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Updated: 17 Mar 2021

The baby monitors failing to live up to parents' expectations

Our tests reveal big differences in how long parents expect batteries in their baby monitors to last - and how long they actually do.

More than half of parents say that long battery life is an essential feature when buying a baby monitor, but Which? test data shows that many need recharging after just a few hours' use.

In 2019, we asked 1,360 parents how long they expect batteries in a baby monitor to last before they need recharging. We compared results from our survey with performance data from our tests to find out whether battery life is living up to parents' expectations.

Simply want to find out which baby monitors we recommend? Head straight to our round-up of the best baby monitors.

Baby monitor battery life vs expectations

Our survey findings reveal that the average amount of time parents expect batteries to last for is 13 hours.

The parent units (part that stays with the parent) of the baby monitors we've tested average less than 10 hours before they need recharging, and the length of time they last for varies widely.

The worst we've found runs out of charge in less than three hours, while the best keeps going for nearly 27 hours.

Do expensive baby monitors have better battery life?

Our test data indicates that paying more for a baby monitor doesn't necessarily mean a longer battery life. In fact, the shortest battery life we've found comes from one of the most expensive baby monitors we've tested.

The only way you'll know for sure if a baby monitor has a decent battery life is by checking our baby monitor reviewsand opting for one that's been awarded four or five stars for battery life.

Video monitors vs audio monitors

Results from our tests show that video monitors, which come with a camera so you can see your baby, tend to use much more power than audio-only monitors.

The average battery life for an audio monitor is 13.5 hours, compared with just seven hours for a video monitor.

But not all baby monitors follow this trend. We've found audio monitors that run out of juice in less than six hours and video monitors that last for more than 12 hours.

Not sure whether to stick with a basic audio monitor or spend more on a video monitor? Our audio baby monitor and video baby monitor buying guides will help you decide which type suits you best.

Do I need a battery-powered baby unit?

Most baby monitors have a battery-powered parent unit, but the baby unit (the part that stays with your baby) can be battery or mains-powered. We've outlined the pros and cons of battery-powered baby units to help you decide which type to go for:


  • Doesn't need to be set up near a plug socket
  • Useful for taking on holiday
  • Most are rechargeable, so you won't need to replace the batteries


  • Tend to be more expensive than baby monitors with mains-powered baby units
  • Battery life can decrease over time, so the monitor may need charging more frequently after several years of use

Get all the information you need on the different types of baby monitors and features to look for in our full baby monitor buying guide.