Before baby boy was born in January 2019, I spent a lot of time obsessively researching baby monitors, just like I do for any other piece of technology in my life. Or anything, really, because I love reading reviews. I discovered that baby monitors generally suck, and were more or less stuck in the dark ages of tech, with poor connectivity, poor screen resolution, basic or lacking functionality. There were only a few out there that were more advanced, more on the level of, say, our smartphones, and that included the Nanit. I got the Plus version, which was newish out at that time. I’ve had some ups and downs with it which I’d like to share with you.
UPDATE: Please see my important safety update here and why I have given up on my Nanit and do not recommend it anymore.
Nanit Plus has many great attributes, but many of them are great by dint of being better than the dismal competition. They are features that I would consider to be “a given” with any piece of tech. This includes good video resolution, both in the light and in the dark (night vision), as well as features like two-way audio, white noise, and a night light (so helpful!). Connectivity to wifi is reliable. It looks sleek and not too out of place with my decor. I like its overhead view of the crib. I like that you can pop the camera head off and put it on the multi-stand to take with you somewhere to to keep an eye on your babe outside of the crib. The app works with Android and iPhone, and mostly it is decent and reliable. I like that you can turn the audio on and off, and that you can have the audio in the background while you do other things on your phone (not a standard with several other app-based monitoring systems! which is stupid).
Many software features of the Nanit are basically powered by artificial intelligence computer-vision algorithms. Nanit calls these features “insights.” These are supposed to be able to discern when your baby is awake and when he is asleep. With that, you can get cool visualizations like little graphs of awake/asleep times, summaries of statistics regarding sleep (like time to sleep onset, hours asleep every night or total hours of naptime, number of caregiver visits), etc. Nanit saves the notable moments (like waking up, falling asleep, putting to bed) into little videos that you can then scroll back and look through. That being said, I would say that I often found these insights to be not very accurate. It would occasionally say that my baby was sleeping when he clearly wasn’t even in bed, or that he had woken when he just stirred a bit without really waking, which I could confirm by looking at the video snippet. You can report these wrong segments to Nanit (presumably to better train its AI algorithm for them) but it wouldn’t instantly (or ever) correct the segment in your actual app. I would find that by far the most frequent mistake would be logging him as awake when he was actually still asleep. Sometimes Nanit would log my baby as awake for quite long periods of time in the middle of the night, but since the video review only covers the beginning and end of those “awake” periods, I couldn’t scroll through the middle portion to verify if the baby was truly awake. I wish that Nanit would let you scroll through video in the last 24 hours at any point, not just at the points that it deemed to be most relevant. Of note, if you have the camera on the multi-stand, there will be no insights whatsoever, likely because the angle of viewing the baby can vary so widely in any setting that there is no way they can train a reliable algorithm to detect awake/asleep baby.
Based on its sleep-tracking abilities, powered by the above computer vision algorithms, Nanit will send you little tips to help improve the sleep of your baby, i.e. sleep train them. These tips will only start after 4 months of age. I found them to be near useless. They would be simple things like “Try to put your baby down drowsy but awake” – if it sensed that the baby was already asleep when you put him in his crib. Or tips like “Try to minimize taking the baby out of the crib when settling him back to sleep at night.” Well, yes – we were already trying to do those things but obviously failing. Thanks for reminding us that we suck at this.
Customer service for Nanit is acceptable. That being said, I wish I didn’t have to use it. After about a month of use, the speakers on my Nanit died completely. That means I couldn’t run the white noise and I couldn’t use the two-way audio. Nanit tried to get me to do a bunch of things (like reset the camera head, update the phone app) which were stupid because it was clearly a hardware issue. Ultimately though, they did send me a new unit which is still going strong (at 6 months) and I sent back the defective one. They also recently updated the app to support their new feature, “Breathing Wear” which allows the Nanit to detect whether your baby is breathing if you put a swaddle strap around them. Ever since the update, one of the links on the main screen has been broken. It is supposed to take the user to the current night’s sleep, but instead it takes the user back to the previous night’s sleep (useless if you’re trying to review how the baby is sleeping up until right now). My husband contacted Nanit customer service and they told him to reset the camera – for what is obviously a software issue caused by the latest update. It does seem rather like their support is not too smart, or following a script. Rather like when you call for computer help and they tell you to restart.
UPDATE: I had to replace the unit for broken white noise/audio again. And then the last replacement unit ultimately broke as well. We gave up on replacements. Do not recommend if you are planning to use it a lot for white noise.
Everything costs extra. The floor stand, the multi-stand, and yes, the artificial intelligence “insights” are subscription based. Without paying the extra fee for the subscription, the camera has none of the sleep tracking capabilities, and is just basically a fancy camera for live or real-time view – and not a cheap one either.
The temperature sensor is wildly inaccurate, as I believe it is affected by the heat that the camera head generates. It always reads really high. In the end we bought a different temperature sensor that goes with our Nest thermostat to put in the nursery and give us an accurate representation of the temperature in there.
Despite all these shortcomings, I’m still glad I got the Nanit Plus, even if I haven’t been thrilled in every way with its performance. The landscape for baby monitors was pretty dismal at the time I was buying (late 2018), and Nanit was pretty much the only choice out there for parents who wanted a baby monitor which was modern and even somewhat “smart.” There are a couple of additional options now, like the Arlo baby monitor. the Owlet baby monitor, the Miku baby monitor, and the Motorola Halo Plus. I haven’t tested these personally, but they all have slightly different features at different price points. At least the prospects for tech-driven baby monitors are looking up.
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