The greatest nightmare a parent has is losing their child. As a doctor I have witnessed the tragic loss of too many children. The loss of a child is heartbreaking and something no person can prepare for. I knew before my son was born that I would need a baby monitor to would alert me if my son ever stopped breathing. Every second matters when it’s your child on the line. I have had the blessing of trying 3 different brands of alert monitors. I will review them below in the order I tried them in.
Snuza Hero Mobile Baby Movement Monitor :
The first monitor we bought, months before Luke was born was the Snuza Hero Mobile Baby Movement Monitor . It was economical at $120 and easy to use. I simply turned it on and clipped it to Luke’s diaper.
– Detects abdominal movement.
– Clips directly onto the baby’s diaper. Diaper needs to be folded over to keep from falling off. It can also be connected to pants (as shown below).
– Device itself alerts only. There is no base station or connection to cell phone.
– After 15 seconds of no abdominal movement it vibrates to stimulate the baby. If the lack of movement continues for 5 more seconds then the emergency alarm sounds. Will also alarm if there is an inadequate number of movements (under 8/min)
– Green light flashes with each abdominal movement. Can also be programmed to have an audible click with movement. I found this light very re-assuring when I was only half conscious to be able to watch the light flash and know my son was breathing.
– No set-up required.
– No charging required. It contains a battery that can be replaced when low.
– The main draw backs: It seemed very large next to my tiny 6lb newborn (he is 2.5mo and 12lbs in the photo below), the rubber tip that detects movement sometimes left a red mark on his belly, and it would have to be removed and turned off during diaper changes to prevent false alarms. Then in the middle of the night you would have to remember to turn it back on and re-attach it to his diaper. Additionally, it isn’t reliable if the baby is on any surface that can cause artificial movement (swing, vibration, etc); or if you are in contact with the monitor while holding the baby (Snuza will sense your movement instead of the baby’s).
** UPDATE: I recently used Snuza for my 6mo (because I forgot to charge my Owlet) and it was terrible. Since Luke is mobile and rolls now he kept knocking it off and setting off the alarm. Therefore, I no longer recommend it.
Owlet Baby Monitor:
My newborn in his original Owlet sock (2016)
My 22mo old son in his updated sock (2018)
Next, I contacted the creators of Owlet and was given the ability to trial it for the purpose of this review. Owlet is more expensive then some other monitors ($249), but the peace of mind it gives me is priceless. I am a numbers person and being able to pull up the Owlet App and see quantitative numbers is huge. Additionally, when my son was sick with his first cold, having the ability to check his oxygen saturation helped me know he was breathing effectively despite being congested. As a physician, that alone sold me on the value of Owlet. While it is not a medical device, it does use the same technology as used in hospitals. Over 100,000 hours went into testing the Owlet Baby Monitor.
– Measures heart rate and oxygenation to notify you if they go out of the preset zones. (See picture from Owlet App below)
– Comes with special sock that goes on the baby’s foot. Multiple sizes are included in the box to ensure optimal fit as the baby grows. Additionally you can purchase extras from the website. Fits most infants to until 18mo.
– Base station sounds and (optional) you can receive alerts on your cell phone with the Owlet Application.
– Emergency Notification if heart rate and/or oxygen saturation go out of range. The threshold for alarms is: Oxygen below 80%, Heart Rate below 60 or over 220bmp.
– 10x fewer false alarms then movement monitors
– If you do receive an emergency notification Owlet will email you to see if you need any further assistance.
– There are also notifications to notify you if the sock has fallen offer isn’t properly positioned additionally you will be notified if the sock is out of range for the base station. The non-emergency notifications sound different and can be turned off.
– Easy set-up by following instructions on application.
– Can be used in any room or on any surface as long as it is within range of the base station.
– Typically I put the sock on Luke when getting him dressed for bed and than turn on the base station after I put him in his crib for bedtime.
– The main drawbacks: Unable to get an accurate reading if the infant is wiggling, it works best when baby is sleeping. The sock must be charged daily, thankfully this takes less then an hour. The base station relies on a Bluetooth signal to the sock, if it is blocked or too far away a notification sounds. Although the non-emergency notifications can be turned off, I would prefer if they could be silenced so that you still know if the sock is too far away etc, but no noisy sounds. For example, the base station would flash and your phone notification would appear, but without the sounds. Also the App is a little slow to open at times, but it is constantly being updated and I am sure this will be worked out soon.
—> I want to address some concerns I have read about Owlet. At no point has the device burned or irritated my son’s skin in any way. Luke has sensitive fair skin and it hasn’t even left a slight red mark. I am confident recommending it as a safe product.
– If you have more questions about what Owlet is capable of: http://www.owletcare.com/faq/owlet-disclaimer/
Angel Care Deluxe Movement and Sound Monitor:
A friend of mine actually owned the Angel Care system and offered to loan it to us for use with our son. There are many models available, the one we have has a single movement pad for the crib and two parental units.
– Detects movement of child through a square pad placed underneath the crib mattress.
– Detects room temperature, will alert you if the room is too warm or cold
– Base station and parent unit(s) alarm
– Alarms if movement isn’t detected for 20 seconds
– To work appropriately you need to put a piece of plywood under mattress for the square sensor to sit upon. Otherwise, the surface must be firm.
– Some models have a video monitor, ours only had sound.
– The main drawbacks: I’ve had more false alarms with this monitor then the other two combined. My son prefers to sleep on the edges of his bassinet and crib, this means he moves out of range of the sensor. Additionally, I don’t love having something attached to wires in the crib. Yes the sensor pad is under the mattress, but when Luke is bigger I am nervous he will be able to reach the cords. Finally, for some reason this monitor method is the one I am most likely to forget to turn on/off when placing him into and out of the crib.
None of these are medical devices and nothing can definitively prevent SIDs (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). However, following the AAP recommended guidelines can decrease risk: Always place your baby on their back to sleep in a crib that is free of all suffocation risks (pillows, blankets, bumpers, and stuffed animals). Prevent overheating by not over-dressing the infant. Avoid second hand smoke exposure.
I was fortunate enough to be able to try 3 different methods to monitor my son and after trying all 3 I would recommend Owlet Baby Monitor. I believe Owlet is worth the extra cost because of the advanced hospital grade technology. I need to see the numbers to feel my son is safe. Additionally, Owlet is the ONLY monitor I tried that has continued to be effective after my son started to roll. I LOVE our Owlet baby monitor and recommend it to all new mamas.
If you have any additional questions about any of these monitors please feel free to comment and let me know.
Thanks for stopping by!
Dr. Patricia Bast was born and raised in Southern California. After earning her bachelors degree at UC Irvine, she went on to graduate medical school from Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Northern California. She then returned home to Southern California and became a resident in Pediatrics at Loma Linda Children’s Hospital. Dr. Bast is now raising her children and loves working part-time at a pediatric clinic, watching her patients grow and thrive.