Always on guard. Why should you buy a baby breathing monitor?
Not all pediatricians will suggest you get a monitor from the get go, typically this suggestion is only made when your toddler or infant indicates habits which aren’t normal or healthy; however, with children its often very hard to determine if a baby’s breathing pattern doesn’t fit the norm. Getting on just in case is often the best course of action, however you should certainly get one if your baby has had any apparent life-threatening event. These events include an absence of breathing, parent resuscitation of the child, or skin coloration which is blue or deep white. Typically, these events indicate a breathing disability (many of them a temporary part of your child’s development) or poor blood circulation. For premature babies these sleeping problems are much more common and parents of early born children would do best to invest in a monitoring device.
Aspects of a baby monitor which are well worth the investment include alerts which allow you to respond immediately when your baby is in danger, along with a slew of other useful extras. Vital sign monitoring devices track breathing and heart rate, audio functions let you listen in on your child, video monitors let you see everything whenever you’re nervous about your sleeping baby, and many of these devices are easy to use with great portability functions.
Types of baby monitors
On the current market there is a wide selection of baby monitors, however not all of these devices are doctor or pediatrician certified so make sure to keep to our list or do your research before making any purchase. Additionally, not all of these monitors are the same, different types perform different functions which you may or may not want.
Movement monitors, for instance, are one class which are designed specifically to detect motion, or rather the absence of it. These monitors often include wide-range sensors, wearable products for your baby, or motion pads which tuck under your infant or under the bed. The range of motion that movement monitors can sense is often adjustable per device, but typically these monitors can sense up to the shallowest breaths and rise/fall of your babies’ chest. Sometimes you might hear these referred to as ‘Mat monitors’ (mattress monitors).
Heart and breath monitors register chest movement and can even register the electrical activity of your infant’s entire system – though these devices require highly expensive electrode dots to be attached to your infant’s chest. One reason you’d get something like a heart monitor, rather than a motion monitor, is that your infant is rambunctious and disrupts or removes motion sensors attached to them or attached to their crib. The perks of heart and breath monitors include an alarm which can be set to ring when an infant’s heart rate rises or falls dangerously, and additionally these typically include rechargeable batteries.
Oximeters are a third class of baby monitor. These devices are rarely used in-home and more frequently seen in hospitals. They are perhaps the most sensitive type of monitor and alarm is there is a prolonged pause in breathing due to sleep apnea or irregular airflow between two breaths (typically 20-second apart). Additionally, these devices detect and report a percentage of oxygen intake.
Tips on detecting baby’s breathing problems
Since newborns naturally have irregular breathing patterns and can’t tell you themselves when there is a chest, blood-flow, or air-flow problem, it’s often hard to distinguish between natural behaviors and indicators of a life-threatening problem. For instance, its typical for an infant to breath fast, take long pauses between breaths, and also make unusual noises in the process. After all, these little ones are used to breathing amniotic fluid in the womb, there’s going to be some learning curve before you register their behaviors as ‘normal’.
However, typically you can be comforted by the fact that babies take 30-60 breaths per minute. While sleeping this can slow down to 20 breaths per minute. At around 6 months their sleeping breath rate might rise to 25 or even 40 breaths per minute. Behaviors which break this pattern are certainly worth discussing with your pediatrician, and a baby monitor is always worth the added expense in your budget.
What you should do
One rule of thumb: always reach out to your doctor. If you have any concern related to your baby and how they sleep or breath, your doctor will be able to inform you in the behavior is regular or not. If they can’t tell what the problem is there are always test that can be done and light suggestions which can be made to ensure the health of your little baby. For irregular breathing specifically, on your own you should check your babies’ pulse and make sure they are in distress or not. If a baby can’t breathe, they will let you know – perhaps not audibly, but with their actions and their eyes.
To best help your doctor identify a problem and best understand how your baby operates, first learn the typical patterns of your baby when they’re awake and when they’re asleep. You might consider taking a video or even lightly taking their blood pressure with the approved tools specifically for children – your doctor can either do this or direct you to the proper equipment for it. Finally, always have your baby sleep on their back, this is the best course of immediate action you can take as a parent. On their back your baby has a decreased risk of SIDS, will better avoid respiratory infection, will have clearer congestion, and will even sleep better.
Features to consider while buying the most reliable baby breathing monitor
You’ll notice that many of the following features were previously mentioned in our individual product reviews. In this section we talk about each feature as it relates to the product in hopes this makes the purchasing process easier for you at every step of the way.
Typically size only matters with baby monitors that include pads to be inserted under your baby or under a mattress. Consider the NANNY Baby Movement European Monitor and Babysense 7, both of these products include pads which will detect and report your baby’s movement and breathing during sleep and at all other times while in a crib. Certain cribs or thick mattresses may not be compatible with the size of these sensor pads.
One of our monitors with the best range is the Angelcare AC701 with an extended range of up to 820 feet. A baby monitors range indicates how far a transmitter can be from a receiver, or put more simply how far you can be with your monitoring device from your babies’ crib. Video surveillance systems and audio systems typically have a range of several hundred feet before you lose reception and can’t check in on your baby. Make sure you keep this in mind!
Although some baby monitors come with a plug-in charging cord, certain products are made to attach to your baby, slip under the baby’s bed, or sit elsewhere in a room or crib. Typically, these separate devices run on battery power which allows them to be portable. However, many of these low-end products will also have the low battery life and even non-rechargeable batteries. If you’re considering buying a video receiving device, know that these monitors probably use up the most battery power the quickest.
The monitors which allow you to adjust the sensitivity of your transmitting part are well worth the extra investment or added research. Some babies are naturally stiller than others, so for these infants you’re going to want to set the alarm settings to detect at a lower level (longer breath interval) than other products. Otherwise you’re going to have monitor alarms going off every time your baby takes a nap and that can quickly get frustrating. Some great products with adjustable sensitivity levels are the Owlet Smart Sock, Angelcare AC701, and NANNY Baby Movement European Monitor.
Alarm functions should be loud and a little bit annoying, after all if a product doesn’t immediately get your attention and warn you of a problem than it’s not worth the money. Alarm functions include loud tones and even flashing lights and these functions can register on separate parent devices or just on devices in the baby bedroom or attached to the crib.
Movement sensors are one of the most common forms of tracking a baby’s breathing and safety throughout the night or during naptime. These devices either clip to your baby, slide under them, or fit under their mattress. Typically, movement sensors also include sensitivity settings. A great product which illustrates this function is the budget friendly Snuza Go! Baby Monitor.
If you’re picking a product which attaches to your child or fits under them or under the mattress, don’t pick something made of shoddy materials. If your baby tends to throw things, perhaps don’t pick a clip-on monitor as these have a lower durability. Most mattress pad monitors are designed to be highly durable and difficult for your baby to move or damage, so these are great options. However, the best option for durability are those devices which just sit in the room and monitor motion, breathing, and sound from afar. The Cocoon Cam Plus is a monitor highly rated by pediatricians and parents alike.
Indicators will indicate low battery or improper working/broken sensors. Typically, these indications are a low beeping sound or flashing warning lights.
Two-way audio is a must for those parents who want to be there to comfort their crying babies without having to step into a room and disrupt their sleep. These products include a receiver and transmitter so you can hear your baby and they can hear you. Such products on our list include the Cocoon Cam Plus, Angelcare AC701 and Babysense 7 which is two-way connection capable.
For your safety purchasing and testing a product which works best for your home and child, choose the products with the longest available warranty. These products will give you enough time to test all the features of the product to ensure everything works the way it should and monitors those vital functions which have been concerning you.