The Best Movement Monitor Review

The Snuza Go attached to the diaper and ready to go!
Which Baby Movement Monitor is the best? We assembled 6 of the top monitors available, and put them through the ringer with real world, head to head testing. Whether you are looking for a stand-alone monitor, or an additional level of security to augment your current audio/video unit, we have you covered. After months of testing, the units were rated on Reliability, Ease of Use, and Portability. Read further for our findings.

Read the full review below >

Test Results and Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 6 ≪ Previous | View All | Next ≫
Rank #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product
Angelcare AC401
Angelcare AC401
Babysense 5s
Babysense 5s
Snuza go!
Snuza Go!
Levana Oma
Snuza Hero
Snuza Hero
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award    Best Value Award   
Price $110.00 List
$134.98 at Amazon
$130.00 List
$129.95 at Amazon
$99.00 List
$79.99 at Amazon - 19% off
$90.00 List$130.00 List
Overall Score 
100
0
86
100
0
81
100
0
76
100
0
76
100
0
67
Star Rating
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Pros Reliable, AC w/ battery, temp, wireless parent unitSimple, reliable, easy to usePortable, affordable, simple
Cons Confusing parent unit, may require crib modificationNo parent unit, not adjustable, may require crib modReliability, no parent unit, difficult to attach, proprietary battery
Ratings by Category Angelcare AC401 Babysense 5s Snuza Go! Levana Oma Snuza Hero
Reliability - 60%
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
6
Ease of Use - 30%
10
0
8
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
Portability - 10%
10
0
2
10
0
3
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
Specs Angelcare AC401 Babysense 5s Snuza Go! Levana Oma Snuza Hero
Recommended Age Up to 1 Year (can be used as an audio monitor beyond 1 year) Up to 1 Year Up to 1 Year Up to 1 year Up to 1 Year
Weight 2 lb, 3.8oz 2 lb, 3.3oz 1.05 oz 1.05 oz 1.15 oz
Size sensor pad:L 9 1/2", L 9 1/2" D 1/2" Parent Unit: L 5 1/4" W 2 1/2", D 1". Nursery Unit: L 6 1/2", W 3 1/2", D 2 1/2". Nursery Power Cord: 6' sensor pads round: 8 1/2" diameter. Depth 1/2". Cord length 27". Nursery unit:L 9 1/4", W 4", D 2" L 2 5/8" W 1 5/8" D 3/4" L 2 5/8" W 1 5/8" D 3/4" L 2 5/8" W 1 5/8" D 3/4"

Analysis and Award Winners


Review by:
Curtis Smith
Review Editor
BabyGearLab

Last Updated:
Tuesday
March 4, 2014

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Best Overall Movement Monitor


Angelcare AC401


Angelcare AC401 Editors' Choice Award

$134.98
at Amazon
See It

The Angelcare AC401 is the monitor we would choose for our home. It is the most reliable unit we tested, with both AC, and battery back up power. A wireless parent unit allows you to monitor movement, room temperature and sound from anywhere in the home and also has sensor pads with adjustable sensitivity. Unlike the other units we tested, the Angelcare AC401 can be used as a stand alone audio monitor once your child is over one year, extending it's value.

Read review: Angelcare AC401

Best for the Budget Minded


Levana Oma


Best Value Award

$90.00
List Price
See It

The Levana Oma is the lowest priced unit we tested, ranging in price from $70-$80 online, but it's a great buy for an entry level movement monitor. Plus, it has the added benefit of being small and travel friendly. It attaches directly to the diaper and can be used anywhere your infant may sleep or take a nap. It can be set to alarm at different intervals without movement, and will also alert if movements are less than 8 per minute. It does not have a wireless parent unit, but when combined with an audio/video monitor can provide effective movement monitoring. Please note, this unit will NOT be effective in any area with ambient vibration, i.e. swings, in vehicles or with bed sharing.

Read review: Levana Oma

Top Pick for Simplicity


Babysense 5s


Babysense 5s Top Pick Award

$129.95
at Amazon
See It

The Babysense 5s is easiest to use and the most foolproof monitor we tested. Set up is simple, and it has only one button that turns the unit on or off. At 3:00 AM, our groggy minds loved the simplicity of pressing one button and not having to worry about any other features. While it lacks many of the bells and whistles of the Angelcare AC401, it performs reliably as a movement detecting monitor. 4 AA batteries power it and all of the cords are hidden under the mattress. It does not have a wireless parent unit, but if you already own an audio or video monitor and are looking to add on a movement monitor, the Babysense 5s is an excellent choice.

Read review: Babysense 5s




Analysis and Test Results


The responsibility of becoming a parent is hard to imagine until you actually hold your child for the first time. The bond and desire to nurture and protect is hard to ignore from that moment forward. It's no surprise then, that when the time comes to put your child in their own crib, walk away and close the door, sleep time can really become an anxiety-inducing experience. Thus, many parents find themselves sleeping with, or within arms reach, of their new addition. At some point the need for mom and dad to get some quality sleep reaches a critical tipping point. Today, most parents have either an audio, or video monitor to allow them to keep tabs on their child in the nursery when they are out of the room. Standard baby monitors allow you to monitor noise, and in the case of a video-equipped monitor, view your child in real time. That way, if they are crying or upset, you'll know. What they cannot do is alert you to a potential emergency. Enter, Movement Monitors. This class of baby monitors are another tool being used by many parents, to provide an extra level of safety and peace of mind. These units are designed to alert the caregiver if movement is not detected for a preset period of time, or if movements are irregular. The monitors are highly sensitive, detecting even the slightest of movements, such as when your baby is breathing.

Currently, there is much controversy over both the safety and effectiveness of movement detecting monitors. Manufacturers cannot make the outright claim that a product is designed to prevent or provide an early alert of a SIDS event, but the language used in advertisements clearly plays on parent's fear of SIDS. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration have never approved a product to prevent SIDS, and they do not regulate this type of monitor. The American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National Institute of Health, both recommend against the use of monitors to prevent SIDS. None of the above mentioned agencies actually cite specific safety concerns related to the use of the monitors themselves. We suspect that the regulatory agencies feel that the use of these units provide a false sense of security, and distract from the core recommendations for the prevention of SIDS. There is credible scientific research showing that sleeping on the back, in a crib, without blankets and toys, is the best defense against SIDS.

Despite the recommendations against the use of movement detecting monitors by public health and safety agencies, there are many positive personal reviews from devoted users of the monitors we tested. Many users credit the monitors for saving the life of their child, or alerting them to abnormalities in sleep patterns that needed medical treatment. Despite the propensity of positive anecdotal evidence, it is beyond our capacity to recommend the use of movement detecting monitors. If you do choose to use a one, we recommend that you do so in addition to following the safe sleep practices outlined by the NIH, and the AAP. For more information on implementing safe sleep practices in your home, please click on the following links:

How Can I Reduce the Risk of SIDS?
Baby Products with SIDS Prevention Claims

Types of Movement Monitors


These units vary based on where their sensor is located. Currently, there are two primary types: "diaper attachment" and "under the mattress". During our testing, we found that sensor placement was the primary factor affecting reliability. We invite you to read on as we discuss how each works.

Under the Mattress


Sensor pad installed. Note that the sensor pad must be placed on a hard surface.
Sensor pad installed. Note that the sensor pad must be placed on a hard surface.
The most reliable monitors in our review utilize sensors that are placed under the mattress of the crib. A hard board or platform is required under the mattress for these to function properly, so if your crib is equipped with slats or springs, some crib modification may be required. We recommend this type of unit if you plan to use it primarily at home, and will not need it during travel.

Diaper Attachment


The Levana Oma+ ready for nap time.
The Levana Oma+ ready for nap time.
These units are more prone to false alarms due to the greater likelihood of displacement. The units are small, about the size of an old-school pager, run on batteries, and clip directly to the diaper. The sensor makes contact with the abdomen, at the belly button. If you travel a lot, or are looking for the most affordable option, you might consider these units.

For more information, take a look at our article How To Select The Best Movement Monitor.

Criteria For Evaluation



Reliability


False alarms can be a frightening experience, and often leave the user with more questions than answers. The common scenario during our testing was to hear the alarm, followed by a two-parent mad sprint to the baby's room with an occasional mom vs. dad collision in the hallway, enter the room, and find baby crying. We'd then be left with the question of what really woke the baby up? Was it just a false alarm or was it actually the monitor stimulating the baby to breathe after sensing a period of breathlessness? It's hard to know for sure, but needless to say, we quickly determined that reliability was the most important rating metric.

We found the most reliable products to be the units that utilize a sensor or multiple sensors under the mattress in the crib. With the weight of the mattress holding the sensor in place, there is little to no risk of the sensor moving or becoming dislodged. Movement of the sensor was the primary cause of false alarms during our testing, and was only an issue with the units that attached to the diaper or clothing of the infant.

The Editors' Choice winning Angelcare AC401 was the most reliable unit that we tested, followed closely by the Top Pick award winning Babysense 5s. Both utilize an under the mattress sensor connected to a nursery unit with wires that run to a nursery control unit. Neither of these units is affected by a change in position of the baby, such as a roll onto the side or stomach. The lowest scoring units were ones that attached directly to the diaper, the Levana Oma and the Levana Oma+. When tested on infants less than 3 months of age the rate of false alarms was minimal, but as the infant gets older and starts to move around and roll, issues with false alarms increased in frequency.

Ease of Use


Here we have the parent unit.  The white button in the middle turns the unit on and off.
Here we have the parent unit. The white button in the middle turns the unit on and off.
During our testing we took many factors into account when assessing ease of use, including, initial setup time, and clarity of included instruction manuals. We also took the difficulty of changing options, muting alarms, and powering the units on and off into account. But most importantly, we assessed the difficulty in incorporating the product into our daily sleeping routine. The Babysense 5s was the top scoring product in this category, followed by the Angelcare AC 401. Both products are powered on with a single button on the nursery unit and utilize under the mattress sensors that do not make direct contact with the infant. The Levana Oma and Oma+ do not require as much initial setup as our top scoring products. However they must be attached directly to the infant's diaper. This can be difficult to accomplish if you do not attach the unit prior to the infant falling asleep. Unfortunately if the sensor is attached prior to sleep you run the risk of displacement during bedtime preparations, triggering a false alarm.

Portability


Shown here with protective case (great for travel) and directions.
Shown here with protective case (great for travel) and directions.
Depending on how much time your child spends sleeping away from home, portability can be an attractive quality. We found that the monitors that attached to the diaper were the easiest to travel with. The Levana Oma and Oma+ were our highest scoring products. They are small, run on a battery, and come with a protective carrying case. They do not require a hard surface under the mattress, so they can be used with a travel crib or pack and play.

Both the Angelcare AC401 and the Babysense 5s use under the mattress sensors and must have a hard surface under the mattress, so they cannot be used with most travel cribs, and may not be compatible with roll away cribs from hotels. The Baysense 5s scored higher than the Angelcare AC401, only because it has fewer components and is easier to pack.

Conclusion


These units are not a medical device, and should not be relied upon to prevent SIDS, or any other medical condition. They do however offer a bit of peace of mind, and if that helps you get some much needed rest, who can argue with that? Once you incorporate the additional step of remembering to activate the monitor into your regular bedtime routine, it becomes as standard as turning off the lights. While false alarms can be both stressful and disruptive, they are infrequent. After months of testing, a movement monitor has become part of our routine, and now it is hard to imagine going without one.
Curtis Smith

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