Infant monitors: Not so smart

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It’s not uncommon for new parents to use a baby monitor, so they can keep an ear or eye on their child. However, you should steer clear of a new type of monitor.

Manufacturers of smartphone-integrated infant monitors that have built-in sensors and are located inside of diaper clips, onesies and socks, among other items, claim that their products alert parents when their child is in harm’s way. However, a January 2017 report in Journal of American Medical Association states that no evidence exists that smartphone-integrated infant monitors save lives.

Manufacturers make claims that include, “[the monitor] alerts you if your baby stops breathing” and “you can opt to receive an audible alarm on your smartphone every time your baby rolls onto her stomach.” Without explicitly saying so, the makers of these products imply that their devices prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Dr. Christopher Bonafide, who is one of the report’s authors, says these companies haven’t presented research to back their claims. (The authors looked at five products that have smartphone integration.) Regulated baby-health-monitoring devices are used in a hospital setting, and now nonregulated in-home infant-health monitors have spread to the commercial marketplace.  “There’s no indication from decades of research that home-vital-sign monitoring prevents SIDS,” Bonafide says. 

Dr. Michael Goodstein of American Pediatric Association’s task force on SIDS says such products are alluring to millennial parents who believe that technology solves all problems and, therefore, can become a crutch for new parents’ insecurity in regard to their ability to take care of their baby.