Why this sleep


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Feb 18, 2024

Why this sleep

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean? ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

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Is it safe to say that all new parents need more sleep? This is, in part, why baby monitors were invented in the first place. I still remember when video monitors for babies became mainstream, which meant I no longer needed to haul around a walkie-talkie-looking device around my house and now carried a screen instead.

Also: Your kid wants a phone? Consider this cute, trackable smartwatch instead

Now, trackers like the Owlet Dream Sock have become so sophisticated that they can measure your baby's blood oxygen levels, heart rate, and sleep cycles, and alert you if anything reads unusually.

Such wearables have been a household essential for me, particularly because my family has a history of febrile seizures, bringing a sense of unease when my children are sleeping. In hopes of helping other new parents who may experience similar discomfort, allow me to share why a sleep-tracking baby sock is highly recommended.

Similar to an Apple Watch or Fitbit, the Dream Sock is worn by your baby while they sleep and tracks their heart rate and oxygen levels to map out their sleep stages. It also alerts your smartphone if your baby is awake or shows any signs of irregularity.

The box comes with the sensor, a base station, and four fabric socks in two sizes to fit babies from birth through 18 months. For the years after, Owlet offers a Plus option that includes two additional toddler-sized socks to fit kids from 30 lbs to 55 lbs.

The sock itself holds a photoplethysmography (PPG) sensor that the baby wears on their foot, similar to what you wear in the ER to track your heart rate. Through the Dream Sock, the Owlet app can track not only heart rate and average oxygen levels, but also noise, wakings, and movements to learn your baby's baseline behaviors and measurements.

Also: The 6 best smartwatches for kids

Once that baseline is measured, whenever the sensor on the sock detects a deviation from those numbers, the base station will send an alert to your phone, suggesting that your baby needs your attention.

As a millennial parent, I've always sought guidance from educational apps and the occasional forum group for parents to get me through the initial challenges of parenthood. These resources helped me navigate sleep regressions, for example, and the Owlet Dream Sock has been similarly helpful.

As my kids got older, I decided to get the Owlet Dream Sock Plus to grow with them.

With enough usage, the Owlet app builds a schedule for when you should the baby's next sleep or nap should start. Part of this depends on the measured baseline and their age, of course, which you can enter manually. For times when your baby isn't sleeping with the sock -- there are moments when I drop my one-year-old off at the daycare, for example -- you can input their sleep cadence yourself for the Owlet app to work from.

Also: I wore an Apple Watch and a Fitbit to track my sleep. Here's how the data compared

The app also features historical sleep data, so you can view your baby's sleep patterns and see how they change as they get through sleep regressions, growth spurts, or illnesses.

I first bought a smart baby sock for my firstborn six years ago in hopes that it would help me keep track of my baby's breathing, and give me enough tranquility to sleep without worry.

As first-time parents, my husband and I were worried about sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), so we'd have our newborn wear the Owlet more for peace of mind than anything else, and knew that we weren't the only ones who thought that. According to a medical study conducted from 2015 to 2017, the Owlet Smart Sock helped 94% of parents sleep better at night.

Once our firstborn got past six months old, we rarely used the Owlet Smart Sock -- until she started having complex febrile seizures. I don't know if you've ever held a small child during a seizure, but I can tell you it's the scariest thing that has ever happened in my life, especially since I didn't know what was happening the first time.

Review: Amazon Halo Rise: A sleep-tracking nearable to replace your clumsy wearable

My family has a significant history of febrile seizures, so we were told after the first one that it likely wouldn't be the last, and it wasn't: My daughter had three more before she naturally outgrew them by the time she turned five.

The Owlet Dream Sock charges wirelessly with its Base Station.

At that point, the Owlet sleep sock served an even greater purpose for us as parents: It was capable of alerting us whenever there were signs of a seizure while our baby slept, like elevated heart rate or low oxygen, helping us rest a little easier at night.

Fortunately, our second child never had any febrile seizures, though she got her own Owlet sock to wear. By the time baby number three arrived, the standard sock had just enough battery left for us to pass it on to her. However, for longer usage, I'd highly recommend picking up the Plus size, which Owlet says should last you up to five years.

It's worth noting that baby sock monitors like the Owlet and Eufy are not medical devices, nor are they cleared by the FDA as such. Owlet used to market its sleep sock as a heart rate and oxygen monitor until the FDA forced the company to remove this language from its product descriptions through a warning letter in 2021.

Also: The best sleep trackers (and are they really accurate?)

As a result, Owlet shifted its focus to sleep tracking. While its Dream Sock still tracks heart rate, the blood oxygen monitoring is now delivered in a ten-minute average, which is still useful to have, and the metrics are translated into sleep quality indicators in the Owlet Dream mobile app. When the company's algorithm detects these measures shifting from the regular baseline, you get an alert to check in on the baby.

The Owlet Dream Sock retails for $299, which is not cheap, but it helps that you can use HSA or FSA funds to purchase it. Thankfully, there are no additional monthly fees or subscriptions to track your baby's sleep after you purchase the Dream Sock.

Cost aside, the Owlet Dream Sock is certainly an innovative smart device and has genuinely helped me mentally, emotionally, and, to a subtle extent, physically. I've always loved seeing data in black and white, and I often use my Apple Watch and Fitbit to track my own sleep. Being able to extend those capabilities to my kids, I think, is a no-brainer.

Also: Your kid wants a phone? Consider this cute, trackable smartwatch insteadAlso: The 6 best smartwatches for kidsAlso: I wore an Apple Watch and a Fitbit to track my sleep. Here's how the data comparedReview: Amazon Halo Rise: A sleep-tracking nearable to replace your clumsy wearableAlso: The best sleep trackers (and are they really accurate?)