If there’s one thing that stresses out new parents more than anything else, it’s their babies’ sleep. With a 6-month-old son, I can attest, having spent countless nights toggling between pleas that he’ll soothe himself back to sleep and prayers that he’ll make a noise to indicate he’s all good.
Video monitors can’t eradicate that stress, but they can offer parents some peace of mind. The Nanit Pro camera is one of the most popular options out there, offering a clear overhead crib view, in-app sleep reports and videos, a built-in nightlight and sound machine, two-way communication, breathing detection, and growth tracking. It’s also one of the more expensive video monitors on the market, running $299 or $379, depending on the model. With even more expensive bundle options available, such as the Complete Monitoring System I tried for this review, which normally costs $419.
After two weeks of testing the Nanit Pro in our nursery, here’s my take on its strengths, weaknesses, and overall value.
Two mounting options
The first decision to make when it comes to the Nanit Pro is which mounting style makes the most sense for your nursery. While the wall mount and floor stand offer the same “bird’s-eye view of your crib with safe cable management,” the two models differ in positioning and pricing.
The wall mount ($299) is installed in the center of the wall next to the long side of the crib, so the camera juts out at an angle and looks down on your baby. As a result, this option only works with cribs that are positioned right next to a wall. If you plan to hang any decorations near the crib, you’ll need to leave a gap for the wall mount.
The floor stand ($379) is the more flexible option but it’s also bulkier and pricier. In freestanding mode (using the tripod base), it can go anywhere in a room, as long as the camera is positioned above the long side of the crib — making it the better choice for cribs and bassinets that are not near a wall. In wall-leaning mode (using just two legs), it acts as a hybrid floor-wall mount, and is the recommended style for more mobile toddlers.
Credit: Becky Wade Firth / Mashable
My bundle came with a multi-stand, which is small and convenient for travel, but less useful since it can’t generate sleep reports without the necessary perspective high above the crib.
Had I gotten a Nanit before I set up my son’s nursery, I would have chosen the wall mount and planned his gallery wall around it. But because I’d already nested by the time Nanit sent us a unit, I opted for the floor stand and placed it on the outside of his crib, more or less in the middle of the room. I don’t love its location, but its usefulness has so far been worth the tradeoff.
Impressive video clarity
One of the biggest assets of the Nanit Pro is the picture quality. The wide-angle view, 1080p HD video, zoom function, and overhead perspective offer an incredibly clear view of my baby, whether I’m watching him at night or during a nap. While some monitors just show the gist of what your baby’s doing, the Nanit Pro feels more like you’re standing above the crib, watching him in real time.
Credit: Screenshot: Nanit / Becky Wade Firth / Mashable
Credit: Screenshot: Nanit / Becky Wade Firth / Mashable
In summer 2021, Nanit introduced split screen functionality, which allows you to view and control multiple cameras on the same screen at the same time. All you have to do is purchase a second camera and add it to your Nanit setup.
No parent unit included
One of the biggest drawbacks of the Nanit Pro is the lack of a parent unit. The Nanit app is handy when my phone’s nearby and I just want a quick check-in, but a dedicated unit that I could leave on and loosely watch while washing dishes or running on the treadmill, for example, would be extremely handy. The best solution I’ve found is to turn the nursery audio all the way up so I can hear my baby even when I can’t see him, rather than draining my battery by leaving the screen on. You can set the audio to play simultaneously with other apps and while the screen is locked. But still, I find myself spending more time turning my phone on and opening the app than is ideal.
An alternative solution would be to buy a tablet or use an old one as a stand-in parent unit, as some of my friends have done. The Nanit Pro is also supported by Amazon Alexa, if that applies to your situation.
Intuitive companion app
If you get a Nanit, you’ll be spending a lot of time using the Nanit app. Fortunately, it’s well designed and intuitive to use. The home screen shows a live video of the crib, plus the temperature and humidity of the room, and also lets you snap photos, communicate with people in the nursery, adjust the audio coming from the nursery, and control the built-in nightlight and sound machine. If your baby’s using breathing wear or smart sheets (more on those below), that’s also where you’ll monitor your baby’s breathing motion and growth.
The activity and dashboard tabs have also proven very useful. In the activity tab, you see a time log of every change the camera detects, such as “baby fell asleep,” “baby woke up,” and “baby is taken out of bed.” The dashboard tab offers summaries of your baby’s daytime and nighttime sleep. Day summaries show time in bed, time asleep, number of naps, and time of last wakeup, while night summaries show sleep onset, time asleep, number of visits, and sleep efficiency. Both the activity and dashboard tabs feature timelines and timelapse videos that together add color (and cuteness) to your baby’s sleep reports.
Credit: Screenshot: Nanit / Becky Wade Firth / Mashable
No subscription required
Subscription haters, rejoice: Nanit Pro does not require a subscription. Each unit comes with one year of Insights Basic, which includes access to two days of video history, morning and evening highlight reels, breathing motion monitoring (with breathing wear), and height tracking (with smart sheets). After a year, you then decide whether to continue subscribing for a minimum of $5 per month or $50 per year, or forgo the subscription and use the Nanit without some of the features. Without a subscription, you still get live video stream access, real-time sound and motion notifications, background audio, temperature and humidity, two-way audio, breathing motion monitoring, height tracking, and up to two users on the parenting team. (The plan comparison chart on this webpage can tell you more about what each plan offers and how they differ.)
Since most parents I know agree that a baby’s first year is by far the most anxiety-producing, I appreciate that one year of Insights Basic is included, and probably will not pay for a subscription after that point.
Secured user accounts
All Nanit customers, whether they pay for a subscription or not, have full control over who else has access to the baby’s video stream. In the baby’s settings tab of the Nanit app, you’ll find the parenting team section, where you can invite members to the team via email. Non-subscribers and Insights Basic subscribers can designate up to two parenting team members. Insights Premium accommodates up to 10 members, and Insights Ultimate accommodates up to 50. Each invitee either gets admin status (full access) or viewer status (limited access), which can be changed at any time, and just has to download the app and accept the invitation in order to start monitoring.
Secured user accounts or not, any monitor that relies on WiFi is a point of vulnerability. Nanit, to its credit, offers more information about its WiFi security than most other brands, reporting 265-bit AES encryption and offering instructions for using their products with 2.4 and 5GHz WiFi networks. They also discourage the use of specific networks that are more vulnerable to security breaches and connection issues than others. The possibility of security breaches still exists, but at least Nanit helps users mitigate them.
Bonus breathing band
Each Nanit Pro nursery bundle includes one small breathing band. A thin piece of fabric featuring a unique pattern of squares positioned at various angles, it wraps around your baby’s chest (over his clothes or swaddle and under his arms) and stays snug with a Velcro fastener. The Nanit camera uses subtle movements in the square pattern to track his breaths per minute, and sends you an alert if it senses that your baby’s in need.
Since we started using the Nanit Pro when our baby was 6 months old, we didn’t get to take advantage of the breathing band when it would have been the most useful (the first month or so). But we tried it out during naptime just for kicks, and it worked as expected; the app reported that “baby is moving” the whole time we had the breathing monitor turned on.
But I had a hard time imagining using the band on a regular basis. For one, it’s one more thing to keep track of, and to strap around a sleeping or squirmy baby. On top of that, I recently learned that, according to at least some experts, “there are no medical indications for monitoring healthy infants at home.” Therefore, if you plan to use the breathing band, it’s important to keep in mind that it is not a medical device and that there is no evidence that it can reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Growth tracking sheets
Another perk of the Nanit Pro is the set of smart sheets that comes with the nursery basics bundle. While calling regular sheets with a koala and leaf pattern in each corner “smart” is a bit of a stretch, they do allow the Nanit camera to measure and track your baby’s height from the crib.
To take a measurement, you lie your baby flat on his back in the middle of crib (without a swaddle so all four limbs are visible), record a three-second video, select the clearest photo, make sure the labels are correct (top of head, bottom of heel, etc.) and adjust where needed, and then wait for his height to appear. Given that the Nanit-reported height was within a half inch of that taken by our pediatrician two weeks prior, the smart sheets seem to do a good job. I don’t imagine that many people buy a Nanit Pro for this feature, but it’s nice to know it’s there if you want to take advantage.
The smart sheets can also double as a backdrop for monthly and other milestone photos of your baby. Every set features the same koala and leaf pattern, but you can choose from pink, blue, white, and gray background colors.
Purchase or pass?
All in all, I’ve been very impressed with the Nanit Pro, and I understand why it’s such a popular registry item. The video clarity, companion app, and sleep reports offer parents some precious peace of mind, while the breathing band and smart sheets add a little extra sparkle to the whole package.
Areas in which the Nanit Pro falls short, in my opinion, include: the mounting situation, the lack of a parent unit, and the price — which is double that of many competitors.
After a couple weeks of testing, here’s my take: If you’re able to shell out around $300 to $400 for a baby monitor, in a position to plan your nursery layout around it, and have an old or spare tablet to use as a parent unit, you’re a perfect candidate for a Nanit Pro purchase. If you don’t meet all of those stipulations but are still interested, you may as well register for one and cross your fingers that your friends deliver!