As you may have read, I’m a sucker for anything tech related for Olivia. Bluetooth scales, ridiculous swings controlled by my iPad, Nest gear, and the list goes on and on. Brittany has a nasty habit of putting the kibosh on most of my toy schemes, but this is one such product that checks two very important boxes for us. The Owlet Baby Monitor serves an overwhelming safety-and-peace-of-mind purpose AND has the great design and interface I love.
What Is Owlet?
Owlet is a two-component baby monitor that uses hospital grade technology to track your baby’s heart rate and blood oxygen level. Through your wifi and home network, you connect a smart sock and a base to your phone. You’ve probably experienced the clippy-thingy on your finger in the hospital; most people refer to it as pulsox. (We’ll stick to clippy-thingy, but in the interest of proper journalism, we figured we’d put the proper terminology out there.) Now that we’re on the same page, you know that this is a safe, accurate, proven technology. It’s this piece that is incorporated into a sock that stays snuggly on your baby’s foot. Those readings are sent to the simply designed home base and finally on to your phone (though technically you don’t need the phone – more on that later). If your baby’s oxygen level or heart rate dips/spikes, an alarm is designed to sound on both the base station and your phone. That’s the simple version.
I know what you’re thinking. “Nick, there are lots of baby monitors out there. Many are cheaper. Some even have more features. What’s more, some studies suggest these monitors can give parents a false sense of security!” And you’d be correct. On all fronts.
How Does Owlet Work?
When your Owlet arrives, a couple of main components come in the box. The first part is the base station. I was immediately enamored with the simplicity of design; just a white circle with simple light wrapping around it. Second, the set of socks. They’re progressively sized so a typical 18 month old can be on the Owlet monitor. The sock is the main attraction and it communicates to the base, which will in turn communicate to you. It does so in three different ways: two alarms you’ll get immediately when getting things going, and one alarm you’ll hopefully never experience.
The first two alarms are just simple alerts: the blue alert meaning the sock is out of range and the yellow alert meaning the sock is not getting a reading. I will say, the first time you get those alarms will scare the crap out of you. It’s LOUD and if you’re anything like us, you are already on edge the first few nights. These two aren’t the standard beep, but a loud nursery rhyme. Hush Little Baby, I think. I know; ironic. Other than being loud, they’re just making sure things are running smoothly. You can play around with the sensitivity of the alarms as you wish, it’s very much a learning game to see what fits best for your family.
We keep the changing table in the nursery, but Olivia sleeps in our room. And that’s where we put the base. You know what’s pleasant? Every. Single. Night. I forget to disable monitoring when I change her diaper as it’s further than 50′ from the base. Brittany gets to hear the pleasant alarm and then I get to hear her not-so-pleasant reminder to get my life in order.
In addition to the physical monitor, there is an iOS/Android App that connects to your phone or tablet. It’s a super simple program that shows all information you need in an easy to understand layout. In addition to showing statistics, it provides the alarms and an interactive FAQ about baby care. There’s even a “Chat with a Pediatrician” feature! How cool?
Why We Use Owlet
Look, we know that an alarm is no substitute for checking on baby. But for us, simply knowing that there is a back-up in place if we miss something, if we sleep too deeply, if Olivia shifts in her DockATot, or any other scenario. A recent study suggested that parents often use monitors as a false security blanket. I can see that, but when I think of the Owlet how I think of my Fitbit. It’s a tool that I use as a confirmation that I am doing everything I’m supposed to. You know, like training wheels.
The Owlet is definitely expensive, though we feel completely worth the cost. I’m a HUGE proponent of spending money if it’s something that makes you relax. Here’s how I look at it: if you could pay $250 for a year and a half’s worth of relaxed sleep, would you? Duh. Of course you would. I certainly need to give them props for doing the best they can to keep the price down, even having a $22/month payment if you need it!
Owlet Isn’t Without Flaws
Nothing is. Were it up to me, I’d make three big changes. The first: I’d try to find a way to make the battery life on the sock last more than one night. Sure, it charges quickly, but I sometimes forget to put it on the base to charge. I swear, eventually I’ll learn because of the 6:00am low-battery alarms. Eventually. It’s got an 18 hour battery life, so it’s more an issue of incorporating it into my routine.
The second change I’d make is to the Owlet App. There could be a few more features that just seem to make sense. If I could see historical data, that would be incredible. What’s Olivia’s average sleeping heart rate? What’s her average oxygen level? Along the same lines, there could be some amazing sleep tracking included. How long does she sleep? Is she restless? I’m thinking we combine the Fitbit and the Owlet apps!
Lastly: since Owlet knows Olivia is wiggling and to not trust readings, it should know if she flipped face down. As a SIDS preventative, that would be an amazing and lifesaving feature.
The idea of the “Fitbit” and movement monitor (whether baby has flipped) was an interesting point at the time of writing that I wanted to chat with Owlet about. Mostly because the technology exists already, so why not? Well, here’s what they said. Needless to say, I am certainly convinced:
“The quantified self movement is pretty big right now, and it’s fascinating, but that’s not Owlet. Here’s the big problem: Ten times more babies pass away at home in the crib each year than do in car crashes. You can’t even leave the hospital without a car seat. What we’re trying to do is create the “car seat for the crib,” because safety matters whether you’re at home or out and about. Babies passing away while sleeping isn’t talked about a ton because it’s not a fun subject. It’s tragic. We want to bring the issue up because the more parents that know, the more we can do about it. It’s not meant to fear monger, but rather, with the Owlet it’s really meant to empower parents with this incredible technology made accessible and appropriate for the home. It’s simplified. Think of the pulse ox in the hospital. It’s a screen full of numbers and data. Owlet has simplified that so it’s one less thing to worry about. Parents are overwhelmed with enough things to track and take on.
And while Owlet doesn’t let you know if your baby rolls over, it does monitor heart rate and oxygen so that if baby did roll over and her oxygen were decreasing and fell outside of range, it’s designed to alert. We’ve had over 20 cases where families were alerted when their baby stopped breathing, allowing them to intervene. Some of these cases have been babies who rolled over and weren’t able to roll back over. In those cases, their oxygen levels dropped and the Owlet alerted. “
The Owlet is worth every penny. If you have it in the budget, you won’t regret it. It’s portable, reliable, and easy to use. It’s easily on our list of favorite baby products. Any perceived downsides are all easily overcome when you get that first stretch of sweet, sweet sleep. At least that’s what I’m telling myself. C’mon, Olivia. You can make it through the night!
Owlet Baby Care as a company? We met them at the Best of the Bump Show in Chicago a few weeks ago. When we started chatting, we learned about their dedication to family. And that’s not just the traditional family – they’re an abundantly open minded group who supports ALL families, no matter how they came to be. We just want to thank them for their amazing support of couples who struggle with infertility, especially during National Infertility Awareness Week.
Great! You’re still here! As your reward, you can enter to win our giveaway! Owlet has been kind enough to give a lucky reader an Owlet monitor of their own. Check out the details below.