8 Best Nanny Cams to Give You Peace of Mind
Leaving your child in the care of someone else can be nerve-racking, especially if that someone is a new nanny or babysitter. One way to get peace of mind is by installing nanny cams in your home, allowing you to still have eyes (and sometimes ears) on the scene, even if you’re not physically present.
But the decision to use nanny cams can be complicated. For starters, there are lots of options on the market—from basic security cameras to the ultra high-tech—which can leave parents both confused and overwhelmed. Beyond the hunt for the best nanny cam, there are also legal and ethical questions at stake, such as whether you need to disclose the use of nanny cameras to your caregiver. Here, we break down everything you need to know about nanny cams, from state laws to the best nanny cams across every category.
Before installing nanny cameras in your home, you may wonder whether what you’re doing is legal. The short answer is yes; nanny cameras are legal in all 50 states, even if you choose to videotape your nanny without their prior consent. But it’s worth noting that “the legal landscape can vary between jurisdictions, so it’s advisable to consult with a legal professional or refer to the specific laws in your area,” notes Breanda DeRouen, a Houston-based family law attorney.
You’ll want to do your due diligence to make sure you’re informed about and up to date on what’s permissible for your state (as it relates to nanny cams), but these are DeRouen’s overall legal considerations:
- Consent. One of the biggest, if not the biggest variable at play with the lawful use of nanny cams is consent. “In most jurisdictions, it’s required to inform individuals that they’re being recorded in areas where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy,” explains DeRouen. This means legally, you can’t place a camera in a private area like a bedroom or bathroom without the consent of the person being recorded (and any recordings obtained may not be admissible in court). This expectation of privacy applies even to guests in your home; DeRouen notes a clear distinction between public and private areas of a residence, telling us “public areas, such as living rooms or kitchens, generally have a lower expectation of privacy. However, private areas like bedrooms or bathrooms have a higher expectation of privacy, and the use of nanny cams in such areas may raise legal and ethical concerns.”
- Disclosure and notice. Even when a nanny cam is used in a more public location like your living room (and here, still, there are state-by-state nuances), it’s best to let your nanny, babysitter or caregiver know—preferably in writing—that they may be monitored using a nanny cam recording device. Not only is it a courtesy and a measure of precaution and protection (in the event you ever need to submit obtained footage for prosecuting purposes), it’s also an ethical and respectful way to build employer-employee trust. “Open and transparent communication helps establish trust and maintain positive relationships,” says DeRouen.
- Workplace privacy laws. DeRouen says nanny cams “can serve as an additional layer of security (for property owners invested in safeguarding their homes and protecting loved ones, including children and vulnerable family members), enabling homeowners to oversee the activities within their premises when they are absent.” But since hiring a caregiver for your child is a transactional relationship between parents and nannies, workplace privacy laws might apply. That’s why “it’s important to understand the specific regulations governing employee monitoring, including notice requirements and restrictions on monitoring certain activities.” If you have the means to enlist the professional guidance of an attorney, it can prove invaluable.
The bottom line? Though it’s ultimately up to parents’ discretion, there’s a strong legal, practical and ethical case for being up front about the use of nanny cameras. Providing full disclosure to your nanny or caregiver allows for an open dialogue between both parties, and can also be a powerful incentive in preventing any neglectful or potentially dangerous behavior. Using hidden or secret nanny cams allows parents to address any unsafe situations they witness via recording after the fact—but won’t stop them from happening in the first place.
There are several factors to consider before selecting the best nanny cam for your home.
- Power Source. Think about where you’d be placing the nanny cam before determining the best power source. If it’ll consistently be close to an outlet, a wired option might be best; if you prefer to move it from room to room or put it in an obscure place, a battery-powered camera will be a better bet, but those will need to have their batteries replaced or recharged on occasion.
- Size. If you want your nanny cam to remain discreet or out-of-sight, seek out an option with a small footprint.
- Camera views and angles. Depending on the size of your room, you might need to look for nanny cams that offer either wide-angle lenses or a rotating camera head to capture all of the action.
- Wifi connectivity. Many cameras are enabled by wifi, which allows parents to stream the camera footage directly to their phones. However, wifi connectivity does present some risks, as it can leave your cameras susceptible to hackers. If using a wifi-enabled nanny cam, always double-check the level of security encryption provided.
- Extras. Nanny cams can be equipped with lots of extra features, from two-way communication to night vision and emergency services connections. You’ll need to decide what’s most beneficial to you and your needs before making a selection.
With this research in mind, here are our top picks for the best nanny cams on the market today.
The Blink Indoor camera is a standout for several reasons: It’s wireless and battery-operated, allowing you to set it up practically anywhere, and the app lets you see HD live footage from your home on your phone, day or night (thanks to infrared night vision). And with two-way audio, you can speak to your nanny, children and pets through the camera—and they can respond back. Plus, it connects to Alexa for even more convenience, and it’s one of the most affordable choices on our list. What more could the best nanny cam need?
Dimensions: 2.8” (L) x 2.8” (W) x 1.2” (H) | Wifi?: Yes | Storage: USB flash drive (sold separately) or cloud (with subscription)
- Lithium-powered batteries last up to two years
- Customize motion detection and set specific privacy zones, so you only see the movement you care about
- Setup is simple, requiring no wiring or professional installation
- Cloud storage requires a separate Blink subscription plan
This isn’t just any old nanny cam with audio—the Arlo Ultra 2 comes with all the bells and whistles. From colored night vision to 4K HDR picture quality and noise-canceling two-way audio, this option will make you feel like you’re in the room with your nanny and children (even from miles away). Plus, the wireless install and rechargeable battery make this a nanny cam you can tuck away practically anywhere while still seeing everything, thanks to an ultra-wide 180-degree view.
Dimensions: 2” (L) x 3” (W) x 3.5” (H) | Wifi?: Yes | Storage: SD card (sold separately) or cloud (with subscription)
- Works with Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
- One tap from your phone can get you emergency help from the police, fire department or medical responders
- Video recordings can be stored in the cloud for up to 30 days
• Pricey option
In truth, “hidden nanny cams”—like the teddy bear or stuffed animal cam you’ve probably seen depicted on TV or in movies—are a lot less common in real life. Random stuffed animals staged in non-nursery or kids’ playrooms also aren’t really all that strategic or stealthy. So if you’re looking to set up a hidden camera that really flies under the radar, go with something like the SpyGuy Smoke Detector Hidden Camera. This hidden nanny cam mounts to any ceiling (no need to plug it into a power source) with Velcro and starts recording when motion is detected. It’s powered by a long-lasting, rechargeable battery and has a memory card that can hold up to five days worth of recordings. Plus, it serves as a fully functioning smoke alarm, making this a device that does double-duty.
Dimensions: N/A | Wifi?: Yes | Storage: Memory card
- Virtually undetectable and doesn’t need to be plugged into a power source
- Features night vision that can record up to 16 feet away in total darkness
- All videos are time and date stamped, so you know exactly when they happened
- Footage can only be viewed when the memory card is inserted into a card reader in your computer
- No audio
For parents with tech anxiety (especially for a camera that records the inside of your home)—we get it!—you might want to opt for a nanny cam without wifi to minimize the risks of your camera feed being accessed or compromised via hacking. The Alpha Tech USB Hidden Camera Charger is a great option, and it’s also appealing for its covert design. You plug it into a wall outlet or surge protector and, to the naked eye, nothing seems askew, because it looks just like a regular charging adapter. Recording begins as soon as motion is detected, and because the wide-angle lens provides a more comprehensive view of the surroundings, you’ll be able to ensure important details and actions are never missed.
Dimensions: 2.25” (L) x 3.5” (W) x 3.6” (H) | Wifi?: No | Storage: SD card
- Continuous recording capabilities
- Camera comes with extra stickers to hide the SD card
- Great picture quality
- Doesn’t record audio
- Non-wifi means no remote view feature
- Company advises not using it to actually charge electronics
Nothing is out of view with this wifi-connected nanny camera, which provides 355 degrees of horizontal views, 50 degrees of vertical views and 3X optical zoom. The Reolink E1 Pro Indoor Security Camera also has impressive night vision capabilities, capturing up to 40 feet in complete darkness, and the camera is compatible with both Alexa and Google Assistant.
Dimensions: 3” (L) x 2.75” (W) x 4.2” (H) | Wifi?: Yes | Storage: SD card (not included) or cloud (with subscription)
- Features three different recording modes: 24/7 continuous, motion-triggered or scheduled recordings
- Real-time communication capacity thanks to two-way audio
- 2K 4MP resolution provides one of the clearest pictures available
- Camera is solely wifi-enabled, which means it won’t work if the internet goes down
- Must be plugged into a power source
There’s no need to worry about placing your nanny cam within reach of a power outlet with the battery-powered Google Nest Cam. This is a wireless nanny camera that works truly anywhere—indoors or outdoors—thanks to its weather-resistant, rechargeable lithium battery. The camera also allows you to zoom in to take a closer look, save video clips to your phone and two-way talk to communicate with your nanny and child from afar.
Dimensions: 3.3” (L) x 3.3” (W) x 3.3” (H) | Wifi?: Yes | Storage: Cloud storage (with subscription)
- If wifi goes down or a power outage occurs, the camera will automatically store up to one hour of recordings to its local memory
- Sends alerts when people, animals or vehicles are detected, and the area and alerts can be customized
- With a Nest Aware subscription, you can keep up to 10 days of 24/7 recordings and connect directly to emergency services, if needed
- Nest Aware subscription is an additional purchase
- Some users say that the battery doesn’t last long
Several of our picks can qualify as a “small” nanny cam, but the Sharper Image Discreet Day/Night Vision Camera is the tiniest piece of tech on this list! And even though its profile is small, it’s no slouch when it comes to utility. You can even move it from room to room, because it attaches magnetically to any metal surface! Just remember, if you’re going to use a camera in multiple locations (or make use of the camera’s high-quality sound recording), you’ll want to check on your state laws and/or consult with an attorney regarding consent.
Dimensions: 1.5” (L) x 0.5” (W) x 1.5” (H) | Wifi?: Yes | Storage: SD card (not included)
- Runs 90 minutes on a full charge
- Wireless control from the free Apple or Android app
- Easy to install
- Need to purchase the memory card
- Not the best option for continuous recording
If you’re looking for a surveillance device that won’t take a tremendous bite out of your wallet, then you might want to keep WYZE’s indoor/outdoor smart home security camera in mind—it has over 50K 5-star ratings on Amazon, after all. And for less than $50, you get a camera that works indoors and out, is both motion and sound activated and has a continuous, 24/7 recording ability with a 32GB micro SD card. Two-way audio even lets you talk to your nanny (and lets them answer back to you).
Dimensions: 2” (L) x 2” (W) x 2.2” (H) | Wifi?: Yes | Storage: SD card (not included) or cloud storage
- Motion detection zones and custom settings allow you to tailor the sensitivity of the sensor or turn off completely
- Color night vision via the Starlight Sensor
- Some users say “grainy” audio can be improved
- Customer service gets poor reviews
To help streamline your shopping and highlight the best nanny cams on the market today, we browsed a wide variety of tech options from leading brands and retailers, so you don’t have to. We considered several aspects when sourcing products, including visual and sound quality of the camera, wifi capabilities, size and extra features. We relied on our own experiences as parents, and combined our product knowledge with the legal counsel of a family law attorney to provide a comfortable overview of the legal considerations related to nanny cameras. We also read hundreds of reviews to get the lowdown on how these cameras worked for parents and families, and didn’t consider anything with less than an average four-star rating.
Interested in learning more about our editorial process? Read about how our team develops and reviews all articles here.
Brenda DeRouen is a leading family law attorney in the state of Texas. She is known for her compassionate and effective representation of clients in divorce, child custody and other family law matters. She’s also the Co-Founder and CEO of the non-profit organization Women of Law and author of the inspirational children’s book, I’m A Lawyer.