Wish you could keep an eye on your little, sleeping bundle right from your tablet or smartphone? There are a few apps for that — and they’re not what you might expect! Beyond giving you a video and audio feed, they detect movement, play lullabies and even track your baby’s heartbeat. We dish on the ins and outs of three of the best app-driven baby monitors, and tell you how they compare to traditional audio or video options.

LBN511-snap-n-share

LorexBaby Little Link

This powerful yet tiny camera connects to your iOS or Android device via a free app. Start by giving the camera a special password, increasing the security of your video feed. Through the app you see a visual of your baby, in HD if desired, along with sound. You can monitor temperature, sound and movement in the room. Love how adorable she looks when sleeping? Use the app to take a photo or video. Plus, it comes pre-loaded with a lullaby, four white noise options and a two-way talk feature, which means you can shush and soothe baby from afar. And by afar, we mean from your living room, your desk at work, or even your date night restaurant — no need to text your babysitter to find out if she got your little one to bed okay.

Cool Feature: Want to take your monitor on the go? This camera can work as a mobile hotspot, as well as on your home’s WiFi connection and has three hours of battery life.

Cons: While you can set up more than one device with the app, you can’t be logged in from multiple devices at the same time. So if you’re using the app to watch your baby from your living room and your husband wants to check in when he’s traveling, you’ll have to coordinate to do it at separate times.

Get it: $179 online at lorextechnology.com

Angelcare-Baby-Monitor

Angelcare Baby Monitor for Smartphone

With an angel-shaped camera that has impressive clarity, this monitor aims to give you full peace of mind while your baby sleeps, making it a great choice for first-time parents. Sync up to four iOS or Android devices — think Mom and Dad’s phones, an iPad and Grandma’s phone — using a secure set-up. Like the LorexBaby device, you can monitor video and sound, plus use a two-way talk feature to soothe Baby from another location. While it doesn’t have any pre-loaded sounds, you can play any song from your playlist to lull Baby to sleep. This monitor also allows you to snap photos and capture video from the app.

Cool Feature: The Angelcare line of monitors is known for its movement-sensing pads that go under the crib mattress. If Baby hasn’t moved for 20 seconds, you’ll get an alert on your device and an alarm will sound in the nursery.

Cons: Again, if you want to keep a constant eye or ear on your little one, you’ll need to keep the app open on your phone, and streaming video all evening can eat up battery life quickly.

Get it: $299.99 online at buybuybaby.com.

sproutling

Sproutling Baby Monitor

Just launched for pre-order, this gadget is for the data-geek parent. While the Sproutling band that attaches to your baby’s ankle won’t give you a visual of your baby or let you hear what’s happening in the room, it will feed a lot of other interesting insights to your device. The washable, medical-grade silcone band’s sensor tracks heart rate, temperature, motion and even position (to determine front or back sleeping). So even without eyes and ears on your little snoozer, you can keep tabs on her safety.

Cool Feature: Sproutling claims to be able to predict your baby’s napping patterns so you’ll know when she’ll wake up next. Plus, the app will tell you her mood, whether angry, calm or fussy. And if you’re being less than quiet after bedtime, the app will let you know it’s getting loud enough to disturb her slumber.

Cons: First, this monitor won’t be available until early 2015. Second, you’ll likely need to buy another, more basic, monitor if you want sound and video as well.

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Get it: $249 pre-order online at Sproutling.com.

What to Know About Baby Monitors That Work With Apps

1. Unless you never use your phone or tablet for anything else, an app-driven baby monitor won’t give you a constant picture or “ear” of your sleeping tot like traditional video or audio monitors do. This is because you have to be in the monitoring app, not browsing Facebook or checking email, for example, to see what’s happening.

2. App-enabled baby monitors are still relatively new, and like any new technology, they’re still getting their kinks worked out. While the three mentioned above are good choices, in a few years it’s likely that similar products will have more features and capabilities.

3. These baby monitors use your WiFi connection to transmit the video feed to your tablet or smartphone. You may have heard horror stories about predators hacking into baby monitor feeds, and while this can happen, as long as your WiFi is password protected, the chance of it happening to you is almost zero.

Have you tried monitoring baby with an app? Tell us about it in the Comments!

— Julie Seguss

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Cover photo: Donnie Ray Jones via Flickr