Should I Buy a SIDS Alarm? A Look at the Options


As a new parent I found myself frequently going to check on my newborns – i’d stare at them until I saw their chest rise and fall as they took each breath. If they slept longer than I was expecting i’d check on them more frequently. It became a source of constant anxiety for me, and prevented me not only from getting the other things done in my life, but also from resting and taking care of myself while I had the chance.

There are many new baby monitors and alarm systems that help protect your child from SIDS. (they’re often referred to as vitals monitors) This alarm is designed to monitor babies and detect Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) as well as other potential dangers, like suffocation, choking or even breathing problems. The alarm can also be programmed to give off an audible warning if it senses one of these conditions- so it’s easy to know when something isn’t right! Every parent worries about the safety of their children, but these devices can ease those fears by giving you peace of mind!

A SIDS alarm may give you peace of mind, but it will not protect your baby from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). If your baby has a condition that makes him or her particularly vulnerable to SIDS (for example, breathing problems) then a monitor could help your doctor assess this.

When you’re preparing everything for a new family member, it’s easy to get ready for the common and positive things. Buying diaper supplies, clothes, getting the nursery ready, picking out toys. It’s easy to get carried away with all that sugar, spice, and everything nice. But, should you get a SIDS alarm? Here’s how we see it.

Is a SIDS monitor necessary?

You can absolutely raise a healthy and happy child without a SIDS monitor- families have been doing it for years and will continue to do so. However, if a monitor is within your budget and you would feel safer with this type of product, then it could be well worth the expense!

SIDS alarms are not medical grade monitors, or a substitute for medical care. They can however help present a more whole picture of baby’s health for your child’s pediatrician, and help your family as a whole rest more easily – particularly in the early months.

What is a SIDS monitor?

A SIDS monitor is a product designed to monitor the vital signs of sleeping infants. They track baby’s breathing, heart rate and blood oxygen levels, and will sound an alarm if these vitals go outside of the expected range.

There are many different types of monitors, some requiring a pad that fits under the cot mattress, and others with sensors attached to the body such as on the waist or foot.

Newborns breathe at an inconstant pace – sometimes faster, other times slower, and sometimes, they even stop breathing completely for a few seconds. These patterns are odd and bring a lot of stress, and that’s where a SIDS alarm steps in. These breathing monitors will observe your little one’s breathing patterns, and alarm you if there are any deviations. For instance, if your baby isn’t breathing for 10 seconds, it can sound an alarm.

Are SIDS monitors worth it?

Many new parents will pick up baby monitors when their little one is born – an audio one so they can hear baby’s cries when they wake, or a video one which can help alleviate parent anxiety as their little one is sleeping. Some homes have multiple monitors to be able to see multiple children at once. A SIDS monitor is an additional purchase (Though Owlet sell a smart sock and camera combo)

You will need to weigh the cost of the monitor against your expectations and needs. A few things to consider are:

  • SIDS monitors do not prevent SIDS. The device is intended to alert you to changes in baby’s readings for oxygen levels, breathing, and heart rate, but simply monitoring these vital signs will not prevent SIDS itself. Using a monitor does not reduce the risk of SIDS – rather it reports
  • Monitoring can help alleviate parental anxiety. I am absolutely a data person, and I tracked my children’s development (growth, sleeping, eating etc) over and above what I really needed to do. I found it helped me feel more calm and confident about my new family, and I was able to more accurately answer questions of my children’s pediatrician. A SIDS monitor would have automated a significant part of this process for me, and enabled me to get on with other parts of life.
  • SIDS monitors do have false alarms. Some parents have reported times when their baby’s sock has slipped off or when low battery has impacted monitoring. Think about whether false alarms would cause you more stress than is healthy for you and your family.
  • There is no substitute for safe sleep environments. Accidental suffocation is often reported closely alongside SIDS statistics. Ensure the crib mattress is fitted correctly, that baby does not use unsuitable bedding, that no toys are kept inside the cot while baby is sleeping, and that your child is laid on their back to sleep.
  • These are not medical grade monitors. You will need to take your child to the pediatrician if you feel something is wrong. A SIDS monitor is not a substitute for frequent health checks with your child’s pediatrician.

What are the most popular SIDS monitors?

There are lots of brands out there, but the standouts are made by Owlet and Snuza.

The Owlet Smart Sock

The Owlet Smart Sock system monitors the most important indicators of your baby’s health. It alerts you when your baby needs your attention and helps you know when they are safe. Owlet is durable, secure, and can be used with any type of bedding thanks to its adjustable elastic band. The app also has sleep tracking features so you can monitor trends in how often your little one wakes up or their quality of sleep.

The Smart Sock is compatible with any sleep environment and can be used with babies from 0-18 months. The sock does not interfere with the normal growth of your child’s foot so you don’t have to worry about what happens once they no longer need the monitor.

Snuza Pico Movement Monitor

The Snuza Pico 2 Smart Baby Movement Monitor monitors their breathing motion, body position and skin temperature using the app when paired with your smartphone or tablet. You can also adjust settings through the app like how long it takes to alarm after no breathing motion is detected and how long the vibration lasts.

The Snuza Pico can be used with or without your phone, which is great if you need to be on the go and still want to know about any issues that may arise while your little one sleeps. It is easy to set up using the app – simply clip it onto your baby’s diaper or pajama pants, switch it on and adjust your settings through the app!

In conclusion – SIDS monitors have a place, but make sure that they’re right for your family

A SIDS alarm can be a worthy investment. There are many different options available, and it’s important to do your research in order to find the best one that fits with your needs and budget. Technology can unfortunately offer a false sense of security sometimes, so it is important to remember that a SIDS monitor is not a substitute for safe sleep environments, regular parental monitoring, and appropriate health care.

A SIDS monitor can help bring you peace of mind. It is important to remember that it is not 100% fool-proof. Considering reports of false alarms, you’ll need to be aware that they do exist and may impact your life depending on the situation.

If you are at all concerned about your child’s health or safety, do not hesitate to take them to see a licensed medical professional.

Carly Wight

Mother of two young boys (6 and 3!) and an avid "Googler", Carly is the kind to research something to the nth degree. Be it about products, hacks, or techniques, she shares what she finds out at her website - Fairy Good Mommy.

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