What is Up With Infant Wearable Monitors – EP 17

February 16, 2017 |  by  |  guest author, Podcast, SIDS
infant wearable monitors

Increasingly parents are using infant wearable monitors. These wearable devices are worn as a leg band, sock, or pinned onto the diaper, and claim to monitor your child’s wellbeing by tracking their breathing, pulse rate, blood oxygen levels, etc. Although they can’t outright claim to prevent SIDS, the marketing material strongly hints at, “Buy this and we’ll let you know if your child stops breathing during the night.”

And that my friends, is marketing gold. Because there is nothing more terrifying to parents than SIDS and most people would gladly donate a kidney in exchange for a gadget claiming to protect against it. Two kidneys even.

So while the category of wearable monitors is relatively new, there are many companies selling them (Owlet, Mimo, Snuza, Sproutling, etc.), and anecdotally, many parents seem to be buying them (despite the $$$ price-tag).

But should they? Are they safe to put on your child? Do they work? And if it does go off in the middle of the night, what should you do? How will you know if it’s a technical glitch or a child in crisis?

Recently, Dr. Bonafide of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia published an article in JAMA looking at infant wearable monitors. Dr. Bonafide was also gracious enough to join us for the latest podcast to help expand our understanding on these devices.

Topics Covered in This Episode

  • What sparked Dr. Bonafide’s interest in wearable monitors?
  • What do we currently know about these devices?
  • What happens when the monitor goes off?
  • What is the AAP stance on infant monitors
  • What is SIDS vs. SUIDS? And what can parents do to reduce their risks?
  • What do parents who are using these have to say about them?
  • What are the potential risks associated with the use of wearable infant monitors?
  • How might these help infants who need medical home monitoring in the future?

Further Reading

The Emerging Market of Smartphone-Integrated Infant Physiologic Monitors
Don’t Use Baby Monitors to Prevent SIDS
Marketing wearable home baby monitors: real peace of mind?

Check it out! If you’ve got any thoughts, as always, shoot us a comment below or email us at!

Dr. Bonafide is a pediatrician in the Division of General Pediatrics at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He is also a core faculty member of the Center for Pediatric Clinical Effectiveness and an assistant professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania. His research focus has been on “alarm fatigue” – which is basically when monitors “cry wolf,” and practitioners in the hospital become overwhelmed with false alarms, and subsequently potentially miss those alarms that are more critical.


  1. Great podcast! I have wondered a lot about these devices. Thanks a lot for answering a lot of questions/concerns.

  2. I think it’s a total scam. Creating then profiting off parents worst fears. If you are following safe sleep practices you are doing the best for your baby. These monitors are not needed. And a huge expense for an already expensive life event. Either they aren’t staying on babies feet (owlette) or you’re so stressed every time it buzzes until, as mentioned in one article, you get accustomed to false alarms and therefor are no longer concerned by it anyways.

    • I agree and – full disclosure – I bought the older version of this (non-wearable) that was available when my little dude was born. Basically I would have paid anything that said “Saves lives” on the box which makes new and soon-to-be parents vulnerable to really ANY marketing related to SIDS.

  3. You are right about parents using these devices to justify unsafe sleeping. I literally just read a comment from someone saying they feel safe cosleeping because they use the owlet.

    • Oh I know, I see it all the time. Truthfully that’s my biggest fear, that people will feel empowered to make bad choices because they feel protected 🙁

  4. I heard a mention of the Dock-A-Tot. I’ve only heard good things about it but it sounded like perhaps it’s not a sleep aide you recommend?

  5. After losing my Nephew to SIDS at 5 months old (he was a twin and they were premies) we bought my brother and sister in law the angel care monitor that goes under the mattress for our other nephew. They had quite a few unnecessary scares as the baby rolled off the sensor however one time when the baby had a cold the sensor went off and he was really having trouble breathing. The hospital sent then home with the baby on a nebulizer. It was scary, but I can’t imagine what may have happened without the Angel Care.
    I have used the angel care with both my son’s but I’m still weary of the wearable monitors. I just see so much more room for unnecessary heartache if the footie slips off (which I’m sure happens a lot as they get older).
    The few times my boys rolled off the Angel Care sensor and hearing that alarm go off was scary as hell. But overall it helped me sleep better at night and gave me piece of mind they were still breathing and safe in their cribs.

  6. I have nothing but contempt for these companies who create “smart” nursery products and use the fear of death to market them. $300 baby scales, pulse oximeters, heart rate monitors, and temperature probes. I’m sorry, are you running your own makeshift Neonatal ICU in your home?? I am a pediatric ICU nurse, trained to analyze this kind of data. I shudder to think about the parents who think their child is having an arrhythmia in the middle of the night when they are just kicking their oximeter.

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