Of all baby monitors we’ve reviewed here at 10BabyGear, breathing monitors are the most essential and perhaps a ‘must-have‘ baby gear every parent should consider. In my research, I came across a wide range of technologies ranging from wearable monitors to high-tech contact-free breathing monitors. My pick for the overall best breathing monitors in 2021 is the Owlet Smart Sock 3 for its accuracy and reliability. As a parent, a newborn can get you tiptoeing into your baby’s nursery just so you can get some ease of mind that your little one is Okay.
Why are they important and what do breathing monitors do?
Breathing monitors can give you back your sleep as you will be able to comfortably monitor your infant’s vital organs such as heart rate, oxygen concentration level, among other vitals.
Unlike adults, babies do not breath at a steady rate and this can worry a lot of parents. Infants have a ‘periodic breathing’ which is breathing with some pausing breathing patterns. This is common for most infants, especially preemies but most parents get distressed by this. You can read more about periodic breathing of newborns here and I am highlighting this to let you know that breaths followed by pauses are normal. Breathing baby monitors are there to enable you to differentiate between normal sleep and breathing patterns and those that may be dangerous for your infant.
SIDs is every parent’s nightmare. 3,500 babies are lost to SIDs in the US every year.
We have put together this piece to assist any parent to reduce the risk of SIDs by taking pro-active steps and by utilizing baby breathing monitors that actually work. At 10BabyGear, we take baby safety seriously and we hope this piece will be helpful to you.
The FDA has never approved any of the baby monitors below as they are not considered medical devices. The National Institute of Health (NIH), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), recommend against the use of baby monitors for SIDS prevention. They instead advocate for standard practices such as making your baby sleep on the back without being stuffed with blankets and toys. Read more below.
Talking of proactive steps, you can do several things to reduce the risk of SIDs. In the 90s, CDC ran a campaign called “back-to-sleep” campaign and it saw the rate of SIDs drop by half. Before we go into details of these prevention tips, let’s look at some general helpful topics to get us acquainted with the topic.
The idea to monitor the breathing of infants is not new. In fact, the earliest patent for a device that tracks breathing was approved in the 70s by the US Patents Office. In addition, there are great research work and studies around this topic which we’ve reviewed in a period of over 3 weeks to put this article together.
So, what exactly does baby breathing monitor do and is it worth it? Baby breathing monitors are very important and have been known to alert parents in case the baby stops breathing because of an unsafe sleeping position or because of SIDs.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome(SIDs) is when a baby dies inexplicably and unexpectedly during sleep and it has been attributed to no activity in the part of the brain that controls breathing and heart rate.
When a baby has an inborn problem with the development of that part of the brain, they can die from SIDs when there is a lack of enough oxygen to the brain. For infants with developing brains, they are unable to increase the rate of breathing when there is low oxygen reaching the brain, the way adults would. While SIDs could happen to any baby, there are practices that you can take to reduce the chances of it happening to your baby.
Thousands of parents have found the use of baby breathing monitors to save the lives of babies, proving the point that baby breathing monitors actually work by giving alerts when a baby’s life is at stake. While there is a discussion of whether baby breathing monitors are necessary, I find it very naive to engage in it as studies by CDC and reputable Children’s hospitals have recommended to parents to use a breathing monitor.
It is important to note that while several doctors do not claim that baby breathing monitors can prevent SIDS, they do not deny that it may help by notifying you when there is a potential case of SIDs. Another common question you find is whether baby breathing monitors are safe. Baby breathing monitors are safe as they emit very low emf radiation compared to video baby monitors and are less prone to hacking.
How Baby Breathing Monitors Work:
Principally, baby breathing monitors are meant to track your baby’s breathing and several of them give you various vital signs including the heart rate, oxygen level and breathing rate per minute(bpm).
Different baby breathing monitors use different technologies such as pulse oximetry, computer vision, movement tracking technology, and respiratory motion tracker, among others.
All these different technologies essentially aim to get the breathing patterns of your baby and some give you the exact breathing levels while others only alert you when the baby stops breathing for a certain period of time. Either way, they all alert parents when the baby is at risk of low oxygen supply and possibly death.
How to choose the best breathing monitor:
- Vitals: Depending on the vital signs you want to track, get the breathing monitor that tracks that vital sign
- Style & function: Several breathing monitors have different types of tracking your baby’s vital signs. For example, some have a clip version that attaches to your baby’s clothing while others are entirely non-wearable. In addition, some need to be positioned below the mattress.
- Audios and videos: Breathing detection is a special feature but you can pick monitors that have audios and videos as well.
Type of Breathing Baby Monitors
We will describe and compare the top-rated breathing baby but first, here is a list of the three categories of breathing baby monitors:
- Baby breathing monitor clip on
- Baby breathing monitor sock/anklet
- Baby breathing monitor mat
- Baby breathing monitor video
We have analyzed the different technologies and the notification features that differentiate each of the baby breathing monitors we’ve reviewed.
6 Best Breathing Monitors 2021
- 1. Owlet Care Smart Sock 3: Anklet/Sock
- 2. Angelcare Baby Monitor with Video and Breathing Sensor Pad (AC517)
- 3. Babysense Hisense 7s
- 4. MonBaby Breathing Monitor
- 5. Snuza Hero SE
- 6. Oma Sense Breathing Monitor
Best Baby Breathing Monitor 2021: Owlet Smart Sock 3
Until 2015, there wasn’t a truly reliable baby breathing monitor that tracks key vital signs such as heartbeat and breathing rate of infants. Since the release of Owlet Smart Sock, it has remained the favorite for most parents that have continued to rely on it.
In 2021, our overall best breathing monittor is owlet’s 3rd generation smart sock which was released in July 2020.
Best Baby Breathing Monitors Reviews
1. Owlet Care Smart Sock 3: Anklet/Sock
Owlet Smart Sock 3 emerged as the overall best breathing baby monitor that uses a unique technology that was discovered in the 1940s. The pulse-oximetry technology was locked up in hospitals for decades.
Owlet is a baby breathing monitor anklet/sock that uses pulse oximetry, a technology that uses LED light to get critical vital signs details, specifically the oxygen level and the baby’s heart rate.
Owlet smart sock 2 has been available in the market since July 2017 but the complete Owlet smart sock with a camera has been available since February 2019. Owlet Smart Sock 2 made it to our list of best baby breathing monitors for the second year in a row mainly because of the following three reasons:
- Pioneering and most accurate readings of the baby’s breathing using a smart sock that has since been improved from the first generation, smart sock 1, which was released in 2016. The technology was first tried out in 2010 and went through rigorous testing that enabled it to be a dependable baby breathing monitor sock. Pulse oximetry, as a technology that obtains details on the breathing rate per minute and the oxygen levels in the blood, has been around for more than 3 decades but Owlet pioneered a home-use pulse oximetry device that is changing the lives of many parents. This point went a long way to our ranking of Owlet as the best baby monitor to monitor breathing in 2019.
- Easy to use Owlet app which has all the details about the baby’s breathing and oxygen levels with just one swipe up. The app is also free although you’d have to pay to use another version of the app called Connected App that is currently available only on iOS devices.
- Multiple alerts: Owlet smart sock has been designed to alert you by changing the color of the base station from green to red or yellow in case your attention is needed and those alerts can also be sent to your smartphone. This makes it very easy for you to be updated anytime when your baby needs you.
When you purchase Owlet Smart Sock 2, it comes with the following:
- 3 washable socks that comfortably wrap around the baby’s foot and connect to a base station up to 100 ft. away using. The socks are ideal for infants of 0-18 months.
- The base station which receives information from the sock
- The smartphone App that receives the information on the base station
Before Owlet Smart Sock 2 was developed by Owlet, a start-up that had to pivot a number of times before its great success, parents had to depend on breathing monitors with clips. The clips had to be attached to the diapers or to the chest of the baby and this was some real work. Owlet made it very simple and easy to monitor the baby’s breathing using a technology that has been used for decades in hospitals.
How Owlet works:
Owlet smart sock allows you to track the baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels when asleep. It uses clinically-proven pulse oximetry, and as a parent, you’ll be alerted if the breathing patterns are out of the ordinary. The Owlet smart sock 2 has a base station that glows green when everything is working as expected. Sound and light notifications are sent to your smartphone in case you are needed.
- Tracks: Heartbeat and oxygen levels
- Notification: Light, sound and smartphone app
- Apps: iOS and Android Apps
- The monitor gives parents peace of mind and quality sleep knowing they will be alerted anytime the baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels are out of the preset range
- A wireless design which eliminates the risk of entanglement
- It does not need Wifi connection to transmit to the base station, only for the Owlet app
- The Sock is soft and comfortable on the baby’s foot
- The Sock is free from harmful chemicals
- The Sock is easily washable
- It is expensive ($249.00)
- Some customers complain that despite claiming 100 feet connectivity, the monitor loses connection frequently, even within a few feet
- Some customers have complained that the monitor failed to connect to the app completely
- The Sock does not fit some babies properly
- The loud alarm and flashing alerts due to disconnection can be very annoying especially at night
- The app does not always update the stats in time
- Sometimes the sensor fails to charge even when plugged in
2. Angelcare Baby Monitor with Video and Breathing Sensor Pad (AC517)
Angelcare AC517 came second in our 2021 list of top breathing baby monitors behind Owlet Smart Sock 2. Angelcare AC517 has been in the market since January 2017 and it has achieved incredible success as a best performing breathing baby monitor.
Unlike Owlet which uses a smart sock to keep track of the baby’s heart rate, Angelcare AC517 uses a sensor pad that is placed at the bottom of the mattress. This means that no gadget comes in contact with the baby. It is Prime eligible if you purchase it on Amazon. It is significantly cheaper than Owlet, coming at almost half the price.
Another variation of Angelcare’s breathing baby monitor is the Angelcare AC401 which has a green breathing sensor pad. Another variation is the Angelcare AC1320 which has been on the market since August 2016.
- Covers a range of up to 820 feet
- Includes a handheld parent unit, a camera with an adjustable magnetic mount and a wireless movement sensor pad
- Tracks baby’s movements with alerts
- Two-way talk function
- Room temperature with color coded display
- Night vision
- The camera has Zoom (2x) and pan
- The 5 inch screen gives larger pictures
- It has a consistent strong signal
- The audio quality is clear
- Very sensitive to pick breathing movements
- No way to adjust the alarm sound
- The touch screen is not as sensitive as you would expect
- Picture quality is poor
- Frequent false alarms defeat the purpose
- Some customers complain it gives false alarms when it should not and fails to raise the alarm when it should
- Customers wish it has two sensor pads to cover more surface to reduce false alarms when baby shifts position
- You incur extra cost ($14.99) for the wooden board if your baby’s crib has slats under the mattress.
- The temperatures are off sometimes, and some parents feel the temperature displays are too bright preventing the baby to fall asleep
- The battery life of the parent unit is very short
Babysense came third in 10BabyGear’s list of top breathing baby monitors of 2021. Babysense made it to the list partly because of its backing by a stable, well-known brand.
Babysense breathing baby monitor is manufactured and distributed by Hisense, a baby product manufacturer since 1992. Hisense released a new breathing baby monitor – replacing the old Babysense breathing baby monitor that had been in the market since October 2017.
Babysense breathing monitor uses FHSS, a spread spectrum technology that ensures 100% privacy and guarantees the security of the baby, unlike Owlet care which can potentially get hacked.
How it works:
- A sensor pad is placed below the mattress
- Sounds an alarm if no movement is detected within 20
When you purchase Babysense 7 breathing baby monitor, it comes with an under-the-mattress sensitive movement monitor. The movement monitor includes 2 sensor pads that cover the entire crib without touching or coming in contact with the baby.
This makes Babysense a non-contract breathing baby monitor, similar to Angelcare AC517. Babysense breathing baby monitor sounds an alarm if the baby does not move for 20 seconds or if the system detects less than 10 micro-movements per minute.
Other Features of Babysense Breathing Baby Monitor:
- Room Temperature Monitoring with High/Low-Temperature Alerts,
- Eco Mode Voice Activation, Sound Activated LED Indicators,
- Alarm/Timer Setting,
- 2x Digital Zoom,
- Multi-Camera Expandability (up to four cameras),
- Digital Pan/Tilt, Auto Scan View,
- Tabletop or Wall Mounting Options
- For babies from 0 to 12 months
- Includes two sensor pads for whole bed or crib coverage
- Designed to detect breathing movements from the mattress
- Lights and sound alarm if the movement is slowed or stopped
- Non-Wifi wireless monitor
- Reasonably priced ($129.99)
- A modern and compact design
- Higher sensitivity with fewer false alarms
- Wireless installation hence no hazard risk
- great ratings citing protection against Sids
- Tracks baby’s breathing with no body contact
- Two sensor plates provide whole bed or crib coverage
- Some customers have reported the monitor is so sensitive that it picks the fan
- It has limited features in comparison to other monitors
- Sometimes it fails to raise the alarm as expected until much later
You can check its price on Amazon here.
MonBaby Breathing Monitor is our 4th best breathing baby monitor in the 202110BabyGeasr list of breathing baby monitors for infants. It is manufactured by MonBaby, a New York-based brand focussed on promoting baby products.
It was released in December 2016 by Monbaby, a manufacturer of baby products including baby monitors. Unlike other baby monitors that track and informs you when the baby suddenly stops breathing, Monbaby also lets you know how the baby is sleeping – on his or her back/stomach – very essential details in preventing SIDs.
How Monbaby works to monitor baby’s breathing:
- A Clip is attached to the baby’s clothing – it could be placed in the chest.
- Just like that, you get updates to your smartphone on breathing movement alarms, sleep position alarm, fall detection alarm, sleep cycle alert etc.
You can read more about Monbaby monitor on Amazon here
A new, renewed Snuza Hero (SE) Baby Movement Monitor was released in May 2019 and is currently in the top 100 best selling baby monitors as of July 2019.
Snuza Hero SE is the fifth-best breathing baby monitor in the BMC list. The new Snuza Hero SE is an improvement of a similar model that had been in the market since 2016. Snuza Hero is a renowned brand for monitoring baby’s breath patterns using wearable clips that are attached to the diaper. They are no wires or sensor pads making it a diaper-clip breathing baby monitor.
- A wearable device that clips on baby’s diaper
- Tracks baby’s abdominal movements
- Vibrates to rouse your baby if no abdominal movement is detected after 15 seconds
- Sets of loud alarm after 20 minutes if no breathing is detected
- Audible tick setting that allows you to hear your baby breathing
- Made from medical grade plastic and silicone-free from lead, phthalate, and latex
- Indicator lights for abdominal movements alert
- Lightweight and portable monitor
- You can adjust the volume or disable the tick function
- Three vibration attempts to rouse the baby after which alarm goes off
- The alarm is very loud so you can hear it while asleep across multiple rooms
- Simple to use
- Great pricing (98.00)
- Works for tummy sleepers
- Very reliable
- Not suitable when there is co-sleeping because it will pick the other party’s movements.
- It is tricky to use on newborns with an umbilical stump
- Replacement batteries are hard to find and don’t last
- The monitor may come off if your child rolls a lot triggering false alarms
- The CR 14250 replacement batteries are hard to find
How Snuza Hero SE works to monitor baby’s breathing:
- It vibrates after 15 seconds of no abdominal movement
- Sends you an alarm after 20 seconds of no abdominal movement
You can check its current price here
6. Oma Sense Breathing Monitor
Oma Sense Breathing Monitor is our 6th best monitor you can use to monitor the breathing of your baby. Unlike Owlet which is attached to the sock and to the feet, Oma Sense is clipped on to your baby’s diapers or clothes.
How does it work?
Oma works by detecting breathing and if no breathing movement is detected for 15 seconds, Oma Sense will trigger:
- Fluctuating sounds,
- Vibrations and
- LED lights to encourage the return of regular movement
Frequently Asked Questions on Baby Breathing Monitors
The best baby breathing monitor for Moses basket is Owlet Smart Sock 2 which uses pulse oximetry to give you the readings of your baby’s vitals signs. Other baby breathing monitors that track pulmonary or general body movements of the baby such as Angelcare give false alarms when used in the Moses basket.
The best age to start using a baby breathing monitor is as soon as your baby is born as the baby is more prone to pulmonary failure at 0 to 6 months. Some major brands of baby breathing monitors such as Owlet Smart Sock recommend using it from 0 to 18 months.
We have updated this post severally but Owlet Smart Sock 2 has remained as our best breathing baby monitor since its release in 2015. The second-generation Smart Sock 2 has even more features and improved sock design. We believe the pulse-oximetry technology which has been clinically proven is the best gadget you can use to monitoring your baby’s breathing and heart rate.
There are different breath monitoring technologies as discussed above and we strongly stand by our choice of Owlet Smart Sock 2 as the best breathing baby monitor to use in a crib/cot.
You can get any of the above baby breathing monitors from your local store such as Walmart or Target in the UK, Australia, Canada or in the US. You can also get it on Amazon using the links we’ve with each of the baby breathing monitors reviewed above.
In our review, Angelcare movement monitor that can also notify you when the baby is sleeping facing up. Read more details on the Angelcare monitora above.
I am Ashley Davis, a mom of three kids and the editor here at 10BabyGear. I have been a parent since 2011 and have been doing full-time consulting as a baby sleep expert since 2019. When I am not researching or testing the next baby gear hitting the market, you’ll find me teaching my toddlers a trick or two – especially over the last few months with the lockdown. I hope you’ll find my guides and reviews helpful as you make your next purchase decision. If you have any questions, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.