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How to Turn an Old iPad Into a Baby Monitor or Smart Hub?

An iPad Mini, tucked safely away in its iPad mini 6th generation case, can do almost anything you want it to. But what about if you’ve got an older iPad that is no longer compatible with Apple’s latest iPadOS? Sure, it’s no longer the newest technology available, but it still has a good display, a nice enough camera, and very decent connection capabilities. No reason to send this  Well, it can be used as a picture frame, an ebook reader—- or a smart hub and baby monitor/ nanny cam.  

Turning Your Old iPad into a Smart Hub

As a smart hub, your old iPad can stand in for a HomePod or HomePod mini. This works for any iPad running iOS 10.0 or later There’s nothing to the conversion—- all you need to do is tell your iPad what is expected of it. Here’s how you do that. 

  1. Visit your iPad’s Settings (you’ll find this among your apps; the icon shows a set of grey gears.)
  1. Scroll down and click through ‘Home’
  2. Flip the toggle on ‘Use this iPad as Your Home Hub’

That’s it! Now your iPad is your home hub, and you can use it the same way you’d use a HomePod or HomePod mini. You can customize it just the way you want to— if you want to set it up for your child with access to only the smart home devices in their own room, for instance, you can do that from within the ‘Home’ app. 

Setting up a home hub also enables you to allow remote access to your home accessories, as well as edit permissions for anyone you invite. It takes convenience one step further, and makes basic smart appliances like locks, doorbells, or thermostats that much smarter. 

Using FaceTime to Turn Your iPad into a Baby Monitor

Turning your iPad into a baby monitor is hardly more involved than turning it into a smart hub. You’ve got two options: you can use FaceTime, which your iPad already has ready to go, or you can download a third party app. The benefit of FaceTime is that you already have it on your iPad, you won’t have to pay for it, and it always works— if your internet connection does. 

The main disadvantage of using FaceTime as a baby monitor is that you need to have it always open on the parent device. You’ll also need to cover your iPad screen (but not the camera lens) to avoid distracting your baby while he or she is going to sleep. 

Mute the parent device, and have notifications (for all apps!) turned off on the child unit. You’ll have to set up the connection before you leave the room, as there is no way to get your older iPad to automatically accept your FaceTime call. You will also need a reliable connection: if the call is dropped, you will need someone to walk back into the room to reconnect by picking up a new call. If you’re not in the immediate vicinity this can be difficult, and even if you are in the next room it carries the risk of waking a sleeping baby. 

If you have children in two different rooms you want to monitor, you can place an older iPad in each room and do a group call. Pro tip: First make the call and get all your settings the way you want them, then get the devices situated in their separate rooms.

In most situations you’ll want to use wifi to avoid high data charges. If you don’t have wifi or unlimited cellular internet, doing a voice-only call is another option and will still allow you to monitor your sleeping baby for any wake-ups. Do make sure your iPad baby monitor is appropriately positioned to catch any relevant baby sounds!

Using a Third-Party App to Turn Your iPad into a Baby Monitor 

If you want a full baby monitor experience, you probably want to go with one of the many dedicated apps that do just that. While there are free baby monitor options, they have very limited capabilities. The best apps do all come with a price tag, but the fees are not as high as it would cost to go shopping for a new baby monitor with the same features. A few favorites include:

To use a baby monitor app, you’ll need to download it both on your old iPad and your parent device (either your new iPad, a phone or a computer). Then follow the instructions that come with each specific app to get started monitoring that baby!

Here are a few features you may want to look for:

  • Talk back 
  • Lullaby/ White Noise playback options 
  • Flashlight
  • Wake-up and cry notifications and alarms
  • Video recording storage

There are some features that no stand-alone iPad app can provide simply because of the limitations of the device. For instance, an iPad-based baby monitor can’t provide oxygen monitoring; for that you’ll need to buy a system that includes a sock, sticker, or some other wearable that measures your child’s oxygen levels.  Sleep quality and temperature monitoring are other features you can’t get with just an app, but some of these apps do allow integration with smart temperature devices in the child’s room, if you’d like to keep track of those. 

Now you know two ways to repurpose your old iPad, you’ve got two purchases you can save on. The beauty of using your old iPad for a baby iPad or smart hub is that no permanent changes are required— once you don’t need it any more for that purpose, it’s ready to be transformed to something else again!