During the first few weeks of newborn life, I barely slept. This is obviously common and is a part of your world with a newborn, but even when my baby was taking her little 90-minute snoozes, I still could barely sleep. And that’s because I spent so much time looking at her to ensure she was still breathing.
When she slept too little, I worried something was wrong, and when she slept too much, I also worried. Countless times during her sleep sessions, I’d place my hand on her chest to feel the reassuring rise and fall of her sweet body.
I had a heightened anxiety around safe sleep and the risk of SIDS. I’m not alone in this particular type of anxiety during the newborn stage. My daughter slept beside me in a bassinet for the first six months of her life and then was moved into her nursery where we used a basic monitor. I was still concerned and would zoom in on the monitor screen every hour just to be sure she was breathing. Sometimes I’d tiptoe in to double-check.
I’m about to have my second baby, and although I don’t expect my sleep anxieties to fall away, I want to prepare myself, especially because I know I’ll be even more sleep-deprived this second time around. So, I started looking into smart baby monitors.
They are more of an investment than your standard monitor, but for peace of mind (and maybe a bit more restful sleep), I thought it might be worth it. If you’re curious about pricing, there’s a large range when it comes to regular video monitors, but basic models typically cost well under $100. For smart baby monitors, you can expect to pay in the $200-$400 range.
If you’re also considering a smart baby monitor, the below information may help you make the decision.
Smart baby monitor versus a standard monitor?
There are a variety of brands and therefore different capabilities that go along with each smart baby monitor, but in general, you can expect a smart monitor to do more than provide audio and video of your baby. Smart monitors often track and report on various vitals including breathing and sleep patterns, sharing live data. They also may provide humidity and temperature tracking, as well as sound and nursery conditions.
Some smart monitors have wearable elements while others do not—what’s the difference?
There are now a wide variety of smart monitors available, some include wearable elements while others do not. The Owlet Smart Sock wraps around the baby’s foot for tracking. The Nanit connects to The Nanit Swaddle for newborns or The Nanit Breathing Band for older babies and tracks baby’s breathing motion. The Miku combines multiple sensors, AI, and an internal processor to capture and analyze a baby’s breathing pattern without a wearable element. Miku “can see a baby’s breathing patterns regardless of body position, clothing, or lighting conditions,” said Eric White, co-found of Miku.
Consider how long you hope to monitor certain elements and if a wearable element works for those ages. For example, the Owlet Smart Sock can be worn by babies up to 25 pounds, the Nanit band can be used up to 2 years old, and because the Miku doesn’t have a wearable element, it can be used for kids of any age.
Are false alarms common and can they increase anxiety?
If you’re already feeling anxious about your baby’s breathing and health, having false alerts going off can be a concern for parents. Some smart monitors and tracking devices are more known to give off false alarms, so be sure to check reviews of products before purchasing. If you are experiencing false alarms, it can also be an installation issue. Make sure you follow all of the directions for proper setup.
Are smart monitors recommended for preemies or babies with issues from birth?
Colt Seman, cofounder of Miku, explained that parents who are bringing home a baby from the NICU or parents who are caring for a child with severe asthma might find a smart monitor to be the ideal solution for monitoring. However, even the healthiest babies can benefit from smart monitors, thanks to the sleep tracking information that these monitors can provide. If you’re looking for a comprehensive picture of your child’s sleep habits, a smart monitor can help.
How long do parents typically use smart monitors?
It might seem like smart monitors are only for the newborn weeks and months, but thanks to the wealth of knowledge they provide, they can actually be useful even into the toddler years. “Because we’re able to track breathing and sleep patterns at any age, Miku families are able to continue to monitor their child from infancy through toddler and childhood for a complete picture of their child’s sleep and wellness,” White said.
There are a lot of products parents are told they absolutely need and can’t live without. Yes, certain baby products are essential, like having diapers on hand and a safe car seat properly installed. Other products are nice-to-haves, like wipe warmers or self-rocking bassinets. If monitoring your baby’s sleep and breathing patterns is important to you and will allow you to feel more confident in your knowledge of your baby’s health, a smart monitor may be worth the investment. But it certainly falls in the nice-to-have category.