Should I Use the Owlet? A Review from a Sleep Consultant

What is the Owlet Smart Sock?

The Owlet Smart Sock is a small wearable device that sits inside a fabric sock on your child’s foot. It operates similarly to a pulse oximeter you’d see in a hospital- the thing they clip on your finger with the red light. Owlet makes many disclaimers that their product is not to be treated as a medical grade device, however their studies do show the device is quite accurate when used correctly. The Owlet tracks heart rate, oxygen levels, and sleep patterns.

I have owned both the original Smart Sock and l bought the new Smart Sock 3 to use with my third baby. The original Smart Sock has always worked perfectly for us. We only got one false alarm in months and months of using it. The app has always been easy and user-friendly. At the time of writing this post, I have not used the Smart Sock 3 yet as I’m a few weeks away from new baby’s arrival! I will update the post once I have a chance to use it. However, a feature I am already excited about is the ease of charging with the new Smart Sock 3. It has a new system similar to how you’d charge an apple watch with an easy magnetic charger attached to the base. With the old Smart Sock, you would need to plug the sock in with a cord which could be tedious as the connections were tiny.

Why do people use the Owlet?

In short, parents use the Owlet for some added peace of mind. Being a human parent and needing to sleep means that necessarily, we take our eyes off of our baby for a decent chunk of hours during the night. Particularly out of fear of SIDS, this can cause a lot of anxiety for parents. The Owlet adds an additional layer of monitoring that could alert parents to a problem in case of an emergency, which can help parents stress less and sleep better. 

What does the AAP recommend?

It’s important to know that the AAP does not recommend use of these devices. They make some valid points- because the Owlet and other monitors like it are not considered medical devices, they do not want parents diagnosing or monitoring medical conditions through use of the device. They also do not want parents to use the Owlet or other at-home monitors as a reasoning or excuse to use unsafe sleep practices. For instance, parents putting blankets in the crib and reassuring themselves that the Owlet will alert them if the blanket gets over the baby’s head and begins to affect the baby’s oxygen levels.

Dr Rachel Moon from the AAP Task Force on SIDS shares this statement. “My main concern is people become complacent. They decide that since the baby’s monitored it’s OK for them to not practice safe sleep,” said Moon, head of pediatrics for the University of Virginia School of Medicine. “Using a monitor is a lot easier than practicing safe sleep. And then if the monitors don’t work, you’re just in a horrible situation then.”

Here’s the thing- it’s important to know the AAP recommendation and why they are hesitant to endorse these devices. However, I don’t think personally the reasoning is there to exclude them completely. 

I think that the Owlet could be likened to a home alarm system. Personally, our home alarm system brings me great peace of mind. On the off chance that anyone would try to break in and we wouldn’t have woken up, the alarm system would likely alert us and potentially be lifesaving, just like the Owlet would likely alert parents in the event of an unforeseen medical emergency or true SIDS event. This does not mean we do not take basic precautions like locking our doors at night before setting the alarm, just like it shouldn’t mean you don’t follow safe sleep guidelines even while utilizing the Owlet. It also doesn’t mean that if we hear a crash downstairs, we wouldn’t investigate it just because our alarm hadn’t gone off. In the same way, if something seems off or if you feel compelled to check on your child even if the Owlet readings are normal, you should do so.

I’m sure there are some people who use a home alarm system and it creates a kind of false sense of security to where they forget to lock doors and assume everything is fine when they should double check, but I imagine those are the minority. Overall, I bet people who pay for home alarm systems are the same kinds of people who consider using a device like the Owlet- cautious people who want an added layer of security on top of common sense safety measures.

Do I use the Owlet?

I do personally use the Owlet for my littles until about 6 months old. I have a history of postpartum anxiety which, for me, included the feeling like I had to constantly obsessively check on my baby, which resulted in very little sleep even during the small amounts of time that he would sleep. My level of sleep deprivation was truly a safety hazard for all of us. The Owlet gave me some added peace of mind that in the event something unforeseen happened while I was sleeping and my baby was sleeping, I had a better chance of being alerted to check on him at a time where I otherwise would have been unaware. I felt like the Owlet was very valuable to me for this reason. 

Should you use the Owlet?

It depends! This is going to be a completely individual choice for each family. I’ll list some caveats below, some of which I touched on above.

You should not use the Owlet as a medical device. If your child has a medical condition that needs to be monitored, ask your doctor for a device that would be suited for that condition. You should also not use the device to diagnose a medical condition, sleep disorder, etc. Because the Owlet can give false readings, it could be inaccurate and cause concern where there should not be. If the Owlet does show anything that seems continuously concerning, be sure to ask your doctor if further follow up with a sleep study or medical testing is warranted.

You should not use the Owlet to justify unsafe sleep. Remember the safest thing you can do for your baby is to practice basic safe sleep. Use the ABC’s of Safe Sleep– your baby should be Alone in their space, without an bumpers, pillows, blankets, toys or clutter around them that could pose a hazard, on their Back instead of the prone position, and in a Crib, bassinet or playard on a firm mattress intended for infant sleep. Practicing safe sleep is like locking your door at night. It’s the best deterrent for an incident! 

You should not use the Owlet if it would increase your anxiety. Though it was personally helpful for my own anxiety and that of many parents, I have heard from other parents that the Owlet actually increased their anxiety. Instead of checking their baby, they found themselves constantly staring at the readings in the app. Furthermore, it’s important to know that the Owlet can cause a false alarm if not worn properly or if it gets in a funny position! If you know that this possibility would increase your anxiety more than the monitoring would decrease your anxiety, the Owlet is probably not for you!

You should not take the sleep tracking as Gospel. The Owlet also tracks sleep activity, and gives you cool little graphs of light sleep, deep sleep and wakings each morning. While this is interesting and can give you basic insight into your baby’s patterns, you should not take the readings as completely accurate. The Owlet uses movement to determine if a baby is awake, and we all know that some babies move- a lot- while still deeply asleep. Sometimes this results in the graphs showing a lot of wakings during the night when perhaps baby was just active while asleep. This can make parents worry that their baby is not getting the amount of sleep they need. Do not use the Owlet graphs to determine this- use your baby’s mood, observable waking amount, and overall sleep quality to make better judgment calls about whether you need to make changes with their sleep.

If you know that the Owlet would give you peace of mind and not add to your anxiety per the caveats above, I highly recommend it! The ease of use of the sock, the ease of reading the app, the ease of charging and the peace of mind it brought me definitely has bumped it into one of my top 10 favorite baby products. If you have the budget for it and know it would bring you extra peace of mind, I think it is worth it.

Have any more questions about the Owlet? Drop them in the comments!

Note: I am not an affiliate for Owlet, and this review is written purely from the perspective of a mom buying this product with my own money and using it with my own kiddos to share my thoughts with others!

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I’m Katelyn,
Award-winning pediatric sleep consultant, child development expert, and most importantly, wife and mom.
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