There are going to be times when you put the baby to bed but it’s nowhere near your own bedtime. You would like to take this precious time to perhaps watch a movie on the couch downstairs or just relax with a cold beer, but you need to keep an eye or ear on the baby without disturbing its sleep. Here’s where the baby monitor comes in. By no means is this a new invention, but you actually don’t need to shell out loads of money to buy one anymore.

You probably have an old smartphone laying around. If you don’t, you could use your primary phone if you can live without checking your Twitter and Facebook for a while. I still recommend using a secondary phone. You can even just buy a cheap Android phone cheaper than most baby monitors, but I’m sure this will work with iPhones or Windows Phones too. Now all you need is the right app and you’re set.

Several years ago I remember coming across an app (it still exists) that lets you turn your Android into a WiFi web cam. You can prop your Android phone running the app somewhere in the house on the same WiFi network and then view what the camera sees on your computer. This is nearly enough for what we need to do, but it turns out there are specialized apps that add just the extra few features that make it better. For reference, the first app I was talking about is IP Webcam (link).

The app I use now and would recommend is called Web of Cam – WiFi Baby Monitor (link). Other apps are available and probably many of them will work just as well. What I like about this app is it has the added abilities to choose whether you want to view the video feed on your computer or on another phone that also has the app installed. Plus there are some extras like being able to adjust the brightness, good for dark room where baby sleeps, and listening to the sound. You can even turn on the phone’s light or talk through the app to remotely calm your baby if needed.

Some things to keep in mind are the battery of the phone. Running the camera continuously isn’t kind for the battery, and the duration that your battery will last depends on your phone. Of course it’s not difficult just to plug your monitor phone in with a charger cable and not worry about the battery.

Another concern is the stability of the app. This will probably depend on your phone too, but it’s possible the app crashes and your baby could be crying while you think it’s nice and quiet. What I do is crank the volume up a bit so there’s always a bit of background noise coming through while the app is running. If it gets quiet, you’ll know the app stopped working.

Bonus! Use that selfie stick you won’t admit that you have to prop your smartphone up for a good angle on the baby.