There are so many baby products in the market today that I wished were available when I was a new mom. That would have made my parenting life much easier…
Along with the technological advancements and innovations in the recent years, many baby products have been revolutionized.
One such baby product is the Owlet Baby Monitor, which has re-defined the function of a baby monitor. We’ll go through what it does, and all the important features that help protect your newborn in the rest of this review.
Unlike traditional baby monitors which allow you to monitor your baby (typically in another room) through audio and/or video capabilities, Owlet is a smart baby monitor.
Owlet Smart Sock 2 is designed to measure and monitor vital signs of your baby like the heart rate and oxygen levels. This means that the technology and peace of mind which we’ve so far enjoyed only in the hospitals, can now be brought back to your home (or delivered straight to your doorstep if you’re an online shopper)!
Most of us would have read or heard about tragic incidences of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)… However, there’s still so much that we do not understand about this syndrome and its exact causes.
The Owlet monitor therefore has the potential to offer the much needed solace to new parents who are worried about bringing their infants back home for the first time and anxiously watching their baby sleep.
What first drew my attention to this unconventional smart baby monitor was the numerous real-life stories from parents about how Owlet provided them with early warnings so that they could take appropriate actions in time before something tragic happen.
Here are a few examples:
- This happened to a newborn baby girl before a medical condition was even diagnosed. A grandmom tried the Owlet on her newborn granddaughter while she was still in the hospital and the Owlet alarm went off in the middle of the night as the newborn girl had stopped breathing suddenly. She then stayed in the NIC unit for the following week to determine the cause.
- A 3-month old baby boy got himself face-down in his crib at home, which set off the red alert as his oxygen level had dropped too low. His parents managed to rush in and grab him out of the crib. He didn’t wake up initially… but after around 30 seconds (though it must have felt like eternity), he finally aroused. Just imagine the relief the couple must have felt!
- A mother, who is a nurse herself, used the Owlet to track her baby’s heart rate at night. Her baby girl was born with a heart defect, and there will be times when her heartbeats can rise to life-threatening high rates. While she can check on her baby’s heart rate in the day, she cannot possibly do so throughout the night. Owlet allows her to sleep peacefully at night, knowing that the Smart Sock is actively tracking her baby’s heart rate and that she’ll be alerted by the alarm whenever the condition is triggered so that she can call the paramedics in time for emergency treatments.
It’s also interesting to know that the Owlet Baby Monitor was developed by a group of dads!
It started on a crowd funding website in 2013 and the latest Sock 2 is a much improved and updated version based on previous feedbacks and suggestions from real parents.
Improvements made include the sock design, bluetooth range and the reduction of false alarms incidences. So, you can safely use the product knowing that it’s throughly researched and designed by a group of parents with the same concerns and intentions as any new parents.
I have to say, the idea behind this smart baby monitor is really great, and the higher price tag attached is well worth it for the much needed peace of mind it brings.
How Does the Owlet Baby Monitor Work?
You simply put on the ‘Smart Sock’ on your baby’s foot.
This is essentially a sock, fitted with a sensor to track the baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels while he/she is sleeping, using pulse oximetry.
If you’ve been through a physical examination at the hospital, you should be familiar with the little clip on your index finger to monitor your vitals. Well, they use the same pulse oximetry technology.
The data readings gathered by the sensor is then sent to a base station via Bluetooth. The base station will then notify you if something appears amiss by flashing colored lights and sounding the alarms.
There are 3 types of alarms to alert you of different situations. To turn the alarm and lights off, simply press the top of the base station/hub.
Can I Still Monitor My Baby If I’m Not Anywhere Near the Base Station or When I’m Not at Home?
The answer is Yes!
All you need is a WiFi connection.
When you’re connected to Wi-Fi, the base station pushes the information to cloud, enabling you to view the real-time heart rate and oxygen level readings on the Owlet’s App.
This way, you can check in on your baby and enjoy the peace of mind even when you are not at home with your child.
This mobile app is free and compatible with iOS 9 or later.
However, if you want to access historical data and sleep patterns, as well as to analyze and monitor trends, you’ll need a paid upgrade and subscription to the Connected Care app.
What’s Included in the Owlet Monitor Package?
The Owlet comes with the electronic sensor, a set of socks in 3 sizes (which should fit babies from 0 to 18 months old), and the base station.
There are also 2 charging cable connections – one to charge the sensor, and one to connect the base station to a power supply.
The sensor needs to be recharged almost every 18 hours by plugging into the base.
What’s the Bluetooth Range?
Compared to the first generation Owlet baby monitor, this newer version has an improved Bluetooth range of 100 feet (a 10X increase) between the Smart Sock 2 and the base station.
Does the Owlet Baby Monitor Need a WiFi Connection to Work?
What I like about this model is that the Owlet Baby Monitor can work, even without a Wifi connection.
You can bring it along when you’re traveling with your baby or staying over at someone’s house. All you need is a power supply to connect the base station.
The base station uses a USB connection so it works as long as you have a USB connection or a USB power adaptor. You’ll be notified of anything amiss in the form of alarms and flashing lights from the base station.
The only difference is that when it’s not connected to WiFi, the base station can no longer send the readings to the cloud, which means you won’t be able to receive the phone alerts nor view the real-time readings on the mobile app.
Of course, the exact Bluetooth range also varies depending on a number of factors, such as the construction of your home (e.g. solid concrete walls vs hollow walls).
If your bedroom is located too far from where your baby sleeps, and the base station is flashing blue lights (which is telling you that the Smart Sock and the base station are out of Bluetooth range), then you won’t be able to utilize the base station in your room.
In that case, you can either monitor your baby’s vitals using the app and phone alerts, or you can move your baby or yourself to stay in range. I’d highly recommend the latter.
What Is Unique About the Smart Sock 2 Design?
The Owlet Smart Sock 2 has a ‘universal design’, such that it can be worn on either foot.
It makes use of a hypoallergenic cotton fabric, which is comfortable and flexible. The sock is able to wrap securely but gently around the baby’s foot, making it harder for the baby to kick the sock off and also to give a perfect fit even as your baby grows, hence ensuring accurate readings.
There are 3 sock sizes, which should fit babies from 0 to 18 months old. Always refer to the Owlet sock sizing guidelines to ensure a good fit.
Is it Difficult to Set Up?
Fortunately, the setting up is real easy:-)
Moreover, there’s a lot of resources under the Tech Support and FAQ on the Owlet website that can guide you through the setting up process.
Bear in mind, as with any electronics, there’s still a learning curve in the beginning with regards to wearing the sock correctly, and using it properly to get accurate readings and reduce the occurrences of false alarms and notifications.
What Do the Alarms Mean?
There are 3 types of alarm – blue, red and yellow
Yellow alerts mean that accurate readings cannot be obtained. It’s meant to notify you that the socks may have fallen off or not worn properly.
Blue alerts occur when the sensor and base station are disconnected. This can happen if:
- The base station is too far from the sock and out of the Bluetooth range.
- You’re holding the baby (e.g. during feeding at night) and your body is blocking the sock.
Red alerts signal that the oxygen levels or heart rate is out of the preset range. Take the alert seriously and check on your baby promptly.
It’s important to act calmly and swiftly, without panicking. If something is wrong, seek medical attention immediately. Having said that, you and your spouse should have a plan of action and agreed procedures for emergency situations.
However, do be aware that if the sock is not used correctly, you might get a false red alarm.
Why Do I See ‘Wriggling Feet’ Instead of Readings?
The Owlet is meant for use when the baby is sleeping.
It is designed to pause the readings and alarms when there’s too much motion due to higher possibilities of false readings. This is because of the nature of the pulse oximetry technology – readings can become inaccurate when the sensors move relative to the skin.
This is why the Owlet app displays a ‘wiggling feet’ to indicate that readings are paused due to motion.
This can happen under the following circumstances:
- Baby is moving
- You are rocking the baby or using a swing/bouncer or vibrating mat
- The sensor/sock is not well-positioned or the sock size is incorrect.
If your baby is awake and moving around, it is less likely to obtain accurate readings. Hence you should use it only for nap time or sleeping at night, and not when your baby is active in the day.
The idea is to help parents sleep better, safe in the knowledge that the Owlet is tracking the vital signs.
What I Like Most About the Owlet Smart Sock 2…
I really like the dual alert system. You have the choice to use just the Bluetooth base station (so you can silence your phone), or you can use your mobile app (if you’re not at home or if your room is too far away from your baby’s room), or even both at the same time!
The risk of SDIS reduces significantly after 6 months, and by definition, it doesn’t happen after the first year.
By then, you can keep it for another baby, or hand it down to a friend or relative who might need it. All you need to do is purchase a new set of owlet socks!
Unfortunately, false yellow or red alarms are not completely avoidable.
The alarm sounds can be a dreaded and very frightening moment for any parent, so ideally we would like the incidences of false alarms to be as minimal as possible…
This is something that the Owlet team continues to work on. With the hardware improvements in the updated Smart Sock 2, false red and yellow alerts have been reduced 4x.
You can refer to the Tech Support section to learn more about the best practices to reduce the occurrences of false notifications.
Some parents have observed that when their baby is sick, for example down with cold, there could be increased chances of false alarms due to lower oxygen levels.
Hence, it is important for parents to remember that the Owlet is merely a monitoring tool, and should not be regarded as a medical device or even a diagnostic tool.
When your child is sick, it is important to pay attention and to seek medical attention when needed.
Red Marks on the Baby’s Foot?
There’s a few cases where some customers posted their reviews about red marks found on their baby’s foot.
According to the feedback and explanation from the manufacturer, they assured these anxious parents that those marks are not electrical burns.
They are more likely due to friction caused by wrong sock size, overtightening of the socks or wearing the sock incorrectly. Here are some possible locations for the red marks to appear and the associated causes:
Any Other Considerations or Caution to Using the Owlet Smart Sock 2?
This is after all an electronic device. You’ll need to decide for yourself if you’re comfortable with the idea of having an electronic device wrapped to your baby.
I’m an avid fan of natural products and honestly, I would never have thought of strapping an electronic on my baby in the past…
However, the Owlet sock challenged my thinking…
If it’s something that can give me the peace of mind, knowing that the important vitals of my baby are being tracked during the period where he/she is most at risk of SIDS, I’d say go for it.
Having said that, it’s important to note that the Owlet Smart Sock 2 is a smart baby monitoring device, but it is by no means a prevention or alternative to other SDIS precautionary measures.
Parents should not overlook other SDIS precautions such as making sure that your infant is lying on his/her back on a firm mattress, and making sure that there are no pillows and loose blankets in the crib.
Also, with the Owlet monitor, you will not be able to tell if your child has flipped onto their stomach or he/she has woken and is crying. So it cannot fully replace the function of a traditional video baby monitor.
This product is wonderful if you’re someone who craves for a better quality rest, knowing that you have a device to track your baby’s vitals, and that you’ll be alerted immediately when something out of the norm happens.
However, if you’re someone who feels compelled to constantly check in on the app data (given that it is available real-time), then such data overload may not be so desirable for you. Remember, one of the aims of the creators of the Owlet monitor is to help parents get better rest, and not to create the opposite effect.
Where Can I Buy the Owlet Smart Sock 2?
You can purchase the Owlet Smart Sock 2 Baby Monitor via Owlet Care online store or through Amazon.
If you are looking for replacement socks, you can also purchase the fabric Smart Socks 2 (sensor and base station not included) separately on Amazon.
Most customers reported good customer service and strong technical support. Their website has a very in-depth but easy to navigate FAQs and Tech Support help desk to help you with troubleshooting. If you still have any questions (be it technical questions or customer service related matters), you can give them a call or simply submit a query online.
While it’s not consistent across all customers, there are some poor folks who reported unpleasant experiences and were unimpressed with the time taken for returns/exchanges.
As such, I would recommend to buy from Amazon rather than Owlet’s online store direct. In this way, you can enjoy the best of both worlds – the technical support from Owlet and be assured that of prompt delivery and returns if needed.