Best baby monitor cameras for travel or home

By Grace Holliday
a collection of baby camera monitors
Baby monitors with cameras come in various shapes, sizes, prices and capabilities, so we put nine of the best to the test to find out which ones deliver. Composite: Guardian Design/Owlet/Kodak/Motorola/Nanit

Whether you have a newborn or know someone who does, a good baby monitor can be both freeing and reassuring, helping keep an eye on the little ones as they rest.

But with so many to choose from with varying brands, capabilities and prices, it can be hard to know which work best in practice. So we put nine of the best baby cameras to the test across three different categories for travel or home. Here are the ones that delivered.

Best wifi-free camera for travel

Babysense V43 split-screen monitor

Babysense V43 split-screen monitor baby camera
The Babysense V43 split-screen monitor baby camera. Photograph: Babysense

Price: £139.99

With a sturdy parent unit and two cameras for split-screen capabilities, the Babysense V43 performs impressively pretty much across the board. The parent unit is user-friendly with responsive buttons and a logical, well-labelled menu. The built-in lullabies are a little old-fashioned and tinny, and while it displays room temperature it does not show the time. The Babysense is wifi-free, making it safe from remote hackers. Its 300-metre wireless range means the parent unit, which can be used on battery or mains, can be taken outside ready for warmer months. Notably, none of these features waned or stalled when two cameras were connected during testing.

Settings for each camera can be tailored individually, and switching between camera feeds is almost instantaneous. Up to four cameras can be used with one parent unit with additional purchases. The battery lasts about 10 hours in eco-mode, which pauses sound and video on the parent unit if the camera detects no sound for 30 seconds. A spare or replacement battery costs £5.99.

The base of each camera has a pleasant orange night light, while the lens pans, swivels 360 degrees and zooms quickly and smoothly. The motor, while not silent, did not disturb a sleeping baby. Panning is controlled via the parent unit, meaning there is no need to fiddle with camera angles once initial setup is complete. The cameras can be wall-mounted using the screws and wall plugs included, but easily lifted away for travel purposes.

Many monitors designed with travel and flexibility in mind sacrifice screen size, but that is not the case here. The 5in screen has good picture quality, which is extra clear when close up to faces or objects. There is no delay in movement or audio on the unit, although two-way talk mode sounds somewhat walkie-talkie-esque. There’s no need to worry about software updates as there is no app, which also makes the Babysense a smart option for those looking to avoid checking their phones during the night too.

Verdict: A comprehensive package that offers genuine flexibility, with smooth panning, speedy connection and an impressive range without the need for wifi.

Runner-up: VTECH VM3254

The Vtech VM3254 baby monitor camera.
The Vtech VM3254 baby monitor camera. Photograph: Vtech

Price: £50

The VTECH VM3254 offers a compact, wifi-free package, making it suitable for travel, and the picture quality is good, particularly close up. The talk function, however, is far too quiet and the button layout on the parent unit isn’t particularly easy to navigate. Our runner-up, the VTech VM3254 is still an excellent option for the price, but note the battery cannot be replaced and it is not repairable.

Best wifi camera for home

Kodak Cherish C525

The Kodak Cherish C525 baby monitor camera.
The Kodak Cherish C525 baby monitor camera. Photograph: Kodak

Price: £159.99

This baby monitor may not be made by the Kodak of old, but at least it lives up to picture quality of the brand name. Via either phone app or parent unit with 5in screen, the Cherish C525 displays not just the baby’s features or silhouette, but even subtle facial expressions during the day with lifelike colour, which cannot be said for competitors. Night mode is also excellent, while movement and audio come through with minimal delay and the two-way-talk sound is crisp.

Not only does the camera zoom and swivel 360 degrees at an almost imperceptible volume, the parent unit can handle split-screen viewing with up to five paired cameras with additional purchases. There is a fair selection of pleasant-enough lullabies, white noise and heartbeat sounds, plus room temperature monitoring.

Special milestones and events can be captured and stored either on an SD card or in the cloud. The Kodak smart home app for Android or iPhone is easy to navigate and intuitive but the parent unit is less so. While the keyboard can be backlit, which is handy for night-time check-ins, its icons are not labelled and the buttons are fiddly, so you need to learn how to navigate it efficiently. Despite this drawback, the parent unit, antennae and handy flip-stand are sturdy, and the device is neither fragile nor too heavy.

It has two factor authentication for extra security when accessing the app and requests authentication if you attempt to log in from a different location than usual. Alternatively, the camera and parent unit – though not the app – can be used without an internet connection. Out of the house, both the camera and parent unit can run on battery power for a few hours. The units are generally repairable and replacement batteries are widely available too. Kodak will support apps for the Cherish for a minimum of three years after the model is discontinued.

Verdict: Outstanding picture quality sets this monitor above the rest, while most additional features are well executed.

Runner-up: Motorola VM65X Connect video baby monitor

The Motorola VM65X Connect baby monitor camera.
The Motorola VM65X Connect baby monitor camera. Photograph: Motorola

Price: £249.99

With stylish rose gold detailing on the parent unit, a sleek camera and a sturdy over-cot stand, the Motorola is an attractive package. However, it is more expensive, the picture quality is less sharp, the colours are not as true and there is a slight crackle to the voice when speaking to the baby. The battery can’t be replaced either.

The best premium system

Nanit Pro

The Nanit Pro smart baby monitor camera.
The Nanit Pro smart baby monitor camera. Photograph: Nanit

Price: £299

The Nanit Pro’s 1080p HD camera, app and breathing band is a comprehensive and well-executed baby monitoring system for parents who wish to cover every possible base. There is no parent unit, but the app is efficient and streamlined making checking in on the baby easy.

The camera’s stream goes live in the app within 3 seconds with little in the way of delay, and switches between day and night mode automatically. The camera has a good zoom and field of view over the cot but does not swivel. That means there is no disruptive motor to worry about, and as it will be either attached to a wall or floor stand (£80 additional purchase) it won’t get knocked over by rambunctious pets or other children. As for security, Nanit encrypts your data, protects accounts with two-step verification and has various settings for controlling when and who can see the feed from the camera.

The app shows room temperature and humidity, while five buttons allow users to quickly snap a photo, play music, white noise, birds or wave sounds, listen to or talk to the baby and switch on a nightlight.

The nightlight is particularly good. It shines upwards with adjustable brightness so you can see the cot and immediate surroundings without disturbing the baby or others in the room. The Nanit comes with a year of basic “Insights” including special milestones and memory videos, sleep tracking and quality analysis, and breathing monitoring using a soft, electronic-free band wrapped around the baby’s torso, which sounds an alarm if an issue arises. Insights are only stored for two days, which costs £5 a month after the first year or £10 a month for 30-day storage. One breathing band for babies up to 15kgs is included, and swaddles or pyjamas for older children are available. The camera is repairable and the app is available on a wide range of Android, iOS and iPadOS devices.

Verdict: A comprehensive, efficient system that fulfils its myriad promises to reassure even the most anxious of parents.

Runner-up: Owlet Baby Monitor Duo

The Owlet Baby Monitor Duo camera.
The Owlet Baby Monitor Duo camera. Photograph: Owlet

Price: £389

The Owlet is as sophisticated as the Nanit in many ways, with a sleek camera, excellent picture quality and user-friendly app. But it uses a “smart sock” to monitor breathing and oxygen levels, which children could disturb or kick off, sounding the alarm and terrifying parents in the process. There is also a noticeable delay in both the video and sound in comparison with the Nanit too, and while replacement parts are available the batteries cannot be replaced and the devices are not repairable.


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