you wake a sleeping baby by accident – that could be invaluable ‘you’ time you miss out on.
Being able to check on your baby through a monitor or your phone, day or night, and see and hear as if you were physically in the room is the most important attribute a baby monitor should offer in our view. That’s what we wanted from each monitor on test.
Best baby monitors: how we tested
To test the baby monitors we have shortlisted, we used each model for a number of very long, often sleep-deprived nights and days. This was important as it not only allowed us to test how each performed during natural daylight, but how well they performed after dark when their night vision capabilities were required. There is no point in having a baby monitor if you can’t see how your baby is doing half the time they are supposed to be in their cot or crib.
If anything, we felt good night vision was more important than daytime viewing because if your baby is crying at 3am, you want to be able to see what might be wrong before you drag yourself out of bed.
During our testing period, we ran two baby monitors concurrently, one on each corner at the foot of our baby’s cot. This allowed us compare two models like-for-like, with similar viewing angles, enabling a fairer test.
Having them running alongside each other also meant we could test specific features side-by-side, presenting a clear winner each time. We were looking at picture quality, audio quality, battery life, range, the way each monitor reacted to our baby and what extra features each monitor offered over the next.
These extra features include everything from remote camera control, adjusting the camera positioning from the monitor itself, to playing lullabies and setting alarms. Some also let you add additional cameras for better viewing angles, though we didn’t test this specific feature.
We also tested for ease of use. You want to be able to zoom in quickly if you need to, change the brightness of the display for more clarity or increase or decrease the audio volume without too much hassle. Each baby monitor has different menu settings and different ways of accessing those menus. Some monitors are very simple to use and navigate. Others are a little more complicated – something no sleep-deprived parent needs.
At the end of the four-day test period, we selected the device we preferred to remain on our baby’s cot, while the other was replaced with the next baby monitor on our shortlist. The one that was chosen to remain became our benchmark for the next baby monitor and we continued this process until we had completed testing for all the products.
By doing this, we ended our entire test period with the two monitors we thought were the best overall and the best value. We were able to see quickly those we didn’t rate as highly, those we would not recommend, and those we wouldn't be able to do without.
Best baby monitor reviews: The test results
The BT Smart Baby Monitor is the best performer on test, for several reasons. Both app control and handheld monitor control provide great flexibility. Its display is excellent, audio is great. Picture quality and good camera features, including remote adjustment of the camera position, are also important.
AOGE’s baby monitor also offers remote control of the camera, as do a couple of the others including both Motorola baby monitors and the Kodak Cherish. The Motorola, BT and Kodak options offer much smoother operation than the AOGE, though the AOGE does allow for a 360-degree field of view, meaning no blind spots.
The Arlo Baby was also one of our favourites and the device we selected for best value choice. It’s worth mentioning that the Hello Baby HB32 was a strong contender in this field, too, so perhaps a consideration if the Arlo Baby is out of your price range.
The Arlo Baby delivers the best picture quality of all the baby monitors on our shortlist, along with fantastic app functionality, and its design is by far our top pick of our shortlisted ten. However, it misses out on a handheld monitor – something all the others except the AOGE device have – and there's no remote camera control, though it has excellent night vision.
The Hello Baby and Motorola MBP50 also have good night vision, though they aren’t quite on par with the Arlo. The Arlo Baby’s zoom retains image quality too, even at night, which is something that can’t be said for many of the others we tested.
The Angelcare AC1300 has a great range and, like the BT and Kodak options, the screen is big and clear, though BT and Kodak’s are brighter and better quality. The Angelcare offers good zoom functionality, like the Arlo, but it doesn’t allow two-way talk, which is common to many of the other devices and a feature we were surprised to find missing.
There is a movement monitor included with this Angelcare option though, which is a nice additional extra feature – like Nuk and its ‘Patrol Mode’, which allows those with additional children to use just one Nuk monitor but additional Nuk cameras. The Angelcare’s battery life wasn’t as great as the likes of Nuk, Philips or Hello Baby, however.
In terms of set up, the Nuk, Philips, both Motorola devices, Angelcare, BT, Kodak and Hello Baby are mercifully plug and play, meaning you plug in the camera, plug in the monitor and you’re good to go. The Arlo Baby requires a little more effort – downloading an app and connecting to Wi-Fi – which you also have to do if you want to use the BT and Kodak apps, though this is worth it for the extra freedom they deliver so don’t be put off.
The best baby monitor reviewed:
BT Smart Baby Monitor with 5-inch Screen review, £149.99
We love the BT Smart Baby Monitor. It not only offers a great handheld monitor with an excellent baby-checking display, it connects to your smartphone.
You can check in on your little one wherever you are through the BT Smart Controls app, providing you have a decent internet connection. And you also have a great monitor for when you’re at home and don’t necessarily want your smartphone on all the time.
The picture quality on the handheld monitor is brilliant and the night vision is excellent, offering a clear image at all hours. The display is huge so you can see plenty thanks to the camera’s wide field of view. That said, if your baby manages to wriggle out of sight, you can adjust the camera remotely on the monitor or the app, though the experience is better and smoother through the monitor.
As well as the great picture quality, the BT Smart Baby Monitor’s audio and battery life are both very good. The handheld monitor will see you through the night without needing to be plugged in if the display is on only when required.
There are also several other features, including lullabies, which can be started via voice commands if you link your monitor to Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. You can set alarms and add cameras, though we found one camera perfectly adequate.
There are a couple of downsides to the BT Smart Baby Monitor. The first is a slight delay, which is only a few seconds and not dissimilar to the Arlo Baby. The app experience is the second. It’s nowhere near as friendly as the Arlo app.
Compared to the lovely modern design of the camera and the monitor itself, the BT Smart Controls app is a little dated and the picture through the app isn’t as clear as the Arlo app offers from the Arlo Baby monitor.
The BT Smart Baby handheld monitor is an absolute dream, though. It’s extremely easy to use, very intuitive and there are lights on the left-hand side that give you an idea if something is happening in your baby’s room without you needing the volume turned up or the display turned on, which in turn saves battery life.
The monitor signal range is good and we were able to use it at the bottom of the garden without any issues, but range doesn’t count for as much when comparing this monitor to the others thanks to the app offering viewing access anytime, anywhere.
Of the baby monitors we tested, the BT Smart Baby Monitor is the one we found ourselves coming back to, alongside the Arlo Baby. It boasts an excellent range of features, but we especially like it for offering the freedom of a smartphone app alongside the convenience and comfort of a handheld monitor.
The best baby monitor for value reviewed:
Netgear Arlo Baby review, £139.99
The Arlo Baby monitor is our best value choice. It is a fantastic device for the price, offering a range of useful features, alongside absolutely brilliant picture quality and a great design.
Of all the baby monitors we tested, none offer the same picture clarity as the Arlo Baby and none are quite as cute. The Arlo Baby offers rubber skins that can be bought separately, including a rabbit, a puppy and a kitten, making the camera more child-friendly.
In terms of picture quality, there is a small video stream at the top of the Arlo app, but this can be expanded into a full-screen landscape image, taking over your smartphone display for a super clear view of your baby.
It’s then possible to zoom in and out on your little one using a finger pinch, as you would on a standard picture in your gallery. It’s intuitive, simple and the quality of the picture doesn’t deteriorate too much when you zoom.
The Arlo Baby also offers great audio quality. We had no problems hearing our baby breathing when we opened the Arlo app and turned the volume up on our smartphone. Audio is clear, with little interference from the camera itself unless you are next to it.
We also love that the Arlo Baby is compatible with Google Home, Amazon Alexa and Apple HomeKit. If you have a Google Home Hub or an Amazon Echo Show in your home, you can stream your Arlo Baby camera to either of those devices for a constant view of your baby (once you’ve linked your accounts). You can also use the Google Home app or Apple HomeKit app rather than just the Arlo app.
Other features include light, temperature and humidity sensors, the ability to play lullabies, and two-way audio so you can talk to your baby through the camera. Tell them to lie down and hope they listen, for example.
The Arlo Baby isn't perfect, though. Firstly, it doesn’t have a separate monitor, relying on you always having your smartphone or tablet to hand, with an internet connection, sufficient battery life, and the app open to see your baby. But there are notification settings for both audio and movement so you can choose how many, or few, notifications you want coming through.
Secondly, it suffers some delay – a few seconds – which can be a little annoying, though it’s by no means a deal breaker. It also occasionally suffers some connection dropout, but this typically sorts itself out within a few seconds.
Lastly, you can't remotely control the camera from the smartphone app. This isn’t a huge issue as the Arlo Baby has a very good field of view, but it’s a feature that’s missing nonetheless.
Aside from those few small qualms we have with the Arlo Baby, it’s an excellent baby monitor and one we would highly recommend.
Comparing the rest on the test
We’ve highlighted our favourites but that’s not to say the others don’t have some excellent features and worthy attributes.
The Kodak Cherish C525 Video Baby Monitor also boasts the best of both worlds like the BT Smart Baby Monitor. It has a handheld monitor and smartphone control via an app.
The screen on the 5-inch monitor model is excellent – it has a great feature set including the ability to pan and tilt the camera remotely, the video quality during the day is fantastic and the camera offers an interesting design.
The Nuk Eco Control Video Display 550VD has a brilliant battery life that would easily see you through a long power cut and has some unique features, too, including a patrol mode if you have more than one child and additional cameras set up for each.
The field of view of the camera isn’t brilliant, nor is the quality of night vision. And the screen on the monitor is too small, though this is likely why the battery life is so good.
The Philips Advent SCD620 is small, discreet and features a nice and simple design. The interface is easy to use – easier than Nuk – but like Nuk’s offering, this offers a great all-night battery life.
It also has a good range. There’s no zoom functionality and the screen is smaller than most, while the picture quality doesn’t match others. That said, this baby monitor is worth considering for its battery life and ease of use.
The Hello Baby HB32 baby monitor has exceptional battery life that will easily see you through slumber time, good night vision and it’s very easy to use. The price is perhaps the best thing about the Hello Baby, though.
At under £100, it is significantly cheaper than many of the others on our list, but it offers a good feature set and great value for money.
The Angelcare AC1300 has an excellent range, good zoom and comes with a movement monitor for that extra piece of mind. The screen is nice and clear on the monitor, though battery life isn’t the best of the bunch. However, this monitor is worth considering for its range and the movement monitor.
The Motorola MBP50 has a large, clear display and the monitor is slightly curved, which not only offers a nice design, but good viewing angles when its on a bedside table and you’re looking at it lying down. It’s very easy to use, the picture quality is good, as is night vision, and the price is more reasonable than some in our test.
The Motorola MBP36S is a another great choice for around £100, rivalled only by the Hello Baby, which has better battery life. The MBP36S has a more exciting design than Hello Baby, though, and remote control of the camera, which is an outstanding feature to offer at the price. It also offers good night vision and an easy-to-use interface.
Any baby monitors to avoid?
We wouldn’t recommend the AOGE baby monitor. We picked this device as our wild card because it’s significantly cheaper than most other baby monitors and has an average of four-star reviews on Amazon.
We were hoping that it was possible to buy a decent baby monitor for a quarter of the typical price, but our expectations weren’t met. Firstly, setting it up was more laborious than any device should be, especially a baby monitor.
It involves resetting the camera, scanning QR codes, and generally more steps than any other baby monitor on our list, even the Wi-Fi options. We set up various devices on a day-to-day basis and this baby monitor took us over 30 minutes to get working. Others on our list took just 30 seconds.
The AOGE is also quite large, so placement isn’t easy and it was overhanging the edge of the cot. It looks cheap, too, so if you've spent time on decorating a lovely nursery, this robot-looking baby monitor is unlikely to blend in.
Credit where credit is due, though – the AOGE offers good picture quality, night vision and audio quality. It also has a wide-angle lens, enabling a 360-degree view of the cot and room, plus you can remotely control the camera positioning through the smartphone app which, at £35, is exceptional.
But the mechanism on the device is noisy, so you might wake your baby up shifting the camera angle – something most parents would definitely not want to risk.