Using a Network IP Camera as a Baby Monitor
At Netcam Shop we know that the safety and security of your family is paramount to everything else. So when we're asked if a network IP camera (or "netcam" for short) can be used as a baby monitor, the answer is a very enthusiastic YES! In fact, one of the best parts about using a network IP camera over an "all-included" baby monitor with a viewing device is the flexibility to view the video feed from anywhere over the internet from your tablet or smartphone, or even a remote computer!
As any parent knows, video baby monitors can get expensive. For anywhere from $200 to $300 dollars or more, you can have all the features that you need to watch your child and keep them safe and sound; IR for night viewing, motion detection and a handheld screen you can take with you around the house.
Seems like a good deal, right? It could be, if you were in a hurry and needed those extras right away, but it is still quite costly. However, with a netcam, a few minutes of your time and your laptop, smartphone, iPad or Android tablet, you can get all those features and more for a fraction of the cost.
Step One: Pick a Network IP Camera
The first consideration is if you want your netcam to be a fixed-position or a pan and tilt. This post will assume that you are selecting a netcam with IR (infrared) for nighttime viewing. Even a camera with only 5 IR LEDs would provide enough IR to see all the way across the baby's room, so it is important that the camera you choose has IR capabilities.
Fixed-position (FP) is generally very inexpensive and typically comes with all the same features that a pan/tilt netcam does, including IR and motion detection (click the image for more info):
These netcams can usually be wall mounted with just a few screws, or they can stand on a flat surface such as a dresser or changing table. If you have a flexible tripod, some of the fixed position netcams can even be mounted on the rail of the crib (not recommended for infants that can pull themselves up!) or on a nearby lamp-post.
With an FP netcam your viewing angle will, obviously, be fixed. With a 3.6mm lens, you will have 67 degrees of viewing angle. If you are only viewing an infant in their crib, simply ensure that the camera can view the entire crib to accommodate for any rolling around that your baby may do, and you're done! If your getting an FP netcam for a toddler's room however, you can strategically place a mirror within the viewing angle of the netcam to allow you to view more of the room.
Here is an example. You can see the layout of a baby's room, with the viewing angle of 67 degrees for a netcam mounted on the crib (red area). Add to that the reflection in the mirror (green), and you can nearly double the netcam's viewing angle!
A pan and tilt (P/T) netcam offers much more flexibility and is recommended for toddlers and above, since the netcam allows you to pan around the room. Generally you could mount the netcam in a corner by the ceiling and you would have full view of the room. Some good examples of PT netcams are below (again, click the image if you would like more info):
If you do mount your netcam on the ceiling of your child's room, be aware that you may need to use the "flip" and "mirror" options when setting up your netcam. Often mounting a netcam on the ceiling results in the netcam's viewing angle being upside-down, so activate both the "flip" and "mirror" options and your netcam will compensate and give you a right side up view.
Step Two: Powering the Netcam
Depending on how the netcam is being uses, some people find that the power adapters on netcams are not as long as they would like. To compensate for this, you can use a normal extension cord or get an AC power adapter extension cord.
Alternatively, you could select a power over ethernet (PoE) netcam
, which can use a PoE Switch
to supply power without an AC power adapter. This is a more expensive option, but if you plan on adding more cameras to your home it can be a wise investment, particularly since PoE-powered netcams using a Cat 5 cable for power are running on low voltage, greatly reducing the risk of an electrical fire.
Step Three: Watching Your Baby
Once you have your netcam set up, you'll want to have a way to see through it and watch your little bundle of joy. If you are using a laptop or desktop computer, simply connect to the netcam through your web browser over your local area network (LAN) by following the instructions that came with it. From there, you can activate the netcam's motion detection, sound detection (if capable), and turn on the audio.
A lot of network cameras have two-way audio which can be improved by plugging in an external microphone. This is a great way to be able to hear your baby if they begin to cry, even just a little.
NOTE: DO NOT PLACE A MICROPHONE INSIDE A BABY'S CRIB! The baby can choke on the microphone if they put it in their mouth, or the cord can strangle them if they roll over it.
Most netcams, when you turn on the motion detection alarm, will have a sound that will play to alert you to any motion that occurs inside the camera's viewing angle.
If you are using a tablet device, such as an iPad or Android tablet, there are many apps which will connect to your netcam in the Apple Store
and the Google Play Store
for these devices (these links are to some examples). Many of these apps have iPhone or Android Phone versions as well.
That's all! With your camera selected, set up, powered and an connected to your computer or smart device, you have all the features you need to have remote awareness of your baby's room and you can SEE LIFE HAPPEN!