Is a SIDS Monitor Necessary For Your Baby?

When it comes to the safety of your baby, every parent wants to take every precaution possible. One question that arises frequently is whether purchasing a SIDS baby monitor is necessary. Let’s explore what the experts have to say on the matter.

Taking a newborn child home can be an extremely overwhelming experience. The obligation of caring for a newborn is a massive undertaking for any parent. The urge to maintain a diligent and vigilant check on your new baby 24 hours a day, particularly in their initial days, has led to the development of various at-home baby monitors.

Although these monitors are not developed especially for preventing sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), many of them monitor babies’ movements, breathing, and oxygen levels, which can assist in warning parents of a potential emergency. Doctors are aware that newborns’ breathing plays a role in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), hence these monitors are commonly advertised as a tool for parents to monitor their infant’s breathing while sleeping.

“SIDS refers to the unexpected death of a newborn younger than one year. Despite its rarity, it generates parental anxiety for obvious reasons,” Dr. Gina Robinson, a pediatrician at Cleveland Clinic, explains. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), SIDS claims the lives of approximately 3,400 infants annually.

Should you purchase a SIDS baby monitor now that the market is flooded with them? Employing a baby monitor to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is a fiercely discussed topic. We consulted two pediatricians and reviewed the most recent studies and statistics to discover the benefits and risks of SIDS prevention monitors and to determine if they are worthwhile.

What Is a Baby Monitor for SIDS?

Dr. Robinson explains, “A SIDS monitor or a home apnea monitor is a gadget designed to be used on sleeping infants to reduce the incidence of SIDS.” “The monitors track the respiration and heart rate of infants while they sleep. The monitor will sound an alert if there is apnea, pause in breathing, or the heart rate goes below a specified level.”

Some monitors employ a pad that fits under the mattress, while others include a sensor that is worn on the body, such as around the waist or on foot. “If parents decide to use a monitor, they must read the directions to guarantee proper placement of the sensors and wires,” advises Dr. Robinson.

Are There Any Advantages to Using a SIDS Monitor?

In general, at-home oxygen monitors should only be used for infants with medical conditions or those born prematurely who require supplemental oxygen at home. For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises a home apnea monitor if your infant requires oxygen at home or has severe breathing problems. The majority of physicians do not advocate at-home monitors for term-born infants without medical issues.

Dr. Robinson states, “There are infants (premature newborns released on oxygen) who benefit greatly from monitoring their breathing in this manner.” There are no tangible benefits for the typical healthy infant.

Dangers of Using a SIDS Monitor

In the end, the disadvantages of utilizing a SIDS prevention monitor may exceed its advantages.

According to Melissa Manrique, M.D., a pediatric hospitalist at Lurie Children’s at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, “research studies have not demonstrated that the usage of a home monitor decreases the risk of SIDS.” “Furthermore, monitors do not ensure newborn safety. It has been reported that infants have perished while being observed.”

In addition to providing no assurance against SIDS, these devices may also heighten parental worry and result in false alarms. A 2020 New York Times story said that even in healthy children, typical breathing oscillations could trigger the alarms without cause for concern.

According to Dr. Robinson, the monitors frequently sound false alarms, which can actually heighten parents’ worry. Several studies have even identified an increased prevalence of depression among parents who take them.

In-home monitoring can potentially increase parental stress and disrupt sleep. Dr. Manrique explains, “Monitors have been demonstrated to increase stress in families that utilize monitors that may cause false alarms.” There is also an increase in sleep disruption due to the usage of monitors in households, resulting in an increase in weariness.

The displays may not always be utilized properly. A 2022 study published in Life (Baseline) discovered that many households are improperly utilizing monitors. Fortuitously, some underlying disorders that might lead to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome may not be recognized by a home apnea monitor, causing some parents to believe that a monitor will accurately avoid a medical emergency.

What the Research Says

A 2018 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association evaluated the accuracy of heart rate and oxygen blood level (known as hypoxemia) measures between two popular baby monitors and hospital-grade monitors. And the outcomes were disappointing.

One monitor, which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has since removed from the market, detected hypoxemia but operated inconsistently. In contrast, the second device never detected hypoxemia and likewise indicated erroneously low pulse rates.

According to Dr. Robinson, there is no evidence that these monitors reduce the risk of SIDS in healthy infants. The parents of newborns who are in danger owing to preterm, oxygen requirements, or other major respiratory disorders should adhere to their pediatrician’s advice. She acknowledges that some children would be discharged from the hospital with monitors, but emphasizes that in such cases, the home monitor would be used under the supervision of the child’s physician.

It is also vital to understand that the FDA has not regulated or approved any SIDS baby monitors for use. In fact, the FDA took a popular at-home monitor known as the Owlet Sock from the market in October 2021, alleging that the firm was marketing the product under false pretenses. Since then, Owlet has discontinued production of the Owlet Sock and replaced it with the Owlet Dream Sock.

In addition, the AAP does not endorse the routine use of SIDS monitors. Yet, there are principles for safe sleeping that can help parents prevent SIDS. The Wall Street Journal claimed in a 2019 investigation on SIDS monitors that the number of SIDS cases has dramatically decreased since the 1990s as a result of the AAP’s 1994 Return To Sleep safe sleeping program.

Instead of depending on monitors, good sleeping practices and home safety are crucial for lowering the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Dr. Manrique states, “Safe sleep practices have been found to reduce the incidence of SIDS and should be the first choice for reducing the risk of SIDS in a newborn.”

Sleep Suggestions for Safety

Dr. Manrique recommends the following safe sleep behaviors for infants to lower the incidence of SIDS:

  • Always lay your baby on his or her back (not on their side or tummy).
  • Do not place your infant on a couch or standard mattress.
  • Never place blankets, pillows, or plush animals in the infant’s sleeping area.
  • Do not share a bed with your baby.
  • Consider sharing a room with your infant, but not a bed.
  • Wear thin garments and avoid overbundling while putting your infant to sleep.
  • Smoking, narcotics, and alcohol should be avoided while caring for an infant.

Although SIDS monitors are advertised to parents as an efficient tool for preventing SIDS, parents must understand the realities of their use. “Numerous goods are touted as essential or beneficial to new parents. With new products, use caution, conduct a study, and see your physician for recommendations, “says Dr. Robinson.

Meaningful articles you might like: Safe Sleep For Your Baby Means Peace of Mind for You, How Much Sleep Your Kids Should Get, 7 Unsafe Sleep Items To Keep Away From The Crib