Look Who’s Talking? The best baby monitors (that are smart!)

smart baby monitorsHooray, the baby is finally here. You’ve become parents and slowly come to realize that it takes a lot to raise a baby – you need a buggy and cot, not to mention an endless supply of nappies, pampers and patience. But have you also considered that you may want to invest into a baby monitor? Yep, a monitor to keep an eye on your little dude even when you’re not in the room. It’s a game changer!

Like everything else in life, the baby monitor has entered the “smart” age of technology, and now smart baby monitors can be found everywhere. These devices make it incredibly easy to monitor your baby through your smartphone or tablet, and they offer all sorts of insight into your baby’s health, including a smart baby heart monitor and baby breathing monitor.

The best baby monitor is one that triumphs with great audio and video quality and sharp features. A good baby monitor alerts you to even the smallest problem with your little cute bundle of joy.

We’ve chosen two of the very best smart baby monitors that we will review in this article, namely the the incredible Nanit Plus and the slick Owlet Smart Sock. Enjoy reading the article..

*TechImperatives.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

 

What Is a baby monitor and why do you need a baby monitor?

It’s good to know what a baby monitor is before worrying about the models. To keep it simple, baby monitors are handy devices that let you connect with your baby through audio and video. Originally, baby monitors were like walkie-talkies in that you could hear your baby and talk to them through the monitor to calm them down. With today technology and innovations the baby money has become “smart” including all kind of other functions and features that take the technology into the 21st century, e.g. monitoring the sleeping patterns, the breathing, the heartrate, not to speak of crystal clear video quality. 

There are lots of reasons you should have a baby monitor, but the most obvious is that they give you peace of mind. Baby monitors serve as an extra pair of eyes and ears on your baby if you are in a different part of the house. A good baby cam will alert you when your baby wakes up, whether the temperature is too hot or cold, and other vital things parents want to know. A baby monitor with camera lets you check in on your little one so you can sleep soundly knowing they are safe and sound. 

A baby monitor camera also gives you the ability to check in on your baby when you aren’t at home. A baby monitor with a camera acts as a security camera that lets you see live footage of the baby through your smartphone or computer. You’ll also have the option of saving, storing, viewing, and sharing footage of your kids if something happens, or they just do something adorable you want to show off. 

Safety is a significant factor for the modern best baby monitor. These smart sensors pick up all kinds of information about your baby, including their breathing and heart rate. You’ll have the chance to notice things that you might not have been able to otherwise. The best baby monitor is one that tracks the conditions of the room and your baby and offers reports on the health and safety of your baby. 

 

How do Smart Baby Monitors Differ From Traditional Baby Monitors?

Traditional baby monitors only offer audio streaming. Most smart monitors provide some kind of video streaming. If you would like to be able to hear and see your child in real-time, you need to have a baby monitor camera. Some of these cameras let you take photos and videos of your baby in real-time. Being able to watch your baby on a companion app is a great way to get motion alerts and combines the features of a baby monitor and nanny cam into a single unit. 

Of course, the main difference between the two types of tech is that smart monitors can track so much more. You can use a baby heart monitor and a baby breathing monitor to get information about how your baby is doing. Being able to respond quickly to an emergency can make all of the difference, so having a baby breathing monitor on your side can only be a good thing. 

 

When to Stop Using a Baby Monitor 

One question all parents ask themselves with baby monitors is when it’s time to stop using one. At the very least, you could stop using them when your kids sleep through the night. Most children will be loud enough to alert you to problems by the time they reach six months, and so you could consider stopping then. With that said, baby monitors are still a great tool to have for specific situations. 

When your kid has their own bed and is walking and talking is a good time to ditch the monitor. By that age, they can come to you if they have any problems. Most parents will be able to hear an older child coughing or crying through the walls. There is no singular golden rule on how old your child should be before you turn off the monitor. Some parents keep theirs going until their kids are 2, while others use them until their child is 5. 

You might want to cut out the baby monitor for the sake of your own sanity at some point. Every parent eventually becomes obsessed with all the small noises that come from a monitor to the point they check to make sure it still works. Don’t be afraid to throw out your monitor because it is driving you insane. 

 

Review: The Best Overall Baby Monitor – The Nanit Plus

The original Nanit baby monitor was great, but it was evident that it could be better. It was obvious that, as good as the monitor was, there were improvements that could be made. The good news is that the new Nanit Plus Baby Monitor* addresses most of those problems. As well as addressing earlier issues, the new model introduces great new features like breathing monitoring and Nanit Plus. The Nanit Plus can be a bit expensive, but any Nanit Plus review will tell you that it is worth it. 

You can buy the Nanit Plus with or without the breathing motion on Amazon.com

$237.11 $299.99
3 new from $237.11
Free shipping
in stock
Amazon Amazon.com
Last update was on: August 7, 2020 2:50 pm

$284.71 $379.99
2 new from $284.71
Free shipping
in stock
Amazon Amazon.com
Last update was on: August 7, 2020 2:50 pm

Design and Installation 

The new Nanit smart baby monitor is similar to the original in terms of look and feel. The white camera is placed over where the baby sleeps so you can monitor both their bed and about a foot around it – known as the Parent Pickup Zone. 

The cheapest version of the Nanit camera comes with a wall mount. There’s also the option to have a floor stand, which costs more. The camera is about as difficult to install as a pop-up tent. Don’t worry about your little one pulling out the cord or getting hurt as the Nanit Plus comes with cable management. All the wires are locked away, so kids can’t get to them. 

Nanit also offers a multi-stand travel mount for their baby camera. The mount allows you to take your Nanit camera with you wherever you go. 

 

Features

Nanit Plus may look like the original model from the outside, but the inside is a much different story. The new Nanit Baby Monitor is packed full of all sorts of features, including the ability to play nature sounds, two-way audio so you can talk to your baby remotely, additional user permissions and privileges for primary caregivers, and the ability to monitor how your baby is breathing. 

The companion app was recently updated with a Night Mode option that dims the screen. This feature is great if you plan on keeping the app open during the night but don’t want the bright screen to keep you awake. Don’t worry about having the internet going down either. While this would cripple some smart devices, the camera and app stay connected as long as the Wi-Fi router itself remains turned on. 

A critical feature of the Nanit Plus is that it supports background audio. This feature means that the app continues to monitor the sound from the camera even if you turn your phone off or load up another app. 

Nanit App and Camera Quality 

As you would expect, the Nanit is supported by apps on Android and iOS devices, though there is currently no way to stream video from the camera through a computer. These apps make it easier to set up the camera. The apps and camera both connect to the same network as the phone to give you full access. 

The app offers insights into how your baby sleeps and moves during the night. You’ll have to tell the app where the crib is on the screen and where the Parent Pickup Zone is so that it can differentiate between a baby moving in the crib and a parent moving around it. Don’t forget to adjust where the crib position is if you move the crib or camera. 

As mentioned before, the Nanit baby monitor can play some nature sounds. It plays sounds like waves, wind, birds, and white noise. The speaker quality isn’t great, though, and other devices have a better selection of sounds. It’s nice that you can play some sounds for your baby, but many a Nanit Plus review has pointed out that there should be more choice. 

Where the Nanit baby monitor really shines is the baby monitoring features. For a start, this camera can look directly down on the crib for a full view of the baby. Nanit also programmed their monitor with an accurate temperature detection device. We’ll get into these monitoring features more now. 

Breathing and Sleep Monitoring

The Nanit smart baby monitor is the ideal choice for breathing and sleep tracking. It is incredible at detecting just when your baby falls asleep and wakes up. This information goes a long way for parents who are concerned about sleep problems or just want to know more about their baby and their habits. 

With that said, it’s a shame that the app doesn’t offer any analysis of the data. Other monitors can take the data and do things like recommending new bedtimes for babies, so they sleep better. The data can still be shown to experts for their advice, though. Some parents find that just knowing when their kid goes to bed and how long they spend asleep is enough to understand if they are about to have a meltdown or not. 

You’ll need access to the Nanit Insights service to get the most out of the sleep tracking functionality of the Nanit baby monitor. This isn’t so bad as you recieve a years’ access to Insights free with your purchase of the monitor. The service costs $5 per month (or $50 per year) after that. A year should be more than long enough to decide if you are interested in the service or not. There’s also the chance that you’ll have stopped using the monitor by then. 

One of the main new additions to the Plus is that it comes with breathing monitoring. This breathing monitoring technology is powered by the proprietary Breathing Wear developed by Nanit themselves. Just dress your baby in specific clothes, and the camera can track their movements to ensure they are breathing in and out correctly. The app even tells you how many breaths they take per minute. 

Please note that using the Breathing Monitor feature also activates the Red Alert feature. As the name implies, this is an alarm that plays in the event that your baby doesn’t breathe for more than 20 seconds – that is, whenever the app goes 20 seconds without detecting any breathing. The Red Alert also triggers an alert on the camera and is likely going to wake up the baby. The good news is that the breathing measurements are so accurate and precise that you probably won’t have to deal with a false alarm. 

Some parents are wary about using wearables with their children. That’s why Nanit makes it a point that their breathing wear doesn’t use any electrical equipment. Other baby monitors that have this functionality may include wearables that have technology built into them. All of the sophisticated stuff is handled by the camera, which is placed well away from the baby. 

Nanit Plus FAQ

  • Do I need a subscription for Nanit Plus?

There’s no need for any kind of subscription for the basic features. All users are able to access a live view from the camera. All users are also able to monitor sound and motion in real-time, as well as track temperature and humidity, play background noise, and use the two-way radio features. Up to three people can use these features at once, and different users can be assigned different permission levels. 

  • What do you get with Nanit Insights?

Nanit Insights offers access to video history of previous nights, highlight reels of things your baby did, personalized sleep coaching and tracking, and breathing monitoring that requires Nanit Breathing Wear. Everyone gets access to a years’ worth of Nanit Insights with their purchase, and additional subscription time can be purchased for $5/month or $50/year. 

  • Will Nanit work with my tablet?

You should have no problem using Nanit with any kind of device. As well as having apps for Android and iOS, Nanit is compatible with Kindle Fire tablets. 

  • Does Nanit connect to Alexa?

You can use Nanit skills to connect to Alexa and issue voice commands. Alexa can tell you how your baby slept, when they went to bed and woke up, how many times you checked on them during the night, and more. There’s also a Nanit Show skill that lets you live-stream the feed from the camera to an Echo Show device if you have one. 

  • Does Nanit have a parent unit like other smart baby monitors?

Nanit Plus does not include a parent unit. Nanit believes that parent units are too low quality and too limited. These units are also another thing to worry about keeping recharged. Nanit Plus lets you see how your baby is doing on your existing devices, such as your smartphone and tablet. There’s no sense in having another device when it works so well with what you already have to hand. 

Pros 

  • High image and video quality 
  • Excellent app complete with temperature readings and background audio 
  • Sleep tracking audio and video 
  • Two-way audio to talk to baby 
  • Breathing monitoring and Red Alert system 

Cons

  • Expensive addons
  • No internet access
  • Speakers could be improved

Bottom Line

The Nanit Plus is among the best smart baby monitors available on the market right now. It offers an unmatched amount of features and data than other monitors available. This monitor keeps track of how your baby breathes and sleeps and gives you all the information you could need. The only thing that lets the Nanit Plus baby monitor down is the price and need to purchase additional extras. 

 

The Runner Up: Owlet Smart Monitor (Sock and Camera)

If you want an alternative to the Nanit Plus, then you should consider the Owlet Smart Monitor*. The Owlet baby monitor comes with the Owlet Smart Sock and Owlet camera to give you total peace of mind about how your baby is sleeping. The cute little smart sock continually monitors the blood oxygen levels and heartbeat of your little one. 

You can purchase the Owlet Smart Baby Monitor on Amazon.com

$349.00 $399.00
2 new from $349.00
Free shipping
in stock
Amazon Amazon.com
Last update was on: August 7, 2020 2:50 pm

Owlet Baby Monitor Features 

The Owlet smart sock is a comfortable little sock that alerts you to any changes in blood oxygen and heartbeat for your baby. The monitor knows what the safe and healthy range for these vitals and will tell you if things go outside of that range. 

The technology used in the Owlet is similar to the technology used in smartwatches, in particular the Apple Watch. The Owlet baby monitor is powered by pulse oximetry, a non-invasive technology used to monitor heartbeat and oxygen saturation (SO2) levels. 

The information from the monitor is sent via Bluetooth to a base station. The base station sends out an alert if it detects anything amiss. The station can also be connected to the Wi-Fi network to send alerts directly to your phone via the Owlet app. You don’t have to connect the sock to the internet, but doing so will give you more insight than just the base station by itself. 

All-in-all, the Owlet baby monitor has a lot of things going for it. Owlet reviews praise the sheer amount of features and say the device is an excellent choice for any parent worried about their child’s oxygen levels and heartbeat. 

Owlet Baby Monitor Camera 

The camera is an essential part of any best baby monitor. It’s nice to have the sock, but a camera is better in the long-run, especially when your child outgrows the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), which the sock was designed to prevent. 

That’s why the Owlet Smart sock and Owlet Camera come together in this single package. Everything connects to the same app, so all the information you need is in one place. The quality of the camera is excellent. The sound and picture alike are up there with some of the other best baby monitor options on the market. The camera even has a night vision mode that works wonders. Just make sure that the camera is set up at the right angle as you can’t remotely tilt it. Attaching it is easy enough, though, thanks to the unique magnet attachment. 

Owlet reviews do bring up one problem with the camera; buyers say that the monitor lacks some of the extra features included with other Wi-Fi monitors. For example, the Owlet camera doesn’t play white noise and lullabies. That the monitor doesn’t do this shouldn’t be much of an issue for many people, though. 

Owlet App 

The lack of white noise might not be a problem, but the limited functionality of the Owlet app is. The app streams a video feed of the camera to your device and sends alerts from the Owlet smart sock, but it doesn’t do much else. Other such baby monitors let you monitor how your baby sleeps and even suggest improvements to build great sleeping habits. The Nanit Plus, for example, gives you information you can take to a pediatric sleep doctor for recommendations. 

Something else parents should keep in mind about the Owlet baby monitor is that being connected to the Wi-Fi means you need to keep your device on to get notifications. As such, you’ll get all the other notifications you get from your phone, such as email and social media alerts. This is a problem associated with all wireless baby monitors, though, and it’s easy to adjust your notifications, so you only get alerts from the app. 

Comfort and Safety 

It’s impressive just how much technology Owlet was able to pack into their small little sock. The sock is super breathable and comfortable, so it shouldn’t bother the baby during the night. The box comes with three socks. The socks are all machine washable and should fit babies between 0 and 18 months. 

There’s a small Bluetooth transmitter built into the sock. This transmitter sends information about the baby’s oxygen levels and heartrate to the central base station. The base station needs to be placed within Bluetooth range of the crib (30 meters/100 feet), and it will send alerts to your phone if it detects anything off with your baby. 

The Owlet socks are made from soft cotton. They wrap securely and softly, but still firmly, around the baby’s foot to hold the monitor in place. You can put the sock on either the left or right foot. Owlet reviews recommend alternating between feet on different nights. 

Owlet Bluetooth Signal 

Owlet runs on a Bluetooth connection, which means you will be beholden to that connection. The company claims their socks have a working range of up to 100 feet, but that’s only when the connection between the sock and unit is completely unobstructed. Reviews say that the actual operating range is closer to 50 feet than 100. 

Even 50 feet should be enough to place the base station outside of the baby’s room, but you should connect it to the Wi-Fi so you can get alerts while moving between different rooms in the house. 

The base station has a green light that lets you know the baby is doing fine. The color changes to red if something is wrong with your baby, and the unit will ring an alarm to alert you to the issue. 

Owlet Smart Sock and Cam Frequently Asked Questions 

  • Can I put one sock each on my twins?

Unfortunately, you can’t use one unit for two (or more) babies. The unit can only connect to one sock at a time. You would have to purchase a second kit for a second child. 

  • What’s the Difference Between the Owlet Smart Sock and Cam and the Owlet Smart Sock 2?

The Smart Sock 2 is sold by itself and only has the sock. This package comes with the camera as well for extra peace of mind. The products are identical outside of that, however. 

  • Does the Smart Sock and Cam Work with iPhone?

The Owlet app works with both Android and iPhone devices without a problem. 

  • Do I have to pay a subscription fee for the app?

The app for the monitor is completely free to use with no hidden features or fees. 

  • What heart rate levels set off an alarm?

The alarm on the Owlet smart sock will go off when it detects heartbeats under 60 or over 220. The alert also goes off when oxygen levels fall below 80%. If the sock isn’t correctly attached to your baby’s foot, then it pulses yellow to alert you. The yellow warning is a gentle nursery rhyme, while the red alert is obnoxious and loud. 

Bottom Line

There’s no denying that the Owlet Smart Sock and Cam is a great little device. The baby monitor is particularly useful for children with health concerns. With that said, the sock is only valuable for the first few months. After a while, the camera is more important. Unfortunately, the camera is good, but it doesn’t offer all of the same features and functions as a dedicated baby monitor camera. 

 

Conclusion

Which of these two monitors is the best can depend on your circumstances. The Nanit Plus is a fantastic smart baby monitor. It has everything you could want to keep an eye on your little bundle of joy and be sure they are safe. The Owlet baby monitor, however, has more in-depth and accurate health monitoring benefits. It is more reliable because the information comes straight from the baby via the sock. Choose the Owlet if you have concerns about your baby’s health and wellbeing, or choose the Nanit for a cheaper and more efficient long-term solution. 

Here is an overview of all the products again

$237.11 $299.99
3 new from $237.11
Free shipping
in stock
Amazon Amazon.com
Last update was on: August 7, 2020 2:50 pm

$284.71 $379.99
2 new from $284.71
Free shipping
in stock
Amazon Amazon.com
Last update was on: August 7, 2020 2:50 pm

$349.00 $399.00
2 new from $349.00
Free shipping
in stock
Amazon Amazon.com
Last update was on: August 7, 2020 2:50 pm

If you enjoyed this article, check out our other reviews.