When I had my daughter, I realized fairly quickly that I was suffering from postpartum anxiety. I was constantly watching her, picking up her hand as she slept to see if she would curl her fingers around mine, or even twitch, just to let me know she was okay. I was waking up and checking on her. I was having horrible thoughts about what might happen to her, and remembering every story I’d ever heard about an infant dying. Even though I was exhausted (which is normal with a newborn), I was unable to sleep – I was listening for the soft sound of her breathing. And when she started to have reflux issues, I panicked, thinking she might choke. Although pre-birth me had decided I didn’t need it, I wound up ordering an Owlet Smart Sock baby monitor before she was two weeks old. Today, I thought I’d share my review of the Owlet Smart Sock Baby Monitor, for anyone who might be on the fence about buying one.
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My Honest Review of the Owlet Smart Sock Baby Monitor
I purchased my Owlet from their certified refurbished sales. It arrived quickly – I think it took two days. It was really very easy to set up and link it with my wireless network. When I got my daughter ready for bed, I strapped the sock on, turned on the base, and got my first decent night’s sleep since she was born. I’ve slept much better ever since.
The Owlet Smart Sock can go on either foot. The set ships with three “socks” in a neutral green (pink and blue are also available for purchase). The first one was for newborn to two months, or 6-8 pounds; the second is two to four months, or 8-14 pounds; and the third is for four to eighteen months, or 14-25 pounds. My daughter has been in the upper 40s percentile for her weight, and her growth was almost perfectly timed with the recommendations.
The Smart Sock works by using pulse oximetry technology – that little clip they put on your finger at the hospital. It measures pulse and the oxygenation level of your blood. If they drop below a certain level (oxygen under 85%, heart rate can vary based on age), it alerts you.
Owlet has two apps you can use on your phone – the basic Owlet app, which displays the heart rate and O2 level, and Connected Care, which records the statistics during the night.
While the initial investment was a lot of money to drop at once, I have felt like this was worth it. I sleep considerably better when my daughter is wearing her monitor. It’s reassuring to look at the base station and see the green light, and know that my daughter is fine.
Who This Is For
If you’re dealing with anxiety – whether it be postpartum anxiety or just normal new-mom anxiety – the Owlet is amazing. If you have a child with health issues – premature birth or anything where they can have difficulty getting oxygen – then I would 100% recommend this.
Who This Is Not For
The Owlet can’t support more than one unit at a time, so if you have multiples, you need a base unit and Smart Sock for each one. The app also does not allow for more than one unit to be signed in, so you’ll either need multiple devices or you’ll just have to rely on the base station for notifications – which is the way it’s designed to work anyway. If you are feeling confident and you’re not dealing with anxiety about your baby, then I would skip this.
But What About…?
I’d like to mention a couple of the other issues and questions I had about this, so I can give you my findings on these.
– The Owlet can burn your baby’s skin! No, it won’t. The original version did have this issue. The Smart Sock 2 (the one currently on the market) doesn’t have this problem. The only way it can hurt your baby is if you strap it on too tight.
– False alarms. There are three types of alarms the Owlet will give. A blue one means the device is out of range. A yellow one means it’s having difficulty getting a reading. A red one means the baby’s heart rate or oxygen level have dropped. I’ve gotten a blue one once and a yellow one a couple of times – just because I’d put the sock on too loosely and it slipped. I have never gotten a truly false alarm.
– Battery life. The Smart Sock has approximately an eighteen-hour battery life. Realistically, it’s more like twenty-two hours, because on the rare occasion when I forget to put it on the charger in the morning, it usually gives me a “low battery” alert about two hours before I try to put her down, and I get to charge it and hope it gets enough to last through the night!
– What if my phone dies? Will I be able to monitor my baby? The Owlet has the base station which will change color depending on the circumstances – white is charging, green means everything is fine, blue, yellow, and red are alerts. The base station will also play a tune if an alert goes off – and it is fairly loud and obvious, so it should wake any sleeping mother who’s used to listening for the baby. It will also send an alert to your phone, but the base station, not the phone, is the primary monitoring system. You might not be able to see the specifics if you don’t have your phone, but the baby will still be monitored.
– Does my baby need to wear this all the time? No! In fact, it’s specifically advised against. Your baby should only wear this while sleeping. Since I’m usually close by when my daughter is napping, we use it for overnights but not naps – if you wanted to use it for naps though it would be fine.
– Does this fit under pajamas? Yes! My daughter wears footie pajamas and I’ve never had an issue with it not fitting.
– Can I wash it? You can wash the sock, but not the electronics. The electronics slide in and out of the sock very easily though.
– Does it make a difference if it’s the certified refurbished one? I love buying certified refurbished stuff, because the quality is usually better than new stuff, and I get to save money. If something had an issue, it was probably replaced, the company has checked it over with a fine-toothed comb, and it’s repacked to look new. My Smart Sock came looking like a brand new set, it still has the company’s warranty on it, and I saved $100. If a certified refurbished unit is available, I highly recommend it. They’re usually about the same price people are selling their used Owlet monitors for, but they have a warranty, which is always a good thing.
Flaws of the Owlet Smart Sock
This is definitely not a perfect system. You can’t adjust the default alert settings – so for instance, it’s set to alert at an oxygenation level of 85% or less. I can’t change it to alert me at 90%. This is probably a good thing because if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could easily set it to be overly sensitive or not sensitive enough.
If the baby is moving at all, it can’t pick up the pulse or O2 level – so if you’re using it in a Rock ‘n’ Play or a swing, it won’t catch it. Since both of those go against safe sleep guidelines, I’m okay with this.
It can take a moment before it sends out an alert. Again, this is probably for the better, but that is something to be aware of.
How I Use This
I put this on my daughter as part of her bedtime routine – change out of her clothes, clean diaper, Owlet, pajamas. I turn it on by either using the app on my phone or pushing the base station.
I use this to monitor my daughter while I’m working at my computer after she’s gone to sleep. I leave the app open so I can see her heart rate. If she’s starting to wake up, her heart rate will increase or it’ll show she’s wiggling, and I can be headed back to the bedroom before the first whimper escapes her.
In the morning, when she gets her first diaper change, I use the app to turn the base station off, take the Smart Sock off, and just make sure I get it plugged in to charge, usually when I make the bed.
Owlet recently introduced a camera that connects with the Smart Sock and the app on the phone, and can monitor room conditions as well. Later this year, they also plan on introducing a belly band for use during pregnancy, to help track kick counts, fetal heart rate, and contractions – which sounds like it’ll be useful for anyone experiencing a high-risk pregnancy.
If you’re considering getting an Owlet, I hope this helped you make your mind up. If I can answer any more questions, please feel free to leave a comment or email me!