The Best Baby Monitor

Or how to tell if baby is really sleeping, or just faking it.

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October 27, 2019
Best baby monitors

Baby Monitors

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. The best baby monitor allows you to hear, and maybe even see, baby whenever you’re not in the same room. It’s easy to use and set up, can be used when not plugged in and offers a range of volumes. Here are Australia’s top baby monitors, chosen from expert testing and real Aussie experiences.

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Our top picks

VTech Safe & Sound BM1000
Best Overall

VTech Safe & Sound BM1000

See price on Amazon
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.
Shop Now
Oricom Secure710 Digital
Also Great

Oricom Secure710 Digital

See price on Amazon
If you want something more than a baby monitor, consider the Oricom Secure710 Digital. A large 6cm screen with baby-friendly night vision allows you to keep an eye on baby day and night. It’s crammed with extras, like a room temperature sensor, nightlight, 5 lullabies and a talk-back feature.
Shop Now

Baby Monitors

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. The best baby monitor allows you to hear, and maybe even see, baby whenever you’re not in the same room. It’s easy to use and set up, can be used when not plugged in and offers a range of volumes. Here are Australia’s top baby monitors, chosen from expert testing and real Aussie experiences.

Baby Monitors
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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.

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. 

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. 
  • 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, but not networked video. Apps are an extremely affordable baby monitoring device, usually costing less than $10. They’re growing in popularity and we tackle these at the bottom of this guide.

Important 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. 

Belt clip

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.

Power source

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.

Volume control

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. 

Infrared camera 

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.

Movement monitor

Two of the monitors we reviewed include movement monitors. 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. 

Multi-camera compatibility

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 room at once. It’s also good for travelling.

Lullabies and sound

To help baby drift off, some monitors offer gentle lullabies and sound.

Parent talk-back

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.

Best Overall: VTech Safe & Sound Digital Audio Baby Monitor BM1000

See price on Amazon
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VTech Safe & Sound BM1000
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.
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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 just $49. 

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 came 4th in Canstar Blue’s 2018 baby monitor survey, getting 5 stars for power source and 4 stars for other relevant categories like reliability, sound clarity and ease of use.

Why buy the VTech Safe & Sound Digital Audio Baby Monitor BM1000 

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. 

Rechargeable batteries – 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.

Noise indicators – 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.

Alerts – 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.

Price – at RRP $49, 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.

2-year warranty – 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.

In summary 

A thoroughly independently tested baby monitor, 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, busy parents. It offers 5 volume levels and LED indicators to show you when baby is making noise and has a RRP of just $49. This is backed up by a 2-year warranty.

Also Great: Oricom Secure710 Digital

See price on Amazon
VTech Safe & Sound BM1000
If you want something more than a baby monitor, consider the Oricom Secure710 Digital. A large 6cm screen with baby-friendly night vision allows you to keep an eye on baby day and night. It’s crammed with extras, like a room temperature sensor, nightlight, 5 lullabies and a talk-back feature.
Shop Now

If you’re after some serious baby surveillance, we reckon the Oricom Secure710 Digital is the way to go. Unlike our winner, it’s an audio and video monitor. It has a large 6cm colour display which, thanks to its infrared baby-friendly night vision, will allow you to easily keep an eye on baby. The camera is wall-mountable, which is great if you need the camera in a fixed position. But it’s also capable of connecting up to 4 cameras (which need to be compatible Oricom cameras) so it does offer flexibility if you’re travelling or have multiple children. 

As well as being able to see and hear what baby’s up to, it also has a room temperature sensor, a comforting and adjustable nightlight and 5 lullabies. The sound sensor lights mean if the volume is too low or off (you can adjust the volume), you can still see if baby’s making noise. 

The parent talk-back feature is helpful for when you can’t instantly comfort baby (think that necessary toilet trip). In case of power failure, it has a battery backup system although batteries aren’t included. It’ll also warn you when you’re out of range or the battery is low. 

All these features will set you back around RRP $229, which comes with a great 3-year warranty. Aussies love it, it has over 200 reviews on ProductReview.com.au and just over 3 stars. They praise how easy it is to set up and use, the picture quality and the excellent customer service. Oricom is Canstar Blue’s 2nd most popular baby monitor brand. Consumers gave it 5 stars for power source and ease of use, and 4 stars in every other category, including overall satisfaction. The downside? It’s not been reviewed by CHOICE. 

Why the Oricom Secure 710 Digital is worth considering

6cm colour display – large, good quality colour and black and white (when low light levels are detected) imagery allows you to keep an eye on baby day and night.

Compatible with up to 4 cameras – meaning if you wall mount the included camera you can still pair it with another one if you’re travelling or baby’s sleeping somewhere different in the house. This is also great if you have multiple young children. 

Night-vision – the infrared camera works well at night or during low light levels.

Room temperature sensor – ensure baby’s not too hot or cold.

Nightlight – adjustable, you can choose an appropriate level of nightlight comfort for baby.

5 lullabies – elevating this beyond simply a baby monitor.

Talk-back feature – allowing you to communicate with baby if you can’t get to them straightaway.

Loved by Aussies – not only on ProductReview.com.au but also on Canstar Blue’s 2018 baby monitor survey. 

3-year warranty – for purchase peace of mind.

The not-so-good bits

No belt clip – which means you can’t wander around the house hands-free with the parent unit, if you need to. 

Price – this isn’t the most expensive baby monitor we reviewed (that’d be the Oricom Secure870 Touchscreen at RRP $359), but at RRP $229, it falls in the midrange. We think it’s expensive but crams a lot in to justify the price. 

Not reviewed by CHOICE – we think independent CHOICE reviews are a good way of cutting through the marketing spiel. The Oricom Secure710 Digital is highly rated by real Aussies though, which is equally important.

In summary 

If you want something more than simply a baby monitor, we reckon you should consider the Oricom Secure710 Digital. A large 6cm full colour screen with baby-friendly night vision allows you to keep an eye on baby day and night. It’s crammed with extras, like a room temperature sensor, nightlight, 5 lullabies and a talk-back feature. Best of all, Aussies love it, even if CHOICE hasn’t reviewed it.

The Competition

As you’d expect, there are hundreds of baby monitors available in Australia. Here are the others we reckon are worth considering.

Netgear Arlo Baby

Type – audio and video 

If looks are important to you, then you’ll love the bunny-shaped Netgear Arlo Baby, RRP $287. 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 very 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. 

Choose this if – you want all the bells and whistles with a very 21st century, cute baby monitor that links to your smartphone (or tablet or computer). Although thoroughly independently tested, it’s not currently rated by many Aussies. 

Angelcare Movement & Sound Monitor AC401

Type – audio and movement sensor

This 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. Angelcare is also Canstar Blue’s 3rd most popular baby monitor brand. Its RRP is $299.

Choose this if – you want a movement sensor and audio monitor with a full colour digital display and plenty of features from a brand that’s popular with Aussies.

Oricom BabySense 2

Type – audio and movement sensor

The Oricom BabySense 2 is a step up from our Oricom runner-up, because it’s also a movement sensor. It’s also a slight step up in price, with a RRP of $299 compared to our runner-up’s $229. Pop the 2 sensor pads under baby’s mattress and the Oricom BabySense 2 will activate an alarm if your baby’s breathing movement slows to a rate of less than 10 breaths per minute or cannot be detected for more than 20 seconds. 

Other than that, it’s a fairly basic audio baby monitor. It offers a parent talk-back feature, adjustable night light, sound sensitive light display (it doesn’t have a screen), plus out of range and low battery warnings. It’s been tested by CHOICE and has almost 150 reviews on ProductReview.com.au with a current average rating of nearly 4 stars. Oricom is also Canstar Blue’s 2nd most popular baby monitor brand for 2018. 

Choose this if – you want a well-rated-by-Aussies movement sensor and basic audio monitor that includes a night light and talk-back feature for a RRP of almost $300.

HESTIA H100

Type – audio and video

You won’t choose the HESTIA H100 for its looks. It’s boxy and outdated looking, with the parent unit channelling some serious walkie-talkie vibes. Looks aside, you’re getting a 6cm LED colour screen with an infrared nightlight for day and night viewing. It has an impressive 250m range and a waist clip on the parent unit. You can add up to 4 HESTIA cameras for multiple kids. HESTIA has a focus on encrypted data transfer to ensure privacy.

It’s been tested by CHOICE and has good, although limited, reviews on ProductReview.com.au. With a RRP of $199, we think you’re probably better upgrading to our runner-up for an additional $30.

Choose this if – you want a basic, no-frills audio and video baby monitor that aims to keep your data safe and secure and want to stick around $200.

Oricom Secure870 Touchscreen

Type – audio and video

Our third Oricom, and this time it’s the most expensive baby monitor we’ve reviewed with a RRP of $359. That’s because it boasts the biggest screen we reviewed (almost 9cm), which is touchscreen, 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 2nd most popular Canstar Blue brand and currently has over 3 stars from more than 100 reviews on ProductReview.com.au. 

Choose this if – you’re happy spending over $350 on a baby monitor that comes with plenty of extras, including a lightshow and a range of baby-friendly noises. 

VTech Digital Audio Baby Monitor (BM2000-OWL)

Type – audio

Another affordable option, only slightly more expensive than our winner with a RRP of $59.95, 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 4th 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.

Choose this if – you’re looking for an affordable audio baby monitor that looks different from the standard and offers more than our winner, thanks to its lullabies and nightlight, but doesn’t yet have any real consumer reviews.

App Baby Monitors

If you’re after affordability, an app baby monitor could be right for you. Typically less than $10, they work using 2 devices - your current smartphone is the ‘parent’ device and another device is the ‘child’ device. This means you’ll either need to have an unused device lying around, or you’ll need to buy one. 

The features, functionality and price of app baby monitors are appealing. Plus, you won’t have another bit of baby kit that you’ll have no use for in a few years and travelling is far easier without having to pack a monitor. 

But they do have their limitations. Like you’ll need to buy a phone stand so you can safely set up the child unit, they can suck your device’s battery life and there’s no night vision, unless your child device phone has infra-red lighting.

Because these aren’t physical products, they don’t have any consumer reviews on ProductReview.com.au. Instead we’ve focused on apps that have been tested by CHOICE. 

Dormi

Dormi prides itself on being a baby monitor for the smartphone age. It offers traditional baby monitor features, like video and audio. Rather than fiddling around with microphone sensitivity, Dormi automatically adjusts to noise levels. This means you can leave the child device several metres away from baby, and Dormi will amplify the crying on your parent device. You still have the flexibility to adjust these settings yourself, if you prefer. 

Even when baby’s not making noise, you can use the Listen button to hear and see them. There’s also a Speak button so you can soothe baby while you’re on your way. The smart info centre gives you peace of mind that Dormi is working - it shows you the connection status and which devices it’s paired with. If connection with the child device is lost, your parent device will tell you. There’s also an activity log which shows you when noise was detected which may appeal to the helicopter parent in you. 

If the device you’re using as the child unit is used for other things, your parent device will notify you about missed calls and new texts - and you can respond from your parent device. If you’re using the parent device (like making a call) and baby stirs, Dormi will gently nudge you without disturbing you. Expect vibrations and a gentle beep. 

Like a top baby monitor, you can connect multiple devices as parent devices to a single child device. This means you, your partner and extended family can all monitor baby. As well as connecting over the internet, Dormi can be used without the internet too. As long as the devices can see each other, like over wifi, Dormi will work. This is handy if you’re in poor signal areas or want to avoid roaming charges while overseas. 

Dormi reckons they’ve paid attention to the amount of battery the app will use and claim that you can the monitor for many hours on 1 charge. All of this functionality will cost you $9 for lifetime unlimited use. If you’d like to try before you buy, you can also get 4 hours of monitoring free every month. The downside? Dormi works on Android only. Although because it’s backwards compatible all the way to Android 2.3, it’ll work with your oldest devices.

Choose this if – you’re happy to only use Android, are after smart functionality, like the ability to make calls or respond to messages on the child device from the parent device, and want to try before you buy. 

Baby Monitor 3G

Baby Monitor 3G offers slightly more functionality and more system support than the Dormi. Like the Dormi, you can add multiple parent devices, talk to your baby, be notified when baby is stirring through a vibration alert and adjust the audio sensitivity levels. 

Unlike the Dormi, it works on both Android and iOS plus Mac and Apple TV. It also offers a more detailed activity log so you can see how often baby was awake, discover any sleeping patterns and replay sounds from the current or previous monitoring.  It has lullabies functionality, either from your own music library or from a supported app, and a night light to help you see baby in low light levels. It also has a night mode, to help make it easier to check on baby during the night.

You get all this for $6.

Choose this if – you want an app that supports Android, iOS, Mac and Apple TV and are after more detailed information about your baby’s sleeping patterns and increased functionality, like lullabies. 

Cloud Baby Monitor

The Cloud Baby Monitor offers the most features and functionality of all the app baby monitors we reviewed. But it’s still very affordable - it’s $6, like Baby Monitor 3G. 

Like Baby Monitor 3G, Cloud Baby Monitor works on both Apple and Android devices. It has slightly more Apple functionality than Baby Monitor 3G - it supports iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, Apple TV, and Apple Watch.

It has a range of features that you’d expect, like noise and motion alerts when baby makes a noise, the ability to connect multiple parent devices and a talk to baby function, which includes video, i.e. baby can see as well as hear you.

It also offers extended functionality like Baby Monitor 3G. This includes built-in white noise and lullabies and a night light. When baby is sleeping through the night, you can switch off the video and turn your parent device into a night clock instead. You can also monitor multiple children with just 1 parent device. 

Choose this if – you want a wide range of device compatibility (including for Apple Watch) and features, such as built-in white noise and lullabies, and aren’t bothered by in-depth information about baby’s sleeping patterns.

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 of just $49, making it affordable for the majority of parents.

Our runner-up, the Oricom Secure710 Digital, undeniably offers more than our winner – but it’s over 4 times more expensive at RRP $229. A video as well as audio monitor, it has a large full colour screen plus extras like a room temperature sensor, nightlight, 5 lullabies and a talk-back feature. Although it hasn’t been independently reviewed and tested, Aussies on ProductReview.com.au love it.

Sarah Idle
Words by Sarah Idle

Sources 

1. "How to buy the best baby monitor", CHOICE

2. "Baby Monitors", ProductReview.com.au

3. "Home Monitoring", Red Nose

4. "Safe Sleeping Brochure", Red Nose