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A baby monitor is a must-have item to ensure you can keep tabs on your little one (and calm your own anxiety). Monitors on the market today don’t just alert you when your baby is crying — they can keep track of breathing, too. With so many options available, it’s good to do your homework before popping one on your registry.

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 — and this is totally normal.

However, some babies may have a more serious condition, so a baby breathing monitor can be a wise investment. Here’s more about what they do, how the technology works, and what to look for when shopping for these handy devices.

Depending on the model you choose, baby breathing monitors track your child’s respirations using either movement or oxygen levels. They can combine with audio and video capabilities so you can see and hear what’s going on from your smartphone or a monitor base.

Some are wearable devices that clip onto diapers or clothing and go off when they don’t detect movement (respirations) over a set period. 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.

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.

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 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 wearable baby breathing monitor with a camera

Owlet Dream 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 always keep the app open 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 camera

Nanit Pro Complete Monitoring System

Price: $$$$

Key features: This monitor uses a specially designed breathing band 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. Wall-mount or optional floor stand (costs extra) are offered, as are smart sheets and swaddles.

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 sensor pad baby breathing monitor

Angelcare AC527 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. You can add up to two cameras, and it has a 5-inch video monitor.

Parents like that this device doesn’t attach to baby and that the battery life on the parent unit is impressively long. 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 video quality leaves much to be desired, and others complained about zoom capabilities and the interface.

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 — all without touching your baby’s body. You can also play music for your child, as well as 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

Babysense 7

Price: $$

Key features: Babysense has several products in the Babysense 7 line, so it may be worth looking into them all if you want advanced features like a video monitor. This one is a no-frills, under-the-mattress baby breathing monitor. It works similar to the Angelcare breathing monitor, but comes at a lower price point.

It does not make contact with your baby. The battery-powered unit comes with two sensor pads so it can cover more space for babies who tend to move around. There’s no handheld device for parents.

Considerations: Some parents complained about reliability and sensitivity, but others liked that two under-the-mattress units could lead to more accurate monitoring. A lot of users liked the low electromagnetic field (EMF) output. Worth noting that you cannot adjust the sensors at all. But this can be a great option for parents who want peace of mind without the excess anxiety and the feeling they need to eye their baby’s every move (which can lead to a high level of anxiety).

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

  • Budget. Prices for breathing monitors range 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. Some units only let you do certain tasks from your phone or the in-room monitor, so be conscious of accessibility issues.
  • 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.

Here’s a quick peek at all the baby breathing monitors featured to get an idea of how they compare.

ProductPriceApp compatibilityProsCons
Owlet Dream Duo$$$$yescamera can grow with the childmust have app open to see baby
Snuza Hero Baby$$nodon’t have to integrate with a smartphonebulky unit may be hard to use with a swaddle
Nanit Complete$$$$yes wearable band or swaddle; optional floor or wall standhave to use it on a phone
Angelcare AC527$$nolong battery life; great night visionreported issues with zooming feature; hard-to-use interface
Miku Smart Baby$$$$yes great camera resolution; unit grows with childsome report reliability issues
Babysense 7$$notwo under-the-mattress sensor padsmay be hyper-sensitive

Are baby sensor pads safe?

Baby sensor pads go under the infant’s mattress to detect breathing and movement. There are no apparent safety issues with these devices. People do complain that they can provide false alarms, as can baby breathing and movement monitors in general.

Do baby breathing monitors prevent SIDS?

Researchers say there’s no link between sleep apnea and SIDS, so these monitors can’t necessarily prevent SIDS, but they can alert you to potential problems or underlying issues if your infant stops breathing for too long.

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) recommends against using breathing monitors as a method for preventing SIDS. Other solutions that can prevent SIDS include making sure the crib is free of loose blankets and objects and always keeping the baby on their back while sleeping.

How long should you use a baby breathing monitor?

Most people use them for a few months, but parents with babies who have serious conditions like sleep apnea (and receive a hospital-issued or suggested device) may lean on them longer. Experts warn that baby breathing monitors may cause excess worry among parents, and most newborns do not need them.

Do baby breathing monitors emit radiation?

Baby monitors use electromagnetic field, or low radiation similar to that of a microwave. There isn’t much defined formally at this time about definite harms to children.

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.