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The Best Baby Monitors of 2016

Our research team, with the assistance of Kimberlee Mitchell, a nationally recognized child safety expert, reviewed seven monitors across 14 key data points to identify the best monitors on the market in 2016. The top three overall were the Philips Avent DECT Audio Baby Monitor, the Graco imonitor Vibe Baby Monitor, and the Infant Optics DXR-8 Video Monitor.

 

Overview of Research

With the help of our expert, Kimberlee Mitchell, we compiled an initial group of monitors and evaluated each across 14 key data points selected for their importance to parents and other baby product users.

kimberlee
Kimberlee Mitchell

Child Safety Expert

Kimberlee is the founder of Boo Boo Busters Professional Babyproofing Services and a nationally recognized child safety expert.

The final ranking was determined by a weighted methodology. The methodology consisted of the 14 data points we researched, which were categorized into four core metrics: monitor safety and security (35%), monitor performance (30%), cost and consumer reviews (20%), and customer support (15%).

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The Best Baby Monitors of 2016

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Methodology

Our Expert

Kimberlee Mitchell is the founder of Boo Boo Busters® Professional Babyproofing Services. The home childproofing business serves both Los Angeles and Orange counties and has childproofed more than 7,000 homes since 2002. The company was featured in the Universal Picture’s film “Baby Mama,” starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, both of whom have had their homes childproofed by Boo Boo Busters.

Mitchell has appeared as a child safety expert on CBS’s “The Early Show,” “Fox & Friends,” E! Entertainment Television’s “E! News;” VH1; and PBS’s “A Place of Our Own” and “Baby Makes 3” airing on PBS member stations in 2016. She has served as a child safety consultant and corporate spokesperson for juvenile products manufacturer Safety1st, Dorel Juvenile Group, Verizon, and the non profit organization the American Cleaning Institute, to name a few.

While Ms. Mitchell served as general advisor to the project, the Rankings.com team independently chose the list of reviewed monitors and developed the methodology used for scoring and ranking.

How We Selected Our Test Group

To compile the list of monitors to be reviewed, we relied on a number of previously published, test-based reports, in particular those released by BabyGearLab.com, Consumer Reports and BabyCenter. We also searched online for established brands and leveraged existing reviews. In total, the work produced by fellow professional reviewers let us establish a base of monitors that had been consistently recognized.

Here is our complete list of sources:

How We Narrowed Our List Down

Our team established minimum criteria for all monitors reviewed:

  • Must meet all applicable federal safety requirements
  • Must have no outstanding recalls.
  • Must not have extremely poor customer reviews.
  • Must provide a detailed rundown of the product’s features and warnings.
  • Must offer customer support services.

 

Once these criteria were taken into consideration, we were left with seven monitors:

 

  1. Graco imonitor™ Vibe Baby Monitor
  2. Infant Optics DXR-8 Video Monitor
  3. Levana Keera™ PTZ Baby Video Monitor
  4. Philips Avent DECT Audio Baby Monitor
  5. Philips Avent Digital Video Baby Monitor
  6. Lorex SWEET PEEP™ Baby Monitor
  7. Safety 1st High Def Digital Audio

Applying our methodology, which we detail below, we then assessed each monitor and determined the scores for our key metrics.

How We Selected the Data to Use in Our Methodology

Our team chose 14 data points to grade each monitor against. These data points were selected using federal safety guidelines, recommendations from existing baby product reviews, and our initial research.

We then organized the 14 data points as sub-metrics under four core metrics. This allowed us to group similar data points together and weigh certain metrics over others, based on their overall importance.

Safety and security were chosen as our most important core metric because, when shopping for monitors, safety is by far a parent’s most important concern. Performance, as our second most important core metric captures all the non-safety elements of a monitor, such as frequency or transmission mode. With parents spending well over $50 for most monitors, they should know they are purchasing a trustworthy product that outperforms the competition.

Here are the four core metrics and their 14 sub-metrics:

Metric 1: Monitor Safety and Security (35%)

  • Range
  • Out of Range Alert
  • Battery and Sensor Features

Metric 2: Monitor Performance (30%)

  • Transmission Mode
  • Frequency
  • Battery Life

Metric 3: Cost and Consumer Reviews (20%)

  • Price
  • Average Website Review
  • Consumer Reports Score

Metric 4: Customer Support (15%)

  • Toll Free Phone and Email Support
  • Online Registration
  • Website Services
  • Warranty

How We Scored Our Methodology

To arrive at each monitor’s core metric scores and overall score we started with the 14 sub-metrics organized under each core metric. We first looked at how each monitor performed, relative to all other monitors, in each sub-metric. Then, taking total performance across the various sub-metrics that made up a given core metric, determined each product’s score in each core metric.

So, for example, let’s look at how our second best overall monitor, the Graco imonitor Vibe Baby Monitor, did in the Monitor Safety and Security core metric. Three sub-metrics make up this core metric: range, out of range alert, and battery and sensor features. We compared the Graco to all other monitors in these three sub-metrics, and it came in second in all three. This, in turn, made the monitor our number two overall in terms of safety and security, earning it a 9/10 score for that core metric.

In order to get a final, overall score, we took each monitor’s score in the four core metrics, multiplied each by their respective percentile weights, and then took the sum. This sum became each product’s final score.

So, returning to the Graco monitor, here is how it finished in the four core metrics:

  • Safety and Security – 9/10
  • Performance – 8/10
  • Cost and Consumer Reviews – 9/10
  • Customer Support – 9/10

With the appropriate weights applied to each core metric, the monitor’s final score was 8.7/10, the second highest final score amongst all stroller reviewed, making it our number two overall.

Drawbacks of Our Methodology

The major drawback worth noting is that we focused on monitors relatively new to the market, meaning those that came out starting in 2014. While this helped us look at the cutting-edge in monitor safety, it did limit the scope of our review. There are a number of reliable monitors that have been on the market for longer and stood the test of time. Before committing to any one, we recommend doing your own in depth research to identify those that have been market mainstays for at least the past five years.

Understanding Baby Monitor Features

1. Monitor Safety and Security back to metric

Very Important

35.00% of our methodology score

Why this is very important: Our expert chose this core metric as very important because the safety and security provided by a monitor is essential. For many parents, this metric easily takes precedent over performance, customer support, and cost.

When assessing monitors, our primary safety concerns were maximum range and alert systems, particularly the presence of an out of range alert, a low battery alert, and changes in temperature alerts. The farthest range of all products reviewed came from the Graco monitor, which covers 2,000 feet outdoors. However, our top overall monitor, the Philips Avent DECT, took first with a 1,110 ft. range (second highest overall) and all three alert systems built-in, with the temperature sensor being the most noteworthy, as monitors rarely have it.

Important caveats and notes: Most legitimate manufacturers and retailers selling monitors maintain an informative, user-friendly website with links to information about safety features. Some products were not included because safety and security specs were not readily available online. Any products with outstanding recall notices were withdrawn from consideration.

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2. Monitor Performance back to metric

Very Important

30.00% of our methodology score

Why this is very important: Our team emphasized performance as a very important metric because, as you would expect, consumers place great value on durable monitors that perform all of their advertised functions.

All monitors were measured for their transmission mode, the strength of frequency used, and their battery life. The top performing monitor, the Philips Avent DECT (also our number one monitor overall), stood out for having a data-encrypted, 100% private frequency, a feature no other reviewed monitor offered. It also featured two-way audio and the longest battery life amongst all monitors reviewed, at 18 hours total.

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3. Cost and Consumer Reviews back to metric

Important

20.00% of our methodology score

Why this is important: We considered cost and consumer reviews to be an important metric because parents often treat these two as the deciding factors when comparing monitors with comparable safety and performance records.

For cost, we initially looked at the listed price found on manufacturer product pages. If the price was not listed because the original manufacturer does not currently carry the product, we deferred to the price listed on Amazon.com.

Our method of assessing customer reviews was similar; manufacturer product pages were originally consulted, followed by Amazon.com. We also referred to Consumer Reports for their test-based product score.

Our cheapest monitors, the Lorex SWEET PEEP and the Graco imonitor, came in at around $55, while our most expensive, the Philips Avent Digital, came in just under $220. Every monitor on our list received at least three stars on Amazon, which uses a five star scale and almost all were reviewed over 100 times, with many customers posting their own detailed reviews. Only two of our monitors received Consumer Reports, which tells us there is a need for more detailed reviews of monitors, such as our own.

Important caveats and notes: If reviews on these sites were not available and the monitor was not found on Consumer Reviews, then it was withdrawn from consideration in this metric. All prices and customer reviews listed were lifted from manufacturer pages unless otherwise noted.

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4. Customer Support back to metric

Somewhat Important

15.00% of our methodology score

Why this is somewhat important: Lastly, our team considered customer support to be an important metric because parents often require assistance from knowledgeable professionals when it comes to shopping for monitors. Additionally, the manufacturer’s warranty allowances may factor into a parent’s decision to choose one over another.

For customer support, we primarily focused on the website options offered by each company. Does the manufacturer have a toll-free telephone number and email-based customer service? Can customers register their purchased products online? Finally, we looked at supplemental services, such as FAQs pages, manuals and video tutorials, made available on manufacturers’ sites.

In our review, the Philips Avent DECT yet again took first. Philips has phenomenal customer service coverage, including live chat support, and their site is robust, with informative FAQs and easily accessed manuals. The Avent DECT came with a two-year warranty as well, the highest warranty amongst all monitors reviewed ― all but one other provided a one-year warranty.

Important caveats and notes: Some of the monitors reviewed do not currently have product pages on their original manufacturer’s websites. We did not evaluate the customer support offerings on Amazon.com and other major retailers because we believe these sites do not consistently capture a company’s quality of service.

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Editor's Awards

Our landslide leader in the category took the top spot in all four metrics.

Across the board, Philips Avent DECT monitor is an excellent performer. In addition to superior range and battery life, the monitor also comes equipped with a high/low temperature sensor alert and a baby activity alert to let users know when their little one is awake and moving about. The device is designed to aid sleeping with a soothing night-light and five built-in lullabies; two-way communication allows parents to speak to their babies by speaking directly to them using the monitor. Additionally, this monitor utilizes a data-encrypted frequency that ensures users never have static interference.

The Philips Avent DECT monitor boasts stellar customer reviews on Amazon.com and a leading score of 88 on Consumer Reports. Finally, the Philips Avent website offers online chat support in addition to phone and email services, and the monitor is available on a two-year warranty.

Drawbacks:

  • The price tag for this monitor is considerably higher than other contenders in the category. However, Philips Avent DECT’s high scores in safety/security and performance should also be taken into consideration when making a purchasing decision.
  • This monitor is not equipped for video, but our research showed that audio and audio/video monitors carried unique benefits. While audio/video devices allow parents to watch their babies in real-time from a different location, audio monitors generally offer a much higher range.

Rankings:

  • Safety and Security – 10/10
  • Performance – 10/10
  • Cost and Consumer Reviews – 10/10
  • Customer Support – 10/10

Last Updated on May 24, 2016

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