The months leading up to parenthood (and even many months after baby is born) can sometimes be overwhelming. Besides the thought of actually knowing how to care for a newborn, there are so many baby items available that it’s hard to know what you’ll need and what you could do without. While that answer looks a little different for everyone, a baby monitor is a piece of gear that commonly sees a lot of use when bringing a newborn baby home.
Passive vs. proactive baby monitors
The purpose of a baby monitor is to help a caregiver keep track of baby when they are not in the same room. When looking for baby monitors, there are two general types to be aware of. A passive baby monitor refers to a monitor that transmits video and/or audio feed. These types of monitors have dominated the parenting world for many years due to their ease of use and the ability to look at or listen to baby at any time. What these passive monitors can’t do, however, is give real-time information about physiological processes within baby’s body, such as:
- Breathing and sleep apnea
- Heart rate
- Movement, including falls and sleep position
- Blood oxygen levels
- Temperature and Humidity
This is where proactive baby monitors come in.
Supplementing with a proactive baby monitor
Many new parents find that having the ability to passively view and listen to their baby in another room is a priority but adding another layer of protection with proactive monitoring lends additional peace of mind. If possible, use a passive baby monitor and supplement with a proactive monitor. Newborns born prematurely, born with low birth-weight or needing ongoing medical support at home could especially benefit from proactive monitoring, as parents can rest knowing they will be alerted if baby needs attention. And these monitors are great for regular newborns, too!
The argument against proactive monitors
So why would a parent choose NOT to purchase a proactive baby monitor? Many wearable baby monitors today measure and track different physiological aspects, but most of these devices are consumer devices and not medical devices approved for infant use by the FDA. In addition, some of these proactive monitors play on parents’ fear, claiming that SIDS could possibly be avoided if the wearable monitor is used. However, both the AAP and the SIDS Network state that no clinical evidence supports a decreased risk of the occurrence of SIDS by using a cardiorespiratory monitor and caution parents not to fall into a false sense of security when using these monitors. Instead, all parents should be educated about and practice methods of safe sleepthat are known to work.
Protecting the baby is understandably a high priority for a new parent, and baby monitors can help in knowing what your baby is doing and whether she needs attention. Ultimately, though, a baby monitor can’t prevent accidents from happening and are not a replacement for responsible parenting. If you have further questions, talk with your baby’s pediatrician or family doctor about whether a passive or proactive baby monitor is a good fit for you and your little one.
We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on supplementing with a proactive baby monitor in the comments!