How to Choose a Baby Monitor

A baby monitor is an essential item that you will find on most Baby Gear Checklists. However, with so many options available, it can be hard to know which type to choose. 

This baby monitor guide offers a comprehensive overview of the different types of monitors and features available, helping you determine which functions may be useful for your specific circumstances. Choosing the best monitor for your family depends on various factors we will cover. If you have a specific question in mind, click on the relevant topic below to navigate directly to it.

What is a baby monitor? 
What baby monitor should I get? 
          Audio baby monitor 
         Video baby monitor 
         Smart HD Wi-Fi-Enabled video baby monitor 
How is a baby monitor powered? 
What features are important in a baby monitor? 
         Standard features (& Variations) 
         Basic features 
         Special features 
Do you need an extra camera for a baby monitor? 
What is a breathing monitor and how does it work? 
Do you need a baby breathing monitor? 
How secure is the connection of a baby monitor? What can I do to protect my monitor from hackers?

Why do you need a baby monitor?

A baby monitor can be a helpful tool for parents who want to keep an eye on their little one from another room. It can provide peace of mind in two ways: first, when your baby is sleeping peacefully, you can relax without feeling the need to constantly check on them and potentially disturb their sleep; second, it alerts you to when they are unsettled and may need your attention.

While a baby monitor is not necessary for every family, this guide can help you decide whether it would be a useful addition to your baby gear.

Oricom Baby Monitoring Technology


What is a baby monitor?

A standard baby monitor consists of two devices that are used by parents to remotely monitor their baby when they are alone or in bed. The options available include audio, video, motion, and breathing monitors.

While audio-only baby monitors are available, the most commonly used monitoring system is the video baby monitor, which includes a camera unit (comprising a camera, microphone, and speaker) positioned at the baby's sleep space. The camera unit transmits sound and video via radio waves to the parent monitor unit. The camera unit is powered by mains electricity, is mounted at a high angle on the wall and can also be adjusted.

The parent unit displays the live recording on a small screen and has a speaker and microphone. Most parent units can be both handheld or freestanding and used either remotely (powered by the rechargeable battery) or plugged in to charge.

Additionally, Smart Wi-Fi-enabled baby monitors are available that can connect to your phone remotely through an app, providing many additional features.

Breathing monitors are covered in more detail near the end of the guide.

What baby monitor should I get?

When considering a baby monitor, you have three main options to consider: audio, video, and smart monitors. Audio monitors are the simplest and most affordable, while video monitors are the most commonly used due to their increased functionality. Smart monitors, although more expensive, offer the most advanced technology and enable remote connectivity.

Audio Baby Monitors

An audio monitor is a very simple monitor, with technology similar to a walkie-talkie, and was the original form of baby monitoring before video monitors entered the market.

microphone/speaker device at the baby’s sleep space transmits the sounds the baby makes (crying, chattering, etc.) through to the parent unit. The parent unit also has a speaker and a microphone, allowing two-way communication, which a parent could use to help their child settle.

Because of its simple technology, an audio monitor is a very affordable option for families who are happy with a basic monitoring solution. However, if you are likely to hear crying sounds in your home anyway, without the assistance of an audio monitor, this may not offer much of an advantage – so keep this in mind when deciding between audio and video. 

Video Baby Monitors

Video baby monitors provide a live video feed of the child’s sleep space, which gives more information and understanding of what is going on.

You can see if your baby or toddler has fallen asleep or is moving around in their bed or bedroom. This allows you to learn their sleep behaviour and patterns, and make decisions around when you will check on them in person and when you will just keep an eye on them remotely. 

Standard video baby monitors use radio frequency to connect between the parent monitor and the camera. This safe technology is similar to the connectivity between a portable home phone and the landline.

The typical range they reach is 150m, but this can be up to 400m. However, because the range is measured using line of sight (i.e. no walls), the strength of the connection will be compromised whenever it passes through walls and/or floors. Therefore, it is favourable to have as few barriers as possible, and for these to be thin. A thick concrete floor between two levels of a home/apartment can significantly obstruct a monitor connection, but you can buy a long-range monitor (or a Wi-Fi connected monitor) to counter this.

Because of their extra functionality, greater peace of mind, and mid-range price point, video monitors are the most popular form of baby monitoring, and this means there are many different types on the market, with a range of features to consider (expanded on further down). 

Smart HD Wi-Fi-Enabled Baby Monitors

All Smart/Wi-Fi-enabled baby monitors have video function and can connect to a feature-rich app on your smartphone through Wi-Fi or data. Among many other benefits, this allows you to monitor your child remotely when you are away from home.

With a Smart baby monitor, it is viable to just purchase the individual camera unit to use with the app on your phone; however, having the parent unit for day-to-day in-home use is much more convenient (as covered below). 

The app on your phone will operate with similar functions to the parent unit, but notifications are generally more like a phone notification (screen lights up with pop-up notification and/or sound alert), while the parent unit would transmit the live sound as the alert (unless you have it on silent mode, whereby just the screen lights up).

Additional app-only features include the ability to make and play personal audio recordings (i.e. songs or stories sung/read by you or someone special like a grandparent), and you can also record the video feed or save live snapshots to your phone.

Smart monitors will use radio frequency to connect between the parent monitor and the camera; however, accessing the app functionality on your smartphone will require the camera to be connected to Wi-Fi. 

What are the benefits of a phone-connected (Smart) baby monitor?

For modern parents on-the-go, being able to connect your baby monitor to your smartphone is very handy for many different types of scenarios.

  • For working or travelling parents, a Smart baby monitor provides the ability to connect with their child during sleep time from a distance/overseas (through viewing and the talk-back feature), giving peace of mind that they can check in.
  • It can also be reassuring to see your child is settling okay with another carer, such as a family member, friend, or babysitter. 
  • For families where one parent usually settles the baby/child for sleep time, a Smart baby monitor can allow that parent more confidence to go out for the evening; being able to check in on how things are going via the app can give assurance that the child is settling okay with the other parent (or on the flipside, can perhaps give proof that it’s bad enough to warrant coming home early to the rescue!).
  • It can even be handy if you have left your parent monitor in the other room and don’t want to go retrieve it!
  • If the layout and/or design of your home makes it difficult to get a strong connection between the camera unit and parent unit, using Wi-Fi or data to connect the camera unit to your smartphone may be a solution, as this will not have an issue with connection range. 

Do I need the parent unit if I have a Smart (Wi-Fi Connected) baby monitor?

While you can just purchase a camera(s) individually and use your smartphone as the only monitor receiver, most families find having the parent unit much more convenient for everyday use. This is because you don't need to keep the app open on your phone all evening, allowing you to use your phone freely, as the parent unit serves as the sole monitoring device.

This also preserves your smartphone’s battery life. Because a smartphone is also operating other apps simultaneously, the power drainage from using it as the main monitor receiver can be considerable. Furthermore, without the parent unit, if you lose your Wi-Fi connection, you cannot use your monitor.  


Baby sleeping in bed with a baby monitor.

How is a baby monitor powered?

Most baby monitor camera units are mains-powered and plugged into a wall outlet*, while the parent unit is powered by a rechargeable battery (68 hour battery life). That way, you can carry the parent unit around the home like a portable hand-held device during the evening and have it beside you wherever you go, including outside (for most models). 

The parent unit can then be charged overnight using the mains-powered charging port, which is usually located in the parent's room. This allows the parent unit to be fully charged and ready for use throughout the day, and ensures that parents can continue to receive monitor alerts even when they are asleep.

*While some baby monitors on the market may have battery-powered cameras, this may not be an advantage for families with multiple children, as the battery will need to be replaced after approximately 2 years of use (costing about $60$80) and may increase the initial cost of the product. Additionally, if the child always sleeps in their bassinet/cot/bed, there may be little advantage to having a battery-powered camera that doesn't need to be plugged into the wall.

What features are important in a baby monitor?

While each baby monitor feature has a useful function, the decision of which features are the most important is relative to your personal preferences, specific family needs, house design, and the price point you are happy to spend. 

Quick examples of these may be that you may have a personal preference for a non-essential feature like a room temperature monitor; your family needs may include having an motion activated Pan/Tilt/Zoom (PTZ) camera to view two children sharing a room; your house design may mean a long-range connection is required; and your price point may limit your options to a standard model with a lower quality camera, for instance. 

The more features a monitor has and the more advanced technology the more expensive they become. 

On the other hand, having integrated special features can be cost-effective, saving you from purchasing additional devices you may have wanted anyway e.g. a night light, white noise machine, room temperature monitor, or a device to play lullabies/bed-time stories from.   

So let’s get into the finer details.

Below, we will cover the variations within standard features you will encounter on the market, followed by basic features, and then special additional features.

Standard Features (& Variations)

Screen Resolution & Size: The quality and size of the parent monitor screen used for viewing your child may vary depending on the product's price point. Cheaper monitors typically have smaller screens and lower image quality, while more premium models may feature larger screens, such as a 5-inch display with a pixel resolution of 1280x720. Some high-end models also offer touchscreen functionality.

Range of Motion (Camera Functionality): Cameras can generally be classified into two categories: stationary and motorized PTZ (pan/tilt/zoom) cameras. Stationary cameras remain fixed in position but can be adjusted manually, while PTZ cameras can be remotely adjusted from the parent unit to pan left and right, tilt up and down, and zoom in and out. The range of motion for each of these functions varies across different models of PTZ cameras.

The advantages of using a PTZ camera include the ability to track a child's movement if they get out of bed, as well as the ability to view two children in the same room and focus on each child as needed.

Connection Range: The range of connection between the camera and the parent unit may vary between models and can be affected by factors such as passing through walls and floors. As mentioned earlier, the range can be between 150m to 400m. Therefore, when selecting a baby monitor, it's essential to consider whether a longer range is required for your home to maintain an uninterrupted connection between the parent unit and camera.

Factors that can impact the range include having a multi-level house, concrete floors, thick internal walls, numerous walls, or significant distance between the pairing devices. It is worth noting that when using a Smart HD monitor with a Wi-Fi or data connection to a smartphone, the range is not affected by these factors.

Battery: While most baby monitor cameras require electricity and need to be plugged into the wall, the parent monitor usually comes with a rechargeable battery. This allows you to move the device around your house without needing to keep it plugged in. When shopping for baby monitors, it can be helpful to compare the estimated battery life of different models.

It is worth noting that basic monitors with fewer features or lower-quality picture tend to have better battery life as they consume less power. However, most monitors include a Power Saving Mode, which means that the parent monitor screen only lights up when you receive an alert, such as when your baby cries.

Wall-Mounted Baby Monitor - High Angle View

Wall Mounting (Camera): Most baby monitor cameras come with a keyhole wall mounting point that allows for easy hanging using a nail or screw. This gives parents a higher angle to view from. However, some monitors may not have this feature, so it's important to keep in mind that you may need to purchase a separate accessory like a mounting bracket to achieve a higher angle.

Cry Alert/VOX (& Setting Options): The Cry Alert/VOX feature is a standard function in most baby monitors. This feature is voice-activated and notifies the parent monitor or phone when the baby is crying or making noise. The parent monitor will either transmit the sound or light up the screen. The screen-lighting-up setting is useful during the evening when you're sleep training your baby. Premium models offer multiple noise-filtering settings, which can filter out low-level noises like happy chattering.

In addition, premium models may also have Motion and Sound Detection features, which notify you of any significant movements your baby makes. The screen will light up when the baby moves, allowing you to check on them.

Basic Features 

Infrared Night Vision: This is an essential basic feature found in all baby monitor cameras. It works by using infrared lights to illuminate the baby's room, which is not visible to the human eye but can be detected by the camera, allowing parents to see and monitor their baby in the dark.

Talk Back: Talk Back, also known as Two-Way Talk or Two-Way Intercom, is a standard feature in most baby monitors. It enables parents to communicate with their child through a microphone on the parent unit, which connects to a small speaker on the camera unit in the baby's room.

Special Features 

Night Light: Many baby monitors come with a night light function on the camera, which can be useful in creating a soothing environment for the child, as well as assisting the parent when checking in or giving night feeds. Some monitors offer different colours for the night light.

It's important to note that not all monitors have a significant night light feature, as some only have a small LED light (pin-sized) on the camera. For a more substantial night light, some cameras have a slightly larger light that may be the size of the tip of a finger, while others have a much larger night light with a 360° glowing base and multi-coloured options. When considering this feature, it's important to investigate the likely strength and range of the light.

Lullabies & Other Sounds: This is a popular feature that offers preloaded soothing sounds to help your baby fall asleep. Basic models may only have one or two lullaby options, while more advanced models offer a wide range of sounds, including nature soundscapes, white noise, and calming noises like the sound of a vacuum cleaner. Premium Smart HD models also offer the option to record your voice, allowing you or a loved one to sing a lullaby or read a bedtime story to your child. This feature is enabled through a connected app, which may also include a selection of audiobook stories.

Room Temperature Monitoring: This feature provides helpful guidance on the temperature of the baby's room, but it's important to note that a standard thermometer may provide the most accurate reading. Monitoring the room temperature allows parents to ensure that their baby is comfortable and make any necessary adjustments – such as using a heating/cooling system and adding/removing clothing or bedding layers – to maintain a safe and comfortable sleeping environment for the baby.

Video Recording and Snapshot: Smart HD monitors allow parents to capture special moments of their baby through video recording and snapshots. These features enable parents to store and share memories easily on their phone.

Do you need an extra camera for a baby monitor?

Families with one child being monitored generally only require one camera. However, for growing families or other situations, having multiple cameras may be necessary.

Most monitors allow up to four cameras to be connected to a single parent unit. This enables parents to monitor different rooms or areas, such as the living room and bedroom, to keep an eye on their child no matter where they are.

It's common for parents to purchase a second camera when they have their second child, but it's important to note that clearance or old models may be difficult or impossible to find compatible additional cameras for in the future.

When using multiple cameras, a basic monitor's parent unit can switch between camera views depending on which camera detects noise or movement. Premium models, on the other hand, often have a Split Screen View feature that allows the parent unit to display up to four cameras simultaneously.

What is a breathing monitor and how does it work?

Breathing monitors typically come with one or two sensor pads that are placed under the baby's mattress to detect their breathing movements. These pads are connected to a device placed near the baby's sleep space that makes an alarm sound if it hasn't detected any breathing movements for a certain period, usually 20 seconds, or if the breathing rate falls below a certain threshold, like 10 breaths per minute. The alarm is designed to startle the baby to take a breath, and this sound is transmitted through a baby monitor to alert the parent. It's important to note that the bassinet or cot needs to have a solid and flat base on which the sensors sit, and the mattress is placed on top.

In New Zealand, the two main breathing detection monitors are the Oricom BabySense 7 (a medically registered baby breathing monitor) and the Angelcare Audio and Breathing Movement Baby Monitor (which monitors all movement, including but not exclusive to, breathing movement).

The Angelcare device transmits Bluetooth low energy, which has been tested to meet safety standards (you can learn more about the technology used here), while the BabySense 7 uses a passive sensor system that emits no radiation.

It's worth noting that monitors with two sensors can be used with one sensor for newborns and both when the baby starts to move more and roll. It's also important to avoid using memory foam mattresses or co-sleeping arrangements with these devices.

Do you need a baby breathing monitor?

Although most babies do not experience breathing problems, a breathing monitor is highly recommended for premature babies and those with known breathing issues, as they are at a higher risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). For parents who experience significant anxiety about their baby's well-being, a breathing monitor can provide additional peace of mind and reassurance that their baby is safe.

How secure is the connection of a baby monitor? What can I do to protect my monitor from hackers? 

While malicious hacking of baby monitors is uncommon, it is important to take safety precautions to minimise the risk of unauthorised access to your monitor feed. We recommend purchasing a monitor from a reputable brand with good safety protocols and setting a strong Wi-Fi password. If someone has access to your Wi-Fi network, they have a greater ability to hack into your monitor feed. Some monitors also have a manually operated privacy shield on the camera for added security.

It's important to note that standard monitors are extremely unlikely to be hacked due to the way they transmit through radio frequency. The same applies for Smart HD monitors when they are used without an internet connection.

Baby Monitors

To browse options available from Oricom and Kodak, please see the following collections:

Audio Monitors

Oricom Secure330 Premium DECT Baby Monitor

Video Monitors

Oricom Secure720 2.4" Digital Video Baby Monitor
Oricom Secure740 4.3" Digital Video Baby Monitor
Oricom Secure895 5" Digital Video Baby Monitor PTZ

Touchscreen Video Monitors

Oricom Secure870 3.5" Touchscreen Digital Video Baby Monitor 
Oricom Secure875 HD 5" Touchscreen Video Baby Monitor PTZ

Smart HD Connected Video Monitors

Kodak Cherish C225 2.8" Smart Baby Monitor
4.3" Smart HD Nursery Pal Baby Monitor
Oricom 5" Smart HD Nursery Pal Baby Monitor
Kodak Cherish C525P 5" Smart Baby Monitor
Oricom 5" Smart HD Nursery Pal Glow + Baby Monitor
Oricom 5" Smart HD Nursery Pal Skyview Baby Monitor with Cot Stand
Oricom 5" Smart HD Nursery Pal Touchscreen Premium Baby Monitor

Breathing Movement Monitor (BabySense 7)

View product and different bundle options

Shop All

Shop all Oricom, including individually sold cameras 
Shall all Kodak, including individually sold cameras

If you have any questions and wish to discuss your family’s needs with our team, please contact us. We'd be happy to help!