Introduction To Breathing Monitors

A baby breathing monitor is a device that allows you to track your baby’s sleeping habits. It alerts you if your little one hasn’t moved in his/her crib for over 20 seconds. More advanced units will monitor the actual breaks in your baby’s respiration and send you an alert if your little one’s breathing has slowed down or stopped. These types of monitors are sensitive enough to be able to determine the difference between the baby's breathing and other environmental movements. 

The purchase of a breathing monitor offers parents the peace of mind they need so that they can sleep sound at night, similar to purchasing different types of insurance (ie: homeowner insurance, car insurance, travel insurance, etc). 

The breathing monitor is placed near your baby and tracks their breathing while they are asleep. It alerts you if your little one’s breathing is irregular for any reason. This is usually an indication of sleep apnea. With so many things to agonize about, being a parent is stressful enough! A breathing monitor helps you have one thing less to worry about. 

With the onset of technology, the market for breathing monitors has so many different makes and models offering a slew of features. Different technologies are applied to track the baby’s breathing in a variety of ways. While many features may seem like “must-have” things, the breathing monitor has one single necessary function. The most important thing to look for are not all the fancy bells and whistles, rather making sure the monitor is medically certified and will be long-lasting.  

Types of monitors

There are many types of breathing monitors on the market. One of the main differences between them is how they function. Below are a few different variations:  

Under the mattress: This is a unit which you place under the mattress in your baby's crib. This monitor measures the gentle movement of your baby’s breath. Any unnatural pause in the movement will set off the alarm. These units are usually fairly sensitive, and therefore pretty accurate. They are designed to detect the slightest movements through the mattress and monitor for a certain number of movements or micro-movements within a certain time frame. These sensor pads need to be placed underneath the mattress. It usually requires the crib to have a firm foundation under the mattress and is not compatible with every type of bed. This type is usually more appropriate for use at your own home as opposed to the ones you can take with you when you travel. 

Wearable: This type of baby monitor is built into various articles of clothing. Depending on the company, you can find them sold in items such as socks, diapers, etc.  You dress your baby with it when they go to sleep. While there is definitely the advantage of it being an article of clothing you place directly on the skin, it might end up being uncomfortable for the baby at times. Another drawback of this type of monitor is that if the baby removes the sock intentionally or just kicks it off while rolling around, this will cause a false alarm to be set off. This is more likely with older babies (4 months and up) who can roll around. These monitors are usually very small and can easily fit in with the rest of the baby's clothing. The size combined with the fact that no special circumstances need to be met, make it ideal for travel. Some of the wearable monitors may only measure blood oxygen levels and/or heart rate. 

Camera: This model relies solely on visual input. You put the camera in a place where it focuses on the baby’s body. It monitors the gentle up and down movement of your little one’s chest. Any disruption to this rhythm will set it off. The appeal of these monitors is that it can be placed out of reach so there are no wires anywhere near the crib. The main disadvantage is that since they rely on actually seeing the baby, something as simple as rolling over or moving the blanket around can get in the way and end up triggering a false alarm. 

While there may be a large variety of breathing monitor designs, each using different technology to track breathing patterns and different form factors, there are also a number of features that apply to them all and should be considered and taken into account when making a decision. 

  • Hack free - Anything wireless is exposed to hacking, even if it isn’t connected to the internet due to the way technology works. Having your breathing monitor hacked can result in you getting false notifications, or even worse, having a real notification blocked. In order to minimize your exposure, there are various technologies that can reduce the risk of your monitor getting hacked. When shopping for a monitor look for a “Hack Free” or similar wording on the packaging to see that precautions have been taken to minimize the risk. 
  • Radiation-free - The younger the baby is, the more of a risk the radiation can pose to their health and development. Naturally, you would not want to place a high source of radiation so close to your little one’s crib. 
  • No maintenance - A breathing monitor is something that is always on. Similar to a smoke detector, it is something that you want to have on all the time, and not need to worry about maintaining it, more often than having to replace the battery every once in a while. A monitor which requires a lot of maintenance is more likely not to work when you need it most. 
  • Power cords - These are always a consideration with any baby accessories.  They pose multiple threats to a baby from being a strangulation risk to the risk of low-quality products which can pose a fire hazard. If the unit you are considering has a power cord, make sure it can be tucked away safely out of reach, and that it comes from a reputable brand and does not include cheap materials. 
  • Electromagnetic Fields - While there has been a lot of inconclusive research on the subject, it is always better to err on the side of caution. Like with radiation, babies are still developing and are more sensitive to EMF. You always want to make sure to reduce the amount they are exposed to, or even eliminate it altogether, if possible. 
  • Coverage - This is mainly applicable to the version that gets placed under the mattress. As your baby grows and starts moving around, you’ll likely need to get a second unit to cover the entire area of the mattress. Some units come with 2 pads in order to give you complete coverage. It's advisable to get a unit with both pads so you don't have to go out searching for one later on, hoping your brand still creates them. This isn’t applicable to wearables, because no matter where your baby rolls around, as long as they don’t remove it, the monitor will keep working. 
  • Interference - It’s important to see what built-in technology a monitor has for filtering out interference from other devices. Otherwise, you will end up responding to many false positives. 
  • Certifications - The average person isn’t a rocket scientist, and even if they are, they probably don't know all there is to know about baby monitors! Certifications and standards were put in place to ensure that anyone can rest assured that someone who IS an expert has reviewed this product, and gave it their seal of approval. 
  • Ease of use - The fewer steps it takes to set up your breathing monitor, the better. While you might get better coffee with a more complicated coffee machine, when it comes to setting up your little one’s monitor, you want to reduce the chances of you making a mistake with an extremely simple setup. 
  • Volume - It is imperative to make sure that the monitor is loud enough to hear from all the rooms in the house. Checking to make sure that you can adjust the volume and that it is loud enough is vital. 
  • Flexibility - We mentioned interference earlier, and it is relevant here too. It is important that the monitor you use can work well with other units such as a video and/or audio monitor, which you might want to run simultaneously. If they are all broadcasting on the same frequency, you will end up with a lot of static and false alarms. If your manufacturer makes all the various units, it might be a good idea to stay with the same brand in order to minimize the chances of interference. It would be best if you were able to purchase a bundle with all the devices.

 

Babysense Breathing Monitor

NANNY Baby Movement

Snuza Hero

Type of Sensor

Under the mattress pad

Under the mattress pad

Wearable

Number of Pads

2

1

N/A

Sensing Technology

Breathing

Movement

Movement

Medically Certified

Clinically Proven

Hack Proof

Battery Life

6 months

Rechargeable

6 months