Best Baby Movement Monitors of 2020
Best Baby Movement Monitors
August 14, 2020

Best Baby Movement Monitors

Best Baby Movement Monitors.
Photo by @msvaniarios
Best Baby Movement Monitors

Worrying about your baby while they sleep is a tried and true pastime of new parents everywhere. While regular baby monitors can help you keep an eye (and an ear) on your little one, movement monitors take the traditional monitor up a notch, providing tracking features that can record things like your baby’s breathing, heart rate and even their sleep patterns and alert you if something looks off.

Movement monitors aren’t replacements for medical-grade monitors, but some parents like the extra data—and the extra peace of mind—they can provide.

What is a Baby Movement Monitor?

A baby movement monitor is just what its name implies—a baby monitor that uses sensors to track your little one’s movements while they’re asleep and alert you if there’s a problem.

In addition to tracking movement, some monitors also track stats like your baby’s breathing, heart rate, oxygen saturation levels and temperature. Some even provide sleep analytics that can help you gain insights around your baby’s sleep patterns.

Some monitors use wearables like a sock or a band for tracking. Others use a clip that attaches to your baby’s diaper, while some use special sensors that are placed beneath your little one’s crib mattress.

Some baby movement monitors work alongside a video monitor and are sold as a bundle. Others offer the option to add a video monitor on for an extra cost, and some movement monitors function completely independently of video monitors.

Are Baby Movement Monitors Considered Medical Devices? Can They Prevent SIDS?

Baby movement monitors may provide some peace of mind to new parents, but it’s important to remember that these types of monitors are not medical devices and, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), give little or no protection from SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).

While many manufacturers do perform extensive testing on their breathing and movement monitors, these devices aren’t subject to the same types of rigorous testing that’s required of medical devices. That’s because they’re sold as consumer devices, not medical ones.

If you do choose to use a breathing monitor, the AAP recommends always practicing safe sleep regardless.

Do I Need a Baby Movement Monitor?

No, you don’t need a baby movement monitor. In fact, you don’t technically need any type of baby monitor at all—it just depends on what makes you feel most comfortable as a new parent.

Some parents like the peace of mind a baby movement monitor provides. While it will never take the place of a medical-grade device, some parents like the reassurance of knowing there’s an eye (and a sensor!) on baby at all times. Some even say it helps them to get more sleep.

For other parents, the opposite is true. Sometimes too much information can be anxiety-producing and overwhelming. And there’s the implication of false alarms to think about too.

It’s all about figuring out what works best for you, your baby and your family.

Babylist’s Best Baby Movement Monitors

Sensor-Free + Tons of Data

The Scoop
  • Sensor-free breathing and motion tracking
  • Tons of sleep analytics; perfect for data-loving parents
  • Wifi HD camera with exceptional clarity
What Our Experts Say

The Nanit caught our attention the moment it launched in 2016 and has been impressing us ever since. It’s one of our favorite sensor-free breathing and motion-tracking baby monitors thanks to its innovative design and excellent functionality.

Nanit’s camera tracks your little one’s breathing and movement by reading the custom-designed pattern on its bands and swaddles. There’s no sensor or sock needed here—just pop your little one in the Nanit swaddle or wrap the Breathing Band around their existing clothing and let the tracking software take care of the rest. (This starter set comes with one small Breathing Band and one small Nanit swaddle.) If the system detects a problem, you’ll get notified via an alert on both your phone and your camera.

This set also includes an impressive HD camera that offers a bird’s-eye perspective on every corner of your crib along with other features like two-way audio and a room temperature sensor. There’s a multi-stand travel accessory that lets you take the camera with you when you’re not at home. (Just keep in mind that you can’t use the breathing or motion-tracking functions when the camera is on this stand.) And last but definitely not least is the Nanit app’s sleep insights. Ideal for data-loving parents, it’s brimming with sleep stats on your baby and includes things like sleep patterns, a timelapse highlight real of the night and science-backed sleep guidance from experts.

What’s Worth Considering

This Nanit bundle is on the pricier side, but many parents think it’s well worth trading cost for a little extra peace of mind. You’ll also only get one year of Nanit Insights (the sleep data analytics program) included with your monitor; if you want to extend your subscription past that time, you’ll have to pay a fee.

What Babylist Parents Say

“Complete safety and security in knowing the baby is breathing, sleep stats, always-on sound on our phones and iPads, just a great product overall.” -Jill

Tracks Baby’s Vitals

The Scoop
  • Pulse oximeter technology tracks oxygen levels and heart rate
  • Includes Smart Sock + HD camera
  • Expensive
What Our Experts Say

The Owlet is one of the most popular tracking monitors among Babylist parents. The Owlet works a bit differently than the other monitors on our list. Instead of tracking breathing and movement, it functions more like a pulse oximeter and measures your baby’s oxygen levels and heart rate via a tiny sock you slip onto your little one’s foot. If your baby’s readings leave the preset “safe” zone, you’ll get a notification both on the base unit and on your phone that they need you.

This bestselling bundle comes with two components: an HD monitor and the Smart Sock. The video monitor uses an encrypted WiFi connection and features a 130-degree wide angle, two-way talk and a room temperature sensor. The Smart Sock is completely wireless and fits babies from five pounds through about 30 pounds. Everything works via an app on your smartphone that also tracks your little one’s sleep history and trends.

What’s Worth Considering

You’ll have to stay within 100 feet of your baby if you want to use the Smart Sock. And keep in mind that although the Owlet does function like a pulse oximeter, it’s not a medical device and shouldn’t be used as one.

What Babylist Parents Say

“I love the ease of mind it gives me knowing my baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels are in a normal zone, and that I’ll be alerted if I need to attend to my baby while asleep.” -Sara

Affordable and Portable

The Scoop
  • Affordable at under $100
  • Easily portable
  • No video monitor component
What Our Experts Say

Video monitors with breathing and movement tracking capabilities are great, but they come at a steep price. If you don’t need (or want) a video component—or are already using a video monitor that doesn’t have movement tracking but want to pair it with something that does—check out the Snuza. It’s a simple, straightforward wearable monitor that comes in at under $100 and still offers lots of peace of mind.

The Snuza clips right to your baby’s diaper and works by monitoring your little one’s abdominal movements. If it doesn’t detect any movement for 15 seconds it vibrates in an effort to rouse your baby; if after five more seconds there’s still no movement, an alarm will also sound. (The alarm will activate after three vibration/rousing incidents, as well.) It’s easy to use and portable and won’t break the bank.

What’s Worth Considering

You can’t use the Snuza once your baby starts rolling over or when they’re in motion such as in a car seat or stroller. There’s also no app or parent unit.

What Babylist Parents Say

“Made it easier for me to feel better about sleeping myself.” -Darcy

No Wires, Wearables or Sensors Required

The Scoop
  • No wires or wearables needed for tracking
  • Subscription-free sleep insights and analytics
  • Custom dual Ole Wolff speakers
What Our Experts Say

The Miku Smart Baby Monitor is very similar in design and functionality to the Nanit but with a few small differences. First, and definitely worth noting, is that the Miku doesn’t require any wires or wearables in order to track your little one’s breathing and motion. Whether your baby is wearing a swaddle, a footie or nothing at all, the monitor works in real-time on your smartphone and alerts you of any changes in your little one’s vitals and nursery conditions.

The second difference is what’s included in the app’s sleep analytics information. Things like a day and night sleep summary, a graph of your baby’s sleeping habits and more are all available subscription-free with the Miku. You can even share and download unlimited HD videos and photos right from your phone.

Other notables to love: the Miku comes with two Wolff speakers that play music, lullabies and support two-way audio. The unit has an embedded crypto chip paired with advanced encryption and two-step authentication for security, and the HD camera is crystal-clear, even at night.

What’s Worth Considering

Some say that Miku’s sleep analytics err on the side of too much information and can be a bit overwhelming to sort through. It’s also one of the most expensive tracking monitors on our list.

What Babylist Parents Say

“Relieves my anxiety especially when he started crib sleeping. It helped me get sleep!” -Ellyn

Best Video + Movement Value

The Scoop
  • Most affordable video monitor + movement tracker on our list
  • No wearables—sensors go under crib mattress
What Our Experts Say

If you don’t like the idea of a wearable against your baby’s skin but still want to track your little one’s breathing and movement, the Babysense 7 is a great choice. It’s also a great value when compared to the other video + movement tracker bundles on our list.

There’s no sock, band or clip needed here. Instead, this monitor uses two sensor pads placed beneath your baby’s crib mattress. The pads are extremely sensitive and detect even the slightest of movement during sleep. An alarm will sound if there’s no movement for 20 seconds or if the system detects less than 10 micro-movements per minute.

This system also comes with a video monitor with features like zoom, pan and tilt, room temperature sensors, two-way audio and multi-camera expandability for up to four cameras. You won’t get the same video quality or any sleep analytics like you would with some of the other monitor + tracking bundles on our list, but at about half the price of most of these systems, the Babysense more than gets the job done.

What’s Worth Considering

There are definitely complaints of false alarms happening with this system. Users also note that the sensors sometimes detect other motion in a room like a ceiling fan.

What Babylist Parents Say

“It allows us to sleep easy knowing our daughter is breathing and resting safely at night.” -Ashleigh

A Wearable with Extra Features

The Scoop
  • Wearable with app + parent unit
  • Monitors breathing, temperature and rollovers
  • Under $100
What Our Experts Say

Like the Snuza, the Sense-U is a solid choice if you’re looking for a non-video wearable that will monitor your baby’s breathing and won’t cost you a fortune. It’s contoured to clip snugly onto any diaper and alert you if your little one’s breathing becomes weak. It also tracks your baby’s temperature (a helpful feature when your little one is sick or if you’re worried they’re either over or underdressed) and will even alert you if your little one rolls onto their stomach, two features absent in the Snuza.

The Sense-U comes with a parent unit and an app that you can control via your smartphone. And while this model doesn’t come with a video monitor, there is an option to add one on, another feature the Snuza lacks.

What’s Worth Considering

The Sense-U app only works with one phone; you can’t link multiple users. This can be frustrating for two-parent families who aren’t often home at the same time. Users complain the temperature monitoring feature can often give inaccurate readings, but that adjusting the sensor clip and making sure it’s placed correctly near baby’s belly button can help.

What Babylist Parents Say

“Bought both the Sense-U and the Snuza. The Snuza seemed to leak more when he had wet diapers. It gave us peace of mind while he was asleep.” -Nicole

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