When the New Yorker Magazine chronicled a story of a parent who was regretting using wearable baby monitor, it was one of the first popularized articles about the dangers of wearable baby monitors. Jake described the experience using three baby monitors as a first-time dad by reviewing Owlet smart sock, MonBaby Smart Button, and Snuza Pico. Like several other skeptics of baby monitoring devices, Jake concludes his review by making a case that parents do not need any of the current smart baby monitors.
Baby monitors are not medical devices
In this blog post, I have tried to explain a few misconceptions about some of the more sophisticated smart baby monitors that specifically track temperature, oxygen levels, breathing patterns, and sleep quality.
It is important to note that none of the baby monitors are meant to keep babies safe from Sudden Infant Dead Syndrome (SIDS). In fact, the American Academy for Pediatrics has warned ‘Do not use home cardiorespiratory monitors as a strategy to reduce the risk of SIDS.’ In addition, the FDA has not approved any of the smart baby monitors and it released a formal report in 2017 to urge the public not to confuse the smart monitors as medical devices.
Who needs smart baby monitor?
FDA also advises parents to speak with baby’s doctor before using smart baby monitors. For normal babies, the monitors may not be necessary as Jake made the case but baby monitors are required if;
- If the baby has had an ‘Apparent Life Threatening Event’ (ALTE) like absence of breathing. In this case, the doctor could suggest an apnea monitor to keep track of baby’s heart rate and breathing.
- Premature babies have persistent breathing pauses or have a slow heart rate
- A baby has a rare medical condition that necessitates tracking of breathing or body temperature patterns
How wearable baby monitors work
Wearable baby monitors use sensors placed on the baby’s body to monitor things like heart rate, respiration, sleeping position, blood oxygen level or body temperature. The sensors are able to send the signal to the parent or the caregiver in case any of the above parameters fall outside the range of normal.
Types of Breathing Baby Monitors
There are several types of smart baby monitors and each device can measure many parameters but could be specialized to measure a particular item such as temperature, sleep patterns, oxygen level etc.
- Breathing baby monitors that use movements – To provide extra safety and more health-related information about the baby, a baby’s breathing can be recorded by a mat placed under the mattress. The baby’s breathing can also be monitored by a monitor placed on the baby’s clothes such as diapers or pajamas. These monitors are portable and easy to install. They can however easily get detached or the baby could rollover in a different side of the bed that the tracker is unable to get any data.
- Heart and breath baby monitors that use breath/pulse – Baby monitors that register the chest movement and hearts electrical activity through electrodes attached to the baby’s chest. The heart alarm is set at a heart rate of 60 beats per minute for older babies and 80 beats per minute for a young one.
- Oxygen baby monitors – Mostly used in hospitals and given by a baby’s doctor.
Breathing wearable baby monitors
All breathing wearable baby monitors are not medical equipment but manufacturers put a case for it that it assists the parents to get some peace of mind as they are able to track the breathing patterns of their babies. Breathing wearable baby monitors are able to detect the baby’s breathing patterns and it is attached to the baby’s diapers or waistband. Most of the devices are made of non-toxic products such as medical grade silicon that does not affect a baby’s sensitive skin. Below are some of the breathing wearable baby monitors.
- Allb Smart Baby Breathing Monitor – Allb allows you and your family to check up on your baby in real time through your smart phones and alerts you if anything is amiss.Primarily, allb smart baby monitor closely monitors your baby’s abdominal breathing and sends an alert to your smart phone and emits an audible alarm if your baby stops breathing. It also relays real-time respiration graph provided (Watch your baby’s breathing in real time like CCTV.). As long as there is a smart phone within 15m connected through Bluetooth LE with the allb running, the baby’s health data will be transmitted to and stored on the secure allb server. Parents and permitted connected users can check up on the baby in real time regardless of distance.
- Owlet Smart Sock – Owlet smart sock breathing monitor enables the parent to monitor the baby’s heart rate, oxygen levels and sleep using a proven technology.The Smart Sock comfortably wraps around your baby’s foot to track heart rate, oxygen levels and sleep using clinically-proven pulse optometry. The base station glows green to let you know everything is okay but notifies with lights and sounds if heart rate or oxygen levels leave preset zones. The monitor streams HD 1080p video and sound with a secure, encrypted connection to WiFi. The monitor is one of the most expensive. The smart sock comes with; Owlet Smart Sock, fabric socks (Sizes 0-18 Months), Smart Sock sensor, Base station, Charging cords, Owlet App. The app works with a smartphone but you need to download the owlet app on your phone.
- MonBaby Breathing Wearable Monitor is the least expensive but not the least effective. The device is manufactured by MonBaby and comes with two color options, white and pink. The device has to be paired with a phone in order to allow the MonBaby app receive information about the baby.
The MonBaby monitor needs to be clipped to MonBaby to the baby’s pajama and the app needs to get connected to MonBaby iphone and android app. After that, you just start monitoring your baby in real time!
- 90 day guarantee
- 1 year warranty
- Free shipping for users in the US
- Least expensive
Wearable Baby Monitor for Temperature and Breathing
- Mimo Baby Monitor – Mimo baby monitor is a smart baby monitor that tracks an infant’s respiration, heart rate, skin temperature, sleep quality, and position through a small clip-on turtle attached to an organic cotton onesie. The clips captures the information and sends it to the smartphone giving you real time data on the activity of a child.
- Easy installation
- Low signal strength – Mimo needs a strong signal to remain connected and that can be an issue if your router is a good distance away
- Glitch app – The app rarely connects to the transmitter unit and it rarely gets updated
- Distance between Turtle and base station – the Turtle monitor must be within five feet of the base station in order to work
Concerns with Wearable Baby Monitors
Data Privacy – Most device manufacturers claim that all the data is anonymized and that the data is kept safe from third parties. But they all also upload some data to their own servers, rather than keeping it strictly on your own device. The concerns however credible as we’ve had cases of hacking in the past few years.
Fear – The data that parents and caregivers receive loads of data and they suddenly get invested in numbers that may not mean anything. The data are not necessarily co-related with certain health risks and device manufacturers are able to increase their sales by making parents think that the data they receive will enable them to avoid serious risk such as SIDS. They are therefore able to increase sales by selling fear of ‘the unknown’. In addition, several parents who use smart monitors often receive false alarms and can be very disturbing if they are thousands away from their kids.
Monbaby vs Owlet
Monbaby and Owlet Smart Sock are both smart tracking devices known for their advanced breath monitoring. Both devices use bluetooth technology to transmit signals but the biggest difference lies on their technologies and reliability. Owlet has more features and functionalities that are more reliable and is trusted by the healthcare professionals. It’s pulse-oximetry technology lead the way in brining hospital-grade devices in home-based nurseries and is ideal for preemies and any baby from age 0 to 18 months.
On the other hand, Monbaby only notifies you when the baby stops breathing and does not relay oxygen concentration levels. For that, you’ll need to rely on Owlet’s Smart Sock.
|It uses a smart button that has a sensor that tracks breathing movement||it uses a smart sock to track vital signs, specifically breathing and heartbeat rate. Here is the manual.|
|Relatively cheaper than Owlet, almost three times cheaper than Owlet||Relatively expensive|
|It is FSA approved||It is FSA eligible/approved|
|Dimensions: 1.50 x 1.50 x 0.25 inches||Dimensions: 3.5 x 3.5 x 0.7 inches|
|It has a patented snap-on design that allows you to easily attach the smart button on baby’s clothes||No patented snap-on design but Owlet Smart Sock 3 does not easily detach from baby’s foot.|
|It emits low radiation – using low-energy Bluetooth and Wifi options||It emits a significant amount of radiation. Read Owlet radiation here.|
|It has a roll-over detection||No roll-over detection|
|Does not track the baby’s sleep patterns||The latest Owlet Smart Sock 3 has improved sleep tracking feature|
|Check price||Check Price|
Sandra W. Bullock is a grand-mom to two boys and is part of the review board here at Motherhood HQ. She is responsible for the quality control of content and is among our most experienced moms. She has over 20 years of writing parenting content online focussing on baby safety indoors and outdoors. She has written widely on babyproofing nurseries and homes for infants and toddlers and published work on privacy and the safety of baby monitors. She is a renowned advocate for non-wifi baby monitors that cannot be hacked and spends a lot of time educating parents on how to secure their homes – including ways to secure the baby from harm in and around homes. Sandra is a native of Atlanta where she also works. She can be reached using her email, Sandra.w(at)motherhoodhq.com