How to Turn Your Smartphone Into a Baby Monitor

Foscam IP camera
Courtesy of Amazon

Ah, baby monitors -- a stroke of parental brilliance. With just the click of a button, you can see, hear and even speak to your little one. You don’t even need to get out of bed!

That said, luxury doesn’t come cheap. The best baby monitors, with features like adjustable camera control and two-way audio, can cost between $200 and $300. Even a basic model will run you $100 or so, making the prospect of one-click baby surveillance pretty costly.

Think you can’t afford a good baby monitor? Think again! If you have a smartphone and a wireless network, you can actually create a sophisticated, DIY Baby Monitor for around $80. You don’t need to be a technical genius or a real-life MacGyver. All you need is an IP (Internet protocol) camera and a willingness to think outside of the “made-for-baby” box.

Use Your Smartphone and an IP Camera to Make a Wireless Baby Monitor

Typically used for home security, these Internet-ready, digital cameras are comparable to top-of-the-line baby monitors, offering features like pan/tilt control, infrared lighting, and even two-way audio. Since people usually need multiple cameras to set up a security network, each camera is sold for a fraction of the price of a purpose-made baby monitor. What’s more, IP cameras tend to have a better visual range and clearer picture, allowing you to mount the camera safely away from baby’s reach.

Since IP cameras send and receive signals via the Internet, there is no range to contend with. You can check on baby from your living room or your workplace. Simply pair your new camera with a baby-monitoring app, and you’re good to go! Most apps will allow you to control camera movements and hear/speak to baby directly through your phone. Some will even let you take a photo or video of your little one’s naptime hijinks.

Worried about security? Much like your wireless network, your IP camera’s feed is password protected. You can also opt to limit access to your personal wireless network. If you’re not on the network, you can’t see the baby. Period.


IP cameras can cost as much as $100, but you can buy a solid, feature-packed model, like the Foscam FI8918W, for as little $60 or $70. Just make sure your chosen model is compatible with your smartphone. There are also a number of great Android and iPhone apps available, ranging from $5 to $10 each.