Far from your average baby monitor, the Owlet Baby Monitor Duo can track your baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels. Chloë Collyer and her newborn put this smart baby monitor to the test.
Things have moved on a bit from the walkie-talkie style audio baby monitors of past, but I, somewhat naively, thought that just meant a video almost came as standard nowadays. Turns out that technology has come on tenfold, and I learned this for myself when being introduced to the Owlet baby monitor duo; a smart baby monitor that can track baby’s heart rate, oxygen level and sleep trends as well as provide HD video.
While I’m planning to have my son, Arlo, sleep in my room for the first six months, I soon realised that even though he was inches from me, it didn’t stop me peering over the side of the crib, listening in for his tiny breaths, and watching his chest gently raise and fall, as he slept peacefully. If I was going to get any sleep myself, maybe the Owlet could help…
The Owlet Smart Sock and Owlet Cam are available separately, but I opted for the Owlet Baby Monitor Duo which includes both, and the sleek packaging sets the tone.The Owlet Cam is compact, and the monochrome colours suit any interior. Rather than a separate monitor, the video is streamed to an app on your phone so you don’t have excess items. So far, I’ve used the Cam standing on its base, but I’m soon to be mounting it over Arlo’s cot, and you’re provided with everything you need for that. You’ll even get covers for the cables, making it not only look good, but safe by keeping loose wires out of the way.
The Smart Sock charging base is again small and stylish, and wouldn’t look amiss in an Apple Store. Not only does the sock dock easily to charge, the base lights up letting you know clearly what’s going on with baby, green means the readings are in the safe zone, and red alerts you to ‘check on baby’ if any of the readings are out of usual parameters. The Sock itself is available in three different colours, Original Mint, Dusty Rose and Deep Sea Green, and are now available to buy separately, if you wish to swap your style.
It was incredibly easy to set up. You just need to download the app, and it takes you through a step-by-step guide. The camera connected straight away, but I had an issue setting up the sock, so naturally I headed to google to figure it out. I needn’t have bothered as my partner beat me to it, using the online chat in the Owlet app and was given a simple instruction on how to connect the sock. Less than five minutes later and we were up and running. You can use the same login details on multiple phones so my partner and I both get the alerts and can check out his stats, and once we rope our parents into babysitting, they will be able to download and use the app as well.
It’s worth noting that to use the camera you do need a good wi-fi connection. I have a fast broadband speed, but there’s a corner of my flat that doesn’t get the strongest signal which is where I initially had the camera set up and the feed would freeze, but once I moved it just a metre over, the feed was instant (I found it has about a five second delay) and the video feed would load quickly when I opened the app. The video feed is through the app, and you can stream it constantly, which is what I’ve been doing during these first months. But if you want to still be able to use your phone, it will send alerts when it detects sound and motion which I’ll feel more comfortable with once he’s older.
The sock is soft and seamless and easy to put on Arlo’s foot, just wrap it round and fasten with velcro, and he doesn’t seem to notice it when it’s on. You do need to charge it at least once a day so it has enough battery life to get through a long sleep at night. It recommends 20-90 minutes depending on how long you need to use it for. I tend to pop it on charge when Arlo wakes in the morning, and leave it all day ready for night time.
Another valuable feature, is that it has different sounds for different alarms. If it senses a bad connection the base station starts playing a tune (hush little baby), and simultaneously on any phones with the same account set up on the app. A more gentle alert than the main ‘check on baby’ alarm, which has sounded for us once when Arlo’s oxygen level had dipped below its recommended parameters. From horizontal and semi-asleep to scooping Arlo in my arms I must have broken land speed records, but it was fuelled by the fact it was the first time hearing the alarm and instinct definitely kicked in. He seemed fine and his readings were then back in the normal range and have been since, but it did make me grateful that not only do we have the sock to monitor him, but that it gives a different warning to notify you it’s having issues connecting, rather than automatically sounding the alarm, which would either send me over the edge or make me complacent.
To use the app, which tracks the sleep and gives sounds alerts, you need to have a wi-fi connection, but I was pleased to find out that after the initial set up you can use the Smart Sock with a bluetooth connection. You won’t be able to monitor the readings or receive alerts on your phone, but the base station will still connect to the sock and sound an alarm if there are any issues, which has been great as we moved house and were without broadband for a week. Plus we’re about to go away for a weekend and I’ll be taking it with me. It’s so small and light to pack, and won’t need to be connected to any temperamental hotel wifi.
I had been slightly concerned that being able to track Arlo in such a detailed way may make me paranoid, but it did the total opposite. It gave me a quiet confidence that I would be alerted if there were any problems, and I was OK to get some much needed sleep before he was up for his next feed. Don’t get me wrong, I still peer over the cot to listen to him breathing and check on him regularly while he’s sleeping, but especially in those first few weeks post birth when hormones are all over the place, and evenings can be a troublesome time, I felt a small weight lifted and couldn’t have been more grateful.
The Owlet Baby Monitor Duo: The Verdict
As a duo it’s handy to use the same app, the camera does look smart and once I resolved the wi-fi strength it worked well, but the thing that really sells this to me is the peace of mind that the Smart Sock gives me during the night, it has been priceless.
The Owlet Smart Sock and Owlet Cam are available separately, but there is a saving if you buy the duo.
Owlet Baby Monitor Duo: Smart Sock and Owlet Cam, from £389.
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