Share on Pinterest
Design by Alyssa Kiefer

The responsibility of caring for a little one doesn’t exactly disappear when the lights go out — in some cases, the times when your baby is asleep may be when you feel the most anxious.

Before we jump in, it’s important to note that both premature babies and healthy, full-term babies often have somewhat erratic breathing patterns during sleep.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), most babies experience periodic breathing, which is when their breathing pauses for 5 to 10 seconds — this is totally normal.

However, some babies may have a more serious condition, or you might just want extra peace of mind that your little one is in fact breathing.

In either case, there are now monitors on the market that can track your baby’s breathing. Here’s more about what they do, how the technology works, and what to look for when shopping for these devices.

Depending on the particular model you choose, baby breathing monitors track your child’s respirations using either movement or oxygen levels.

Some are wearable devices that clip onto diapers or clothing and go off when they don’t detect movement (respirations) over a set period of time. Others slip around baby’s foot and gather data about the oxygen in their blood and their heart rate. And some don’t make any contact with your baby at all and simply track motion through a video monitor.

In all cases, more parents are seeking out this type of monitoring for increased peace of mind. Some say they feel more relaxed knowing this information.

Others, however, say that breathing monitors may be more trouble than they’re worth because there’s plenty of potential for scary false alarms. They’re also relatively pricey for an item that you might not benefit from.

Take it with a grain of salt

It’s important to understand that this at-home technology is relatively new. The AAP even advises against using home breathing monitors as a strategy to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), as there is no evidence to suggest they actually do so.

Healthline

Provided you have a healthy baby who was born at term, the answer is likely no. Periodic breathing can be totally normal, and it usually goes away without treatment as your baby gets older.

If your baby was born prematurely or has sleep apnea or another medical condition that requires additional monitoring, you might consider renting equipment from your local hospital or medical supply store after talking with your child’s pediatrician.

If your doctor hasn’t recommended this type of technology and you still would feel more comfortable monitoring your baby’s breathing, then a commercial monitor may be something to consider — just be sure that you first understand the limitations and potential for false alarms.

The following baby breathing monitors earn high marks from parents for their reliability, ease of use, and overall value. We chose a variety of models that connect to babies in different ways to account for personal preferences.

Price guide

  • $ = under $100
  • $$ = $100–$200
  • $$$ = $200–$300
  • $$$$ = over $300

Best baby breathing monitor overall

Owlet Smart Baby Monitor Duo

Price: $$$$

Key features: With this system, you can track your baby’s oxygen levels and heart rate, sneak a peek into the nursery with encrypted HD video, and communicate through two-way audio, all through the Owlet app.
The monitor slips onto baby’s foot with a sock-like device that connects to a base station that glows green when all is OK. Reviewers like that the system works well for newborns and that the included camera grows with your child to the toddler years.

Considerations: Parents have reported false alarms with this system due to a lost or poor connection with the base unit. Others don’t like that in order to see video, you must keep the app open at all times on your phone.

Best clip-on baby breathing monitor

Snuza Hero Baby Movement Monitor

Price: $

Key features: There aren’t any cords, wires, or sensor pads involved in the Snuza Hero. Instead, it’s a small device that clips onto your baby’s diaper, vibrates after 15 seconds of no abdominal movement, and alarms after 20 seconds. It’s portable, and parents like that you don’t have to integrate it with your smartphone.

Considerations: A few parents say the Snuza is too big to use with a newborn diaper and that it doesn’t work the best if you swaddle your little one. Most other complaints revolve around how it can fall off squirmy babies and cause false alarms (sometimes many).

Best baby breathing monitor with camera

Nanit Complete Monitor System

Price: $$$$

Key features: This monitor uses a specially designed swaddle to track breathing through a geometric pattern that is tracked via camera to show breath motions. Beyond that, this monitor allows you to track sleep patterns, see and hear your baby, and livestream everything onto your smart devices via an app.

Parents say the video images are crystal clear and that the system is easy to set up, even when traveling.

Considerations: Several reviewers don’t like how you have to use your phone as the only way to connect to the monitor. And if your baby doesn’t like to be swaddled, this system may not work for your family.

Best wearable baby breathing monitor

Wellue BabyO2 Baby Oxygen Monitor

Price: $$

Key features: The Wellue Baby02 set offers similar monitoring to other systems, but at half the cost. You can track your baby’s oxygen level, heart rate, and movement using a combination of a device that wraps around their foot and leg.

It includes a free app, as well as computer software if you need to print and share data with doctors for any reason. Parents mention that, while it isn’t medical grade, this monitor is very similar to infant/toddler pulse oximeters at a fraction of the price.

Considerations: Reviewers mention that temperature of skin may impact readings. For example, several say if their baby’s feet were cold that the monitor wouldn’t read well. Others share the way the device connects to baby makes it prone to shifting and producing false alarms.

Best sensor pad baby breathing monitor

Angelcare AC337 Baby Breathing Monitor with Video

Price: $$

Key features: The Angelcare monitor works by placing breathing sensor pads under your baby’s crib mattress. An alarm sounds if no motion is detected in your baby’s crib after 20 seconds. It also has a camera, which measures the temperature of the room.

Parents like that this device doesn’t attach to baby and that the parent unit has an impressively long battery life. Others say the night vision of the camera works very well.

Considerations: Some reviewers note that you’ll get false alarms if your baby wiggles to the edges of the crib where the sensors aren’t placed. Several complain that the daytime video quality leaves much to be desired. A few others say that their systems stopped working after several months of use.

Best baby breathing monitor with an app

Miku Smart Baby Monitor

Price: $$$$

Key features: The Miku Smart Baby Monitor includes a detailed app that allows you to monitor breathing, movement, sleep patterns, and nursery temperature without any contact with your baby’s body. You can also play music for your child, and download and share videos and photos.

Parents say the camera is “top notch” and provides high quality resolution. Others say this monitor is great for newborns to older babies/toddlers because the contactless design means your child won’t grow out of it.

Considerations: A few reviewers say that the monitor connection can be spotty, which is frustrating for the price tag. Another parent mentioned that the readings may not be reliable (their monitor recorded 14 breaths per minute… but there was no baby in the crib).

Best budget-friendly baby breathing monitor

MonBaby Baby Breathing, Body Movement & Temperature Monitor

Price: $

Key features: At around just $50, the MonBaby is a popular choice among budget-conscious parents. The device snaps onto baby’s clothing so you’ll get a reading of breathing patterns and know when your baby rolls onto their stomach, which sets off an alarm.

Parents say this monitor is a good choice for the money and that it’s easy and convenient to use with your smartphone.

Considerations: Even people who give this monitor glowing reviews mention there are a few downsides. For example, the battery life is only about 10 days (there is, however, a rechargable version for a little more money) and the Bluetooth connection can be pretty weak.

You’ll discover a variety of breathing monitors, each with their own unique set of features and frills. A few things to keep in mind:

  • Budget. Prices for breathing monitors ranges from around $50 up to $400, depending on the features and technology included.
  • Reliability. False alarms happen, so when researching which models to choose, keep that in mind. The reviews are a good place to spot just how often parents are experiencing false alarms.
  • Camera quality. If you want a clear view of your child in addition to breathing monitoring, be sure to choose a camera that records in HD and has a nighttime viewing mode.
  • Apps. Connectivity to your smartphone is another feature that many monitors include. However, some monitors only send data to your phone. If you don’t want to use your phone exclusively to monitor your child all night, you may want to look for a model with a more traditional parent receiver.
  • Additional features. These include vibration to rouse your baby when no motion is detected, expanded reports that you can share with doctors, tracking of sleep patterns for insights on baby’s overall rhythm, and photo/video collection for sharing snapshots with family and friends.

Whether you decide to purchase a breathing monitor for your baby is entirely up to you and your pediatrician.

If you do purchase a baby breathing monitor, just be aware that its readings may not always be consistent or reliable. And a monitor should never replace seeing your doctor if you suspect your child may have a more serious breathing condition, like sleep apnea.