Baby monitors are handy to have, particularly if you've got a larger place and your baby isn't always in earshot. Most monitors these days are video-enabled too, with cameras accessible through your smartphone or parent device. But how effective are they?
With more than 15 years of experience, our expert testers are the bees' knees of children's product testing. They've seen all the brands and varying cot configurations on the market, and have put each to the test. Our testers also sit on the Australian Standards committees for children's products.
Most of the time, we test what you'll see in the retailers. Our baby monitors typically come from brands you'll see in mainstream nursery or department stores, or ones that feature prominently when you search for them online.
To come up with our list we survey manufacturers to find out about their range of models and we take member feedback on board. Our buyers then purchase products as you the consumer would, either in-store or online. This is to ensure that products we receive have not been 'tweaked' in any way, or received special treatment during transit.
Baby monitors need to give you a reliable signal when they're in use, with a clear picture that works in differing light conditions. Some Wi-Fi enabled baby monitors use a smartphone or tablet as the carer device, or give owners the option to use an app. Where applicable, our scores are based on the app that is associated with the product.
When testing baby monitors we look at:
When determining the sound performance score, we put the monitors through a series of tests to determine how well the baby unit can pick up soft sounds, and how well the carer (parent) unit can reproduce that sound.
We also test the range of the unit and see how well it works through walls. For Wi-Fi-enabled models, results may vary depending on your Wi-Fi coverage.
For app-based products, we define the carer unit as the tablet/phone. (For our tests, we use common phones on both iOS and Android platforms, so results may vary depending on the phone you use.)
We assess the quality of the picture in daylight, dim and dark conditions. Many video-enabled baby monitors have an infrared feature that allows you to see baby in the dark, albeit at high contrast and in black and white. Monitors that don't have this feature, such as ones which use your phone/tablet, will score zero for visibility in the dark.
Ease of use
We take a number of aspects into account when assessing ease of use, and we rate both the parent (carer) unit and the baby unit (which is kept in the nursery). Our assessments include:
- Handling, positioning and adjusting the settings
- Ease of safely and easily accessing batteries and connecting any mains adaptors
- Whether the parent and baby units are adequately sized, intuitive to use and suitably-sized
A baby monitor needs to score well for both ease of use, sound performance and picture quality (if available) to be a Recommended product. Models scoring 80% and above are recommended.
For audio/video products, the overall score is made up of picture performance (30%), sound performance (40%) and ease of use (30%). For audio-only products, the overall score is made up of sound performance (70%) and ease of use (30%)