Best Cheap Baby Monitors
Baby monitors -- even cheap baby monitors -- are a bit of a luxury, especially compared with things like diapers and bottles. But many new moms and dads see a good baby monitor as indispensable. Some of the most popular brands of cheap baby monitors are Fisher-Price, Graco, Safety 1st, Sony, Summer Infant, and The First Years. Prices range from $15 for an analog audio monitor with one parent unit to $100 and up for a video monitor with digital technology.
Our Top Pick
Sony BabyCall NTM-910 Review
Although this economical baby monitor relies on analog technology, it scores high in Sony BabyCall reviews with users who are thrilled with the sensitivity of its transmitter. In reviews on Amazon, several users point out that the monitor cancels out background noise, a frequent source of frustration among parents with analog monitors. In one review on Amazon, a father complains about the lengthy charge time required when the batteries go dead but marvels at the lack of a humming sound like he experienced with a more expensive video monitor he used for a different child. Overall, users posting reviews have both criticism and praise for the battery life of the monitor. Many parents simply plug in the receiver at night so it charges while they're sleeping.
Parents posting Sony BabyCall reviews on Amazon love the belt clip that lets them carry the receiver with them as they move around the house. They say the unique design of the BabyCall makes it easy to carry even if you don't use the belt clip. The antenna is shaped like a handle, so it's easy to pick up the monitor and carry it from room to room.
The Sony BabyCall Nursery Monitor NTM-910 (starting at $40 for one receiver, $60 for two, Amazon) is one of the few baby monitors on the market that's water-resistant, a huge plus if you plan to use the receiver in the kitchen or poolside -- or, as one site notes, if you have an accidental spill.
Fisher-Price Remote Control Musical Monitor Review
Fisher-Price baby monitor reviews tend to focus on features other inexpensive baby monitors don't have. From the parent unit on the Fisher-Price Remote Control Musical Audio Monitor, parents can remotely operate a nightlight or play calming sounds and music for their babies without entering the room and potentially disturbing them. Users rave about these bonus functions in baby monitor reviews. The children of one parent posting a review on Buzzillions request the music each night at bedtime. In another review on Buzzillions, a user says she likes the monitor enough to recommend it to others in spite of having to return it due to interference with her wireless router.
The Fisher-Price Remote Control Musical Audio Monitor (starting at $50 with one receiver, $90 with two, Amazon) is advertised with a 900 MHz frequency, yet several users assert that it operates on a 2.4 GHz frequency, which is commonly shared with wireless routers. A consumer products testing site says this baby monitor successfully minimizes interference. However, this model gets low scores for range and battery life.
Your satisfaction with this monitor may depend on how much you plan to use the light, music, and sound functions. If you think you'd like an inexpensive digital baby monitor with a few bonus features, you may find it worthwhile to try the Fisher-Price Remote Control Musical Audio Monitor and see how well it works in your home.
Graco iMonitor Vibe Review
In a Graco iMonitor review at Target, a user marvels at the monitor's lack of interference in a house full of gadgets ranging from cell phones and cordless phones to wireless Internet. The Graco iMonitor Vibe also offers a far greater range than its competitors. The range is listed at 2,000 feet, but you'll have to try it yourself. A parent who chose the Graco iMonitor Vibe specifically for its range was disappointed enough to return the unit for a competing model, according to a review on Buzzillions.
All monitors generate user complaints about random beeping, and the Graco iMonitor Vibe (starting at $45 for one parent unit, $90 for two, Amazon) is no exception. The iMonitor Vibe has received some scathing reviews from users about this very problem. Yet one mother scolds other reviewers on Buzzillions, pointing out that the beeping is meant to alert you when the receiver is placed too close to the transmitter, or that a receiver has been left on when the baby unit is switched off.
The unique selling point for this budget baby monitor is its vibration feature, which alerts you to sounds in the baby's room without subjecting you to potentially ear-splitting cries. You can use rechargeable batteries in the Graco iMonitor Vibe, and charging indicator lights let you know when you need to recharge. Another bonus feature is a parent-unit locator, a real godsend for when you can't remember where you put the monitor (or your child has moved it).
Summer Infant Secure Sounds Digital Monitor Review
Although Summer Infant now seems to be focused on dominating the video monitor market, the Secure Sounds audio monitor can still be found in stores and on eBay. The experts at TopTenReviews praise its ease of use in a Summer Infant monitor review and point out that the Secure Sounds baby monitor comes in a variety of colors to match your decor. A consumer products review site also praises the monitor's attractive appearance in a Summer Infant monitor review. A key feature of this monitor is the digital technology, which keeps you from hearing your neighbors' children and your neighbors from hearing yours. Even a parent who isn't completely satisfied with the Secure Sounds monitor admits in a review on Buzzillions that the monitor has a very clear signal.
Users frequently complain in reviews that the Secure Sounds 2.4 Ghz Digital Monitor (starting at $65, Amazon) can cause problems for wireless Internet users. A parent posting a baby monitor review on Buzzillions reminds other users how individualized baby monitor performance is and stresses the importance of selecting a baby monitor that works well in your home. While many parents complain about short battery life in Summer Infant monitor reviews on Buzzillions, this user avoided the issue by using the monitor mainly at night, allowing it to stay plugged in most of the time. As a result, the user claims to have gone an impressive three years before having to replace the battery.
Graco UltraClear Analog Baby Monitor Review
Although this bargain baby monitor's price looks right, a closer look at the specifications and Graco UltraClear reviews reveals that this model isn't such a good buy after all. In a review at TopTenReviews, testers wonder why the monitor doesn't have rechargeable batteries, which have become standard in the baby monitor industry. Unless you want to deal with the hassle and expense of constantly replacing the batteries for the UltraClear, you have to keep the monitor plugged in most of the time -- not a viable option for many families, especially as babies grow older and become more mobile. The monitor's 49 MHz frequency is also not great at minimizing interference, since many devices, including cordless phones, operate on this frequency as well. One user posting a review on Amazon says she decided to use the constant static to her advantage and repurpose the monitor as a white-noise machine for her child.
The Graco UltraClear (starting at $23 for one parent unit, $28 for two, Amazon) also lacks a true must-have: an out-of-range indicator designed to alert you when you've moved too far away from the transmitter to receive a clear signal. If you step outside and lose the signal, you'll have no way of knowing that your baby could be crying back in the house. There are superior monitors in this price range, complete with rechargeable batteries to keep costs down.
Safety 1st Sound View Monitor Review
Unfortunately, as one user suggests in a Safety 1st Sound View review on Amazon, you may get what you pay for here. Like the Graco UltraClear, the Safety 1st Sound View Monitor (also starting at $23 for one receiver, Amazon) doesn't have rechargeable batteries. So, if you plan to use the monitor on battery power, get ready to pay up for constant battery replacement. This particular monitor also takes only 9-volt batteries, which tend to be more expensive than other batteries and can also be harder to find, especially in bulk, making it harder to comparison shop or stock up to save money. Another user notes in a review on Amazon that you need a screwdriver to change the batteries, which you would have to do often if you frequently relied on battery power.
The lack of rechargeable batteries and single parent unit make the Safety 1st Sound View far less portable and easy to use than some of the other baby monitors on our list. On top of that, the Sound View doesn't have an out-of-range indicator, which is a deal breaker in our book.