Here is a quick and easy guide to use a Foscam IP Camera as a baby monitor. This isn’t meant to be comprehensive, as there are many advanced things you can do with an IP camera (motion detection, sharing the feed publicly, etc), but it will get you to the point where you can start using your IP cam as your baby monitor in your home.
An IP Camera has all the benefits of a store-bought video baby monitor, but also many advanced options for geekier parents. They often have Wi-Fi, IR filters for watching the baby even in the dark, the ability to pan and tilt, can stream to a regular browser or mobile IP cam app, record to your home NAS, and have the ability to alert you when they sense motion. But again, this tutorial will simply get you up and running.
- IP Camera (I’ll be using the Foscam FI8910W) – $89
Setting up a Foscam IP Camera as a Baby Monitor
First, scope out where you would like to mount the IP Camera. You will want a clear view of where the baby sleeps to be close enough for the camera’s microphone to pick up all the cute little noises your little one will make…oh, and those awful wails.
Ideally, pick a place near an electric outlet to minimize the appearance of wires.
Next, screw in the provided wall mount securely. The camera is pretty light, so I skipped using the included anchors and just used the screws to secure it. The wall mount is adjustable vertically, so place it a little higher so you can angle it down on your little one to get a bit of a higher perspective.
If you’ll be connecting to your network wirelessly instead, follow the instructions that comes with the unit to connect to the network which require you to connect the unit directly to a computer via Ethernet to input your network’s wireless settings.
Next, attach the unit to the wall mount. There’s a single screw under the bottom of the mount that connects it to the unit. Make sure all adjustment screws are tight on the wall mount.
Once that is completed, it will look to get an IP address through the DNS of your home router. As soon as it does, it has become part of your home network and begins “watching”. But, as long as you don’t make the camera publicly accessible, it’ll only be viewable by people on your home network.
Now the fun part. Since it’s connected to your home network, you can watch the feed through virtually any device on your home network. Think: laptop, smart phone, Roku, Raspberry Pi, etc.
Figure out the cameras IP address first. You can do this by connecting to your home router and looking for your LAN Active Clients list within the firmware. Foscam clients have a name like “ipcam_(mac address)”. Remember that IP address.
Get on a computer with any browser and go to: (IP address):80 You should see a prompt that comes up for a username and password. The default Foscam username is admin, and by default there is no password. Then, click the button “Server Push Mode”. You’ll now see a control panel along with a live feed of your camera. Cool! Try panning and tilting your camera and try turning out the lights to see what it looks like through the IR filter.
I found two mobile apps that I really like. For Android, check out tinyCam Monitor Free. It even has the ability to use your device’s gyroscopes to move the cameras around which is pretty fun to do. For iOS, use Live Cams Pro. Each app will ask for the IP address, username, password, and port (80), and then it should work well assuming you’re connected to your home network’s wifi. I was able to connect to the camera with my smartphone, power off my screen, and walk around the house while being able to hear any noise from the baby’s room.
Overall, an IP Camera is a great way to keep an eye on your child. We plan to use the IP Camera during the day and audio monitors at night. Our fear is we may not sleep much if we are glued to our phones watching our baby making every single movement. Plus, we typically charge our devices at night.
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments. Happy to help!
Update after 3 months of use:
My son turned 3 months old a couple days ago, and I wanted to update this post now that I’ve used the Foscam IP Camera as a baby monitor for a longer period of time.
This is the top advantage for me. Any device you have whether it be a computer, laptop, Android Phone, iOS Phone, or tablet can very easily connect to the video steam. Odds are, you’re used to having these devices with you around the house already. If you buy a regular video baby monitor, you need to carry yet another device with you, and it probably only comes with one receiver which is limiting.
I tracked down a number of different devices to illustrate the flexibility of this setup in the video below:
Yeah…he woke up moments later quite hungry. He slept a solid 11 hours, so he more than earned it! Fear not, he was fed quickly afterwards and was then one happy baby.
Peace of Mind
As new parents, my wife and I wake up throughout the night in a panic wondering if our baby is OK (normal, I hope?). It is so nice to be able to look over to our nightstand and see him OK and breathing.
The one and only disadvantage to this setup is battery drain. The Foscam puts out pretty high quality video, and it’s a lot of work for your device to stream it. So, we use an old iPod Touch to be the dedicated bedside device that just stays plugged in. During the day, you can use audio monitors as backups to reduce the battery drain on your phone/tablet/computer.
I’m sold. Using an IP camera as a baby monitor is the best way to monitor your baby in my opinion. Plus, it doesn’t take that much “techy smarts” to set it up. If you’ve setup a wireless router, you can setup a Foscam. Plus, you can always use the comments below to get help from me and other readers.
*Many have asked in the below comments about how to secure the Foscam from any potential hackers. A typical home network’s firewall should be blocking hackers, but it’s a good idea to take some extra precaution as well. Here is a blog post I did on How to Secure Your Foscam from Hackers.
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