Baby breathing monitors have come a long way since they were introduced a few decades ago (1). You can purchase a basic model that exists only to monitor your baby’s breath, or you can buy one with a whole host of bells and whistles.
You may feel anxious when your little one is sleeping and think a monitor is the perfect solution, but not every baby requires a breathing monitor (2). And while it’s fun to have some extra features if you do purchase a breathing monitor, they aren’t always necessary either.
We’ve studied countless baby breathing monitors to learn more about their features and purposes. We’ve looked at alarm-based monitors, sensor-free monitors, video monitors, and more. In this article, we’ll explain who should consider buying a baby breathing monitor and whether it’s worth it.
We’ll help you choose the best baby breathing monitor for your little one by reviewing the top options, highlighting their features and explaining any downfalls to help you decide what’s best for your little one (and your nerves!).
- Clips directly to the diaper
- Stimulation feature
- 1-year warranty
- Monitors heart rate & oxygen levels
- Can access stats from smartphone
- 4X zoom
- HD camera and night vision
- Reliable alert system
- HSA and FSA approved
- Monitors breathing, rolling, & room temperature
- Easy to connect via Bluetooth
- Free tracking app
- Helps monitor for SIDS
- High-accuracy reports
- Small and lightweight
- Quick charge
- Straightforward design
- No subscription fee for baby analytics
- Night vision
What Does a Baby Breathing Monitor Do?
While you usually breathe at a steady rate, your newborn may not. Periodic breathing refers to when young babies show pauses in their breathing patterns. While it is usually normal, especially for preemies or when a baby is in a deep sleep, it can be distressing for a parent (3).
You might hear your newborn take a few shallow breaths, then pause before starting to breathe again. A breathing monitor can help differentiate between normal sleep breathing patterns and dangerous ones.
It closely monitors your baby and alerts you when irregularities surface. This usually entails pauses in breathing or lack of motion lasting longer than 15 to 20 seconds.
Periodic breathing usually fades away on its own with time. But this special alarm system can provide parents with a bit of extra relief and support in the early days.
Should I Use a Breathing Monitor?
If your baby was born at full term, is an average weight, and is healthy, your doctor probably won’t recommend getting a breathing monitor.
Any apparent life-threatening event (ALTE) or brief, resolved, unexplained event (BRUE) may be grounds for keeping a better watch with a breathing monitor (4).
Premature babies with a history of breathing troubles and slow heart rates may need this device. Doctors may also recommend a breathing monitor if your baby has sleep apnea or chronic lung disease.
Other rare medical conditions may prompt your baby’s doctor to advise you to monitor their breathing. These conditions include respiratory distress syndrome, transient tachypnea, and persistent pulmonary hypertension, as well as those infants with a history of cardiac issues (5).
Make sure you discuss your breathing monitor with your pediatrician. There may be a particular one they recommend to suit your needs and the needs of your baby.
How to Choose a Baby Breathing Monitor
While picking out a breathing monitor can be a particularly complicated task, there are a few factors we always look for. These should also be your main considerations when narrowing down your choices.
If you are shopping for a breathing monitor, it needs to do an excellent job of monitoring your baby’s breath. Yet, there are other vital signs that units can monitor. Some will keep track of your baby’s heart rate or their movements in general.
There are related activities it can monitor as well. Some units will let you know the nursery’s temperature. Others can track your baby’s sleep data.
Style and Function
There are also video/audio versions, similar to other baby monitors. These are the three main types:
- The clip-on version: This is a popular style because it’s easily portable, though false alarms can be common. It’s simpler to use than other varieties.
- Under-the-mattress sensor pads: You may view these as “high tech.” But for those with premature little ones who are on guard against sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other fears, it might be necessary to track each movement.
- Video/audio monitors: These are similar to other baby monitors with the addition of breath detection. If it’s important to keep an actual eye and ear to sounds and movement coming from the crib, you may want to stick with what’s familiar and choose one of these.
Some receivers can be clipped to your belt to keep your hands free. Others need to be plugged in at all times. Some baby breathing monitors have a shorter range than others.
These considerations will help you choose a good-quality breathing monitor. However, remember to check with your pediatrician before making a purchase.
The Best Baby Breathing Monitors of 2022
Here are seven great baby breathing monitors to consider.
1. Snuza Hero SE Baby Movement Monitor
Best All-Round Baby Breathing Monitor
The Snuza Hero is a great little monitor, and it’s popular for a few reasons. You can clip it over your baby’s diaper. This makes it easy to use, even on hot summer days when your baby isn’t wearing a sleep sack or pajamas.
The size makes it easy to travel with because it isn’t bulky, and you’ll be able to monitor your baby’s breathing no matter where your travels take you.
One unique feature is that the device will vibrate to stimulate your baby if there is no abdominal movement for 15 seconds. At the 20-second mark, the device will sound an alarm.
There are no wires or cords to create a safety hazard. Plus, the device is made of medical-grade plastic to prevent skin reactions. This makes it a good option for babies with sensitive skin or allergies.
A rechargeable battery is included.
- Clips directly to the diaper.
- The small size is perfect for travel.
- Stimulation feature.
- Made from quality materials.
- The machine includes a one-year warranty.
- Hard to hear alarm through clothing.
- You’ll have to reclip the monitor to every new diaper.
2. Owlet Camera Video Baby Monitor
Best in Design Baby Breathing Monitor
The Owlet Smart Baby Monitor can track your baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels. Using motion, sounds, and app notifications, it will inform you about your baby’s breathing status throughout the night or during naptime.
The monitor comes with separate washable socks, though you can purchase extras. These socks wrap around your baby’s feet and connect to the base station via Bluetooth.
Real-time readings are sent to your phone, while heart rate and oxygen levels can be accessed on multiple phones simultaneously. This means you, your partner, and other family members can keep an eye on your precious bundle.
- Monitors heart rate and oxygen levels.
- 130-degree wide-angle view.
- You can access stats from a smartphone.
- Four times zoom.
- Room temperature sensor.
- HD night vision.
- Camera speed takes a few seconds to display real-time view.
3. Nanit Pro Complete Infant Sleeping and Breathing Monitoring System
Best Night Vision/Video Baby Breathing Monitor
The Nanit Pro Complete infant monitoring system offers breath monitoring with HD video and night vision. It connects to a free smartphone app. It will notify you via the app about any changes that occur in your baby’s movement and breathing.
It will also alert you when a certain sound threshold is reached, giving you an idea that your precious one is crying. These features can all be customized in the app.
One of the things we love best about the Nanit pro is its breathing band that monitors how many breaths your baby takes per minute. Wrap the sensor-free soft fabric band around your baby, and the secure HD video camera will monitor the movement of the geometric shapes on the band to confirm breathing.
The complete system comes with accessories for additional monitoring. The adorable koala-printed Smart Sheet goes on the bed like a regular fitted crib sheet. The camera registers the sheet’s pattern and uses that pattern to measure your baby’s length while they sleep. It’s the easiest way to track your child’s growth daily.
The monitor needs the “bird’s eye view” to work properly, so you must mount it over the crib for it to work. This would have been a problem for me, living in rental housing. Yet, if you are free to drill holes in your nursery wall, it could be an option.
- One-year warranty.
- Great customer support.
- HD camera and night vision.
- Reliable alert system.
- Height tracking.
- You must mount it to the wall.
- Paid subscription for some features.
4. Sense-U Breathing & Rollover Monitor
Best Clip-On Baby Breathing Monitor
This monitor works in conjunction with your smartphone to monitor your baby’s breathing while sleeping. It includes an alarm for both lack of breath and rapid breathing. It will also notify you if or when your baby rolls onto their stomach.
In addition to monitoring breathing and rolling, it will also monitor the room’s temperature and humidity levels. This bonus feature will help you make sure your baby isn’t getting too cold or too hot.
The easy clip-on unit can be attached to sleepwear, onesies, or even the sleep bag. Your smartphone will pick up the signal via Bluetooth. The corresponding tracking app is free for Android and iOS.
You can get your baby’s statistics right from the cloud. This makes it easy to review them with your doctor or pediatrician.
You can also share the data easily with friends and family.
- Monitors breathing, rolling, and room temperature.
- Easy to connect via Bluetooth.
- Free tracking app.
- Easy to clip on and use.
- The range of 50 feet may not be suitable for those in large living spaces.
- False alarms happen occasionally.
5. Babysense Video and Movement Monitor
Best for Preemies Baby Breathing Monitor
This straightforward, highly-sensitive monitor is designed for parents who are simply interested in making sure their baby is moving regularly, without all the special features.
It uses two ultra-skinny pads under the mattress that supply adequate coverage. These pads can detect even the most subtle movements, abdominal and otherwise, from your baby.
If the baby is still for 20 seconds, you will get a warning alarm on the control unit. This is a particularly helpful monitor for parents of preemies or anyone worried about SIDS.
There are no loose wires in the crib to worry about, and the sensors do not emit any radiation that could harm your baby.
- Helps monitor for SIDS.
- No dangerous wires in the crib.
- High accuracy reports due to two full-coverage sensor pads.
- Highly sensitive.
- Not as many special functions as other monitors.
- Some parents say it works much better with a thin bassinet mattress than a standard crib mattress, which is thicker.
6. Snuza Pico 2 Baby Monitor
Best On-the-Go Baby Breathing Monitor
The Snuza Pico 2 is the baby sibling of the Snuza Hero. The biggest difference between the two is that the Hero version doesn’t offer the skin temperature reading, body position, and sleep pattern features the Pico 2 has.
It clips to the diaper, just like the Hero, and will send an alarm if your baby has not been breathing for 15 or 20 seconds. A green light indicates all is well, while an orange light communicates that your baby’s movements are weak or infrequent.
To avoid false alarms, you need to attach the clip with care.
This unit is handy for travel due to its size, as it can easily be slipped into most bags.
- Quick charge.
- Small and lightweight.
- Long battery life.
- Straightforward design.
- May encounter false alarms.
7. iBaby Breathing Monitor
Best Affordable Baby Breathing Monitor
This sensitive baby breathing monitor won’t break your bank. Unlike other breathing monitors that require wearing a bracelet or band, this device uses artificial intelligence to detect your precious one’s face, movement, breathing, and sleeping patterns. It has alarms for your baby’s movement, room temperature, and humidity.
It also includes cloud storage of 300 alert pictures and 100 video clips, free of charge.
- No subscription fee for baby analytics.
- Night vision.
- Non-wearable alarm system.
- Two-way audio.
- You need a mounting area for the camera.
- No pan or tilt function.
When to Seek Help for Irregular Breathing
When you have a question about your baby’s health, you should address it with your pediatrician. Health issues can progress rapidly in a newborn, so it is crucial to seek help quickly if you are worried.
While these symptoms are not all-inclusive, they are some of the more prominent signs of breathing issues:
- Breathing pauses that happen more and more often.
- Your baby has a blue tinge around their lips and mouth.
- Your baby’s skin looks blue, even while they’re breathing at a normal rate.
- You notice lethargy or your baby is not responding as usual.
- Rapid breathing as a common occurrence.
- Any other symptom you deem abnormal.
All of these symptoms can be frightening if your baby is experiencing them. Furthermore, they could signify a more serious issue, such as sleep apnea. Try to keep calm and contact your doctor or 911 center immediately (6).