5 Awesome and Smart Baby Monitors

Baby monitors have grown up, and today's gadgets can monitor your baby from her socks.

By Jacqueline Emigh

Obviously, there's no way you can be with your baby 24/7, which is why baby monitors were invented. Want to take a guess at how long these modern marvels of parental surveillance have been around? The '80s, right? Guess again—the first audio-only baby monitor was sold in 1937.

And not a lot changed for many, many years. But recently, they've been chock full of innovation, giving new parents more choices than ever. Traditional baby cams are adding new features, such as the ability to talk to the baby through an app and play a lullaby remotely. Then there are various "smart" monitors that use sensor-laden wearables like socks and onesies instead of cameras.

Modern baby monitors typically cost between $170 and $200, and work with iOS and Android apps so you can check in on your youngster from afar. But you can choose from other features as well, like live video, humidity sensors, monitors for your baby's skin temp, and even how long it takes baby to fall asleep. We've rounded up five of the best baby monitors around. As you'll see, they vary widely, giving you a ton of choices.

iBaby M6T

If you're looking for a monitor that can keep tabs not just on your baby but also on her environment, check out, the iBaby M6T, which has sensors for room temperature and humidity. And the camera itself is outfitted with nightvision, 360-degree pan, and 110-degree tilt.

By using the accompanying app, you can watch live video of your baby's crib from anywhere, a great way to check whether the babysitter is sticking to the prescribed schedule. You can even adjust the camera angle by swiping the app.

You can also hear the baby's coos and cries, talk to your infant, snap still photos for social media, play the child a song remotely, or turn on a bedtime story that you've prerecorded in your own voice. One limitation is that the tunes on the accompanying music player are preloaded—so no Green Day or Rachmaninoff.

The M6T also supports up to four live video feeds, so your relatives can check the live feed live, without interfering with your ability to monitor baby. iBaby M6T sells for $200; a wall mount is available for an extra $35.

Nanit

Nanit is another baby cam—but its 3-ounce, nightvision-enabled camera sits conveniently on a floor stand, so you don't have to drill holes in the wall or ceiling.

You can use the mobile app to obtain crystal-clear, bird's-eye video views of your baby from the camera above. But there's more to Nanit than that. Using "machine vision" technology, Nanit also measures sleep quality over time without any wearable sensors.

So without attaching a sock or any other sensor device to your child, you can get a color-coded sleep score based on sleep patterns, total hours of sleep, numbers of visits to the crib by a caretaker, and sleep onset time. You can also compare your child's results with those of other babies of the same age.

Nanit also has a bunch of great features for lulling your baby to sleep, including a nightlight, white noise maker, and nature-sound generator. It costs around $280.

Mimo

Now we come to the "smart" camera-less systems. Mimo, for example, uses a cute turtle sensor device, along with what the company calls a kimono, also embedded with sensors, to measure and report on a baby's respiration, body position, sleep duration, and skin temperature.

The sensor sends this information via Bluetooth to a lily base station, which doubles as a charger for the turtle. And the base station then streams the data to an app on your phone.

Mimo collects a wealth of facts about your baby's sleep patterns, which you can review at any time. If there are any significant changes in the stats, the app will alert you right away.

Mimo's main downside is its requirement that you outfit your infant in the special onesie. Mimo comes with three of them, but you might want to buy extras to cut down on how often you have to wash the same garment. The onesies are available in 6-month, 12-month, and 18-month sizes. And as your child grows, you'll have to buy more kimonos. The starter kit is $200.

Monbaby

Monbaby is easier to manage. Rather than selling sensor-laden onesies, the folks at MonDevices put the Monbaby sensors inside a small button that you can easily snap on to any article of clothing. The button reports to an app about the child's body motion, body orientation, activity, and respiration.

The accompanying app alerts you if your baby falls, leaves the area for some reason, stops breathing, or flips from back to stomach. (Many pediatricians recommend that babies sleep on their backs.) As with Mimo, you can customize the alerts you receive.

Monbaby's biggest drawback is that it works only over Bluetooth, so you can't monitor your baby from outside the house. In the future, Monbaby plans to add Internet connectivity to the app as a premium feature. The system is priced at $170.

Owlet

Relying on the same pulse oximetry technology that hospitals commonly use, Owlet measures just two things: heart rate and blood oxygen level.

Owlet's wearable sensor is a soft, washable baby sock. The sock communicates via Bluetooth to the system's wireless base station. The base station glows green if the vital signs are fine, red if there are signs of an emergency, and yellow or blue if the system has simply lost its Bluetooth signal. (Maybe the baby's sock has fallen off, for example.)

Whether you're sitting near the base station or keeping in touch through an app, you'll hear a loud siren noise if a red alert goes off and a soft, lullaby-like song for a yellow or blue alert.

You can use the glowing base station to charge the sock. Three sock sizes are available: 0 to 6 months, 6 to 12 months, and 12 to 18 months. Owlet is priced at from $170 to $260.