Baby sleep monitor will help in saving babies from SIDS. The leading cause for infant fatality is SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or crib death). SIDS mostly attacks infants of age between 2 months to 4 months old. 90% of attacks occurs before six months old. SIDS also occurs more frequently in winter and among Native and African Americans. SIDS happens suddenly with no warning and normally while the baby is sleeping.

A baby sleep monitor will ease the parent's mind and sound an alarm when something wrong (such as lack of movement, low oxygen saturation level) is detected. There are different types of baby sleep monitors and they work on different principles. The best one measures a baby's vital signs and the second best detects the lack of breathing or motion. A good baby sleep monitor should have the following features:

  • Give early warning so parents can help the baby
  • Collect data to determine early warnings for SIDS
  • Reduce the occurrences of false alarms
  • Have adjustable alarm threshold to accommodate individual needs

Early warning signs. Researchers have reported that in many cases, victims had previous periods of apnea which eventually led to the fatal event. By tracking the occurrences of apnea events would give early indications for the possibility of SIDS. These “near misses” can be detected by using a pulse oximeter to measure and record the blood oxygen levels of the baby while sleeping. This information is important to help a parent to assess your baby's risk.

Vital sign baby sleep monitor

A vital sign baby sleep monitor tracks the heart beat, oxygen level in blood (SpO2), or respiration. If abnormal readings last more than a certain time period, the monitor would raise an alarm. This monitoring directly measures the baby's physiological condition and is the key advantage over other methods.

The ratione behind SIDS has not been determined, even many hypotheses have been disproved. Currently it is accepted that there are multiple causes for SIDS. The two leading hypotheses under investigation are arrhythmia and apnea.

Apnea causes insufficient oxygen intake, which leads to low oxygen level (SpO2) in the blood stream. For a normal baby, SpO2 should be around 96 to 99%. When an apnea occurs, the blood oxygen level would drop by 4% and stay at below 90%. When this happens, it is a sure sign of trouble. The baby should be able to get out of the apnea within a short time; otherwise help is needed. A vital sign baby sleep monitor can monitor the oxygen level and issue a warning.

Researchers have observed that lethal arrhythmia had occurred during SIDS and suspected that this might be a leading cause. However, some (Guntheroth WG.) Have suggested that arrhythmia is not the cause, but rather the result of apnea, which leads to bradycardia. In any case, measuring heart rate is definitely helpful than measuring oxygen level alone.

Baby movement monitor

Baby movement monitor tracks baby's movement or breathing. The lack of movement for a given time interval would be cause for alarm. Since the movement is very subtle, the sensor should be sensitive enough to detect the slightest movement and yet be smart enough to filter out false alarms. Excessive false alarms would have the cry wolf effect, which defeats the purpose. The alarm thresholds can be configured in most models.

The sensors are either attached to the baby's body or placed on the mattress. Some models have a video monitor for the parents to remotely observe the baby.

Baby video monitor

Video camera can broadcast the video through the entire house. Parents can see what the baby is up to while watching TV or cooking in the kitchen. Seeing is believing. The video can be reassuring and fun.

Baby audio monitor

A microphone can capture the sound generated by the baby. You can hear the baby's sound – laughing, crying, or talking to itself. This type of baby monitor is not very helpful with SIDS.

Buying a baby sleep monitor

With the exception on high risk situations, using a baby sleep monitor is depending on the parents. If you believe that a baby sleep monitor is going to help your baby and keep you at ease, get one. If you want to purchase a baby sleep monitor, my recommendation is get one that measures your baby's vital signs.