My amazing husband bought the Owlet Baby Care Monitor for me for Christmas. He knows how often I wake up in the middle of the nights to check that Linden is still breathing. Everyone in the hospitals and medical professionals have freaked me out so badly about SIDS that I can’t sleep as I’m constantly checking on our son.
So, for Christmas he splurged and bought me the Owlet. So, here’s my review on it.
Let me start off by explaining what it is. The Owlet is a baby care monitor that tracks your baby’s vitals, such as their breathing and their oxygen levels, similar to when they’re newborn, and hooked up to that sock thingie in the hospital for his/her first 24-36 hours of life. The Owlet uses hospital technology called Pulse Oximetry, which is the clip that they put on your finger in the hospital. What it does, is it transmits a red light through your skin, and the amount of blood flow and oxygen levels are estimated based on how much light is transmitted through the sensor. In other words, it measures (to a hospital grade), your baby’s heart beat/heart rate and their oxygen levels.
The main selling feature for me with the Owlet Care Monitor, is that it sends notifications to the base (and also to the app and/or your phone), if/when your baby’s vitals are not normal, or if they go beyond the preset zones, or the range of what is “normal”. So, for me, what this means is that the monitor will notify you before there is a major problem with your baby. For example, if their oxygen levels are low, it notifies you immediately, rather than waiting until there’s no heart beat or no oxygen flow (which at that point would be pointless to have an alert). I wanted something that would alert me before tragedy happened, so we would at least have the opportunity to save our child if we ever needed to. The Owlet addresses this – which is what makes it so trustworthy.
How it works on your child
The Owlet is a sensor that is designed in a sock that is placed on your baby’s foot. It has a strap that goes around the top of your baby’s foot, as well as their ankle to provide the best fit in order to have the most accurate readings, as well as to eliminate false alarms, such as having it move or fall off.
The kit comes complete with the base station, and 3 (yes, 3) different size socks, which provides accurate readings from the day your bring your baby home from the hospital, to when they are 1 year to 18 months (depending on the size of your baby and whether the sock can fit your infant properly). In addition to the 3 socks, if you require a larger size or a replacement sock, or just want extras, you can purchase them from their website starting at USD$8.
My Experience with it
The first thought that comes to mind, is it truly is an amazing device. It is ridiculously simple to use – you plug in the base, charge the sock, and install the app. Then you place the sock on your baby’s foot, open the app and click a button and voila, your baby’s vitals are being monitored. Doesn’t get much easier than that. It works amazing. It will alert you if the sock falls off, or if your baby is moving too much and it can no longer receive an accurate reading. It will obviously alert you if their vitals are not within what is considered the “normal” range. It has a high and low range for their heart beat and their oxygen levels, and will alert you if your baby’s vitals are off the charts.
Through the app, you can adjust the alerts/notifications. For example, the first night, our son was moving and kicked off the sock (no idea how he does this, but he does this all the time with his regular socks and shoes too). The base station alerted us, but not with a loud annoying BEEEEEEEEP or anything like that, rather a soft lullaby of twinkle twinkle little star, which was nice because our son still sleeps in our room in a bassinet, so the alert/alarm didn’t wake him up. And it wasn’t a rude awakening for us either, but it did wake us up. You can however, turn the sound off, and just have it send a notification to your cell phone, and it also lights up, so if you’re a light sleeper that may wake you up, without having to have the sound on. The lights around the base station can also be dimmed, if you’re worried about the light being too bright. The last thing I would like to mention, is that you’re actually able to turn the sound off immediately by pressing on the base station – this turns the monitor off, but pressing it a second time will turn it back on, and you can re-establish the connection at this point. This prevents you from having to unlock your phone, open the app, and turn off the sound through the app.
We have only had one experience where our son’s oxygen level fell below 80 (which is the preset "normal" range – between 80-100%), and the alarm goes off on the base like an actual alarm. It’ll scare you even if you’re not asleep! (Which is good, because its not something you want to take lightly). In addition to that, the base lights up and flashes red. Thankfully our son was ok, I’m not really sure what had happened, but it fell below the level, and when we attended to him, he was back to within range. The fact that the monitor alerts you before something serious actually happens so you have time to react is amazing, and was the main selling feature for us.
(For those wondering about charging the sock, just to give you an idea, a charge is actually really quick – much faster than charging a cell phone – and 7hours of baby sleep monitoring uses about 30% of the battery). You are also able to turn the sock off, when its not in use. Placing the sock on the base station will shut down the sock, so it doesn’t drain the battery.
Lastly, they have a 100 day satisfaction guarantee, and I think that is more than generous for companies these days. What that tells me is that they stand behind their product if they’re willing to offer such a generous guarantee.
Challenges with the product
I wish it was compatible with the Apple Watch as it would be easy to sleep with your watch on, and if something were to happen, it could buzz the watch. Personally I would like a sensory alert option (like the vibration on a watch) rather than an audio alert. The other thing is that the Owlet is currently exclusive to Apple devices (iPhone or iPad) – the Android version will not be available until June 6, 2016. (But for me, being an Apple/iPhone user, this isn’t a problem). I just wanted to let people know in this review in case you’re using a device other than an iPhone. So if you’re expecting, and your baby is due after June, any Owlet monitor that you purchase now will be compatible with the Android app (which is set to be released in June 2016).
The other thing that I would like to see is the ability to record history – it would be nice to analyze daily recordings of your baby’s vitals. It’s not a huge deal, but it would be a nice add on to the App.
And that’s about it for the review. I’ve really only had it for a week now, but overall, I love it! It is a huge peace of mind for me, the paranoid mom I am. I wish we had this when our son was a newborn, as I literally used to set an alarm and wake up every 30 minutes to check on him (call me crazy, but that is actually what I did). And I’m sure if you’re reading this, you’ve probably done it (or still are doing it) too! If that’s the case, and you can afford the USD$249, don’t even think twice about it. This is definitely on my list of baby gear must-haves. A huge Thank You to my wonderful husband for purchasing this for me/us, and also to the people at Owlet who came up with the product. This is an item we ended up purchasing when our son was already 3 months old, and in hindsight, we should have just bought it from the beginning. I still remember how scary and new it was to bring our baby home from the hospital, and although the Owlet doesn’t claim to prevent SIDS or death, it does alert you if there’s a potential problem with their heart rate and/or oxygen levels, and it is a huge peace of mind. Well worth the $250, in my honest opinion.
If you’re interested in purchasing an Owlet baby care monitor, click here to be redirected to their site!