How to Turn Your Phone Into a Baby Monitor

Your complete guide to using a smartphone or tablet as a baby monitor, plus reviews of the three best apps around.

mother and daughter on cell phone with baby sleeping
Photo: Manuela Larissegger/Getty Images

Want reassurance that your baby is safe and sound in the crib or bassinet? Look no further than your smartphone. Thanks to a slew of apps, your trusty mobile can easily double as a baby monitor.

A phone-based monitor has one big benefit: It lets traveling parents check in on their little love nugget anywhere, at any time. And setup is a cinch, even for sleep-deprived new parents.

Still, some parents may be wary of streaming what goes on in the nursery, especially in light of news stories about hacked baby monitors. Rest assured that, though the thought is scary, the chances of it happening to you are relatively low.

"Realistically, as long as you're using a secure solution and an adequately protected network and account, you're probably safe," says Scott Steinberg, a leading technology expert and author of the Modern Parents Guide Series. Still, a little extra precaution can't hurt.

"Make sure your Wi-Fi network is password-protected, and always use the strongest password possible," he adds. For instance, don't use obvious choices like "password," your birthday, or "123456." Also, resist the temptation to upload the monitor feed to the Web so you can share it with friends and family.

Step-by-Step Guide to Using Your Smartphone as a Baby Monitor

Dust off an old smartphone or tablet that you have lying around, as you'll need two devices to pull this hack off. The good news is that you won't have to pay for cellular service to use your extra phone or tablet as a baby cam since you only need internet access and it should work on the same Wi-Fi network you use with your current phone at home.

Then, download the app of your choice onto both devices. Set up the extra device in the nursery and point the camera at the crib or bassinet. "The key thing is putting the phone far enough to see your baby but not too far away as to not be able to tell what's going on," advises Steinberg. Don't forget to check that it's connected to your Wi-Fi network and plugged into an outlet for power (you don't want the battery to cut out mid-snooze!).

This device will serve as the camera; the other will be the monitor. Before you hit the switch, be sure to enable the app's enhanced security features to keep the video streams of your baby private, accessible only by you.

Best Baby Monitoring Apps

With all the monitoring apps out there, how do you know which one is right for you and your family? To help suss out the best of the bunch, we turned to Tim Baran, an app specialist and blog editor for Rocket Matter, a legal software company. Here are his top three picks for baby monitor apps.

Cloud Baby Monitor

The Cloud Baby Monitor by VIGI Limited ($5.99 at the App Store/$4.99 at Google Play) is a tricked-out app that broadcasts video and audio, allowing you to listen to your baby's every coo, view their movements, and even sing them to sleep. Industry-standard encryption protects all communication, for extra peace of mind. The app is available for iOS and Android.

"It also provides noise and motion alerts so you're instantly aware of your baby's discomfort, [and offers] built-in lullabies, various white noises, and a night light, all of which you can control remotely," says Baran.

Bonus: You can download a companion app for an Apple Watch, Apple TV, or Mac to turn your smartwatch, TV, or computer into a baby monitor station.

Dormi Baby Monitor

The popular Dormi by Sleekbit (free) app for Android users provides audio and video streaming, so you can hear and see your baby as well as talk to them remotely. And if you're talking to someone on your phone, and your child starts crying, the phone will vibrate to notify you. Dormi operates over Wi-Fi and cellular networks, and works at any distance; plus, you can connect as many Android devices as you need.

Baby Monitor 3G

Like Cloud Baby Monitor, Baby Monitor 3G by TappyTaps ($5.99) lets you mix and match devices that run on either iOS or Android. "It transmits live snapshots or video feeds from your baby's room, provides vibration alerts, and allows your baby to hear your voice," Baran explains. All communication is protected by industry-standard encryption, and the app works with any Internet connection (read: Wi-Fi or cellular). Plus, you can check in from the comfort of your Mac, PC, or Chromebook.

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