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SIDs and Baby Sleep Monitors

Visual Monitoring

Safety 1st offers the Close View Monitoring System, which lets you clearly see and hear your baby on an extra-large screen. The camera attachs to the crib for a closer view and there’s a quick check button for quick on/off viewing during the night.

Kristin Blaugh from Chicago used another Safety 1st monitor for her baby, and it gave her and her husband extra confidence on how their baby was sleeping. “Not to mention it’s just amazing to be able to see into your baby’s crib while you’re in a different room,” she says. “A specific feature we really appreciated was the audio-only option. This was a perfect option for us when we went to sleep so we could still hear our baby but didn’t have to be kept awake by the brightness of the monitor’s picture.”

Other companies offer similar monitors, like Summer’s Infant Day & Night Baby Video Monitor and MOBI’s Audio Video Baby Monitoring System.

Movement Monitoring

For parents who want to keep tabs on their baby’s breathing during sleep, a company called Unisar offers a BebeSounds® Angelcare® Movement Sensor with Sound Monitor. The sound monitor works like a normal sound monitor, up to 200 feet, but there is also the added movement sensor that sounds an alarm if no movement is detected by your baby for 20 seconds.

To detect movement (or lack of movement), parents place the under-the-mattress sensor pad between the mattress and the bottom of the crib. After 20 seconds of no movement, the nursery unit receives the alarm from the sensor pad and transmits it to the portable parents’ unit. All other nursery sounds are picked up as well, so it also functions as a traditional sound monitor. Additionally, the sensor pad covers the entire surface of the mattress for full coverage of the sleeping area. Note that the bottom of the crib must have a hard, flat surface, so if your crib has springs, you must place a piece of Masonite or plywood between the sensor pad and the springs.

Dino Favale, a first-time dad, says that he and his wife used the Angelcare® monitor and movement sensor in their son’s crib and it helped them sleep better at night knowing their son was breathing fine. “We would definitely recommend it to parents who tend to worry about their babies at night,” says Favale.

Can Home Monitoring Help Prevent SIDS?

Because no one really knows what causes SIDS, numerous studies have tried to determine whether or not home monitoring may help prevent it. To date, there is no solid evidence that home monitoring products actually prevent SIDS. However, SIDS research is definitely helping narrow the focus of where scientists need to direct their attention in the future.

A 2001 study called the Collaborative Home Infant Monitoring Evaluation (CHIME), which was funded by the NICHD, suggests that episodes of prolonged cessation of breathing or prolonged slowing of heart rate in infants, believed to be potential indicators of risk of SIDS, primarily occur before the developmental age when most SIDS deaths occur. The findings, which appeared in the May 2, 2001, Journal of the American Medical Association, suggest that these events are not necessarily signs of impending SIDS.

According to the NIHCD, breathing stoppage, called apnea, and slowed heart rate, called bradycardia, have long been observed in infants at increased risk for SIDS. Researchers have assumed that if such events can be detected, for example with a monitor/alarm system, they can also be interrupted, thereby preventing SIDS. The CHIME study, which used specially designed electronic monitors in the home to detect such cardiorespiratory events in infants, revealed this assumption might not be true.

In other words, these breathing events “might be markers of vulnerability, rather than immediate indicators of SIDS,” says Dr. George Lister, study group chairman and one of the authors of the article that reported the CHIME findings. “The difference in when extreme events most commonly occur and when SIDS is most likely to occur suggests that these events are not immediate precursors to SIDS, as was once thought.”

Despite the fact that home monitoring is not proven to help prevent SIDS, many parents still use home monitors. Above all, many say that the added factor of having an alarm sound when the baby’s breathing is interrupted gives them peace of mind.

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