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  • Writer's pictureDr. Charlene Blache

"Owlets" Are Not Recommended to Reduce the Risk of SIDS

“Home cardiorespiratory monitors should not be used to reduce the risk of SIDS”, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) “Safe Sleep Recommendations” updated in 2022.  Data supporting their use to prevent sudden and unexpected death are lacking.

Recently, I received several Emergency Department (ED) calls, during late night and early morning hours, concerning infants brought to the ED because their oxygen saturation was registering low during the night.  Their parents purchased the Baby Owlet Sock Monitor, believing that it would alert them if their baby’s vital signs were to become abnormal during sleep.

These infants were otherwise symptom-free and were assessed as normal in the ED.  It is quite normal for babies’ oxygen saturations to be lower when they sleep deeply through the night.  Oxygen saturations can drop as low as 86% during deep sleep in infants up to 3 months of age.

These costly monitors intended for safety, often create unnecessary anxiety, resulting in inconvenient and expensive trips to the ED, where infants can be exposed to dangerous pathogens.

According to the AAP….Wearable heart rate and pulse oximetry monitoring devices sold to consumers are certified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as wellness devices, which do not meet the criteria for medical devices.  They are defined as devices intended “for maintaining or encouraging a healthy lifestyle and unrelated to the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, prevention, or treatment of a disease or condition.”

Safe sleep recommendations that have been proven to reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) include:

  • Placing infants on their backs to sleep

  • In an uncluttered crib

  • Next to the parent's bed

  • In parents’ room for the 1st 6 months 

  • In a non-smoking environment and one without the use of alcohol, marijuana, opioids, and illicit drugs

  • On a firm, non-inclined sleep surface (or less than 10 degrees from horizontal) 

  • Avoiding bed-sharing (if possible) 

  • Adding layers of clothing for warmth vs head coverings

  • Pacifier use is associated with a reduced risk of SIDS

  • Blankets or sleepers are OK to use, but there is no evidence that swaddling decreases the risk of SIDS

  • Weighted objects are not recommended

Charlene Blache, MD, FAAP

Senior Pediatrician


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