Last Updated: May 5, 2023 @ 1:26 pm.

What is the best audio only baby monitor? To find out, we tried out the latest models from seven major brands. We checked for range, audio clarity and battery life. We also surveyed the parent readers of our baby gear books (over 1 million copies in print).

FYI: We've been reviewing and rating products for the home and families since 1994. We don't take money or freebies from the brands we review. Our work is 100% reader-supported!

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Best Budget-Friendly

Lasts about 6 hours on batteries
We liked this simple, no frills audio baby monitor—good clear audio, decent range and bright sound/light display. Could the battery life be longer? Sure, but it works well enough.

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Best Budget-Friendly: VTech DM111 Audio Baby Monitor

Let’s talk baby monitors.

Monitors with both video and audio are popular today . . . but they can be pricey. And while it is nice to see your bundle of joy, what is probably more important is to hear the baby!

If the budget is tight, a good audio monitor can be just as effective as an expensive baby video monitor in keeping an eye (or rather ear) on baby.

Don’t take our word for it. That’s the advice we heard time and time again from our parent readers of our book on baby gear: a simple audio-only baby monitor works wonders.

For the best budget-friendly baby monitor with audio only, we recommend VTech’s DM111. We tried out several brands of monitors and looked for the best audio clarity, battery life and range. VTech topped our tests—and this simple model does the job.

Here’s what we liked:

What We Liked

• Clear audio. This monitor uses DECT 6.0 tech . . . basically, that keeps the monitor static-free. However, let us point out that ALL baby monitors can suffer from interference (microwaves, WiFi routers, cell phones, etc.). Yes, we see a small minority of complaints about “white noise” coming from this monitor. We’re not sure what causes those cases of interference.

• Sound and lights indicator. You can “see” the baby crying, if you turn down the audio (helpful at night).

• Battery life is good. We measured it at about 6 hours . . . yes, that is a far cry from the maker’s claim of 20 hours. But we suggest using the battery only sparingly. At night, it should be plugged in to be most effective.

• Affordable.

What Needs Work

• Range could be longer. VTech claims a 1000 foot range—which we suppose would be the case if you were out in a corn field. In real world testing, we’d say this monitor works well in most average-size homes . . . but more like a 150-foot range is realistic.

• No rechargeable batteries. You must use alkaline batteries (not included) . . . and you can go through quite a few if you frequently use batteries rather than the A/C power adapter.

• No intercom or other special features. Yes, more pricey monitors let you call back and forth between the parent and baby unit (intercom). And some have night lights and lullabies . . . but this one is just basically a monitor. We are happy with that, given how easy this monitor is on the wallet.

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Best Monitor 2 Parent Units

Rechargeable batteries are helpful
If you've got a two-story home, this dual monitor model is the one we recommend. Crisp audio quality and LCD display with signal and battery level are the strong points here.

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Best Monitor 2 Parent Units: VTech DM221-2 Audio Baby Monitor

Two parent unit monitors are helpful—especially if you have a two-story home (one stays downstairs, the other upstairs).

After trying out several dual parent unit audio-only monitors, we think the best bet is VTech’s DM221-2. Even though it looks different compared to the DM111 unit recommended above, it has much the same specs. The biggest difference: a LCD screen that shows battery and signal strength.

Another key difference: rechargeable batteries. This model has them; the DM111 doesn’t (it uses alkaline batteries . . . which it can eat at an alarming rate if you frequently use it without A/C power).

What We Liked

 Belt clip lets you go hands-free.

• Rechargeable batteries.

• Decent range. The maker claims about 150 feet inside a home, which is about right. That may sound short, but it works in most average-sized homes.

• Good audio clarity.

• Backlit display shows battery life and signal strength.

• Sound and light display.

• Intercom feature lets you talk back and forth between units.

What Needs Work

• Battery life nowhere near the 18 hours claimed by maker. Our real world tests showed about 5-7 hours of battery life, depending on how much you use the talk-back feature. That’s good enough for us—we always suggest running a baby monitor off A/C power as much as you can. Yes, you can use the battery feature if you need to wonder into the backyard . . . but don’t expect this unit to last an entire day on batteries.

• Longevity could be better. We wish affordable baby monitors like this could last for more than one child—or at least for a year of use. Unfortunately, most folks are lucky to get 6-9 months of use before something goes wrong (a parent unit audio goes out, etc). And don’t even think about dropping a parent unit . . . these things are not designed to take a fall and keep working.

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Best Cute Design

Night light can be controlled remotely
Loved that this monitor has rechargeable batteries—or you can use single-use batteries. Good audio quality and two-way talk feature is helpful.

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Best Cute Design: TimeFlys Audio Baby Monitor

Let’s be honest: most baby monitors don’t look that attractive—and who says something for your baby’s nursery has to be functional and not cute? This model by TimeFlys impressed us with its overall quality . . . and yes, it is super cute. 

What We Liked

• Decent audio clarity.

• Rechargeable batteries via USB-C. Or you can use regular batteries.

• Good range. Yes, the maker claims 1000 feet line of sight. We’d say in a typical house, it would be more like 150 to 200 feet based on our testing.

• Sound and light display.

• Temperature display with alarm.

• Night light can be turned on or off from parent unit.

What Needs Work

• Battery life is only average. We got only a couple of hours before the unit died—that is less than others in this category.

• Audio quality could be better. Yes, we think the audio clarity is decent . . . but other models we tried were better. This should work for most people, however.

Why Trust Us

We’ve been rating and reviewing baby gear and products for families since 1994. We do hands-on testing—we buy the products with our own money and evaluate with an eye toward quality, ease of use and affordability.

Here’s another key point: we don’t take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no “partnerships.” Our work is 100% reader-supported!

Baby Bargains: Your Baby Registry Cheat Sheet is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to and its related sites. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.