1. Expert reviews

Top 5 Best Baby monitors of 2021

Anna Lavfors

Updated June 15, 2021

In our test of baby monitors, Philips' fantastically good value Avent SCD506 came out as best in test due to its winning combination of really high performance with excellent range, numerous practical features, stylish design and a great price.

Top 4 Best Baby monitors of 2021

How we did the test

Our tests are independently conducted and reflect the test editor's honest and objective opinions. Selection of products and test results are in no way influenced by manufacturers, retailers or other internal or external parties.

We carry out our tests ourselves and test all products as they are intended to be used in reality. In our test of baby monitors, we asked ordinary families with small children to use the monitors in their everyday lives. The test focused on the following parameters:

  • Functions: Does the baby monitor have a talk-back function, is there a built-in night light and can it display the temperature or other information?

  • Battery: How is the baby monitor powered, how long does it take to charge and does it warn the parent unit if the baby unit is running out of power?

  • Performance: How good is the connection, how long a range does the baby monitor have and how good is the image/audio quality?

The above factors were then compared to the price, after which we allocated a score.

1. Philips Avent DECT baby monitor SCD506 – BEST CHOICE BABY MONITOR 2021

Type: Audio baby monitor Signal technology: Digital Voice activation (VOX): Yes Battery: Battery and AC adapter for both units Operating time: Approx. 24 hrs Charging time: No information Two-way communication: Yes Belt clip: No Vibrator alarm: No Light alarm: Yes Soothing light or music: Night light & lullabies Weight: Parent unit: 118 g, Baby unit: 277 g Range warning: Yes Accessories: Neck strap

Philips Avent SCD506

The Philips Avent SCD506 is the long-awaited sequel to the SCD505, and lives up to Philips' claim that this is a great model that’s now been made even better. However, the fact that the parent unit drains the battery very quickly is one area that still hasn’t been improved. So we still recommend that the parent unit is primarily used plugged into the mains. This is entirely possible because two charger cables are included with the baby monitor, so batteries are never really needed with the SCD506. If you want to be more mobile as regards where the baby and child are located, however, that’s where the battery comes into its own.

Babyvakt-Philips-Avent-DECT-506-1

In everyday life with small children, the Philips Avent baby monitor is pretty easy to use. The buttons are convenient and quiet when pressed, the range is very good and the monitor has all the functions you could wish for. Even functions such as a night light and lullabies, which some may consider unnecessary, are available on the baby unit at the push of a button. Both sound and light indications are clear. The only incomprehensible thing is why the parent unit has to be so loud when you turn it off. If this is to prevent it from being done involuntarily, it makes sense, but even then a slightly lower volume would suffice. The Philips Avent SCD506 is a baby monitor you can understand even if you haven’t read the instruction manual, which is great news for grandparents who may be babysitting for an evening. This, together with the many good functions, makes the SCD506 very good value.

Good rangevery easy to uselots of functionstwo charger cables included
The parent unit consumes battery quicklyreally loud shut-off signal

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Baby Monitors Direct Logotype

Philips Avent SCD506/05 Audio Baby Monitor

£63.99
Baby Security Logotype

Philips AVENT DECT Audio Baby Monitor

£75.00
Olivers Baby Care Logotype

Philips Avent SCD506/05 Audio Baby Monitor

£75.00

2. Beurer BY84

Reliable analogue baby monitor with convenient format

Type: Audio baby monitor Signal technology: Analogue Voice Activation (VOX): Yes Battery: Battery and AC adapter for both units Operating time: No information Charging time: No information Two-way communication: No Belt clip: Yes Vibrator alarm: No Light alarm: Yes Soothing light or music: No Range warning: Yes Accessories: None

Beurer BY 84

The Beurer BY84 is a compact analogue baby monitor. The monitor comes with two AC adapters and also includes three rechargeable batteries – which is enough for one of the devices. It’s recommended that they are used in the parent unit, as the baby unit is often the one that’s left stationary beside the child. The units are confusingly similar, but are distinguished by the fact that the baby unit has a yellow antenna and the parent unit has a white one. To ensure the baby monitor can function without interference, you can choose between several different channels inside the battery compartment – of course both units must be set to the same channel. The range is good and after two months of daily use in three different homes, the baby monitor never once lost contact.

This isn’t a baby monitor for those who want fun features. The baby unit has no night light or lullabies. The parent unit lacks a talk-back function and the sound transmitted through is relatively crunchy. If you have a child who can speak, their words won’t be clear. But it does respond quickly to sounds. The display lights up and an icon with a crying baby appears. When everything is quiet, an icon of a sleeping baby appears on a dimmed screen. The only function that’s a bit questionable is the fact that the baby unit also lights up when it detects sound. If you have a child who makes noise in their sleep, the fact that the baby monitor suddenly, albeit briefly, lights up with a strong blue light may wake the child up. Otherwise, this is a straightforward baby monitor which informs you very reliably as soon as your child wakes up. And since that’s essentially what you want a monitor for, you’ll be more than satisfied with the flexible, affordable Beurer BY84.

Flexible formateasy to take on tripsreliableeasy to understand
Slightly muddy soundscreen on the baby unit lights up when it detects sound

3. Arlo Baby

Fun design for this video baby monitor with unlimited range and good picture quality

Type: Video baby monitor Signal technology: Digital Voice activation (VOX): Yes Battery: Both battery and AC adapter Operating time: 3 hours at night, 6 hours in daylight Charging time: No information Two-way communication: Yes Belt clip: No Vibrator alarm: No Light alarm: No Soothing light or music: Yes Weight: 330 g Range warning: No Accessories: Outputs to the baby unit

Netgear Arlo Baby ABC1000

For the parent who already lives a connected life and feels safe with app-controlled products in the home, the Arlo Baby baby monitor fits well into their lifestyle. In terms of format, this video baby monitor is convenient and playful in the form of a rabbit, but it is also possible to buy other covers and feet. The baby monitor looks fun, but if there’s a risk that older siblings will want to grab it for themselves as a toy, the skin can also be removed.

Fiddly installation makes the baby monitor less mobile

There are a lot of things about the Arlo Baby baby monitor that work well. However, as far as the installation goes, there’s room for improvement. The test families describe the process as almost unreasonably complicated. However, once you’ve done it, you get a theoretically unlimited range and high picture and sound quality. But the Arlo Baby isn’t the baby monitor you’ll take on holiday or when you visit family. Every move outside your own Wi-Fi network requires a new installation, and it’s just not worth it.

The Arlo Baby baby monitor consists of only one baby unit, which is placed on a flat surface in the baby's bedroom. You charge it with a power cable, and battery life is good. Instead of a parent unit, you receive picture and sound via an app, which can be downloaded to any smartphone. You can also get information about temperature and air humidity.

Efficient camera that delivers great pictures in all light conditions

With the Arlo Baby positioned in the room, you can manually turn the camera head to get the best angle. The picture quality is good and the baby monitor can also see in the dark. As far as seeing your sleeping child goes, there’s nothing to complain about. One clever function is the ability to set motion zones in the room being monitored. This will prevent the baby monitor from giving the alarm when there’s movement in other parts of the room.

The Arlo Baby baby monitor is equipped with a talk-back function, which during our tests sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t It can also play music and environmental sounds, or act as a night light. The baby monitor doesn’t have a power off button other than in the app, and all events are saved to a log. The app can also email you a week’s events – although we have no idea why you’d like to be reminded afterwards of exactly when your child woke up on Tuesday.

Very good range but slightly high price

The fact that the baby monitor uses Wi-Fi means you can be as far away from your baby as you like, but still stay in control via the app. Which is a good idea when you’re away and still want to get a peek at your sleeping baby. The picture quality is good and most things work well with the Arlo Baby baby monitor, but the final score is reduced by the expensive price and the complicated installation that means the baby monitor isn’t particularly mobile.

Convenient mobile appunlimited rangegood picture and sound qualityfun design
Complicated to installhard to take away from homehigh price

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4. Motorola MBP855 Connect

Type: Baby monitor with camera Signal technology: Digital Voice activation (VOX): Yes Battery: Built-in battery and AC adapter for both units Operating time: Baby unit: approx. 3 hrs Parent unit: approx. 5 hrs Charging time: Baby unit: approx. 2 hrs Parent unit: approx. 2 hrs Two-way communication: Yes Belt clip: No Vibrator alarm: No Light alarm: Yes Soothing light or music: Lullabies Weight: Parent unit: 226 g, Baby unit: 286 g Range warning: Yes Accessories: StarGrip universal mount

Motorola MBP855 Connect

The Motorola MBP855 Connect is a baby monitor with a camera whose strength lies in its fantastic image quality. The baby monitor consists of one baby unit and one parent unit, both of which have a built-in battery that Motorola recommends you don’t replace yourself. Battery times are relatively short. The baby unit lasts about 3 hours and the parent unit about 5 hours, which is just about enough for one evening. Having the electricity permanently connected to at least the baby unit is therefore highly recommended. One battery-saving feature of the parent unit is the screen saver, which comes on after a given time. If the baby wakes up, the sound is heard immediately anyway and the monitor can be easily turned on manually. The baby monitor also shows the volume level with a colour indication, from green to red light. Our test unit quickly develops a gap that means the power cord must be angled a certain way for the unit to charge at all. It’s also possible to connect your smartphone to the baby unit. The image quality is then noticeably worse and there’s a longer delay in the transmission. But it does work well as a substitute. If you have several cameras, these can be connected in series to the parent unit.

The image quality on the Motorola MBP855 Connect is best described as unbelievably good. The camera adapts easily to the amount of light in a room, but even in a pitch dark bedroom, the picture is still so clear that you can see the baby's chest move as they breathe. If you tend to worry a lot about how your child is doing, that image sharpness instils a great sense of security. The camera can be controlled both vertically and sideways, so it’s easy to follow a child who moves a lot in their sleep. Thanks to the universal bracket, the baby unit is easy to mount nice and firmly. Unfortunately, the first impression of the baby unit is somewhat diminished by the fact that Motorola have chosen to place a flashing blue light on the front of the camera base, which isn’t much fun for a baby to watch at bedtime. Despite some minuses, however, the overall impression is positive, as a good connection between units and an incredibly sharp image is still the most important thing on a video baby monitor. If these minor problems were corrected, the Motorola MBP855 Connect would undoubtedly be worth its price.

Fantastic image qualityvery good and stable connectioneasy-to-use functions
Irritating light on the baby unitgap in the power supplylong charging times

5. Parvel Go Baby Monitor

Small and convenient baby monitor that surveys movement and temperature via an app

Type: Movement/temperature Signal technology: Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Voice activation (VOX): No Battery: CR 2477 3V (watch battery) Operating time: Up to 2 years Charging time: No Belt clip: No Vibrator alarm: No Light alarm: No Soothing light or music: No Weight: 23 g Range warning: Yes Accessories: No

Parvel Baby Alarm

Parvel challenge the idea of what a baby monitor should be by monitoring, not with sound and image, but instead registering movement and temperature. The baby monitor consists of one unit – a white cube weighing only 23 grams, which is placed by the child. The parent can then follow the child's sleep via an app on their iPhone or Android phone. In the app, you can set how much movement Parvel Go should notice, and which temperature range is okay. The app is easy to understand and runs in the background, so you can safely use your phone for other things at the same time.

Getting started with the Parvel is easy, although the battery cover on the back is a bit fiddly to open. However, it does takes a little while to decide how best to place the Parvel Go near the child. Here, more recommendations from the manufacturer would have been a big plus. The motion sensor is more sensitive than you first think. It’s enough for the Parvel Go to be lying on the same mattress in the bed or pram for any movements to be registered.

The Parvel Go only works when the child is sleeping on a stationary surface. In a moving pram, it constantly warns of movement, but of course these warnings can be turned off if you only want to keep track of the temperature. After a few months of testing, the operating time was impressive. So far, the battery hasn’t needed to be replaced. However, you should note that you can’t have two phones connected to the Parvel Go at the same time, though you can log on and off with the different smartphones you want to use.

The Parvel Go is very good as a complementary product and offers great security during winter and summer, when you want to be sure that your baby doesn’t get too cold or hot. For small babies who don’t move about much in their sleep, the movement sensor also works well. But with older children, who can twist and turn in their sleep, it’s more difficult to determine from those movements whether the child is awake. So then you have to go and double check, which kind of defeats the object of having a baby monitor. Complementary audio monitoring would be a good idea. Overall, the Parvel Go is something that could be great. But there’s a need for more product development before this baby monitor can truly be a hit.

Reassuring to have such a good overview of temperatureeasy to place in a carrycot or cotgood operating time
Works best during the baby’s first six monthsmotion sensor doesn’t work in a moving pushchair or car

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How a baby monitor works

A reliable baby monitor is an indispensable tool for many parents of small children. A baby monitor gives parents both security and freedom by allowing them to be in a different place than the child, but without losing contact. A baby monitor consists of two units: the baby unit and the parent unit. The baby unit is equipped with a sound-sensitive microphone that it uses to listen to the baby. When the child cries, moves or otherwise makes a sound, the baby unit is activated and forwards those sounds to the parent unit. This second unit is equipped with speakers, through which it plays the sounds of the baby. In this way, the parent is kept informed about what’s happening in the baby's room without actually being there. Nowadays, there are also video baby monitors, i.e. baby monitors whose baby unit is equipped with a video camera in addition to a microphone. These normally have a motion detector that looks for movements from the baby and plays these on a screen on the parent unit. This is often very practical, as the video provides even better monitoring and the parent can more easily decide whether to go to the child or not.

Best baby monitors

Philips tend to dominate the market for baby monitors, but Topcom and Rätt Start are also popular brands and we tested baby monitors from all of these manufacturers. Our testers Johan, Lotta and Maria are engineers and also parents of small children. The tests were performed in very varied environments for a reliable result. The baby monitors were tested in everything from apartment buildings with plenty of reinforced concrete and lots of disruptive signals (for example, the neighbours' many wireless networks) to homes in the suburbs and houses in the country.

Our test included the most popular baby monitors just now and all the models we tested passed – which explains their popularity. Both the Philips Avent SCD600 and Rätt Start's VisionNova have a good range for video baby monitors, with a good image as well as good audio. In fact both of these video baby monitors actually have a surprisingly similar range.

The digital audio baby monitors, Philips Avent SCD505, SCD510, SCD535 and Rätt Start's SuperNova 900 also have a pretty impressive range. All of these models can withstand tough environments with thick walls and floors of reinforced concrete, as well as potential interference from other devices. Examples of such devices include mobile phones, microwave ovens and also various wireless items which are becoming more common in most homes. Despite the fact that densely populated areas (e.g. urban environments) are crowded with disruptive objects and signals, in these environments all four audio baby monitors have a range of up to several hundred metres. A longer range than that isn’t actually much use as you’re too far away from the child to be able to help within a reasonable period of time.

19 important characteristics of a baby monitor

In our tests, we took into account different characteristics divided into 19 categories. You can read about these characteristics in detail in the list below, with explanations of how and why they are important.

Alarm type

There are several different types of alarm on baby monitors. The most common is an audio alarm, where the baby monitor registers any sound made by the baby. For this sort of baby monitor to work properly, the monitor must have the correct sensitivity. If your baby's alarm is too insensitive, sound and/or movement from the child risks not being registered, and if it’s too sensitive, the baby monitor can register too much and the baby alarm will be triggered unnecessarily.

On most baby monitors, you can adjust the sound sensitivity to suit your needs. In addition to audio alarms, there are also temperature alarms, motion alarms, body heat alarms and range alarms. A temperature alarm sounds if it gets too cold or too hot in the baby's room. A motion alarm registers movements, e.g. if the baby moves. And a heat alarm sounds if the baby monitor detects too much body heat. A range alarm warns if the distance between the baby unit and the parent unit is becoming too large or if you are losing reception. Some models also have a timer alarm which can be used to remind the parent of mealtimes, for example.

Voice activation (VOX)

Voice activation, also called VOX (Voice Operated eXchange) means that the parent unit is deactivated when the baby unit isn’t registering any sound. The purpose of this is partly to save power, and partly not to disturb the parent with light or sound when it just isn’t needed. For VOX to work satisfactorily, sound sensitivity must be just right. This can often involve some fiddling with the sound sensitivity function to set the correct level.

Audio and video monitoring

Baby monitors can be divided into two categories in terms of monitoring functionality. Some baby monitors "only" have an audio function. This is how the classic baby monitor works, and is still sufficient for many parents today. There are also now so-called baby viewers or baby watchers. In addition to audio, this type of baby monitor also has an image function. So with a baby viewer, in addition to hearing them, you can also see your child. For one of these monitors to work satisfactorily, the signal transmission must be good enough, something only the best digital baby monitors achieve. An analogue baby viewer isn’t usually good enough. And the screen quality (resolution, contrast etc.) of the parent unit and the camera quality of the baby unit must also be taken into account. But the main disadvantage of baby viewers is that in addition to consuming more battery, they also tend to have a much shorter range than a monitor based on audio only.

Signal technology

Traditionally, baby monitors have had analogue signal transmission, but recently baby monitors with digital signal transmission have become increasingly common. The advantage of digital monitors is that the digital signal is less sensitive than an analogue one. This means they are less sensitive to interference from signals in the form of other wireless equipment such as wireless networks and phones. In addition, digital baby monitors usually have a longer range than analogue ones. Today, digital baby monitors are taking over completely from analogue and only the cheapest models still use analogue technology. In general, we recommend digital baby monitors over analogue ones because of their better range and reliability.

An analogue baby monitor can still very well work, even over longer distances, as long as interference is limited. But the more wireless equipment operating in the area of the analogue baby monitor, the more interference there will be. This manifests itself mostly in an increased noise, similar to what we used to hear on old radios. And just as you can still hear the radio despite a lot of noise or interference, so too you can still hear your child, but the sound is disturbed or muffled by the interference.

That’s completely different with a digital baby monitor. A digital monitor works more like a modern digital box for watching TV. Either everything comes in, or nothing comes in. When a digital signal can’t reach something well enough, it cuts out completely and you just get silence.

Baby monitor manufacturer Nova Babycall has developed its own technology that uses both analogue and digital signals. It’s claimed that this technology should work at long range while not using the pulsed electromagnetic radiation that other digital devices (and baby monitors) do. Instead, it only picks up the background noise. However, this technology has the side effect that it produces more background noise than baby monitors that only use digital signal technology. In our tests, we couldn’t prove whether Nova Babycall's baby monitor SuperNOVA had a better range or not than the purely digital audio baby monitors. However, this was due to the fact that both SuperNOVA and the purely digital ones all had such a superb range.

During outdoor measurement, in open terrain, for example, we never managed to go beyond the range of the baby monitors without having to walk so far that it would take several minutes of walking to get back to a baby in the event of an alarm.

Range

The range is the distance there can be between the baby unit and the parent unit without the monitor losing contact. A baby monitor's receiver is strongly affected by a number of different factors. The most important of these factors are normal walls, floors, ceilings etc. that prevent signals from the baby unit from reaching the parent unit. It’s the material that walls, floors etc. are made of that most affects how well the signals are transmitted. Thick concrete walls with lots of reinforcing bars are usually the most difficult to penetrate, while thin wooden walls are much easier. Metal is the biggest problem when it comes to signal interference. Sheet metal roofs, metal blinds etc. often reduce the range considerably. Another increasingly common source of interference are other electronics, especially wireless devices. We are constantly acquiring more electronic devices, which means that, for example, cordless phones, routers and keyboards as well as clock radios and toys are common causes of impaired range roday.

Radiation

All wireless equipment communicates via radio waves (electromagnetic radiation) and therefore emits radiation. There’s currently no scientific support to suggest that these radio waves are harmful to either adults or children. In fact, we are all constantly bombarded by radio waves from outer space. It is these radio waves that can be heard as the noise on a radio or seen as static on old TVs. When using mobile phones and other wireless equipment, such as baby monitors, however, this radiation becomes more intense and contains more energy, which is probably the reason why many people are worried about such radiation. Normally, digital wireless equipment also uses what's known as pulsed electromagnetic radiation, which means that the transmitter (the baby unit in the case of baby monitors) calls the receiver (the parent unit). This pulsed electromagnetic radiation contains much more energy and is therefore considered to be particularly harmful by those who believe that radiation is dangerous.

Generally speaking, it is recommended that you avoid unnecessary exposure to radiation from things like mobile phones because we don’t yet know the long-term effects that can arise from being exposed to different types of radiation. Of course, it’s up to each parent to decide for themselves how dangerous they think radio radiation may be, and if you’re worried about exposing your child to radiation from the baby unit, you should choose a model that emits as little radiation as possible, and particularly as little pulsed electromagnetic radiation as possible.

Battery & Operating time

As with other wireless devices, battery life and operating time are important features of a baby monitor. Baby monitors either have built-in lithium batteries and/or space for standard AA type rechargeable batteries. More expensive baby monitors often have built-in batteries while cheaper ones have standard AA batteries. The quality of the batteries you buy naturally affects how long the baby monitor can be on without having to be charged, but the baby monitor's energy consumption also significantly affects battery length. Modern baby monitors often have an eco function, which means the monitor can go into sleep mode and thus save power and extend the operating time. One thing to bear in mind is that a baby monitor with a picture function (a “baby viewer”) normally consumes more power than a monitor that only has an audio function. Better baby monitors also have a warning light or similar that indicates when the battery is running out.

Value for money

Price is an important factor when buying a baby monitor. At the same time, most people aren’t necessarily looking for the cheapest monitor, but the one that provides the best value for money. However, this value varies depending on what preferences you have as a consumer. So if you value a video function on your baby monitor, you’d probably pay a few hundred pounds extra for this function, but if you have no use for that function, a video monitor might seem too expensive. What’s good value therefore varies from person to person and is something you have to work out for yourself as a consumer.

Baby monitors can be divided into three different price classes. The first are simpler analogue audio baby monitors, the second are digital and generally more well-equipped and the third are baby monitors with a video function – baby viewers. Which of these categories is best value depends on what you prioritise in a baby monitor.

Design

Although design is far from being a baby monitor's most important feature, the appearance and shape of a baby monitor are important considerations for many people. A baby monitor will often be visible, out on a surface, and may even travel with you to visit family and friends, so you’d probably prefer it to have an attractive design, or at least not to be something you might feel ashamed of.

Two-way communication

Often a baby can be reassured by hearing their parent's voice. This means that two-way communication can be practical as it allows the parent to talk to the baby without having to go into the baby's room. Such call functions are mainly available on more expensive and more sophisticated baby monitors.

Instructions

Although the instructions for a baby monitor aren’t as important as for something like a crosstrainer, they’re still another feature that should be taken into consideration. Especially on more sophisticated baby monitors which may have many functions that can be tricky to understand without clear and good instructions.

Build quality

A baby monitor should be robust and able to withstand being dropped, as this can easily happen when you grab for it in a dark bedroom or are constantly carrying it around. In addition to impact resistance, other robustness properties include temperature and moisture resistance. These properties can be important if you’re using your baby monitor in an extreme climate, but in a temperate climate they are often of little importance.

Attachments

It’s useful if a baby monitor can be mounted or otherwise attached to a wall, bed, bookshelf etc. This is especially true if you have a baby viewer, where the camera must point at the right place to capture the baby in its image. Even for baby monitors without a video function, however, an attachment device is a good idea as it facilitates the placement of the baby unit at a suitable distance from the baby.

Size & Weight

A baby monitor must be the right size and weight to make it easy to carry around and handle etc. For most modern baby monitors, weight or size is rarely a problem.

Noise level lamp

A noise level lamp is used to indicate sound levels in the baby's room with light signals. This function is especially practical when you want your baby monitor in silent mode, e.g. when one of the parents is asleep and the other doesn’t want to wake him/her but, at the same time, wants to know when sound is coming from the baby.

Guarantee

Most people probably think a good guarantee is important when buying a baby monitor, especially a more expensive one.

Soothing sound & light

Another widely appreciated feature is the ability to play soothing lullabies or turn on a night light. These functions are most common on the more exclusive baby monitors.

Display

Many baby monitors have a display, which often makes it easier to use, especially if the screen is backlit. Video baby monitors often use their video screen as a display.

Accessories

By accessories we mean things such as a belt holder, belt clip, neck strap or bag that can be used to carry a baby monitor without having to hold it in your hand. A good belt holder can be a big plus as it makes parent mobility easier.

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