If you're wondering how to choose the best nanny cam, you're not alone. People have been keeping a remote eye on the home front since the first nanny cam was introduced in 1992. Thankfully, home security camera systems have advanced at both quality and price since that first $1200 (ouch!) teddy bear camera. These days you can get a high-quality device for anywhere from under $50 to a few hundred, making it affordable to stay in touch with what's happening inside your home.
Whether you want to keep an eye on your babysitter while you're at work, ensure your pets aren't wreaking havoc in your absence, or want a video baby monitor, a surveillance camera can be a useful tool in your home security arsenal. There are some things you should know, however, before you decide on the right surveillance camera for your situation.
In the following guide, I'll give you a breakdown of the basics, including legal considerations, security vulnerabilities, and my choices for the top nanny cams.
Best Nanny Cam: What to Consider
Installing a nanny cam isn't quite as simple as just choosing your device and setting it up. There are some factors to take into account first, both in your choice of camera and how you use it.
- Hidden or exposed? You can find nanny cams secreted away in everything from alarm clocks to clothes hooks. But should you opt for this method of spying on your caregiver? Consider whether the relationship with your child's caregiver would be irreparably damaged if she or he found out they were being observed without their knowledge.
- Audio recording: In some states, it's illegal to record audio of a person without their consent. If you use a nanny cam with audio in one of these states, you may be at risk of nullifying any evidence of a crime and possibly even facing felony wiretapping charges. Be sure to check your state and local laws before making your selection.
- Features: Do you want to be able to live stream from a mobile app or simply record activity for later review? What about integration with your smart home monitoring system? There are plenty of nanny cam features to choose from; the hardest part may be deciding which ones you don't want!
Once you've decided on the basics, it's time to think about how to protect your camera footage from prying eyes. Next up - security vulnerabilities.
Best Nanny Cam: Security Concerns
You should be able to trust that you have total privacy as you fetch your baby from the crib in your pajamas in the middle of the night, or that your nanny isn't being watched by a stranger thousands of miles away. Unfortunately, sometimes technology means having to take extra measures to protect the devices that are protecting your family.
The importance of taking a minute to send in your registration card or enter your information on the manufacturer website cannot be overstated.
In my research, I found that the interwebs are rife with instances of hackers viewing private cameras inside homes and businesses. Fortunately, it's not too difficult to protect your privacy, you've just got to follow a few simple steps.
Register Your Nanny Cam
The importance of taking a minute to send in your registration card or enter your information on the manufacturer website cannot be overstated. This is the first line of defense against hackers because it ensures that you will get emails and other notifications regarding updates for your nanny cam's firmware (the software which runs your device and corrects known vulnerabilities). You'll also receive a notice if your camera is recalled or there's anything else you should know about what's happening with your specific model.
Encrypt Your WiFi
Many security cameras - including wireless nanny cams - operate over your WiFi. Make sure yours is password protected. If you don't, anyone passing by will be able to access it - and that means being able to look at any security camera live streams you have going.
Change the Nanny Cam Default Password
One of the primary ways hackers access these cameras is by simply going to the device website and entering the default password that comes already programmed into the nanny cam. This allows them to log into the system just as though they were the owner, and performing any functions just as you could. Some unscrupulous people have even been reported to have spoken to nannies via the two-way audio in many cameras. Talk about creepy! As soon as you purchase your device, program a complex password involving a combination of capital and lowercase letters, as well as numbers and special symbols.
You should also read plenty of nanny cam reviews to get other users' perspectives on the product you're considering. Taking these protective measures will only cost you a few minutes, yet will help prevent a significant amount of emotional distress should someone with ill intentions access your stream.
Best Nanny Cam: Top 5 Home Surveillance Cameras
Finally, here are my picks for the top nanny cams available online.
- Clever USB charging adapter design
- Dual-function - actually charges devices
- Simple to use
- Built-in 8 GB storage card
- One-year warranty
- Loop recording - deletes old video to record new
- Low amount of storage space (about 2 hours)
- Doesn't record well in low light
The beauty of this ingenious little device is that it looks exactly like all of your normal charging blocks - and functions as one. While there's no WiFi capability, the fact that it's an actual USB adapter makes it easy to pull video off of the built-in storage card.
Nest Cam Review
- 1080p HD resolution
- 130° field of view
- Live streaming or recording of video or snapshots
- Mobile alerts
- Two-way audio
- Not hidden
- Must purchase Nest Aware subscription to store video
Nest Cam is a favored component of many of the best home security systems. This high-end security camera offers all of the basic features you could need, including the ability to talk to whoever is inside your home. The main downside is that you cannot record and store video unless you purchase a Nest Aware subscription, which can cost more than the camera itself if you choose the 30-day history option.
- 120° field of view
- 720p HD resolution
- 4x digital zoom
- Night vision to 20 feet
- Remote viewing via computer or mobile app
- Only works on 2.4 GHz WiFi band, not 5 GHz
- No two-way audio
The Wansview K2 is a great WiFi nanny cam option for the budget-minded. It has a solid four-star Amazon rating and holds a spot as a #1 bestseller. With night vision and HD resolution, you get a respectable range of features at an unbeatable price. Setup is touted as very simple as well.
HawkCam Pro Review
- Wide-angle lens for whole-room viewing
- 1080p HD resolution
- Two-way audio
- Live stream on computer or mobile device
- Allows simultaneous monitoring of multiple cameras
- Not hidden
- Complicated setup
Falcon Watch's HawkCam Pro offers all of the features you need to monitor what's going on at home while you're out, giving you ideal functionality as a nanny cam. The motion-sensor gives this camera the ability to function as a traditional security camera as well. Users have commented on the complex setup procedure, however, they also note that Falcon Watch offers superior, personalized assistance in the process.
ConBrov WF28 Review
- Low-profile design
- 720p HD resolution
- Motion detection to 24 feet
- Night vision to 24 feet
- Remote controllable from mobile app
- No PC software
The Conbrov is a solid choice, although it is a little spendy. One of the best features is that you can initiate recording from the mobile app. The sleek design could easily be taken for a night light, making it easy to disguise if you prefer to use it as a hidden nanny cam.
Best Nanny Cam Recap
Choosing a nanny cam isn't an easy decision. You want a sharp picture, easy installation, and operation, as well as a price to fit your budget. I strongly recommend reading a hefty number of reviews and looking at all the specs before making a final decision, just to be sure that the camera will work for your situation.
Don't forget to check into your local and state laws regarding recording audio without two-party consent. And for all of your other basic needs for your little one, be sure to read up on the best baby stores.