If you have an old smartphone lying around your house, you might be tempted to turn it into a baby monitor to keep an eye on your child while they sleep or play in their bedroom.
Converting a cell phone into a baby video monitor is relatively easy. All you need is an old phone with a working camera, a good WiFi connection and a baby monitoring app. And there you go, your very own DIY baby monitor.
But using an old cell phone as a baby monitor has a few drawbacks. So before we jump to our list of the top 10 best baby monitoring apps, let’s look at the pros and cons to make sure that it’s the best solution for you.
Pros of using a phone as a baby monitor:
- It’s inexpensive. Most people will have at least one unused smartphone in their home with a decent camera. All it takes to convert it into a baby monitor is a good monitoring app. Most of the apps in our top 10 will charge you a one-time payment or a small monthly subscription fee.
- It’s convenient, at first. No need to look for the best baby monitor on the market. You just need to convert an old phone and you’re ready to go.
- You can see your baby from anywhere. Because it will be using your WiFi connection, you can check on your baby from anywhere with an internet connection.
Cons of using a phone as a baby monitor:
- No night vision. A phone camera doesn’t have a proper night vision. Night vision is probably the single most helpful feature in a baby monitor. What good does a camera do if it can’t see your baby in the dark?
- Missing essential features. Dedicated baby monitors now come with a range of useful features, such as room temperature, lullabies, movement detector and heartbeat tracking. None of that will be possible with just a phone.
- Risk of hacking. The downside of using a phone is a serious risk of hacking. An old phone could be an easy target for a hacker wanting to see what’s happening in your home. Read our article on Can baby monitors be hacked? to learn more.
As a result, we recommend that you start with a phone as a baby monitor if you want to test video monitoring before buying a dedicated monitor. A baby monitor app on your phone is also a great addition to an existing baby monitor if you want to cover more angles in your baby’s bedroom, or for traveling when you’re not at home.
But because of their limitations, baby monitor apps on your phone may not be enough. You should check our comparison of the top 10 best baby monitors available today to find the one that’s right for you once you’re ready to upgrade to a dedicated video monitor.
What are the top 10 best baby monitor apps:
- Baby Monitor 3G
- Baby Monitor Annie
- Dormi Baby Monitor
- Universal Baby Monitor
- WiFi Baby Monitor
- Cloud Baby Monitor
- Ahgoo Baby Monitor
- Baby Monitor & Alarm
- Baby Monitor for iPhone
- Facetime or Hangout
Using your phone as a baby monitor opens the door to potential hacking. You should also be careful with where you place your phone in your baby’s bedroom. Check our two articles on the topic:
The Baby Monitor 3G app has no hidden fee. There is a one-time payment to purchase the app and then you’re good to go for as long as you want.
Unlike the name implies, the Baby Monitor 3G works on both your WiFi network when you’re home and on your data plan when you’re traveling.
While it’s not as capable as the Baby Monitor Annie app when it comes to multiple camera support, the strength of the Baby Monitor 3G is its ease of use. It takes just a few taps to set up the baby camera and the parent monitor and you’re ready to go in less than 30 seconds.
It has a nightlight feature, which will brighten the baby camera to work at night. It’s handy to see your baby in the dark but might wake up your child.
The Baby Monitor 3G keeps track of your baby’s sleep through an activity log. So you can see your child’s sleeping patterns and replay sounds from different moments of the night.
And the Baby Monitor 3G has lullabies playback and talkback options, so you can soothe your baby when they wake up.
You can download Baby Monitor 3G from Google Play and the App Store.
The Annie Baby Monitor app is our preferred option. It comes with a wide range of useful features that come close to the best-dedicated baby monitors available. It’s free to download, but you’ll need to pay a one time license to use the app fully.
It works with your WiFi connection or your mobile data plan, so you can keep an eye on your baby even if you aren’t at home.
The quality of the video signal is great and you can use it to monitor up to 4 children at the same time and with an unlimited number of parent units. And it works on both Android and iOS.
There is a talkback option, so you can soothe your baby even if you aren’t in their bedroom just by pressing the microphone button. You can also play lullabies on the baby unit, which is great to help your child fall asleep.
The connection with your baby is safe, thanks to Annie’s encrypted signal. With industry-standard encryption, the app ensures that only parents have access to their baby video and audio feed.
The Annie baby monitor app comes with an activity log to track your baby’ sleeping habits.
You can download Baby Monitor Annie from Google Play and the App Store.
The Dormi baby monitor app for Android devices is one of the most complete mobile apps available today. The free version is limited to 4 hours per month, so you’ll need the paid subscription if you want to use it every day.
It works with the WiFi connection of your mobile data plan and uses a secured connection to avoid hacking concerns.
You can connect multiple parent units to a single child device simultaneously, so you and your partner can both watch your baby. The Dormi app also adjusts the noise levels automatically, so it can detect when your baby is crying and amplify the sound on the parent unit so you can be alerted.
Alternatively, you can just press and hold the Listen button in the app to hear your child even if they are not crying.
The app has a talkback function, so you can soothe or calm your baby from anywhere in your house. If you’re on the phone when your baby starts crying, the app will vibrate to notify you and a gentle beep without abruptly disconnecting the phone call.
Importantly, the Dormi app can work in the background, even when your phone screen is off. That way you can save battery life while still being informed if your baby wakes up.
Have you got an old Android device sitting in the drawer that you have no use for? Not anymore – try using it as the child device with Dormi. We have made the effort to ensure it runs from Android 2.3 onwards.
You can download Dormi – Baby Monitor from Google Play.
The Universal Baby Monitor app on iOS works across both WiFi and 3G/4G connections. So you can keep an eye on your baby even if you aren’t at home. It’s easy to set up, you just need to decide which device will be the baby camera (an old phone) and which device will be your parent unit (your current phone or iPad). You can also check on your baby from your Mac and even the Apple Watch if you want.
The video quality is good and the app offers a talkback option. It can also display a selection of 12 different shapes of animals on the screen to help your baby fall asleep. But we wouldn’t recommend that. An active screen in your baby’s bedroom might have the opposite effect.
To see in the dark, the Universal Baby Monitor app offers the option to turn on the flashlight on the baby camera if needed. But here again, this might disturb their sleep so we wouldn’t recommend it.
The Universal Baby Monitor app can keep track of your baby’s sleeping patterns on iCloud so you can check the recordings later if you want.
You can download Universal Baby Monitor from Google Play or the App Store.
The BabyPhone Mobile app comes in multiple versions. The one we recommend works across both WiFi and data plan and requires a monthly subscription if you want to use it fully. The free version will cut every 30 minutes, which isn’t very practical.
The BabyPhone Mobile is very similar to the other apps mentioned above. It offers audio and video feed, and a talkback option. It can even support temperature and humidity sensors if you have some in your baby’s bedroom.
You can download BabyPhone Mobile: Baby Monitor from Google Play.
The Cloud Baby Monitor app on iOS is another good option with a one-time payment. It works on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple Watch and Mac and is very easy to set up. You can stream audio and video from your baby’s bedroom over WiFi, 3G or even Bluetooth.
Of particular notice is the option to play white noises in addition to lullabies, and it has a talkback feature. We also like that you can adjust the brightness of the night light to avoid disturbing your baby’s sleep.
You can use Cloud Baby Monitor for up to two babies at the same time with up to two parent units. The audio and video streams are protected with industry-standard encryption.
You can download Cloud Baby Monitor from the App Store.
The Ahgoo baby monitor on iOS is a clean and easy to use app. The app hasn’t been updated for over a year though, so we don’t know if it will continue to be supported as new iPhone and iPad models are released.
The Ahgoo baby monitor app works over your WiFi and 3G connection. It uses an easy to set up QR code system to connect the baby camera with the parent monitor.
Ease of use comes at the cost of features, and the app doesn’t have certain features like lullaby playback for example.
You can download Ahgoo baby monitor from Google Play or the App Store.
The Baby Monitor & Alarm app on Android will require a one-time payment and then you’re done. No need to pay a monthly subscription fee. The app hasn’t been updated since 2015, so we recommend that you check the compatibility of your devices before purchasing the app.
Unlike most of the other apps on our list, Baby Monitor & Alarm doesn’t give you a live video stream of your baby. Instead, it will send you an alert by calling your second phone if your child makes a noise.
You can play lullabies or other songs automatically when your baby wakes up through the night. You can even record your own voice if you prefer.
Baby Monitor & Alarm also comes with an activity tracker that will show you at the end of the night the different events that took place and at what time.
You can download Baby Monitor & Alarm from Google Play.
The free version of the Baby Monitor for iPhone of iOS is very basic. You won’t have a video signal but instead receive an SMS every time your baby wakes up. For a monthly subscription, you can add a live stream video signal to the app, which is considerably more useful.
The app comes with a remote flashlight, lullabies and talkback options. And it will inform you whenever a certain noise threshold is reached in your baby’s bedroom. So you’ll only be alerted if your baby is crying for example, instead of just turning around in their bed.
You can download Baby Monitor for iPhone from the App Store.
Last on our list but serious contenders nevertheless, the default video calling apps from Apple and Google, which can be just as good as the other apps on our list if all you want is a video stream from your baby’s bedroom. We recommend that you dim down the screen on the baby unit as much as possible. Or even better, hide the screen behind something, so that only the camera remains visible to avoid distracting your baby.
You’ll need to keep the baby camera plugged in to ensure that the battery is always full. And you’ll have to always keep the parent unit on as well. But at least the two apps are free and provide great audio and video signals.
How to turn your old smartphone into a baby monitor?
Turning your old smartphone into a baby monitor is relatively easy. You just need two smartphones and a WiFi connection. One of the phones will act as a camera in your baby’s bedroom, while the other smartphone will be the monitor on which you can access your baby’s video feed.
You’ll need to install one of the top 10 best baby monitor apps from our list above on both phones to be able to record the video. And then you’re ready to go.
Once you’re ready to upgrade to a dedicated baby monitor, you should check our baby monitor buying guide and our comparison of the top 10 best baby monitors on the market to find the one that’s right for you.