We’ve all done the careful tip-toe reverse out of the baby’s room after they’ve finally drifted off to sleep. And whether you use that time to relax in the backyard or get chores done around the house, a reliable baby monitor is essential for keeping tabs on your little one. The VTech DM1211 Enhanced Range Digital Audio Monitor is dependable, simple to setup and use, and has the range and features necessary to thoroughly impress the Today’s Parent Approved team, who put the popular brand’s monitor to the test in their own homes.
I was anxious at first using an audio-only monitor. But as the days went on, I felt way more comfortable, and it helped me relax and not obsess over watching my child. —Daliah Hijazi Marsons, mother of one
It’s not often baby gear is set up and ready to go before you even get the instruction manual out of the box, but that’s exactly what happened with several of our at-home testers with this monitor. After installing the included rechargeable battery in the parent unit and plugging the baby unit in to wall power, the monitor’s set up process takes less than five minutes. A third of our testers reported that they didn’t even use the instructions at all, which is perfect if you happen to be doing this with a sleepy infant in one arm.
Once paired and connected with the baby unit, the minimal features and settings are easy to navigate and adjust to your liking (more on that below). Any questions our testers had were answered quickly with a glance at the easy-to-follow manual. Both units come with individual AC adapters that have more than enough wire length (2 metres) to reach behind even the biggest changing tables and, as one excited parent noted, the cords are interchangeable in case one is lost or left behind.
I plugged in the baby monitor in my daughter’s room and then headed downstairs to plug in the parent monitor. Within less than a minute, they synced up and I was ready to go! —Jillian Dunn, mother of two
When you’ve got a precious little infant snoozing in their crib, a monitor’s parent unit becomes your most important accessory. The DM1211’s parent unit is well thought out, housing all the setting controls, including the multiple alert options that you can configure based on different situations and needs. Most of our parent testers loved the LED visual sound indicator, which displays a colour bar from green to red showing the level of sound (from mild squeaks to full-on wails) in the room. The feature allows parents to, say, watch a movie or enjoy a book with the volume down while still being visually alerted to any sound coming from the nursery. There’s also an option for a vibrating alert, if you’d prefer.
If you’re the type of parent that wants to hear every breath and rustle, you’re going to love the parent unit’s microphone sensitivity control. With five levels of sensitivity, it can be set to activate the speaker when sound levels reach your preferences. Some parent testers reported that the highest setting was a little too sensitive and created random “bursts” of noises, so take the time to play around and find what level is right for you.
The DM1211’s talkback function and nightlight control are a baby whisperer’s dream. Sometimes, all your little one needs to hear is the soothing sound of your voice. The talkback lets parents do just that, with surprising audio clarity for such a small speaker.
While our parent testers liked this feature, the real superstar was the nightlight control, which lets you turn the soothing glow in the nursery on or off from the parent unit. While one tester pointed out the lack of a temperature sensor, all were very impressed with the other features, ruggedness (many were dropped, none were damaged!) and ease-of-use of the parent unit.
The simplicity of the baby unit garnered rave reviews from our testers. With plug-and-play setup, the baby unit’s basic controls consist of volume (for the talkback feature), nightlight and power. That’s it. Its elegant and inconspicuous design is oddly soothing, especially with the soft orange glow of the nightlight. It easily blends with any nursery decor. Bonus feature: Find a handy “page” button on the side of the baby unit! This sets off an audible alert to the parent unit in case you lose it under a pile of laundry.
The volume and clarity of the voice coming from the parent unit is nice and clear. The baby unit is sensitive and picked up even the slightest sounds, like the baby moving or taking a deep breath or sigh. —Sarah Vezér, mother of a newborn
A good baby monitor doesn’t just let you know when your little one is fussy. It should, as one of our parent testers put it, let you hear the quieter sounds “so I can tend to him before he starts crying.” Our parent testers unanimously agreed that they could clearly hear their children through the parent unit.
When asked about the sound from the baby unit, however, our testers gave mixed reports. Most kids reacted positively to their voices through the talkback feature. “I think this will be great for when [my child] is older, if she needs comforting to get back to sleep,” one tester noted.
One of the advantages of having an audio-only monitor system is that there’s less to take with you on a trip to your parents’ place or a weekend at the cottage. Lightweight and compact, the DM1211 easily fits in any baby bag, suitcase or backpack, and the simple setup will have you jumping in the lake within minutes! Testers commented, though, that because the baby unit must be plugged into an outlet, it’s less than ideal for situations like camping trips or power outages. Quality-wise, all of our testers agreed that the firm plastic shell of the units could easily withstand travel and being toted around the house.
Portability is terrific. We took it to my mom’s place and it was very easy to pack up and bring along in a baby bag. I even forgot one of the cords but it didn’t matter since they’re compatible with both units. —Robin Waite, father of three
What do you do once your kids are asleep? Whether you Netflix and chill in the basement, finish the dishes, or hang on the patio, this monitor’s impressive range should have you covered. It is worth noting, however, that the user manual states that the 1,500-ft range is outdoors (where there is little interference), while the indoor range is 160 feet (50 metres)— which is still more than enough for most homes.
When we were camping, I walked as far away as I could with the parent unit and was really impressed with how far I got before losing the connection. As soon as I lost the link, the monitor alerted me. —Sarah Vezér
According to our testers, the rechargeable battery lasted for more than six hours without having to plug back into power. Recharging is relatively quick, too, taking less than three hours for a full charge. A helpful low-battery audio alert lets you know when it’s time to plug it in.
Across the board, our parent testers were impressed with the VTech DM1211’s ample range, clear sound quality, and many alert options that let them adjust to their unique preferences. And while a baby monitor with video may seem like the preferred device for keeping a (literal) eye on your child, many of our testers praised the simplicity of this audio monitor. Is it worth the money? The answer, according to our testers, is a resounding “yes.”
Overall this is a surprisingly impressive monitor that would make me think twice about buying a more expensive video option, mainly due to its incredible range and talk-back feature. —Robin Waite