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Baby Movement Monitor Review: Should You Use One?

Mom of two little ones. Always in search of creative, safe, and enjoyable tools to care for my babies.

Baby Movement Monitor Review: Should You Use One?

Baby Movement Monitor Review: Should You Use One?

A Monitor to Track Your Baby's Movement and Breathing From Afar

When I was pregnant with my first child and started looking for baby monitors, I learned that they're also called "baby movement monitors," "sensor monitors," and "breathing monitors." All of these monitors do the same thing: They use movement sensors, a microphone, and possibly video to help you keep tabs on your little one's movements and know when they're asleep or alert when you're not in the same room.

Choosing a Baby Monitor

I spent my entire second trimester researching which one to get and, by the time I entered the third trimester, I'd finally decided which one was the best monitor for me. I added it to my baby wish list and I think it was the best purchase, to this day. I used it for both of my babies and I slept better because of it.

On the other hand, if I had to buy another one, I'd definitely get something different. Below, I'll tell you which one I used, why, the pros and cons, and if I had to buy again which one I'd buy.

I Bought an AngelCare Baby Monitor With Sound

I went with the AngelCare Baby Monitor with sound (no video). After extensive web research, it seemed that AngelCare was a reliable brand. I planned to have my baby sleeping in a cot in the same room as me, and I was living in a small apartment. For that reason, I didn't feel the need to buy a video baby monitor. In retrospect, I think a baby monitor with video is much more practical than a sound-only one, even with the movement sensor.

Should You Choose a Baby Monitor With Video or Without?

If I were to buy again, I would choose a monitor with video over sound-only. Even in a small apartment, I often found myself wanting to see what was happening in the crib. It would have cost more than twice as much, but it would have been worth it. With my second child, I had to find a video solution anyway. My recommendation: always buy a video monitor, even if you live in a small place like I did. There will be a time you'll need it.

The Pros and Cons of a Baby Movement Monitor

Pros: Many models, like mine, have movement sensors instead of video. The pros of this type will depend on which product you choose. Mine was quite basic, and today I'd choose a much better one even though it's 4x price. However, even with my basic AngelCare Baby Movement Monitor with Sound Only— the one that had cables (the newest versions are cordless)—I got so many benefits that I'd still buy a replacement if this broke.

Cons: There are cons. I remember reading about these cons when I was doing my research. A lot of people report that their baby movement monitors go off unnecessarily even when the baby is sleeping fine. And, since it elicits an alarm, it usually wakes up both baby and parents.

What about false alarms?

My experience has been that there's usually a reason for the alarm going off, and typically it's the location of the sensor pad. If the sensor pad isn't in the middle of the crib, or if baby rolls off the sensor, then it will go off, even though the baby is breathing fine, just because the sensor can't find baby's movement (heartbeat). Once we figured that out, we just made sure the sensor pad was always under the baby, and the monitor rarely went off again.

What if you forget to turn the monitor off?

For me, the most inconvenient part is when I pick baby up to feed and forget to turn the monitor off. That's when it goes off and wakes everyone up. By the time I had my second baby, I'd learned to first turn off the monitor before picking baby up, but sometimes I'd forget.

Can you put a monitor in a Moses basket, bassinet, or cot?

Another con is that a monitor doesn't pair easily with Moses baskets, bassinets, or bedside cots.

Pros and Cons of Baby Movement Monitors, in My Experience

ProsCons

Safety: If I'm asleep and baby for some reason can't breathe or their heart stops, the alarm will go off and wake me up.

False Alarms: It can go off and wake everyone—if I pick up baby without turning off the alarm, if baby moves off of the sensor pad, or if the unit malfunctions. (This is usually not such a problem if you use a sock monitor like Owlet.)

Reassurance: We've never had a real emergency, but the reassurance of having a monitor was worth the cost and fuss a million times.

Stress: False alarms are very stressful. As much as it provides reassurance and safety, a monitor can also cause anxiety and stress, especially if it goes off a lot. For my family, we felt the pros outweighed this con, but I always admit it to everyone I talk to that it certainly does cause a bit of anxiety.

Better Sleep for Parents: For all the reasons above, especially as a first-time mom, it was so good to have this extra tool to help me keep baby safe.

It Doesn't Work Everywhere: Depending on what monitor you have, it can be difficult to set one up in Moses baskets, bassinets, and bedside cots. (If you can, go for wireless or one that monitors via a sock on the baby's foot—these will be much easier to use.)

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How Do Baby Movement Monitors Work

Every model can be a bit different but typically, the baby movement monitor uses a sensor to detect the baby's heartbeat and breathing. If baby stops breathing for more than 20 seconds or if the heart rate goes below a certain threshold, it will sound the alarm.

If your monitor employs a sensor pad, baby needs to be on the pad for it to work. Typically that means putting the pad in the middle of the cot, under the mattress.

The Owlet Sock Monitor

If you have the sock baby movement monitor, like the Owlet one, it will be in contact with baby's skin so you don't have to worry much about losing contact. But the Owlet is not fault-proof either. It can fall off baby's foot or just randomly go off by itself (based on reviews I've read), so you do run the risk of random alarms with this type of baby movement monitor.

How a Baby Movement Monitor Helped Me Sleep Better

Having the baby movement monitor gave me peace of mind at night. I slept better knowing that if anything happened whilst I was asleep, I'd be warned.

Of course, I took other safety measures, too. I always put baby to sleep in a bassinet or cot next to my bed, without any loose bedding or pillows or toys (a cot, a mattress, and fitted sheet—that's it), in a cool environment (approximately 20 degrees Celsius). I carefully chose the cot to make sure it was breathable, safe, didn't have areas where baby could get stuck. I also dressed my baby lightly to prevent overheating.

We got all these tips from the hospital, so it helped to know we are following the recommended safety advice.

But for us, the baby movement monitor was that extra reassurance and it never gave us anxiety but the opposite, we felt it was just a tool for extra safety.

If I Had to Buy Again, I'd Buy Owlet

The Owlet sock monitor comes with a higher price tag, but if I had to buy again, I'd get this one. It solves all the issues I had with my Angelcare monitor, but still offers reassurance with some enhanced features.

How to Decide If a Baby Movement Monitor Is Right for You

If you're undecided if you want a baby movement monitor, ask yourself. . .

  • Do you think it's going to give you peace of mind? (If the answer is yes, this is a good reason to get it. If you're not sure, it's probably not.)
  • What type of cot or crib is baby going to sleep in? (As stated, it doesn't work for all types, and if you're planning to co-sleep, it won't work.
  • What features do you want in a baby monitor? (It's important to decide if you want video, soundly only, portable Owlet, etc.)
  • How much are you willing to pay? The range is wide, so consider carefully what you really need.

I hope this helps you make an informed decision. Thank you for reading.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2022 Georgiana

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