Baby monitors: How we test baby monitors
When choosing a baby monitor, the basic features you'll need are good reception and good quality sound and/or video. Sound-sensitive lights are also a good option if you don’t want to rely on the sound.
Our experts test all these features in our labs so you can make an informed decision when choosing your baby monitor. You can see full test results for the dozens of baby monitors we've tested in our baby monitor reviews.
Baby monitor reception and range
We test how far the range of each monitor extends in three different environments - in a typical Victorian terraced house, a modern new build house, and outdoors.
With the baby-unit part of the monitor in a bedroom, we check the reception in different rooms upstairs and downstairs, recording the quality of signal until it is lost altogether.
We then take the parent-unit part of the monitor outside and keep walking until the quality of reception and range declines, or is lost - useful if you have a large garden and are out there while your baby takes a nap.
Quality of sound and video
A monitor not only needs good reception and range, it also needs good clarity and volume, so that you can clearly hear when your baby needs attention.
We assess how clear and distinct the sound is; checking for any crackles, fuzziness or interference from other devices.
We also asses the quality of the picture on video baby monitors and check the sound-sensitive lights to make sure they’re accurate and increase in line with the volume output.
Baby monitor battery life
There’s nothing worse than the worry that the battery may run out on either part of a baby monitor and you won’t hear your baby, or that the batteries will run out in the middle of the night and then bleep annoyingly until changed.
Battery life is tested using Best Buy batteries; we record how long they’ll last before they need changing.
If the monitor uses rechargeable batteries, they are fully charged in accordance with manufacturer recommendations. We then test how long they last before they need recharging.
We often find that manufacturer claims are different from real life use. You can find the baby monitors that score best for battery life using our compare baby monitors tool.
Which baby monitors are the easiest to use?
We provide ratings on how easy baby monitors are to set up and use straight from the box, including how easy the instructions are to understand, and how stable any docking stations are.
We also list the range of helpful features such as out-of-range alarms, intercom option, lullabies, paging (to help find a lost parental unit), lights which can be turned on or off remotely, or more practical aspects like a belt clip.
Parents have raised concerns about the inaccuracy of the room temperature sensors that many baby monitors have as an extra feature. So, we record the temperature that each baby monitor reads alongside a calibrated thermometer.
If there's a large discrepancy, we let you know in the review, although this doesn't make up part of the test score.
Total test score
The total test score is made up of the following:
- Performance 55%
- Total convenience 35%
- Features 5%
- Durability 5%
Best Buy audio and video monitors
Whether you’re looking for an audio monitor, or you fancy a video monitor, we’ve got Best Buys of each to recommend.
Audio monitors have to achieve a score of 82% or higher to earn a coveted Best Buy award, while video monitors have to score 72% or above.