Should I Use a Baby Breathing Monitor?

Should I Use a Baby Breathing Monitor?

The breathing rate of a newborn baby is about 40 – 60 times per minute. While they are sleeping, this might reduce to 30 – 40 times per minute. However, many infants experience something called periodic breathing. This is characterized by breathing rapidly for a few breaths followed by a pause in breathing for less than ten seconds before commencing regular breathing. While periodic breathing can be distressing for new parents, it is perfectly normal. If you feel the need for peace of mind while your baby is sleeping, you might be looking to invest in a baby breathing monitor. We bring you the low down!

What Does a Baby Breathing Monitor Do?
A breathing monitor measures your baby’s respiration. Some models monitor your child’s oxygen levels via a wearable device that attaches to your newborn’s clothes or diaper. Other devices track your baby’s breathing or chest movements using a video camera, or a mat placed beneath their mattress.

Why Would I Need a Baby Breathing Monitor?
For healthy infants born full-term, there is little need for a baby breathing monitor. However, your pediatrician might recommend one if your baby is born premature or has one of the following conditions:

  • Transient tachypnea
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Apnea or sleep apnea
  • Respiratory distress syndrome
  • Persistent pulmonary hypertension
  • Slow heart rate and a history of breathing irregularities

Types of Breathing Monitors Available
According to how they measure your baby’s breathing, there are three main types of breathing monitors:

Wearable Devices
This could be in the form of a monitor that attaches to your infant’s diaper or clothing. The alarm will go off when the device does not register any movement (breathing) over a set period. Alternatively, the monitoring device is sock-like and attaches to your baby’s ankle or foot. These measure your newborn’s heart rate and blood oxygen levels.

Sensor Pad Breathing Monitors
These devices take the form of sensor pads that you place under your baby’s crib mattress. They track movement and alert when none occurs over a set time.

Audiovisual Monitors
In other words, a baby monitor camera with a breathing sensor. These are like the standard baby monitors with the addition of breath detection. Either by video monitoring of chest or body movement. Or by checking breathing sounds.

Pros and Cons of Using a Breathing Monitor
The idea that a breathing monitoring device can keep your newborn child safe is a powerful one. However, there is no concrete evidence that baby breathing monitors can reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). A 2001 study found that the evidence proving the efficacy of home monitoring devices to identify cardiorespiratory events is insubstantial. Another study stated that while further research is required, “There is no high-level evidence that home monitoring may be of use in preventing SIDS.”

Medical practitioners fear that these breathing monitors will lull parents into a false sense of security. Or that the false alarms will have parents dashing to the hospital unnecessarily. Nothing beats practicing proven safe sleep habits. In other words, always put your baby to bed on their back. The sleeping surface should be firm with a tight-fitting sheet, no pillows, and no excess bedding.

If being able to monitor baby breathing while sleeping will give you peace of mind, then have a look around to find one that suits your needs and budget. Be sure to read the customer reviews of other parents who have used the devices that you are researching. They will comment on aspects such as the device giving off false alarms, the reliability of the monitor connection, and other vital points.

What to Look for in a Baby Breathing Monitor
Choosing a breathing monitor for your baby may seem overwhelming at first. However, there are a few key points to look at that might help you to narrow the list down.

1. Monitoring Vitals
First things first. This device needs to monitor your infant’s breathing! And it must do so well. Certain devices will use your baby’s chest movements to determine their breathing. Others will measure an infant’s blood oxygen levels. You can decide which measurement you deem more reliable.

Some monitors measure other parameters too. For example, the ambient temperature, your baby’s heart rate, or their movements. You can choose your monitor according to the vitals you think are the most important to keep track of.

2. Budget
Depending on the technology and features included, baby breathing monitoring devices vary tremendously in cost. Simpler breathing monitors start out in the region of $35.00. While a more features-rich baby monitor sensor can set you back almost $400.

3. Reliability
It is a good idea to check the reviews on the different devices that you are considering. Reliability is a vital part of this equation, right? So, let other parents’ experiences help you select the correct model for you.

4. Type and Function
The type of baby monitor sensor that you choose will determine the portability and longevity of use of the device. Under-the-mattress sensor pads can be used for a much longer time. However, they might not be as portable as wearable sensors that attach to your little one’s diaper or clothing. The downside with these is that your baby may outgrow them after just a few months.

5. Camera Quality
If being able to check on your newborn while they sleep is important to you, super camera quality is something to consider. Once again, have a look at parents’ reviews. Some cameras show better quality imaging at night, while others perform better during daylight hours.

6. Portability and Battery Life
The portability of the receiver is another aspect to consider. Do you want to be able to clip the receiver to your belt so that you can move around with your hands free? If portability is important to you, then decent battery life will also be vital.

7. Receiver Range
How far from your baby do you want to be able to be while in a reliable receiving range? Will you be in an adjacent room most of the time, or are you likely to be on the opposite side of the house?

8. Smartphone Compatibility
Some devices give their feed via an app on your smartphone. While others come with a separate handheld unit. Devices that are compatible with your smartphone can be useful in that you only need to have one item with you. Also, you can send a feed from your phone to family and friends or to your medical practitioner if necessary. However, many of these devices require the app to always be open on your phone for feed to come through.

If you decide to buy a baby breathing monitor, remember that the device’s readings may not always be accurate or reliable. Before making your final decision about which baby breathing monitor to buy, be sure to check in with your pediatrician. They might have sound advice on which device is best suited to your needs and those of your baby.

Will a Breathing Alarm for Babies Help you to Sleep at Night?

Peace of mind is basically the only grounds for investing in a baby breathing monitor if your child is healthy and born full term. The research on the efficacy and accuracy of breathing monitors for babies is scant and inconclusive. However, if your infant is born preterm or has respiratory health issues, a device for measuring their breathing and/or heart rate could be useful. If that is the case, we hope that the information on the different types of devices as well as the various features to look out for will help you to find the correct baby monitor sensor for your successful parenting journey!