This small, simple device might be a game-changing addition to the lineup of baby monitors that are on the market now, but for $250, is it worth it?
The early years of parenting often involve a lot of sleepless nights—and not just because of your baby's regular cries or hunger pangs. There's also a sense of fear that sets in for new parents; after all, we've all heard about the terrible things that can happen to children in the middle of the night.
But there's a new monitor on the market promising to provide peace of mind for parents and increased safety for infants. The device watches over your infant's oxygen levels while you sleep, alerting you to problems that may arise in a way that a baby can't. It's called Owlet and it fits on your baby's foot as a sock, which works in conjunction with a base station and a smartphone app—the tech company even asks the question: "Why do you get an alert when someone 'likes' your status but not when your baby stops breathing?"
Tech to the rescue
Owlet, which was funded in part by Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS Shoes, works to alert parents to the first signs of distress their babies exhibit by picking up on biological readings. "Owlet has miniaturized the hospital technology of pulse oximetry—the red light they clip on your finger to measure heart rate and oxygen saturation—into a baby booty that your baby wears to bed at night. The sock connects with the base station to alert you if the levels are outside of normal range. The base station can also send alerts to parents' smartphones and in that dashboard on the app parents can also see the heart rate and oxygen saturation levels," Milena Adamian, M.D., an investor in Owlet and member of the American College of Cardiology, says. "When the alarm goes off, parents are able to intervene and take action if necessary."
Why it matters
The statistics associated with infants dying in their sleep are staggering. "The occurrences of healthy infants passing away at home in the crib due to breathing issues is far too high, and many of these deaths are preventable," Dr. Adamian says. But she's optimistic that Owlet is the device we need in order to move these statistics in the right direction. "According to the CDC, in 2013 there were 3,500 cases of sudden unexpected infant deaths, of which 45 percent were due to unexplained sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and the other 55 percent were attributed to suffocation and unexplained causes. The ability to integrate medical technology in a baby sock is going to change that. In the future, infant health monitoring will become standard, and Owlet will be a leader in that. Owlet can provide a platform that gathers and collects data of health in the home," she said.
The hospital-level quality of the device and its small, discreet packaging make it practical for new parents—but there's one other element to consider when you think about how it can benefit them. "There's sleep, and then there is quality sleep. We all know that feeling of waking up in the morning where it feels like we didn't sleep at all or the sleep we did get was less than restful. We hope Owlet can help parents get quality sleep so they wake up refreshed and can be energized the following day to be engaged with their baby and accomplish their daily to-dos," Dr. Adamian says.
The device will set you back $250, so it's not the cheapest monitor on the market, plus it requires your baby to sleep with the little booty on one foot, but is it worth it? More and more parents, like the ones in this video, say yes.