“a consumer reports for the cheap” — the new york times
In this review:
  1. Best Cheap Baby Monitors
  2. Infant Video Monitors, Movement and Sound Monitor
  3. Digital Baby Monitors
  4. Baby Monitor Frequency
  1. Baby Monitor Battery, Baby Monitor Range
  2. Vibrating Baby Monitors
  3. Baby Monitor Reviews
  4. Discount Baby Monitors Features Comparison Table

Cheap Baby Monitors Buying Guide

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 indispensible.

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Fortunately prices are more reasonable than they used to be, so you can purchase a decent baby monitor with less buyer's remorse.

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 audio/video monitors with digital technology. Every baby monitor brand has a few popular models. At the same time, reviews are mixed for all manufacturers, even household names such as Graco. This is largely due to unpredictable performance, since a baby monitor's reception will vary based on everything from your home's layout to the number, types, and locations of electronic devices you use at home -- even the proximity of neighbors using baby monitors.

Cheap baby monitors have unique sets of features and extras, so what works for another family may not work for you. For instance, cheap baby monitors operate on different frequencies, so you simply have to try one before you can know for sure whether it will interfere with other electronics in your home. Cheap baby monitors also have different ranges, which are notoriously inaccurate, so if you have a large home or want to be able to use the monitor outside, consider buying one with a longer range and testing it out to see how well it performs. Privacy is another concern, because only digital baby monitors encode signals sent from the transmitter to the parent units. With analog baby monitors, you and your neighbors risk hearing each other's crying babies or even each other's conversations. The cheapest baby monitors don't use digital technology, but it doesn't cost much more.

Review continues below

The Sony BabyCall Nursery Monitor NTM-910 (starting at $40 for one receiver, $60 for two) has no peers among analog baby monitors and is one of the best baby monitors we found, analog or not. Experts and users alike are amazed by the BabyCall's exquisite sound quality and voice activation feature, which cuts down on white noise by muting the monitor unless the baby cries or coos (there's also an always-on mode). With an unparalleled selection of 27 channels to choose from, the BabyCall impresses even digital devotees who wouldn't otherwise consider an analog monitor. Our other pick for best cheap baby monitor, the Fisher-Price Remote Control Musical Audio Monitor (starting at $50 with one receiver, $90 with two), wins over users with the option of remotely turning on a nightlight, a lullaby, or nature sounds from the parent unit without disturbing the baby.

We also like the Graco iMonitor Vibe (starting at $45 for one parent unit, $90 for two), which is ideal for parents who prefer vibration alerts over sound. The Summer Infant Secure Sounds 2.4 GHz Digital Monitor (starting at $65) wins points not only for digital technology but also for including two parent units and two recharging bases at a price generally reserved for single units. Both these cheap digital baby monitors offer a bonus: a backup battery pack for the baby unit. The cheapest baby monitors we researched, the Graco UltraClear Analog Baby Monitor (starting at $23 for one parent unit, $28 for two) and the Safety 1st Sound View Monitor (also starting at $23 for one receiver) don't measure up when it comes to reliability, lacking important features such as an out-of-range indicator.

by Maralyn Edid (Google+ Profile)

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Best Cheap Baby Monitors

Sony BabyCall NTM-910
Gold Medal

Sony BabyCall NTM-910

Voted best 2010 analog audio baby monitor by the online parenting magazine Babble.com, this monitor includes an AC adapter and rechargeable batteries. Its selection of 27 channels makes it easy to avoid interference from other electronic devices in your home. The BabyCall is also water-resistant, making it a popular choice for use in the kitchen.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »
Fisher-Price Remote Control Musical Audio Monitor
Gold Medal

Fisher-Price Remote Control Musical Audio Monitor

This Fisher-Price baby monitor delivers more than just basic functions and must-have features, such as rechargeable batteries and low-battery and out-of-range indicators. It also allows you to remotely operate a nightlight and play music and nature sounds for your baby. Such extras help make it a great value for the money.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »

Good Cheap Baby Monitors

Graco iMonitor Vibe
Gold Medal

Graco iMonitor Vibe

The Vibe gets rave reviews for its adjustable vibration feature, battery backup for the baby unit, nightlight, and parent-unit locator. It also includes AC adapters for both the parent and child units, rechargeable batteries, and digital technology that blocks interference from other electronic devices.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »
Summer Infant Secure Sounds Digital Monitor
Gold Medal

Summer Infant Secure Sounds Digital Monitor

This digital baby monitor comes with an automatic channel selector, belt clip, out-of-range indicator, rechargeable battery, and recharging base. It also includes a backup battery pack for the baby unit so you can continue using the monitor during a power outage.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »
 

Don't Bother

Graco UltraClear Analog Baby Monitor

Graco, a leader in childcare products, simply misses the boat with the UltraClear Analog Baby Monitor. Despite the name, users complain about horrible static. This baby monitor also lacks an out-of-range indicator and doesn't take rechargeable batteries, which means buying batteries adds to the overall cost.

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Safety 1st Sound View Monitor

At first glance, this basic baby monitor seems like a good budget buy. Take a second look, however, and you'll find that the Sound View isn't just basic; it's lacking. No out-of-range indicator and no rechargeable batteries make the difference between a reliable monitor and one that isn't very portable or cost-efficient.

Read more »

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