Baby Monitor Comparison Guide: Traditional, Wi-Fi, or Smart?

Baby Monitor Comparison Guide: Traditional, Wi-Fi, or Smart?

In this monitor comparison guide, we’ll compare the Nanit baby monitor to other smart monitors, along with traditional and Wi-Fi models. Which one comes out on top? Read on to find out!

Some parenting experiences are universal. Whether you’re a new parent or a seasoned pro, at some point, every parent has that moment where they tip-toe to the crib and oh-so-gently place their hand on their sleeping baby’s belly to make sure they’re breathing. (Or maybe you go with the more stealthy finger-under-the-nose.)

If you’re lucky, your little one sleeps through it. If not—well, maybe you can find time for a shower tomorrow, right?

As parents, we worry, and that’s what baby monitors are for. They give us reassurance during those precious first few months, and as babies grow, they give us the freedom to get things done around the house (and yes, self-care too!) without having to park ourselves within listening distance of the nursery.

When it comes to baby monitors, there’s no shortage of options. Which is great! But it’s also a little… intimidating? (Decision fatigue is real—especially when it comes to buying baby gear.)

That’s why we’ve put together this monitor comparison guide. Are we a little bit biased? Of course! We’re confident that Nanit is the best baby monitor on the market. But we also want you to be fully informed while making your decision, and we’re not afraid to put the Nanit smart monitor head-to-head against the competition.

Traditional Baby Monitors: Sticking with the Basics

Consider traditional monitors the flip phones of the baby monitor scene. Sure, they do the job, but they’re lacking in some key ways.

The first baby monitors on the market were audio-only, and while these do still exist, it’s now common for traditional baby monitors to incorporate visual feeds as well. A base is set in the baby’s room, and this sends a feed to a receiver.

We conducted a survey to get the low-down on how parents make decisions when buying baby monitors. Parents who choose traditional baby monitors buy them because:

They have concerns about hacking. Sadly, hacking is an issue and a cause for concern for many parents. This was the number one reason parents choose traditional monitors over Wi-Fi monitors or smart monitors.

Why Nanit Is a Better Choice: While hacking is a valid concern, it’s important to note that smart baby monitors have extra security features to prevent this from happening. Nanit prioritizes security, with two-factor authentication and granular user permissions to keep out the riff-raff. In addition, Nanit uses 256-bit AES dual encryption, which means data is encrypted on the camera and while in transit— it’s like the Fort Knox of baby monitors when it comes to security.

They want to be able to travel and use a monitor without dependence on Wi-Fi. Some parents don’t like the idea of being tied down by Wi-Fi. If they travel somewhere without Wi-Fi (or with a weak signal), they worry their monitor won’t work.

Why Nanit Is a Better Choice: Fortunately, Nanit has a backup plan in place. While Wi-Fi is required for the initial setup, Nanit’s baby monitor will continue to work without an internet connection and send a live feed to your mobile device’s app as long as they are on the same home network.

They want a lower-cost option. Another common reason for selecting a traditional monitor over a Wi-Fi monitor is the price. Traditional monitors are budget-friendly.

Why Nanit Is a Better Choice: It’s true that traditional monitors are the cheapest option out there, but you pay the price for it when it comes to quality. Traditional monitors tend to have audio interference and blurry visuals.

“Picture and sound quality is simply outstanding. The Nanit’s HD camera, paired with a retina-display-quality smartphone makes for truly excellent live video feed quality. Even when zooming in, very little picture pixelation occurs.” – Fathercraft

Wi-Fi Baby Monitors: A Big Step Forward

When Wi-Fi monitors were first introduced, they were a game-changer. They, too, have a central base in the baby’s room, but the feed is sent via Wi-Fi to either a receiver, a mobile device, or both.

According to our parent survey, parents choose Wi-Fi baby monitors because:

They have better image quality. The number one reason parents chose Wi-Fi baby monitors over traditional models is the image quality. Wi-Fi baby monitors typically have night vision, and many have high definition.

Why Nanit Is a Better Choice: Nanit has unparalleled video quality, plus a unique bird’s eye view. That means you can always see your baby—no more blind spots!

They want to be able to view their baby from anywhere. Coming in second was the ability to view the baby from anywhere. A standout feature of Wi-Fi monitors is being able to see a feed of your little one on your mobile device.

Why Nanit Is a Better Choice: You’ll be able to view your baby from anywhere with Nanit, but you’ll also have access to helpful tools and insights.

They want information about their baby’s sleep patterns, breathing, and/or vital signs. Another selling point for Wi-Fi monitors is the possibility of gaining insight and information about your baby while you are apart.

Why Nanit Is a Better Choice: This is not standard for all Wi-Fi monitors, which means some parents have to invest in additional breathing monitoring systems. Monitors that do have these features are often hindered by bugs, false alarms, and other hiccups.

“Insights provides excellent sleep tracking information, which is invaluable for parents of a fussy sleeper. Knowing sleep and wake times down to the minute, with overnight wake-ups factored in, can be incredibly useful; this information has really helped me narrow down a better bedtime for my grumpy little cherub.” – PC Mag

Smart Baby Monitors: A Smarter Choice

Wi-Fi monitors are great for that crystal-clear visual feed, but if you want more data—and more reassurance—then you need a smart monitor.

Smart baby monitors take the added functions of Wi-Fi monitors up a notch (or several notches). Smart camera monitors function as bases in the baby’s room, enabling parents to watch from anywhere via a connected app. Then, they have additional features (usually enabled by wearables) that allow you to keep tabs on a variety of different metrics and measurements, from sleep quality to oxygen levels and more, depending on the model.

“While other monitors we looked into rely on electric sensors to track the baby’s sleep habits, we love that the Nanit Pro doesn’t require any wearable electronics to track our baby’s sleep, breathing, and growth.” – Parenting

What Makes Nanit the Smartest Baby Monitor on the Market

Not all smart baby monitors are alike. Nanit’s survey data asked parents about the features that led them to purchase a Nanit smart baby monitor over other brands. Here’s why parents say Nanit is the best baby monitor:

Check on your baby from anywhere with a smartphone. Parents love that they can see their baby on any mobile device, but they also love that with Nanit, they don’t have to turn their phone into a stand-alone baby monitor (as you do with most Wi-Fi monitors).

Unmatched sleep tracking and analysis capabilities. Most smart baby monitors will offer some sort of sleep tracking and analysis. However, Nanit stands out to parents because the app doesn’t just show you data; it actually helps you know what to do with the data. The system provides personalized, science-backed tips from a pediatric sleep expert, all based on your baby’s unique sleep patterns and behaviors.

Breathing wear for peace of mind. One of the biggest reasons parents went with the Nanit smart baby monitor is because of its unique Breathing Wear. Nanit’s smart baby monitoring system works hand-in-hand with Nanit Breathing Wear, which monitors breathing motion using non-invasive swaddles and pajamas (all cord-free!). The advanced Nanit technology can track a baby’s breathing motion by reading subtle movements in the fabric’s pattern—which means you’re not attaching electronic devices to your baby’s body while they sleep.

Go beyond sleep monitoring. Nanit’s advanced computer vision technology allows you to track your baby’s movements and milestones, from the first time they fell asleep on their own to the first time they rolled over, and even their growth and measurements.

Sound and motion alerts. Smart baby monitors are a hit with parents because they provide alerts to let them know when their babies need them. Nanit is a top choice because it puts parents in control of these alert notifications. Not only are there fewer false alarms than with other smart monitors, but parents also get to customize the alerts by setting the sensitivity.

Unique overhead camera view. Wi-Fi monitors tend to have a standard base that is placed somewhere within the baby’s nursery, then plugged in. Nanit’s smart monitoring camera system offers a safe overhead camera view, allowing you to get the best angles of your little one without worrying about dangerous cords.

Clearer image quality. The Nanit Pro camera comes in 1080p HD resolution, which means you’ll get crystal clear images and videos of your baby. Parents consistently rave about the image quality in Nanit reviews.

With these features and more, it’s easy to see why so many parents consider the Nanit Complete Monitoring System to be the smartest choice when it comes to smart baby monitors.

Nanit is dedicated to delivering high-quality, reliable content for our readers. Our Parent Confidently articles are crafted by experienced parenting contributors and are firmly rooted in data and research. To ensure the accuracy and relevance of the content, all articles undergo a rigorous review process by our team of parenting experts. Additionally, our wellness-related content receives further scrutiny from Nanit Lab, our think tank of scientists, engineers, physicians, academic experts, and thought leaders.

Our primary objective is to furnish readers with the most current, trustworthy, and actionable information concerning a host of parenting topics. We strive to empower our readers to make informed decisions by offering comprehensive and respected insights.

In pursuit of transparency and credibility, our articles incorporate credible third-party sources, peer-reviewed studies, and abstracts. These sources are directly linked within the text or provided at the bottom of the articles to grant readers easy access to the source material.


Natalie Barnett, PhD serves as VP of Clinical Research at Nanit. Natalie initiated sleep research collaborations at Nanit and in her current role, Natalie oversees collaborations with researchers at hospitals and universities around the world who use the Nanit camera to better understand pediatric sleep and leads the internal sleep and development research programs at Nanit. Natalie holds a Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of New England in Australia and a Postgraduate Certificate in Pediatric Sleep Science from the University of Western Australia. Natalie was an Assistant Professor in the Neurogenetics Unit at NYU School of Medicine prior to joining Nanit. Natalie is also the voice of Nanit's science-backed, personalized sleep tips delivered to users throughout their baby's first few years.

Kristy Ojala is Nanit’s Digital Content Director. She spends way too much time looking at maps and weather forecasts and pictures of Devon Rex cats and no-cook dinners. A former sleep champion, she strives to share trustworthy somnabulism tips with other parents—praying for that one fine day when no tiny humans wake her up while it’s still dark out. Her kids highly recommend 3 books, approximately 600 stuffies, Chopin’s “Nocturnes,” and the Nanit Sound + Light for bedtime success.

Mackenzie Sangster is on the Brand and Community team at Nanit. She supports content development and editing for Nanit’s Parent Confidently blog as well as other marketing initiatives. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her friends, cooking, being active, and using the Pro + Flex Duo to keep an eye on her fur-baby, Poppy!

Holly Hays is a contributor and writer for Nanit, channeling her years as a mama and former magazine editor to create fun, useful content for fellow busy, trying-to-do-their-best parents and caregivers. Holly has written for a wide range of brands and media outlets (Ergobaby, HGTV, Manhattan Toy Company, OXO), loves to cook and read mystery novels, and leans heavily on her two daughters to keep her up to date on all the latest slang.