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In this guide
Sleep is one of those things you take for granted until you have a baby. Then suddenly you’re more obsessed with it than the latest episode of Married at First Sight, washing your hands and trying not to touch your face (harder than it sounds).
The best baby monitor allows you to hear, and maybe even see, baby whenever you’re not in the same room. The most basic ones are easy to use and set up and give you everything you need, and nothing you don’t. At the other end of the scale, they can be crammed full of features, including sensors and remote access via app. Here are Australia’s top baby monitors, which includes audio only, audio and video, and even baby monitoring apps. They’ve all been chosen from hours of research, including expert testing and real Aussie insights
How we picked
We began with CHOICE, Australia’s leading consumer advocacy group. They reviewed over 40 current models available in the Australian market. This gave us a good idea of which baby monitors worked well under test conditions.
We also wanted to understand how they worked in real Aussie homes. We found this at ProductReview.com.au, Australia’s first consumer opinion site. This gave us insights into which baby monitors are well-used and recommended by real Australians.
We checked out the Canstar Blue recent baby monitors survey too. This let us know which brands Aussie parents rate, even if not specific models.
From there, we could rank our top picks, balancing expert opinion with consumer feedback. We were looking to feature a range of baby monitors. They needed to span from the most basic audio models to the audio and video ones that came full of features, like light shows and lullabies. They also needed to be very affordable, with some higher priced options.
The best audio baby monitor
Choose this if
The VTech Safe & Sound Digital Audio Baby Monitor BM1000 delivers all you need, with nothing you don’t. Easy to set up and use, it’s ideal for tired parents. It offers 5 volume levels, noise indicators and a RRP of just $49, backed by a 2-year warranty.
What we love
Simple to use
It’s quick and easy to set up and use, with no huge time investment needed to learn how to use it. Which is a big tick for sleep-deprived, time poor parents everywhere.
For the parent unit, which are even included. Which means you can use it for up to 14 hours before it needs a recharge (i.e. plug it back into the mains).
5 volume levels
This allows you to have the volume as loud or as low as you need it.
If you accidentally switch the volume off, or the volume is too low, you can still see what’s happening with baby thanks to the 5 LEDs which will progress through green and red to warn you about the noise level.
If the parent unit is low on battery or out of range, an audible alert will sound.
Correct functioning assurance
If the parent and baby units are communicating properly, the power light on the parent unit will stay green. If something goes wrong, it’ll blink, alerting you to the issue.
At around $50, this is a very affordable baby monitor that will suit every budget.
No unnecessary extras
You’re not paying for any nice to haves, like a lullaby or lightshow. You’re simply getting what you need.
For such a low price, this is a great warranty period.
The not so good bits
Mixed consumer reviews
There are limited, mixed reviews on ProductReview.com.au with the biggest complaints being around how it doesn’t pick up every minor noise baby makes.
No battery in baby unit
This makes it tricky for travelling or moving around – the baby unit always needs to be near a power plug.
What you need from a baby monitor is simple: you need to hear when your baby is crying. The VTech Safe & Sound Digital Audio Baby Monitor BM1000 delivers this, with no frills and a very affordable price point; it has a RRP of around $50.
What you’re getting is everything you need, but nothing you don’t. The baby unit operates on main power, and the parent unit operates on rechargeable batteries that are supplied. It’s easy to set up and operate. It has 5 volume levels and a volume off option. It also has 5 LEDs on the parent unit that light up from green to red to show you if baby is making noise and how intense it is. This is a useful feature if you’ve accidentally turned the volume off or the volume is too low.
The power indicator light is handy too. If there’s no connection between the parent and baby units, it’ll flash green, alerting you that the monitor isn’t working correctly. If the light isn’t flashing, you get peace of mind that the monitor’s working as it should.
It has 2 alerts: when the parent unit battery is low and when the parent unit moves out of range. You can channel an 80s vibe with the parent unit belt clip. Questionable style aside, it’s useful for hands-free moving around with the parent unit.
CHOICE has thoroughly tested it, although Aussies on ProductReview.com.au have mixed thoughts about it. However, these are very limited – currently, less than 20 of them. The biggest complaint seems to be that it doesn’t pick up every single noise baby makes, however minor. Which, for some parents, is actually a good thing – you don’t get woken up through the night by every tiny snuffle. Vtech is #2 in Canstar Blue's baby monitor survey, getting 5 stars for value for money and 4 for everything else.
Related: The Best Baby Sleeping Bag
The best video baby monitor
Choose this if
You’ll be in good company with the Oricom Secure740 - Aussies love it. It boasts a great range of features, including a large 10cm full colour screen, baby-friendly night vision, room temperature sensor, 5 lullabies, white noise, feeding timer and a talk-back feature. It’ll set you back around $250.
What we love
10cm colour display
This is a whopper of a full colour screen, so great for seeing baby clearly.
Infrared night vision
So you can keep an eye on baby, even at night.
Compatible with up to 4 cameras
A great feature if you have multiple young children who need their own baby monitor.
Sleep-deprived brain not working so well? Set a feeding timer to be reminded when it’s time to feed baby.
Room temperature sensor
Set a maximum and minimum room temperature and get alerted if it gets too hot or cold.
Elevating this beyond simply a baby monitor.
Baby not a lullaby fan? Choose womb sounds or vacuum cleaner noise instead.
If you’d rather not have a direct listening ear into baby’s room 24/7 (especially if you’re using white noise in their room), use VOX mode. It switches off the screen and mutes the audio until baby makes noise, when it switches everything back on again.
Allowing you to communicate with baby if you can’t get to them straight away.
Loved by Aussies
Almost 100 Aussies rave about it on ProductReview.com.au.
For great peace of mind.
The not so good bits
None, other than it hasn’t been reviewed by CHOICE.
If you’re after some serious baby surveillance, we reckon the Oricom Secure740 is the way to go. Unlike the VTech Safe & Sound Digital Audio Baby Monitor, it’s an audio and video monitor. It has a huge 10cm colour display which, thanks to its infrared baby-friendly night vision, allows you to keep an eye on baby, day and night. Motion detection and alerts mean you won’t miss a thing. You can connect up to 4 cameras (which need to be compatible Oricom cameras) with it, offering great flexibility if you have multiple children.
As well as being able to see and hear what baby’s up to, it has a room temperature sensor and an alert which sounds if it gets too hot or cold. It also offers white noise (womb sounds and vacuum cleaner) and 5 soothing lullabies.We reckon the parent talk-back feature is helpful for when you can’t instantly comfort baby (think that necessary trip to the loo).
There’s a feeding timer you can set to remind you when to feed baby (because the sleep deprivation brain fog is real). It has a VOX mode too. This turns the screen off and mutes the sound. You set the sensitivity level and it’ll automatically wake the screen, start the audio and sound an alarm to let you know when baby’s making enough noise to reach the sensitivity level. This means you don’t have to listen out for baby 24/7. Instead, you’ll be alerted when they make a noise.
All these features will set you back around $250. It comes with a great 3-year warranty. Aussies love it, it has around 4 stars on ProductReview.com.au. Oricom is Canstar Blue’s 3rd most popular baby monitor brand. The downside? It’s not been reviewed by CHOICE.
Related: The Best Portacot
Others worth considering
Type – audio and video
If you want to see and hear baby when you’re not at home, consider the VTech Video Baby Monitor RM5752. It has remote access via your smartphone. Not only can you view and hear in real-time, but you can record images and videos to your device too, thanks to the free VTech app. This makes this baby monitor a good choice if you travel a lot away from baby. You can even talk to baby remotely through this app thanks to the smart 2-way talk feature.
Aside from remote access, it’s packing a 12cm colour LCD screen. The camera is 1080p HD with automatic night vision, 2x local digital zoom and 10x remote digital zoom. When the light levels drop, it automatically switches to night vision. It also has 5 lullabies, 4 natural sounds, a temperature sensor and motion detector - both with alerts. You can connect up to 4 cameras to it.
Coming in around $270, it’s a pretty fair price for all it’s packing. VTech is Aussies’ #2 baby monitor brand, according to Canstar Blue’s recent survey.
Although it’s been reviewed by CHOICE, it’s not yet on ProductReview.com.au.
Type – audio and video
For more than a monitor, meet the iBaby Care Monitor M7. iBaby reckon it’s a ‘total smart baby care system’. What does that mean? Well, it has a built-in moonlight soother with 3 light modes: moonlight, lightshow and nightlight. This should hopefully soothe baby to sleep but hey, no guarantees.
Its other unique selling points include a large number of sensors. This includes air, temperature and humidity sensors so you know what’s happening in baby’s room. It’s also got sound and motion sensors that send alerts to the app. Somehow, it’s also got smart smell sensors that tell you when baby’s nappy is full or they’ve thrown up.
Two-way parent talk works locally and remotely so this is another good travelling-parent option. You can play lullabies and bedtime stories from the app or connect to your own music library. It has a 1080p full HD camera, with infrared night vision, 360 degree pan and 140 degree tilt.
Note it doesn’t come with a parent unit. Your smartphone is the parent unit. You’ll need a decent wi-fi connection to get the most out of this.
As you’d expect with all these features, it’s got a top-end price - around $360. It’s been reviewed by CHOICE and currently only has 1 middling review on ProductReview.com.au.
Type – audio and video
If looks are important to you, then you’ll love the bunny-shaped Netgear Arlo Baby. High definition video (1080p HD) gives you a clear picture. Infrared LED lights ensure the video works overnight too. It has a music player that includes lullabies and white noise and even the capability to record your own voice. Air sensors monitor air condition, including temperature and humidity. Its noise sensors can differentiate between sounds and baby crying and will alert you accordingly. It also packs an adjustable multi-coloured night light, 2-way talk and a built-in rechargeable battery that means the Arlo Baby doesn’t need to always be plugged in.
Rather than a parent unit, the Arlo Baby is operated and monitored through an app on your smartphone, tablet or computer which will even record video for you to easily share with family and friends. Which all sounds amazing. Although it’s been tested by CHOICE, it has poor – although limited – real-world reviews on ProductReview.com.au. The biggest complaints are around the app and how recent updates have made the Arlo Baby unusable.
Type – audio and movement sensor
The Angelcare Movement & Sound Monitor AC401 is a multi-award-winning movement and sound monitor. It comes with a breathing sensor pad that sits under the mattress and sends you an alarm if it can’t detect breathing. The sensor pad has adjustable sensitivity. Even though it doesn’t have video capabilities, it still has a full colour digital display that shows you things like room temperature and sound lights. For peace of mind that it’s working correctly, you can switch on the audio ‘tic’ feature which makes a ticking sound on the parent unit. It also has a night light with 2 brightness settings and a talk-back feature.
You can adjust the volume and have the option of a quieter vibration alert rather than an alarm. It also has a low battery indicator. As well as being tested by CHOICE, it has almost 100 reviews on ProductReview.com.au with a current score of 4 stars.
Type - movement
The Snuza Hero isn’t an audio or video baby monitor, it’s a movement monitor. It clips onto baby’s nappy and monitors their breathing movements while they sleep. If it senses 15 seconds of no breathing movements, it gently vibrates to rouse baby. Five seconds later, it sounds a loud alarm to rouse you. There’s an option to add an audible tick so you can ‘hear’ your baby’s breathing movements.
It’s cordless, lightweight (less than 20g) and portable with no sensor pads or anything else needed. This makes it easy to take with you wherever you go, like in the car or on holiday. To be safe for baby, it’s made of medical grade plastic and silicone. It’s also BPA, Phthalate, lead and latex-free.
Snuza reckons it’s the top-rated baby monitor on Amazon. It’s popular on ProductReview.com.au where it gets around 4.5 stars. Aussie parents repeatedly say it offers amazing peace of mind.
Type – audio and video
The Oricom Secure870 Touchscreen is packing an almost 9cm touch screen, a motorised pan-tilt, 3x digital zoom camera and a lightshow. Not just a starry night lightshow, but an adjustable nightlight and 19 lullabies, white noise, nature and womb sounds too. Phew.
It’s compatible with up to 4 Oricom cameras, providing a split screen view so you can keep an eye on multiple rooms at once. It has a room temperature monitor, parent talk-back and vibration alerts in case the volume is too low. It also has a 3-year warranty. It’s been tested by CHOICE, comes from the 3rd most popular Canstar Blue brand and currently has around 3 stars from more than 100 reviews on ProductReview.com.au.
Type – audio
Another affordable option, the VTech Digital Audio Baby Monitor (BM2000-OWL) is a sweet owl-shaped audio baby monitor. The digital display shows the room temperature and offers sound sensitivity adjustment, a visual sound indicator, 5 lullabies, 5 volume options, plus a nightlight and a parent talk-back feature.
It’s tested by CHOICE and Vtech is the second most popular baby monitor brand according to Canstar Blue. It doesn’t currently have any reviews on ProductReview.com.au so we don’t know how it performs in Aussie homes.
The bottom line
All parents want what’s best for their babies. For some, that might include buying a baby monitor. If it does, every parent should be able to access the simple purpose of a monitor: to hear, and possibly see, their baby clearly, day or night, when they’re not in the same room. And this shouldn’t be wildly unaffordable.
That’s why we’ve chosen VTech Safe & Sound Digital Audio Baby Monitor BM1000 as Australia’s best baby monitor. It delivers everything you need, with nothing you don’t. This includes 5 volume levels and a visual sound indicator. It’s simple to set up and use, making it ideal for tired, busy parents. Even better, it has a RRP around $50, making it affordable for the majority of parents.
Or you could opt for the Oricom Secure740. This audio and video baby monitor has a great 10cm full colour screen, with baby-friendly night vision. This lets you keep an eye on baby day and night. It’s also got a room temperature sensor, 5 lullabies, white noise, feeding timer and a talk-back feature. Best of all, Aussies love it, even if CHOICE hasn’t reviewed it.
Types of baby monitors
There are many types of baby monitors, including:
Audio: basically, a walkie-talkie between you and baby, allowing you to hear what’s going on in their room.
Video: as well as hearing your baby, an audio and video monitor allows you to see them too. The camera normally transmits to a tablet-like carer unit.
Movement: A movement monitor uses sensors to track baby’s movements while they’re sleeping. They alert you if they detect any stillness. Some movement monitors also have audio and/or video capabilities.
Networked video (WiFi / 3G / 4G): again, you’ll be able to see baby, but this type normally uses an app, transmitting the images and sound to your smartphone, tablet or computer. They work well if you have strong WiFi with no weak spots in your home. However, there are security issues in transmitting this data over the internet and it can suck your monthly data limits.
Our guide covers audio plus audio and video baby monitors. Two of our picks (theVTech Video Baby Monitor RM5752 and the iBaby Care Monitor M7) are networked video baby monitors. Apps are an extremely affordable baby monitoring device, usually costing less than $10. They’re growing in popularity and we tackle these below.
Features to consider
Baby monitors range from basic audio monitors to all-singing (literally) models. Here’s what we expect every baby monitor to offer.
Visual sound indicators
If you have an audio only monitor, visual sound indicators can be a useful feature especially if the volume is off or low. Sometimes they have them on video monitors too. They light up, usually from green to red, to visually highlight the intensity of your baby’s crying.
It’s standard to have a belt clip on the parent unit. This allows you to carry it around, hands-free.
Low battery or communication failure indicators
If the parent unit is running low on battery, it should warn you so you can plug it in and recharge, rather than simply dying. If the parent and baby units aren’t communicating, the monitor should also warn you.
You may find that the most affordable baby monitors run their baby units on mains power only, rather than batteries. This means you’re limited to where you can use it. It needs to be near a power point. Check out the expected battery life of the parent unit so you understand how long you can use it before it’ll need to be plugged in.
You should be able to choose the best volume for your needs, raising it when you’ve popped outside to hang laundry or lowering it when you’re going to sleep.
Video monitors should have an infrared camera that’s baby friendly (think no sleep-disrupting or painful to look at light). This allows the monitor to work overnight and in low light. It usually results in black and white, poor contrast video.
What you get if you spend more
We believe, backed up by our research at Red Nose, that paying more for your baby monitor doesn’t make it safer or protect against SIDS. What you might get are features that elevate it beyond simply a monitor. Lullabies and light shows can make it a baby-soothing tool, for example.
One of the monitors we reviewed includes a movement monitor. They sound an alarm when they don’t sense any movement after a certain length of time. This is a premium feature with a premium price. Expect to pay around $300 for this feature.
You can sometimes connect more than 1 camera to a parent unit. This is handy if you have more than 1 small child and need to see into multiple rooms at once. It’s also good for travelling.
Lullabies and sound
To help baby drift off, some monitors offer gentle lullabies and sound.
This means you can talk to your baby when you’re not in the same room. It’s handy for those times you can’t immediately respond to your baby. You can also talk to someone who’s in the room with baby, like a babysitter.
Room temperature monitor
You can check that baby’s not too hot or cold, remotely. Some monitors let you set an upper and lower temperature limit. It’ll then sound when the room temperature is above or below them.
Nightlight or lightshow
A nightlight can be helpful in creating a comforting environment, or for guiding your way into baby’s room. More expensive monitors can offer lightshows which are intended to be soothing or set a sleeping mood.
Do I need a baby monitor?
Here are some reasons why a baby monitor might be right for you:
- You live in a large home where you can’t always hear or see what baby’s up to.
- You sleep in a different room to baby.
- You’d love some downtime (whether that’s napping or catching up with your favourite show) when baby’s asleep, rather than having to stick close to their room or constantly check on them.
- You’d like to keep an eye on your child and their caretaker when you’re not at home. Note you’ll need a networked video monitor for this.
- You want family and friends that are far away to be able to enjoy videos of baby - this works for you or your partner too, if you frequently travel away from home. Again, this is only possible with a networked video monitor.
What’s a parent unit? What about a baby unit?
Baby monitors normally have 2 units. One sits in baby’s room to pick up any sound or capture images - this is the baby unit. The other unit stays with you so you can hear or see baby, wherever you are at home. This is the parent unit.
Are video baby monitors worth it?
The most basic (read: affordable) baby monitors are audio only. Which means you can hear what baby’s up to but not see them.
Most parents prefer video baby monitors. These let you see what baby’s doing, why they’re making noise and whether you need to go to them. There’s a difference between crying out while they’re deep asleep and crying because they’ve caught their foot in the cot bars. Some video baby monitors let you pan around the room or play music or lullabies too.
If you’re after peace of mind that you can see baby, even when you’re not in the same room, a video baby monitor is worth it.
Do baby monitors help prevent SUDI or SIDS?
Sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) covers both sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and fatal sleeping accidents. SIDS is the sudden, unexpected and unexplained death of an apparently well baby usually within the first 3 months of their life. Most unexpected deaths happen while the child is asleep at night. It’s rare and no one knows exactly what causes it.
Red Nose, Australia’s leading authority on safe sleep, promotes the use of a safe sleeping environment to help reduce the risk. Download their Safe Sleeping Brochure on their website. According to Red Nose, “there is no scientific evidence that using any type of monitor will prevent a sudden unexpected infant death” – read their full article.
We interpret this as meaning that preventing SIDS shouldn’t be a reason for buying a baby monitor.
Or how to move your sleeping baby, without waking them (not guaranteed).
Or how to get stuff done while still being close to your baby.