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Baby Sleep Monitor Guide
A baby sleep monitor will help save babies from SIDS. The leading cause of infant death is SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or crib death). SIDS mostly attacks babies aged between 2 months to 4 months. 90% of attacks occur six months ago. SIDS also occurs more often in the winter and among Native Americans and African Americans. SIDS happens suddenly without warning and normally while the baby is sleeping.
A baby sleep monitor will ease the parent’s mind and sound an alarm when something wrong (such as lack of movement, low oxygen saturation) is detected. There are different types of baby sleep monitors and they work on different principles. The best measures a baby’s vital signs and the second best detects the lack of breathing or movement. A good baby sleep monitor should have the following features:
- Give early warning so parents can help the baby
- Collect data to determine early warnings of SIDS
- Reduce the occurrence of false alarms
- Have an adjustable alarm threshold to accommodate individual needs
Early warning signs. Researchers reported that in many cases, victims had previous periods of apnea that ultimately led to the fatal event. Tracking the occurrences of apnea events would provide early indications of the possibility of SIDS. These “near misses” can be detected by using a pulse oximeter to measure and record the baby’s blood oxygen levels while sleeping. This information is important to help a parent assess your baby’s risk.
Vital sign baby sleep monitor
A key feature of a baby sleep monitor is tracking the heartbeat, oxygen level in blood (SpO2) or breathing. If abnormal readings continue for more than a certain time period, the monitor would alarm. This monitoring directly measures the physiological condition of the baby and is the key advantage over other methods.
The rationale behind SIDS has not been decided, even many hypotheses have been disproved. It is now accepted that there are multiple causes for SIDS. The two leading hypotheses under investigation are arrhythmia and apnea.
Apnea causes insufficient oxygen intake, which leads to a low oxygen level (SpO2) in the blood stream. For a normal baby, SpO2 should be around 96 to 99%. When apnea occurs, the blood oxygen level would drop by 4+% and stay below 90%. When this happens, it is a sure sign of trouble. The baby should be able to come out of the apnea within a short time; otherwise help is needed. A key feature of a baby sleep monitor is being able to monitor the oxygen level and issue a warning.
Researchers observed that a fatal arrhythmia occurred during SIDS and suspected that this could be a primary cause. However, some (Guntheroth WG.) have suggested that arrhythmia is not the cause, but rather the result of apnea, which leads to bradycardia. In any case, measuring heart rate is certainly more helpful than measuring oxygen level alone.
Baby movement monitor
A baby movement monitor tracks a baby’s movement or breathing. The lack of movement for a given time interval would be cause for alarm. Since the movement is very subtle, the sensor should be sensitive enough to detect the slightest movement and yet be smart enough to filter out false alarms. Excessive false alarms would have the cry-wolf effect, which defeats the purpose. The alarm thresholds can be configured in most models.
The sensors are either attached to the baby’s body or placed on the mattress. Some models have a video monitor so that the parents can watch the baby from a distance.
Baby video monitor
A video camera can broadcast the video throughout the house. Parents can see what the baby is doing while watching TV or cooking in the kitchen. Seeing is believing. The video can be soothing and fun.
Baby sound monitor
A microphone can pick up the sound generated by the baby. You can hear the sound of the baby – laughing, crying or talking to itself. This type of baby monitor is not very helpful with SIDS.
Buying a baby sleep monitor
With the exception of high risk situations, using a baby sleep monitor is up to the parents. If you believe a baby sleep monitor will help your baby and give you peace of mind, get one. If you want to buy a baby sleep monitor, my recommendation is to get one that measures your baby’s vital signs.
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