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Best baby monitor 2021: Video and audio baby monitors from Angelcare, Tommee Tippee, BT and more

Victoria Woollaston Thomas McMullan
10 May 2021

Our selection of the top baby monitors available in the UK

Baby monitors have come a long way since the audio-only, walkie-talkie style devices our parents used a generation ago. Today’s smart versions offer motion sensors, infrared night vision, temperature sensors and calming night lights. Some even connect to smartphones and Wi-Fi networks for even greater versatility.

When choosing the best baby monitor for your needs, you’ll want to consider the most essential features such as battery life, reception range and video quality. Our favourite models deliver on all these essentials, and our buyer’s guide will help you select the extra features most suited to your situation.

After our brief buyer's guide, you'll find our choices of the best video monitors, followed by the best audio-only monitors.

How to choose the best baby monitor for you

When picking out a video baby monitor, it’s important to consider a few important pieces of information:

Location: First, you’ll want to think about where you’ll place the device's camera unit for a decent view of the cot. If there’s no high-level furniture nearby, you may have to wall mount it – but make sure the model you choose has suitable screw mounts. You’ll also need to get power to the camera unit, and the cable will need to be tacked securely to the wall to avoid it being a choking hazard.

Range: Depending on how big your house is, you might need a baby monitor with a range that stretches across multiple floors. Thicker walls can also sometimes interfere with weak signals, although this may be harder to gauge until you’ve got a monitor up and running. Generally, cheaper models are likely to have less range.

Temperature: Do you want the baby monitor to tell you how hot or cold your baby's room is. This is a feature some monitors offer and can be more cost-effective than buying a baby thermometer separately.

One-way or two-way audio: Consider if you want to be able to speak to your baby through a two-way audio system to save traipsing up and down the stairs for hours on end.

Lights and music: A number of baby monitors come with features designed to lull your baby to sleep at the push of a button, ranging from the ability to project a light display on the wall of your baby’s room to in-built music and lullabies.

Movement sensors: Some monitors, generally on the more expensive end of the spectrum, come with a movement sensor that can be slipped under your baby’s mattress. This will detect your little one’s breathing and will sound an alarm if no movement is detected after a given period of time. It can be great for peace of mind, particularly with newborns.

How do video baby monitors work?

Video baby monitors send signals from a camera to the parent unit via either digital signals or via your Wi-Fi network, as long as the two devices are connected to the same network.

The difference between digital and Wi-Fi-based baby monitors is that digital monitors send signals over what's known as the frequency-hopping spread spectrum (FHSS). These send a signal directly and securely from a transmitter in the camera to the receiver on the parent unit.

Alternatively, Wi-Fi video baby monitors behave in the same way as all other devices currently connected to your Wi-Fi network – by connecting to your router. This does, of course, make it as susceptible to hackers as other devices on your network. As long as your network is protected and the camera's firmware is up to date, the risk is minimal.

The best video baby monitors you can buy

1. BT Smart Baby Monitor: The best baby monitor you can buy

Price: £130 | Buy now from BT

If you're after the best baby monitor can buy, you've found it. BT's Smart Baby Monitor is the UK's first voice-controlled baby monitor with fantastic features – our favourite being the fact you can view the camera via an app on your phone from anywhere.

Whether you're using the phone app or the physical monitor, this system allows you to talk to your little one remotely – if they need reassurance, or you need to remind them to get back into bed and stop climbing over furniture in the middle of the night. You can also pan the camera up and down, and left and right remotely.

What's more, because it connects to your Wi-Fi network, it can also be linked with your smart home devices, in particular the Google Home or the Amazon Echo range. Ask Alexa to check on your baby and it will play the audio from your camera via your speaker.

The signal range is decent and we were able to use it in the garden without losing sight of our baby. However, given its smart capability, this is kind of a moot point seeing as you can always use the BT Smart Control app to see your little one.

This £130 model comes with a 2.8in screen on the monitor, which is more than enough to keep an eye on your baby, but there's also a 5in version that offers the same camera and the same features for an extra £20.

Buy now from BT

2. Nanit Pro Baby Monitor: The smartest baby monitor money can buy

Price: £300 | Buy now from John Lewis

If you're looking for a baby monitor with fantastic picture quality and smart features as well as built-in tips, the Nanit baby monitor is the best choice.

Instead of being perched on the side of the cot or on furniture from various angles, Nanit is designed to be positioned directly above the cot, fitted to the wall without cables. This gives you a full, HD view of your little one no matter where they wriggle and find themselves in the middle of the night.

It comes with a monitor and will also connect to an app meaning you can view the footage at any time, from anywhere. Even if the internet goes down at home. You can use both the monitor and app to talk to your little one, as well as keep an eye on the temperature and humidity in their room.

What really sets the Nanit system apart, however, is its built-in Personal Sleep Coach. Nanit tracks and analyses your little one's unique sleep patterns and provides personal sleep tips, alongside daily updates.

Buy now from John Lewis

3. Angelcare AC527 baby monitor: The best baby monitor for peace of mind

Price: £250 | Buy now from Amazon

For peace of mind, the Angelcare AC527 is top of the class, thanks largely to the inclusion of a separate monitor that slips beneath your little one’s mattress and alerts you if your baby stops moving. Coupled with a camera and a touchscreen unit for parents, complete with a temperature display and two-way audio, it’s a cohesive package for keeping a watchful eye (and ear) on your nursery.

The movement monitor is a wireless square pad, around the size of a hand. Although it’s thick enough to be felt through a newborn’s mattress, in our experience it didn’t disturb the baby’s sleep. It works pretty simply: sensing slight movements, and if for whatever reason those movements stop, it will sound an alarm. At 15 seconds, it will emit a “rouse” beep, aimed at stirring the baby. If it still doesn’t sense movement at 20 seconds, this beep will be replaced by the louder alarm. We didn’t experience any false alarms in our test.

The video feed is clear and detailed, with a quality infrared night vision mode that makes it easy to see what’s happening in the dark. The screen is a decent size at 5in and the unit has some helpful features, notably a stand for propping it up on a table and an LED that will flash when sound is detected from the camera. The camera is easy to hang from the cot or attach to a wall and has an in-built digital thermometer for managing your nursery’s temperature.

The Angelcare AC527 is one of the pricer models here and doesn’t come with some of the data-monitoring features of its rivals, but with a sensitive movement sensor and a solid video feed, it has enough going for it to justify the cost.

4. BT Video Baby Monitor 6000: A 5in display for a decent price

Price: £130 | Buy now from BT

This is the second BT baby monitor in our list and while it doesn't have the connected, fancy features that come with the BT Smart Baby Monitor, it's a great, simpler alternative for £30 cheaper than the like-for-like 5in Smart model.

In addition to being able to talk remotely, and pan the camera up, down, left and right, you can use the monitor to play five tinkly lullabies. These tunes play out from the camera and can be used to help settle your baby and get them to drift off.

Alas, the night lights from the previous model – this video monitor replaces the 7500 Lightshow model – have vanished, but the BT 6000 emits a gentle, steady orange glow through the night instead.

A fully charged battery will run for more than four hours in video mode and much longer for audio-only, and the parent unit will stay connected if you head outside for a sundowner (although in tests, the monitor worked best if not moved too far from the house).

We'd probably rather buy the 2.8in Smart BT monitor for the same price and make a sacrifice on the smaller screen for the added specs. But if having a 5in display is a deal-breaker, this is a great buy.

Buy now from BT

5. Motorola MBP481: The best baby monitor on a budget

Price: £70 | Buy now from Amazon

The Motorola MBP481 is a basic monitor with very little in the way of added extras – but what it does, it does at a great price.

Instead of paying extra for features you may not need or ever use, the camera unit on Motorola MBP481 offers daytime and infrared night vision, with a simple digital zoom so you can get a closer look at your sleeping babe. The parent unit comes on a swivel base with fittings for optional wall-mounting.

At the receiver end, the 2in screen shows a HD video image that isn’t the largest or highest-res on the market, but it’s clear enough to see what your little one is up to and whether you need to run in. As well as the volume-adjustable monitor speaker, there’s an LED display that shows when a sound is picked up.

The MBP481 has a serviceable 300m wireless range, which should cover most family homes and the device will run happily for eight hours on a charge (battery life is improved if you don’t run the video monitor constantly; audio monitoring continues when the display is turned off). If you’re looking for a simple, no-frills baby monitor at a low price, this should cover your basic needs.

6. Motorola MBP50 Digital Video Monitor: The best portable baby monitor

Price: £150 | Buy now from Amazon

Motorola MBP50's circular camera comes with a so-called “star grip” that makes attaching the camera to your crib, cot or any other furniture a doddle. Plus, this means you can move it easily (as long as you're near a plug), making it perfect for attaching to a travel cot on holiday, for example.

The camera offers 480 x 272 resolution, so it’s pretty low, but the infrared night vision is adequate enough and the screen also shows the room temperature. We found this was always two degrees lower than the Gro Egg thermometer we had in the room (almost in the same location), but it gives you a general idea.

Elsewhere, you can play bird songs and lullabies at the touch of a button, and it lets you speak to your baby. The battery doesn't last long (around six hours) if you leave the display on, although it will last the night if you keep the audio on and use the video display occasionally. Or you can just leave it plugged in. The design of the Motorola MBP50 could be more elegant – each of the buttons feel plasticky – but this is a decent baby monitor with all the features you would need.

7. Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Video Sensor Monitor: Great for features

Price: £214 | Buy now from Amazon

An alternative – albeit an expensive one – to the Angelcare breathing monitor system, Tommee Tippee's Closer to Nature baby monitor is a well-featured audio and video-monitoring unit. The monitor includes a room temperature display, remote nightlight setting and two-way talkback.

It offers a solid 300m wireless range and the receiver’s battery lasts around eight hours. The camera can be easily tilted within its housing to get a clear picture of your baby, and can optionally run off battery power rather than AC so the monitor can be used while your baby naps in a pram, for instance. This is a gamechanger for holidays as well.

An optional motion sensor mat can be attached and it will sound an alarm if no breathing is detected for 20 seconds. Its sensitivity can be adjusted to suit particularly twitchy (or deeply sleeping) babies. On the unit are also controls that allow the monitor’s sensitivity to sound to be adjusted, so you can decide how much noise requires an alert.

Read our full Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Video Sensor Monitor review for more details

The best audio baby monitors you can buy

If you don't need, aren't interested in or don't have the budget for an all-singing, all-dancing video monitor, there are some equally great audio-only baby monitors. Here are a couple of our favourites.

In the past, there have been (very) rare instances of smart video monitors being remotely hacked. An audio-only monitor can help provide peace of mind if you're worried about the security of a video monitor.

1. VTech Baby BM1000 Digital Audio Baby Monitor: The best overall audio baby monitor

Price: £25 | Buy now from Very

You may know the Vtech brand better for its noisy, brightly coloured range of toys, but it also sells parenting essentials like this audio baby monitor. Thanks to the use of so-called DECT (which stands for Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications) technology, the parent unit connects securely to the baby unit promising clear sound without interference.

Due to the lack of video, the parent unit's rechargeable batteries will run for an impressive 14 hours – and if your child is sleeping for 14 hours, please share your secret! – which makes this audio-only monitor ideal for multiple nights' use. Perfect if you take it on a weekend away with you but forget the charger, as we can attest to.

It has a 300m range, audio and visual (in the form LED light) sound indicators, as well as five volume levels. A cheap and cheerful way of keeping tabs on your child as they doze.

Buy now from Very

2. BT Digital Audio Baby Monitor 450 Lightshow: The best baby monitor for getting your baby to sleep

Price: £41 | Buy now from Amazon

If a light show is more important to you than having a video monitor, the BT Digital Audio Baby Monitor 450 Lightshow is the baby monitor to go for.

A projector on top of the baby unit beams a moons-and-stars light show onto your child's ceiling while playing one of 18 lullabies. Each one designed to create a calm and peaceful environment to help your little one drift off, while providing the night light security your child may need. This night light option is also adjustable.

It has a 50m range indoors, but this extends to 300m outdoors, and a 14-hour battery life. Its digital HD sound is interference-free and it has LEDs if you need a visual alert. You can also talk to your baby remotely and see the temperature of their room on the parent unit.

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