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As a way of keeping tabs on your baby, you've probably looked into and perhaps purchased a video or audio baby monitor. While invaluable, these devices don't give you the full picture. If you feel the need to know your baby's breathing patterns at all times, only a movement monitor can offer that reassurance.
In this post, you'll learn how these movement monitors work, how to go about choosing a device, and wrap-up the discussion with reviews of the best baby movement monitors selling today.
Angelcare AC701 Touchscreen Movement and Sound Monitor
MonBaby Smart Button
NANNY Baby Movement European Monitor
Owlet Smart Sock 2 Baby Monitor
Sense-U Breathing & Rollover Baby Movement Monitor
Baby movement monitors have hit the market relatively recently. While a traditional baby monitor conveys sound and sometimes video of your baby, a movement monitor offers even more peace of mind.
Parents primarily use movement monitors to make sure their baby continues to breathe through the night (source). These devices are meant to track a baby's breathing by detecting the tiniest of movements.
Some of these devices can also serve as sound monitors or pull double duty and track other vitals like your baby's heart rate, oxygen levels, sleeping position, and temperature.
Do you ever worry whether your baby is still breathing? Do you get up in the middle of the night to check on your infant or lay awake at night feeling anxious if your baby gets quiet? Does your baby suffer from respiratory issues? Is he/she a preemie? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may benefit from using a baby movement monitor.
While these devices can ease concerns for most people, movement monitors are especially helpful if your baby is born early or seems to suffer from breathing issues. In fact, customers from around the world have noted how these devices have saved babies who stopped breathing in the middle of the night (source). Thus, it comes as no surprise to learn that parents who use movement monitors for their babies report increased peace of mind and better sleep.
The biggest benefit of a high-quality baby movement monitor is the reassurance it provides. You don't have to run into your baby's room to see if she's breathing or panic after waking up to realize he's been quiet much longer than usual. In moments like these, a quick check of the app or glance at the parent unit relieves you to know your baby is safe. This is especially reassuring for preemie babies or younger infants still at risk for SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
A major drawback to using a baby movement monitor is the threat of false alarms. There's nothing scarier than waking up to an alarm alerting you that your baby's stopped breathing. You panic and rush into the nursery only to find that she's completely fine. She merely scooted off the pad or the button monitor slipped off.
Another disadvantage doctors and researchers warn about is the potential for parents to use unsafe sleep practices because they feel the monitors will protect their babies. While these monitors are informative and offer peace of mind, it's important to note that they haven't been shown to prevent SIDS (source).
There are essentially two types of movement monitors. The first type are monitors that track your baby's breathing through a pad that fits under the crib sheet or mattress. These pads can monitor the smallest movement to let you know that your baby is still breathing normally.
The second type of monitor is a small button or piece of clothing that attaches to your baby and sends the information it tracks to your smartphone. Besides breathing, many of these movement monitors also allow you to check other important information like tracking your baby's sleeping position or mobility. Others can also send an alarm if your baby gets too hot or the temperature drops.
In order to select a baby movement monitor right for you, note your biggest concerns as well as the additional devices you plan to use ahead of time. After giving some thought to your budget and how much you're willing to spend, you may find yourself limited to only a couple of options on the market.
Keep in mind, there are some fairly low-tech baby movement monitors that may fit your needs, which offer quality tracking. On the other hand, you may appreciate a device that provides more than the basics if you're tech-savvy or need more in-depth tracking.
For example, if you already have a video and sound monitor, you may want to focus on devices that mainly monitor a baby's breathing and vitals. But if you think you'd feel more secure having all the information at your fingertips, you may want to consider units that connect via Bluetooth or WiFi to send data to your smartphone in real time.
Another thing to take note of is power options. Some monitors, like the Angelcare AC701 reviewed below, run on AC power but use batteries as backups or for mobile use. Many users appreciate this, but others prefer devices that run on batteries-only as it reduces cord clutter and safety concerns. Personally, I'm not the type of parent who's good at remembering to recharge or replace my batteries at home, so I prefer a monitor that runs on both.
If you're looking for the best baby movement monitor on the market, check out our reviews below...
The Angelcare AC701 includes state of the art technology that sets it apart in many ways from other movement monitors on the market. It performs double duty by tracking your baby's breathing and movements while also serving as a sound monitor.
The unit can serve as a two-way walkie-talkie, which is our favorite feature. This really comes in handy for those middle-of-the-night wakings, allowing you to coo and sing to your little one from a separate room.
The Angelcare features a touchscreen and three components: the parent monitor that works as a walkie-talkie, the nursery unit that talks to the sensor pad and communicates with the parent unit, and the sensor pad.
Unlike some other monitors on this list, this model isn't worn; instead, the sensor pad fits under the mattress. Parents can adjust the sensitivity level to help avoid false alarms. What's more, you set the unit to make a ticking noise while your baby sleeps so you know the monitor is working.
Another feature that sets this monitor apart is the adjustable night light. Parents can adjust the light level on the parent unit while the nursery unit provides a nice little glow as you walk into the room. The parent unit is mobile, which is great since you can carry it as you move from the kitchen to the family room.
The unit is fueled by batteries, which have been known to go bad for some people and not hold a charge after a while. There are also specific guidelines to set up the units and cords, possibly requiring some users to rearrange their nursery furniture.
The MonBaby Smart Button is simple and easy to use. It works by attaching a smart button to your baby's clothing, which monitors breathing and movement like other movement monitors. But this unit is unique in that it can also monitor falls or proximity as babies grow and begin to move around.
As your needs change, you can switch off and on certain settings to prevent false alarms. For example, when your baby moves out of the scary SIDS window, you can turn off the setting that alerts you to stomach sleeping.
The MonBaby is Bluetooth-enabled and the manufacturers claim it emits over 1000 times less radio frequency than your cell phone. Thus, its low emission can allay your fears if you're concerned about your baby sleeping with technology.
This monitor connects to an app on your smartphone. You can use the app to see your baby's breathing and movement activity and the smart button will send an alert to your smartphone if it detects something that needs your attention.
While customers love the MonBaby, they complain about the small connectivity range. To address this issue, MonBaby has put out an app called MonBridge to allow the button to run on WiFi and connect to your smartphone that way.
The MonBaby runs on batteries only and doesn't connect to power outlets. Although this can help reduce cord clutter, the batteries drain power fast and need to be replaced quickly. Fortunately, customer service seems easy to work with, which is a definite plus if the monitor ever needs fixing or replacing.
The NANNY monitor works a little differently than the other movement monitors on this list. First, it neither has a touch screen nor a connection to a smartphone app, thus significantly reducing your baby's exposure to radiation. Second, it keeps things simple by monitoring your baby's breathing well but not much else in terms of features.
In contrast to some of the other monitors reviewed, the NANNY has very few false alarms because the monitor's under-bedding pad is quite large by comparison. This translates into fewer unnecessary wakings of you and your baby, which is a definite plus.
The NANNY's tracking unit stays in the room with your baby and the instructions show you how to attach it to your baby's crib in a safe way. When it senses your baby hasn't breathed for 20 seconds, it emits a semi-quiet alarm and if he/she doesn't begin to breathe soon thereafter, the alarm becomes quite loud and insistent. This dual alarm can help warn you to run to your baby to help regulate his/her breathing.
Another selling point of the NANNY is that it's the only device on this list that's been medically certified as a protective device for babies. The manufacturer also claims that it's especially beneficial to babies born prematurely or those who suffer from sleep apnea.
Like the MonBaby Smart button, the Owlet Smart Sock 2 Baby Monitor is a wearable monitoring system that connects very easily to your cell phone app.
It works by tracking your baby's oxygen levels and heart rate, which sends the information to a parent sensor that glows green when everything is safe with your baby. At the same time, the information is also sent to an app on your smartphone, allowing you to check your baby's vitals.
This green glow feature is particularly helpful to parents at night as you can immediately see that your baby is safe without having to wake up completely to check your smartphone. However, if your baby's heart rate or oxygen levels get low, the device will use sound, light, and app signals to attract your attention and wake you up if needed.
The Owlet attaches to your baby's foot through a wrap-on sock and comes with three socks that you can wash as needed. The extra sock may come in handy too in case you misplace one. The manufacturers claim the Smart Sock will fit most babies up to about 18 months.
The unit is powered by batteries with an 18-hour life but you're instructed to charge them daily or whenever the unit isn't in use.
The device comes with a free Owlet app to monitor your baby and also a subscription-based app that allows you to get more in-depth information like vitals and sleep history. While this may be especially helpful if you need to track your baby's health more thoroughly, we find that the subscription app doesn't highlight that much extra information and should instead be included in the original price tag.
The Sense-U Breathing and Rollover Baby Movement Monitor uses Bluetooth technology to monitor your baby and send alerts to your smartphone. Unlike some of the other products reviewed, this device has plenty of features, allowing you to track your baby's breathing, sleep position, and temperature.
The temperature tracking is a helpful vital as it can alert you to differences in air temperature from your room to your baby's room. It will also tell you whether your baby has moved from back to tummy with the option to set an alert to go off after 15 seconds of stomach sleeping.
The device itself is a small button that attaches to your baby's waistband or clipped to a diaper, sleep sack, or over pajamas. We've found that the Sense-U works best when positioned near the baby's belly button where parents sometimes have to be creative attaching it to clothing. This is because attaching the Sense-U to looser clothing can prompt false alarms as the device is unable to detect breathing movement if it isn't located close to the baby's body.
The Sense-U is fueled by lithium batteries and the manufacturer claims the battery should last for a couple of months if you use it 8-12 hours a day. While some users report a faster battery drain, the battery is easy to replace since it's a coin battery CR2032, which is widely available.
Among the baby movement monitors reviewed in this list, the clear winner is the Angelcare AC701 Touchscreen Movement and Sound Monitor.
First, the Angelcare can offer you peace of mind knowing your baby's breathing is reliably monitored. Second, it includes other features you may find helpful, including a dimming night light, sound monitoring, and the ability to talk to your baby through the parent unit. Third, the relatively inexpensive price tag makes this device particularly attractive given its high-quality and useful features.
What are your thoughts about our choices for the best baby movement monitors? Do you have any questions that we haven't addressed? Leave your comments below!
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