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Can You Use a Security Camera as a Baby Monitor?

You want to know your baby is safe all the time. You want to be able to check on them no matter what, and while baby monitors are usually the first choice, what about using a security camera instead? This is a question many people have because it’s not uncommon for devices to have multiple purposes.

Using a security camera as a baby monitor is a great option because security cameras come with great features like motion and noise detection, night vision, and even remote access. Baby monitors don’t usually have any of these capabilities.

Similar to using it as a webcam like what’s shown in our guide, using a security camera as a baby monitor makes a lot of sense because every parent wants the best protection for their child. A baby monitor does have audio at a minimum, and most also come with live streaming video capabilities.  These are great features but they’re often expensive, and for the price you could get so much more. Security cameras, whether hooked into an NVR system or not (our tutorial), are often priced similarly, or even cheaper than baby monitors.

Are there extra security cameras or even GoPros like the ones we’ve suggested around your house that aren’t being used? If so, you can easily convert it into a nanny cam similar to how you would convert BNC into PoE as shown in our tutorial. All you need to do is move it into the nursery and connect any necessary cables, and you have a baby monitor. You can also buy used security cameras at a lower price or borrow one from a friend or family member. But let’s look at how this can work in more detail.

Advantages of Security Cameras

Monitoring Camera Surveillance Security Cctv

Security cameras are designed with a purpose that overlaps well with what you need for a good baby monitor: monitoring a certain area all the time, some of which can also be used through a window as well (our guide). But they add a lot more for your money. The Nest security camera (on Amazon), for instance, is a great option that gives you all the features you want in a good baby monitor, and then some.

Low Risk of Interference

Did you know that interference can interrupt a wireless baby monitor? This means Your infant could be crying and you might not even know it. Furthermore, if you live in an apartment or are using the monitor in a crowded area, the frequencies from other devices can interrupt the signal rendering the baby monitor temporarily useless.  

One of the main advantages of using a security camera – whether PTZ (our guide) or another type – as a baby monitor is that interference won’t be a problem. Unlike baby monitors that rely on radio frequencies, the security camera uses either Wi-Fi or direct cables for video transfer (more on how to splice them in our guide), and both of those options are less prone to interference than the networks a baby monitor will generate. It doesn’t matter how many security cameras systems are being used, they won’t interfere with each other as we talked about in our guide on NVR and DVR.

Increased Longevity

If you’ve ever picked up a security camera and a baby monitor, both of which can be monitored through a Roku by the way (our guide),  you probably noticed the difference right away. Baby monitors are lightweight and usually come with plastic casing. And the software a baby monitor comes with often doesn’t come with a lot of support by the company that made it. 

An indoor/outdoor security camera, on the other hand, is built to last, and knowing how to troubleshoot common problems using our tutorial is a great way to ensure its durability . Models that are rated for outdoor use are weatherproof and most lenses are scratch-resistant, making them good for the long haul. Some security cameras might be more noticeable in the nursery, but some brands are designed to be discrete or even pointed at a street

Increased Power

Some baby monitors are battery-operated and you’re not always there when the warning light comes on. Before you realize it, the monitor isn’t recording or sending signals and you won’t know. While there are some baby monitors on the market that do use electrical cords, a lot are battery-powered.

In contrast, security cameras draw power from an outlet, which means as long as the electricity is on, you’ll receive an uninterrupted live stream. 

Other Potential Options

Over the last few years, baby monitors have improved their software tremendously. As a result, some do offer options like night vision, 4k resolution, and even different camera angles. Like the clicking that occurs when switching from night to day mode which we’ve talked about before, all of these features often come standard on security cameras, but baby monitors don’t always offer them, and when they do, they charge a premium for it.

Security cameras can come with two-way audio. Since it’s connected to your Wi-Fi, you can access the live feed from any of your compatible mobile devices. Motion and sound detection are other options you don’t find on most baby monitors, along with the control of the camera angle. You can even record your baby sleeping with a security camera. 

Picking the Right Security Camera – The Features that Matter

Various Types of Security Cameras - Smaller

Just like you wouldn’t buy a baby monitor without researching the product, the same goes for security cameras. You want to think about what you need from the camera before you buy. Baby monitors and security cameras can come with several of the same features. The primary difference between them is how well each one works. 

Two-Way Audio

Two-way audio lets you talk to your baby when you’re not at home. Most baby monitors have this feature, but security cameras do as well. Even though you can talk to your baby through the monitor, newer security cameras often come with a few additional options (and better quality microphones and speakers). 

Some security cameras come with mobile apps that let you control various functions. For instance, you can remotely control the volume of the audio. You can also turn on settings that will send you an alert if the camera’s sound and motion detection system picks up on a signal. The alerts will let you know instantly when your baby cries, even if you’re away. 

Continuous Recording

Some baby monitors will continuously record and the same applies to all security cameras. The difference between the two products is the storage space. Baby monitors are often limited unless it uses the cloud. Most wireless security cameras have cloud-based storage and some also come with micro-SD cards. 

Night Vision

What’s great about night vision is that you can clearly see your baby in the dark. Daytime images often appear brighter and clearer as well. Baby monitors and security cameras can both come with this feature. How well it works will depend on the camera lens and the software that comes with the product.

Sound Detection

Security cameras are often sound activated. This feature works the same as motion-detection. Unless you’ve set the camera to stay on, it will automatically start recording when sound or motion is detected. Baby monitors can also have this convenient feature and a few models will even alert your mobile device if noise is detected. 

Remote Access

Both security cameras and some baby monitors have apps that let you remotely access the live feed. If the baby monitor has this feature, it must be connected to your Wi-Fi network as well as the app. The same applies to security cameras, but they are often compatible with more devices than most baby monitors. Due to the limited software, baby monitors might not be compatible with your laptop or other devices. 

Remote access is an important feature parents often look for in a baby monitor or a security camera because it saves having to go to one specific room to see what’s going on. The Nest security camera (on Amazon) comes with all of these features and it’s very easy to set up, often taking only a few minutes.

Networking Options

Even though you trust the person taking care of your baby when you’re not home, you feel more comfortable if you can see other rooms in the house. Nanny cams are discrete and can easily be hidden around. The only problem with this is the expense and the possibility of interference. Baby monitors are usually sold separately, but this can sometimes cause interference due to overlapping signals.

Because security cameras often come in sets from 4 to 16, depending on the size, you can often use the leftover ones as part of an outdoor security system. Some security camera systems come with both indoor and outdoor cameras for complete home protection. Interference won’t be a problem with multiple security cameras, even if you have more than one in the same room. 

Even though you can pan, zoom, and tilt most security camera lenses, it’s still difficult to see every angle. You can get creative with security cameras, especially if you decided to use smaller ones. You can have the camera pointed at the floor, and if it comes with a motion detection system, set it to send an alert if your child gets out of the crib. You can also point cameras at doorways and other places you’re interested in monitoring.

Wired vs. Wireless

Wired and Wireless Security Cameras - Smaller

Baby monitors are usually wireless but this doesn’t mean they connect to your Wi-Fi. Instead, they use their own network and this is what often causes interference. Security cameras can also be wireless, but they use your network, which eliminates the risk of interference from other home security systems. You can also use wired security cameras and still not worry about losing the signal. 

Wired Security Cameras

You can use wired security cameras as a baby monitor, but you will find them harder to set up. You also want to think about the cables needed to connect the cameras to your system. These cables can be a trip hazard, especially when your baby starts moving around. The length of the cable can also be a concern depending on how far your Wi-Fi connection is from the camera. 

Wireless Security Cameras

It’s a breeze to install wireless security cameras around your house, including the nursery. In addition to having the capability of monitoring your baby in every room around the house, wireless cameras are also easy to move. And you don’t need a cable to connect a wireless camera to the internet. It only needs to be placed close to a power outlet. 

Since it uses your network, it’s often easier to connect your mobile device to the camera’s app. From there, you can watch your baby any time you’d like from your smartphone. 

Other Options

It’s possible that security cameras – whether real or fake (our guide) – and baby monitors aren’t for you, because there is always the risk of hackers getting control of the camera as well as your Wi-Fi network. It’s a scary possibility that may have you looking into other options.

Regardless of your fear, whatever it may be, there is another option. One alternative way of creating a baby monitor is through an application that imitates one. It’s best to use a laptop or a screen with a webcam, ideally, one that no one else is using.

Just download the app, log into the video chat, and set the device where you want the camera pointed, and leave it running for as long as the live stream is needed. While not an ideal solution, it will work if you don’t have a security camera or a baby monitor.

Conclusion

You can use a security camera in place of a baby monitor, and it often works better. You have more control of the recording, don’t have to worry about low battery power, and it can be easier to see live streams of your baby with a security camera. There’s a reduced risk of interference as well.

One of the main reasons a security camera system might be the better choice is due to how they can be set up. Since you don’t have to worry about interference, you can have multiple cameras in the house, including in the same room. You can’t do this with a baby monitor because they’re not usually designed to work together as a system like security cameras are.

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