A parent’s worst nightmare is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Have you ever found yourself staring at your baby, trying to see his chest rise and fall? Have you stood over him, debating if you should touch his face and risk waking him up so you can ease your worry that he’s not breathing? Do you have a hard time falling asleep at night because you’re scared you’ll miss the opportunity to save him if something should happen? Sounds like you need the Owlet Baby Monitor.
“Up all night so you don’t have to be” –the perfect slogan for a monitor that is designed to alert you if your child stops breathing using hospital technology called pulse oximetry. This baby monitor, which fits into a special sock on your baby’s left foot, will continuously monitor your sleeping baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels. You know that little clip with the red light the nurse put on your finger while you were in labor at the hospital? That’s the same proven technology this sock uses.
After using this monitor for two months, I would recommend it to any parent who has a premature baby, a baby with special needs, or anyone who struggles with anxiety for their baby’s safety. Which covers pretty much every parent out there. Here’s why the Owlet is so amazing:
- The Owlet comes with three different sized socks
- Use the app for step by step set up instructions
- The app has videos to help with set up. The Owlet team seems to really care about you as a user and wants to make sure you are never confused about anything with their product.
- Manual describes alerts, FAQs, and gives website to find more information, if needed.
3 Types of Alerts:
- Blue—if the Smart Sock is disconnected from the base station
- Yellow—if the sock fell off or is poorly placed
- Red—the scary one, which flashes to tell you if heart rate or oxygen levels look problematic.
- It’d be hard to ignore the alerts since the base station lights up and a tone sounds for each one, and your phone does the same.
- Can adjust the blue and yellow alerts’ sensitivity on the app. By taking the sensitivity down a notch, you are still alerted if needed, but the chances for false alarms are lessened.
- There is no option to adjust the red alert, but that’s good because that’s the one that will save your baby’s life. Why would you want to turn that down?
- Some reports of false alarms. I received mostly false yellow alarms. It’s fairly easy to get these by just putting your body between the monitor and the base station, such as when you’re breastfeeding. But if you just turn off the monitoring option while your baby is awake at night feeding, this becomes a nonissue. And after adjusting the yellow alert sensitivity, I didn’t get any middle of the night alerts anymore.
- My false red alerts were frustrating. I’d get this alert, instantly check my baby, and see no problem. His mouth wasn’t blue, his chest was rising and falling, he wasn’t swaddled too tightly and he didn’t have blankets around his face. After checking Owlet’s videos for what to do with false alarms, I ended up emailing them with my concern. I figured out that the newborn size sock didn’t fit my son’s foot well enough. Once I moved up to the next size, the monitor sat on his foot correctly and the false alarms stopped.
Real red alerts save your baby:
- Though I received some false alarms, I do believe there were one or two legitimate red alerts given. As a parent, you never want to believe your baby isn’t breathing, and it’s easier to blame a faulty monitor than accept your child had stopped breathing. My son was born two weeks early. Based on how I hear him gasp for air randomly, especially while he naps, I’ve accepted that it’s very possible his oxygen levels tend to dip. After seeing what his percentage was at on their app, I’d stimulate his little body by picking him up, rubbing his back, and checking his chest. I’m sure this helped him breathe better and I wouldn’t have known to do it if it hadn’t been for those alerts.
- Owlet has had MANY cases of the monitor saving babies. This has led to the product receiving many awards, such as the JPMA Parent’s Pick Innovation Award in 2015.
While trying to figure out why I was getting so many false alerts, I emailed the Owlet team with my concerns.
- Quick and respectful response: They didn’t just brush me off as a dumb parent who didn’t put the sock on correctly. They addressed my concerns and made suggestions of what else I could try.
- Live chat on website: The agent I worked with was nice. She even gave me contact information for another department I could speak with to ask for a replacement Owlet, since the one I had might possibly have had issues causing the false alarms. I didn’t end up using that route because I figured out that the monitor was fine—it was my son’s skinny little foot that didn’t allow for the monitor to sit correctly while using the newborn sock.
- Follow up emails: This is a new product, really the first of its kind, so the Owlet founders are continually looking for feedback to improve the monitor. They truly want to know how your experience has been and what they could do to improve the device.
Easy to use app:
- This app doesn’t overwhelm you with options. The home screen shows a quick glance that your baby is okay, and you can swipe up to see his vitals. Then, if you’d like, you can enter their settings for more information and options.
- Owlet provides pictures, videos, and written instructions explaining how to put on the monitor sock.
- Only useful when your child is sleeping, since enough movement from your baby can cause the sensors to not read your baby’s vitals.
- If your Wi-Fi on your phone gets dropped for some reason, the base station will still alert you if there’s a problem.
- Have to connect the base station to a lesser network, the 2.4G network. I thought this meant my phone had to be set to that network as well, instead of our 5G faster network. But after emailing customer support, they responded within the hour saying once the base station is connected to the 2.4G network, I can then connect my phone to the 5G network.
- Tip: The green “everything’s okay” light that pulses in the night can be pretty bright. Owlet thought of that: you can dim this light significantly by pressing down on the top of the base station and holding until it dims.
What I didn’t like:
- With a squirming baby, it’s hard to get the sock on at first. But if you’re using it every night, it gets easier.
- I know Owlet can’t fit one sock to every single child, because we are all built differently. But the newborn sock didn’t fit my son right and was basically rendered useless.
- If the sock is too tight, the sensor can leave little, pitiful red marks on the baby’s foot.
- No tips or instructions on what to do if you get a red alert. It’d be cool if they’d include a little note of what to try in that moment you get a red alert and find your baby with a blue mouth because he’s not getting oxygen.
- Have to charge the monitor EVERY DAY. If you forget to plug it in, you won’t be able to use it the following night. I tried to still use it one time without charging it and halfway through the night I got a blue alert telling me the sock disconnected from the base station (because it had died).
Featured I wish it included:
- Suggestions of what to do to stimulate/help your baby in the moment you receive a red alert
- A general guideline of when babies tend to fit into each size of the Owlet sock. Maybe they could compare their socks to baby/toddler shoe sizes?
The best thing about this baby monitor is the peace of mind it offers to parents. You don’t have to stare at your child and lose sleep with worry because the Owlet will alert you if there’s a problem. While I wish there were a few changes, overall I really liked the product.
The Owlet retails for $250 but if you’re the type of parent who worries a lot (like me) or you have a child with special needs due to premature birth or some other circumstance, that price is well worth the money. As of right now, the sock only works with any device running iOS 8 or higher. This includes: iPod (5th gen and above), iPhone (4s and above), iPad/iPad mini (2 and above). However, the app will be available on Android starting June 6th 2016 and it will work with Owlets purchased today. It also comes with a 100-day worry free guarantee, so if you don’t like it for any reason, you can return it within those 100 days, no questions asked.
Thanks to Owlet for sending us a unit for review consideration. As always. all thoughts, opinions and statements are our own.