Controversial Baby Movement Monitors

Controversial Baby Movement Monitors

If you’re a first time parent, you’ve likely dreamed up some horrible scenarios when it comes to your baby – what if they suddenly become very ill?  What if they stop breathing?  Do I need to worry about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)?  If so, you may have considered one of the alternatives to a plain audio and/or video monitor, and choose to use a motion sensing monitor like the Angelcare baby monitor.

What are Baby Movement Monitors?

The purpose of these types of monitors is to alert you in the event that your baby stops breathing or moving for more than 20 seconds.  This is done by placing a pad that senses movement under the mattress of a crib or bassinet.  This pad is so sensitive that it will detect even the smallest of movements that a baby typically makes while sleeping.  Babies are constantly in motion as they sleep, so this is fairly simple to chart.  As soon as that 20 second time frame passes, the Angelcare monitor will sound an alarm.  These monitors aren’t difficult to use, but they do require some setup and testing to make sure that they’re working properly.  You want it to be sensitive to movement, but not so sensitive that something like the HVAC kicking in, or the family pet walking by the crib and brushing against it with its tail, will set off the alarm.  Sometimes it’s also necessary to install a piece of fiberboard under the mattress.

Parents who have babies that might have been born prematurely, born at a low birth rate, or born with any number of medical conditions may be more concerned about SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) than parents of healthy babies, but healthy babies are at risk as well.  Given that, the fact that there is an alarm to alert a parent if a baby were to stop breathing should be very heartening.

Why Are These Baby Monitors Controversial?

And yet, these monitors are somewhat controversial.  Why?

The simple fact is that as of yet, there has been no scientific studies done that prove that monitors such as the Angelcare baby monitor reduce the risk of SIDS or any other sleep related infant death.  This is especially relevant since these monitors have not been approved as medical grade devices.  In line with that, The American Academy of Pediatrics, along with the National Institute of Health recommend that parents don’t buy products that claim to reduce the chances of SIDS, since there is no real data to prove that these monitors really work as they are marketed to.

Part of the reason why these organizations are stressing that they don’t think parents should use these monitors is because there are some real techniques that have been advocated by the above mentioned organizations, that have been proven to reduce the risk of SIDS.  So the rationale is that it would be better if parents used the tested and proven techniques, instead of relying on a device that a) isn’t classified as a medical device and b) its claims cannot be scientifically proven.  Basically, you shouldn’t have a false sense of confidence, if you’re using this type of baby monitor.

Here’s the interesting thing, though.  Nowhere does Angelcare claim that their product will reduce the risk of SIDS or any other sleep related death.  But you can come to that conclusion if you care to, by reading between the lines and a little extrapolation.

Regardless of the debate or the controversy over this baby monitor, Angelcare does have its advocates.  In a number of testimonials and reviews, parents and caregivers claim that thanks to the monitor, they were alerted when their babies had stopped breathing and were able to revive the child.  The critics’ rebuttal to these claims is that these will likely weren’t cases of SIDS at all, but probably just cases where the child stopped breathing due to asphyxiation or some other reason.

What Should You Do?

So who is a parent to believe, and what’s a parent to do?  Well, I’ve never been big on people telling me what I can and can’t do, but the flipside of that is I’m the sort of person that will research everything to the absolute extent possible.  And then I will draw my own conclusions.  I also understand the reasoning of both sides in this so called controversy, and don’t see the problem of using such a device in conjunction with a serious dose of common sense.

Just an interesting side note to all of this, while there is much debate about the use of the Angelcare baby monitor, I haven’t been able to find any similar controversy over the Nanny baby monitor, which definitively does classify itself as a SIDS prevention device.  But the Nanny baby monitor has been classified as a medical device, and is used in hospitals, so that may be the reason why.  This device is manufactured and sold in the United Kingdom, but is now available in the United States via