Raise your hand if you are terrified of SIDS!! I’ve got both hands and feet up over here. The fear of SIDS was a huge factor in why I didn’t sleep the first year of my daughter’s life. She would not sleep in a crib, bassinet, or rock n play. The only place she would sleep was on mommy. Well to say I was terrified of suffocating her is an understatement. I thought the only way to save her from me accidentally killing her was to just never sleep again…which I know now was putting her life in far more danger, than if I just put her down and actually slept.
Enter the SIDS monitor, the only thing that kept me from going completely insane. If you are a worrywart like me, you have to check these out!
*Disclaimer: Just a heads up guys this is not medical advice. Please consult with your primary care provider before making any decisions that will impact your health. For further information, see my disclaimer page.
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So what is SIDS?
For those of you that don’t know, SIDS stands for sudden infant death syndrome. Basically it is when an infant dies unexpectedly under the age of 1 and there is no explanation as to what caused the death.
Those horrible stories you read about online, where a parent woke up to find their baby blue and lifeless, that is SIDS; a parent’s worst nightmare.
Luckily the rate of incidence for SIDS has decreased dramatically over the last 37 years. This is due to the huge increase in education on safe sleeping habits for infants. If you want further information on safe sleep, check out the American Academy of Pediatrics guide to safe sleep. SIDS is not the only thing you have to worry about though, accidental suffocation and strangulation are far more common.
Those precious babies have a windpipe the size of your pinky (or smaller if you are unfortunate enough to have a large pinky), which means they are very easy to block. Hence the reason why the experts tell you not to have any blanket or pillows around the baby!
I’ve heard horror stories from friends about other mothers who accidentally fell asleep while nursing or rolled over onto their infant, just to wake up and find that they unknowingly suffocated their child. This can happen to anyone!! Taking care of a newborn is exhausting, not to mention if you have other children to take care of as well. I used to fall asleep sitting up in a chair and would hallucinate due to severe sleep deprivation. I know, WHOA! Safe sleeping arrangements are life saving mamas!! But I will save that rant for another day.
What is a SIDS monitor?
It is a relatively new technology that monitors your baby’s breathing and sets off an alarm if it detects any breathing abnormalities (the most important one of course being respiratory arrest). Of course I wanted the best one, so I put on my research cap and got to work.
Several SIDS monitors that I found involved you laying the baby down over a mat that had a sensor in it. This is great and all, but there were several complaints about false alarms due to the baby rolling off the mat…that totally defeats the purpose. So I nixed this idea.
Next came the Snuza Hero!! My sister actually was the first one to introduce this monitor to me and it was a godsend! The Snuza Hero is a monitor that attaches securely to your baby’s diaper with the sensor lying right on their stomach. I love the fact that the sensor is right on the abdomen, as infants are abdominal breathers. Not only that, but this was the only monitor that stimulates your baby if it has not taken a breath in 15 seconds and then again if your baby has not taken a breath for another 5 seconds. At this point, 20 seconds has passed with two vibrations, so a VERY loud alarm sounds to alert you to check on your precious baby.
As nurses, one of the things you are taught when it comes to newborns and preemies is stimulation. As soon as a baby is born, the first thing we do is stimulate them to breathe. After birth my daughter had several apneic (period of no breaths) episodes, so we would stimulate her to breathe by slapping her foot or rubbing/patting her back. Really anything to get her to WAKE UP!! HELLO! Take a breath before mommy has a heart attack, thank you!
So after I found a SIDS monitor that would not only set off a very loud alarm if my child stopped breathing, but would stimulate her as well before I can get to her…I was sold!
What are the Snuza Hero Pros and Cons?
- Securely latches to infants diaper with sensor directly on infants abdomen, which is optimal placement as baby’s are abdominal breathers
- Vibrates to stimulate baby to breath after 15 seconds of no breaths detected
- Vibrates again if another 5 seconds go by without breaths and also sounds a VERY loud alarm (we have a two-story home and after placing it downstairs, I could hear the alarm all the way across the house on the second story)
- The Snuza will alert you if abdominal movement is weak or less than 8 breaths in a minute
- It has a rouse alarm that will go off if your baby has had to be stimulated on 3 separate occasions
- I had to fold over my daughters diaper every time in order to hook the Snuza on without it falling off. This was not a problem once I figured it out! However, it would have saved me some serious heart drops had I known this from the beginning.
- It can pick up external movements, so it might not work as well with co-sleeping or bed sharing. This also goes for if the baby is in a stroller or car seat.
The Snuza Hero vs the Owlet:
Ok, so I want to touch briefly on the Owlet because I think this is the Snuza’s biggest contender.
Shortly after my daughter was born they released the owlet. I love the idea of the Owlet and hope to try it with our second daughter. For those of you that are not familiar with the Owlet, it is basically a pulse oximeter (a device that measures your heart rate and oxygen levels) for your baby’s foot that will alert you if your baby’s heart rate or oxygen levels are out of range.
Now the biggest downside to pulse oximeters is that you can get false readings if it is not placed correctly (from what I have read the monitor alerts you if oximeter is placed incorrectly). You can also get false readings if circulation is poor or if the extremity is cold. In these instances, blood flow is restricted to the area so you are not getting an accurate reading of oxygen levels.
However, when used correctly a pulse oximeter is extremely useful for checking pulse and oxygen levels, which would alert you immediately if something was wrong. If you baby stops breathing, the oxygen saturation will go down and the heart rate will go up hopefully triggering the alarm. Having this information at your fingertips is extremely valuable and can tell you instantly if something is wrong.
So, Should I buy a SIDS monitor?
I bought a SIDS monitor because I was looking for anything that could give me some extra piece of mind. These monitors do not prevent SIDS, but if working appropriately the hope is that they will alert you to any abnormalities while your baby is sleeping. Thus, taking a little bit of worry off your shoulders so just maaaaybe you can get some shuteye yourself.
As a mama who worries way too much, this device allowed me to sleep. You would have had to drug me otherwise because I would have tried to stay awake the whole first year of my baby’s life.
The Snuza Hero was my hero!!
Have you tried a SIDS monitor? What was your experience?