Best Movement Monitor of 2021
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$119.99 at Amazon - 4% off
$299.00 at Amazon
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$123.99 at Amazon - 27% off
|Pros||Portable, affordable, simple, no EMF||Portable, wearable, fewer false alarms||Lots of information, user-friendly app, travel-friendly||Portable, simple, vibration stimulus, no EMF||Video and audio, wireless sensor pad|
|Cons||No parent unit, could be uncomfortable, alarm could be scary||Price, nursery only alarm, potentially scary for baby||Expensive, sock can fall off or not fit, higher EMF than the competition||No parent unit, difficult to attach, short battery life||Higher EMF than wired, price, requires hardboard under the mattress|
|Bottom Line||Affordable monitor that is easy to use and good for travel||Portable simplicity make it interesting but the higher price and loud alarm should be considered||Useful movement monitor offering lots of information for those who gain peace of mind with additional knowledge||Reliable clip-style wearable with a unique vibration stimulus||Potential all-around solution for every monitoring need from movement to sound and video|
|Rating Categories||Snuza Go||Levana Oma Sense||Owlet Smart Sock 3||Snuza Hero SE||Angelcare AC327|
|Ease Of Use (30%)|
|Specs||Snuza Go||Levana Oma Sense||Owlet Smart Sock 3||Snuza Hero SE||Angelcare AC327|
|Sensor Type||Wearable||Wearable||Wearable||Wearable||Sensor Pad|
|Parent Unit||No||No||Smartphone||No||Yes, Dedicated|
|Monitoring Type||Movement||Movement||Oxygen Saturation and Heart Rate||Movement||Movement, Sound, Video|
|EMF (at baby)||0.4 V/m||0.4 V/m||1.1 V/m||0.4 V/m||.9 V/m|
|Recommended Age||Not Listed||0-6mo||0-18mo or 30lbs||Not Listed||Sensor Pad: 0-24mo
Audio & Video: 0mo+
The Snuza Go is a budget-friendly wearable that clips to the front of your baby's diaper with a flexible sensor that rests on the infant's abdomen. This top-scoring product is easy to use and travels well with no additional components or complicated setups to worry about. This unit has a simple design that requires no special crib modifications or environment alterations, giving parents that straight out-of-the-box satisfaction you can't find in the sensor pad-style monitor.
The Go doesn't have a parent unit, and the loud nursery alarm can cause unnecessary upset for the baby or potentially go unheard by those outside the nursery. This can be half remedied by combining it with a sound monitor to gain a parent unit to ensure you hear the alarm. Some parents also feel that the battery life is too short, and replacements are challenging to locate. Still, the lower price and portability of the Go can offset this potential problem if you have budget or portability on your brain. Like most other movement products, the Go isn't that useful for older babies on the move, as this can result in false alarms, so it has a limited lifespan. Overall, this monitor has a very reasonable price for a straightforward unit that works for younger infants and is perfect for traveling.
Read Review: Snuza Go
The Babysense 7 is a sensor pad monitor that works under the crib mattress. It is easy to use and works well with minimal preparation and setup. This monitor has a straightforward control unit that goes on the crib's front and receives data from the two pads under the crib and sounds the alarm (with red lights) if your infant stops moving after a designated period. The Babysense 7 is one of the most reliable movement options in our tests, with fewer false alarms than the competition. It operates on AA batteries to decrease the potential for accidental strangulation from product cords. Unlike wearable monitors, this option continues to work reasonably well even after your baby is mobile (up to one year old).
Like all mattress sensors we've tested, the Babysense 7 requires that the mattress is housed on a hard surface board to function properly. It is also one of the most expensive options in this review. Because the alarm sounds in the nursery and not on a parent unit, it isn't the right choice if you want a parent device. Overall, this movement choice is easy to use and works well for a longer period than much of the competition, thanks to the two sensor pads. We believe most families will appreciate the simplicity and fewer false alarms with this unit and can always add a video or sound monitor as desired.
Read Review: Babysense 7
Always be sure to route cords out of your baby's reach to avoid potential injury or death from accidental strangulation. Even if your baby cannot roll/move or contact the nearby cords, it is vital that you install your monitor safely the first time to avoid potential future problems. Do NOT save this for a later time!
The Owlet Smart Sock 3 is an app-enabled wearable great for families who want more information on what is happening with their baby and inside the baby's nursery. This wearable attaches via a sock-shaped slip-on that baby wears on their foot. It is easy to attach and fits better than previous versions of the sock. We like the app you pair with your device and feel the user interface is relatively intuitive and friendly, especially if you are a frequent app user. The app provides information beyond just movement, including baby zone positions, sleep quality, heart rate, oxygen saturation, room temperature, and more. It is portable, making it an excellent choice for travel, and it has less EMF than some of the competing app-enabled wearables in this review.
The Owlet 3 has less EMF than version 2, but it is still more than other wearables like the Snuza Go or Levana Oma. So you'll need to determine if the advantages are worth the extra EMF it creates right on the baby's foot. The Owlet setup is also more convoluted than other wearables, and while not hard, it does have more steps than the clip-style wearables that don't require an app to work. It also is NOT a medical device and should not be used to treat or monitor any medical condition. Overall, we think tech-loving parents will like this monitor and how much information it provides. Many parents will feel the EMF is a worthwhile trade-off for the peace of mind they gain.
The Snuza Hero SE is a clip wearable with a unique vibration feature that gently rouses your baby from sleep, so they move (theoretically breathe) to stop the vibrating alarm before the audible alarm kicks in. This product is the only monitor we reviewed with this useful rousing feature. We like the simplicity of this wearable and the increased ability to use it away from home as it doesn't require a specialized setup or mattress like the sensor pads.
This clip can be uncomfortable for some little ones, and it doesn't work well if your baby is old enough to roll over or crawl as the sensor can dislodge or lose contact. This unit also has no parent device, so if the vibration doesn't rouse the baby, an audible alarm erupts directly from the clip attached to your child, and you may not hear it if you aren't close enough. If you don't hear the signal, it will continue to alert, which could unnecessarily upset little ones. Some parents didn't like the shorter battery life, while others experienced false alarms when the clip lost contact with the baby's belly. However, if you travel frequently or want a monitor that stimulates the baby into movement before the alarm goes off (a unique feature in our experience), then the Snuza Hero is an excellent choice.
Read Review: Snuza Hero
Why You Should Trust Us
Consideration for inclusion in our movement monitor review begins with our founder, board-certified pediatrician, Dr. Juliet Spurrier. Dr. Spurrier chooses products with safety and efficacy in mind. The in-house test team is led by Bob Wofford, father of 7, and our Senior Review Analyst. Wendy Schmitz, a Senior Review Editor, helps with the test analysis and ranking of products to determine award winners. Over time we have tested 14 different monitors designed for movement. Our vast experience over the last seven years helps us provide the details you need to find the right monitor for your baby.
We purchase and test most of our reviews' products, including this review for movement style monitors. The products are tested side-by-side for ease of use, EMF, false alarms, and features. We used two different brand EMF meters during testing to ensure accurate readings for each product and across models.
Analysis and Test Results
We purchased and tested each movement monitor in this review for its portability, reliability, ease of use, and more. Products were used in real homes and compared side-by-side in our in-house lab to determine how well they compare to one another and which options are the right choice for different situations.
For important tips on SIDs prevention and the safest sleep practices for your baby, read more information about how to protect your baby in an article written by our founder and board-certified pediatrician, Dr. Juliet Spurrier. Best sleep practices are the best way to help prevent sleep-related injuries or death and are far more important than choosing the best monitor.
There are several value products to be had in this category, including some impressive and versatile award winners. Depending on your goals and needs, you can find a great movement monitor for around one hundred dollars, and given their typical shorter lifespan; this is definitely something to consider. The Levana Oma and the Snuza Hero are similar options that work well, offer impressive portability, and are easy to use. The Hero includes a vibration feature to gently rouse little one's encouraging movement, while the Levana has an in-nursery alarm only. The Snuza Go is almost identical to the Oma and comes in with a price below a hundred and was the top-scoring product in this review. If you are looking for a sensor pad monitor, a good value is the Baby Sense 7 with 2 included under-mattress pads and a quick setup.
False alarms can be a frightening experience (for parents and babies), and they often result in more questions than answers. Their occurrence makes reliability a critical consideration and the number one complaint of most parents. Historically, in our experience, the sensor pads were the most reliable because there is no risk that the sensor will move or become dislodged. Products like the Angelcare AC327 and the Babysense 7 had fewer false alarms than the wearable products when properly set up and for infants who have not begun to roll or move significantly during sleep. New analysis indicates this may no longer be the case.
The primary cause of false alarms seems to happen when wearable monitors lose contact with the baby's body and can no longer sense movement. Contact loss can occur if the sock with Owlet Smart Sock 3 falls off, the button on the Monbaby Smart Button loses contact with the baby, or the diaper clip products shift away from the baby's belly. As your baby becomes mobile, there is a chance of a wearable product losing contact with the baby. For this reason, the sensor pads were thought to result in fewer false alarms as they encompass a wide area of the mattress and are not dependant on a calm and stationary baby. Also, the Angelcare AC327 has a sensitivity adjustment on the nursery unit that can be altered to suit your nursery and child's specific needs, thereby decreasing potential false alarms. The BabySense 7 comes with two pads, which potentially translates to even fewer false alarms as it covers more of the area than the single pad of the Angelcare. However, it seems that outside factors can influence how well these sensor pads work, and things like an overhead fan or a vibrating air filter can result in a poorly operating monitor.
Recently, in our research and analysis, we've seen an increase in reports indicating that wearable monitors are proving to be more reliable when it comes to a lack of false alarms. Users by and large report fewer false alarms or problems with the wearable options than they have in the past, and analysis seems to indicate they might actually be more reliable than the sensor pads when used correctly. While any device can fail if it becomes detached from the baby or isn't used according to directions, most wearables performed well and offered peace of mind for parents by not alerting when everything was fine. As long as the wearables stay connected, they seem to perform well for reliability. The highest-ranking options for reliability are the Snuza Go and the Owlet Smart Sock 3, each earning an 8 for reliability. The lowest-scoring is the Monbaby with a 2.
Ease of Use
Parents should consider how challenging a monitor is to use, including the setup, buttons, settings, smartphone interface, and battery changes. The Babysense 7 and the Angelcare AC327 are straightforward to turn on, but they have some adjustment settings to manage at least once, and the parent unit on the AC327 is neither user-friendly nor intuitive. Alternatively, the Snuza Go, Snuza Hero, and Levana Om Sense require less initial preparation but can be frustrating to attach to a squirmy or sleeping baby resulting in false alarms or sleep disruption. Parents also complain that the battery compartment is hard to open on the Snuzas, making battery changes a dreaded chore.
The Monbaby Smart Button, Sense-U Baby, and the Owlet Smart Sock 3 can also be challenging to attach, though the Sock 3 is better than the Smart Sock 2. Their sensor and smartphone can fail to connect, resulting in an expensive, useless accessory. Plus, each has an app you need to use, and while they are reasonably intuitive, it will help if you are familiar with other tech gadgets and apps.
The Owlet is different than the other products in this review. This monitor doesn't track movement but instead keeps track of blood oxygen saturation and heart rate, making it seem similar to something your pediatrician might prescribe for a sick child. However, Owlet and the FDA stress that this monitor is not a medical device, and it is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or monitor any medical problem. No monitor, including this one, should be used in place of basic safe sleeping practices such as putting your baby on their back to sleep on a firm mattress, using only a tight-fitting sheet with nothing else in the sleeping area.
Most monitors in our review alert inside the baby's nursery, so they need to be loud enough to wake you from a dead sleep in a different room. This nursery alarm should wake a baby from a deep sleep, who is theoretically not breathing, without the potential delay from a slow waking parent running to the nursery. However, this loud in-nursery alarm also means potentially scaring your little one, which will lead to crying instead of gentle stimulation to facilitate movement or breathing. Depending on your house size, where the nursery is, and if the monitor is covered, the alarm could be hard to hear. Because of this, we highly recommend that monitors without parent units be combined with a sound monitor. The Angelcare AC327 has a dedicated parent unit with video and audio capability, so you are sure to hear the alarm and can then peek in to see if your little one is breathing.
Many movement monitor alarms are only on the sensor in the nursery and do not include a parent device. This design means you need to be within hearing distance of the alarm. Combining the movement monitor with a sound monitor can mitigate the need to stay within ear-shot, and choosing two monitors is a popular solution for many parents for this reason.
The Angelcare AC327 sensor pad offers an adjustable sensitivity feature. The highly sensitive sensor pads can pick up ambient noise and vibration from heating vents, fans, or household appliances. If the pads pick up ambient interference, the monitor will not work if the infant stops moving because the sensor will think the interference is the baby moving. You must test your monitor while using everyday appliances in proximity to the baby's room (specifically fans, air filters, white noise makers, and heaters in baby's room). If the alarm does not function, then the sensor on the AC327 can be adjusted to ignore interference. The wearable monitors are not affected by low-level ambient vibration and do not have an adjustable sensor, but don't mistake this to mean they are suitable for strollers or car seats; they are not. None of the movement monitors will work when used in a device designed to move, as the monitor cannot tell the difference between a baby's movement and the stroller or car seat movement. If you choose the BabySense 7, you'll need to remove ambient interference from the room or away from the baby's crib, as it doesn't have an adjustment feature, and even something as simple as a slowly moving overhead fan can influence the sensor.
Electromagnetic Fields (EMF)
The jury is still out on the effects of EMF on the human body and the sensitive developing systems of babies. Nevertheless, we believe there is enough evidence to indicate potential harm, so we think parents should consider the EMF (Volts/meter) emitted by all products in use near their little ones. We believe that a "better safe than sorry" approach is smart and that parents should make thoughtful and informed choices when selecting products that emit EMF. Every home has an ambient EMF level, and each new product brought into the home can increase the EMF emissions. However, putting an EMF emitting device directly on your baby is entirely different in our minds, and we think parents should weigh the pros and cons before choosing to do so. This concern is why we test each product to determine how much EMF it generates.
The Owlet Smart Sock 3 has a significantly lower level of EMF than the Owlet Smart Sock 2. Our two EMF meters registered an average of 8 V/m when placed next to the Owlet Smart Sock 2 vs. 1.1 V/m for the newer Smart Sock 3. We are not comfortable with the Sock 2 level of EMF right on a baby. The Sock 2 level result is 73% of the EMF emitted from an iPhone while making a phone call, 3x higher than a Fitbit fitness monitor (more on this below), and 12x more than the ambient EMF in our testing area! If you are interested in the Owlet Smart Sock, we recommend choosing the Smart Sock 3; we do NOT recommend the Smart Sock 2, even if it saves money.
In comparison, both Snuza models and the Levana Oma emitted no EMF over the ambient room reading (0.4 V/m). The Monbaby Smart Button is also high, in our opinion, with a reading of 2.3 V/m. The Sense-U Baby has significantly lower EMF than the similar Monbaby with a reading of 1.2 V/m, which is one reason why it ranked higher overall. The mattress sensor pads from the BabySense 7 emit no EMF over the ambient room in our tests, and the Angelcare AC327 is middle of the road with 1.2 V/m as a result of the wireless design.
For some perspective, we also tested the EMF on a smartphone in various configurations of Bluetooth, WiFi, and calling active and not active, and some wearable fitness monitors. This testing provides comparable information on how the wearable monitors' EMF compare to everyday items that you use or wear. We believe parents can relate to this data, given the rising concerns about radiation from cell phones and cancer. A smartphone with the WiFi on and making a call measured 17 V/m at a one-inch distance. At 1 inch away from the meter, the Fitbit has an average reading of 3 V/m.
Even though conclusive data about how much EMF is dangerous is lacking, we don't recommend high EMF emitting products for the first six months (when this kind of product is useful); especially, since there are good alternatives that do not have this issue. Babies are more susceptible to EMF than adults because they are still developing and have thinner skulls. Given this information, we are disturbed that some baby monitoring products have significantly higher EMF than the adult products we hear about so much.
Curious about the Owlet overall, we also measured the EMF level in an older Owlet Smart Sock v1. The EMF reading at 1-inch from the sock for the v1 is significantly lower with a reading of 1.4 V/m, while the v2 sock has a reading of 8 V/m and the Smart Sock 3 has a reading of 1.1 V/m. The v1 and v3 socks readings are much closer to the ambient EMF levels of 0.7 V/m, which we feel is a more acceptable EMF level. Our EMF measurements of the Owlet Smart Sock v2 show higher EMF transmissions at the baby by a startling 5.7x more. At such a high level, we cannot in good conscience recommend the Owlet Smart Sock 2. We can't say why the company decided to increase the EMF level of the Bluetooth radio transmitter in the baby's sock so dramatically. Still, we are happy to see these levels came down significantly in the Smart Sock 3.
Because of the concerns and supporting data involving the long-term use of smartphones next to your head given the potential risk of radiation and cancer related to EMF, we do NOT feel it is a good idea (in our opinion) to use a high EMF emitting product directly on your baby. Especially one that emits 12X more EMF than the ambient room levels (like the Owlet Smart Sock 2).We recommend that any EMF emitting monitor you feel is necessary should be placed as far away from your baby as possible without affecting performance. Because babies wear the Owlet Smart Sock on their bodies, we are glad that the manufacturer re-engineered the Sock 3 to emit significantly less EMF than the previous version.
Portability includes determining which options are the easiest to take on the road with you when you travel or for trips to grandma's house. In short, the wearable options are far easier to take when traveling due to their smaller size and the way they work. The sensor pad-style monitors require a specific kind of mattress and a hard surface underneath. They also require a fairly intensive setup. This all means when you reach your destination, you'll need to modify the crib offered to you, and it may not be suitable to work with your monitor, leaving you with no monitor at all.
On the other hand, the wearable options are attached to your baby or their clothes and are small enough to fit in a carry-on easily and set up in moments. This makes getting little ones ready for bed when you reach your destination an easy, no-brainer that is quick and efficient. If you plan to travel with your monitor, we think the Snuza Hero, Levana Oma, and the Snuza Go are the easiest and most user-friendly options for portability. They are all similar in design and user interface, but the Hero includes a vibration rousing response before the alarm goes off, which means you could potentially avoid a loud alarm sounding in the middle of the night. The Owlet Smart Sock 3 is also a potential wearable option, but the sock is a little more fragile, and if you lose it or leave it behind at a hotel, it can be costly to replace.
Wearable units do not work in a moving car or stroller as they can't determine if the movement is the baby or the movement of the vehicle or stroller. This incompatibility is not a fault of any monitor but a result of the technology design and how it determines a baby's movements.
Movement monitors are not a medical device, and you shouldn't rely on them to prevent SIDS or monitor any medical condition or issue. However, this monitor style could offer peace of mind for some parents. If it can help increase your odds of achieving a good night's sleep, then you might want to consider adding it to your nursery. We believe everyone can find something to meet their needs in this review of top options. No matter what kind of monitoring decisions you make, nothing replaces safe and smart sleeping practices to reduce the risk of SIDs. Babies must always sleep on their back, in their own space, on a firm surface, using only a tight-fitting sheet for bedding (no blankets, lovies, pillows, bumpers, etc.). Providing a safe and comfortable sleep space for your little one is more crucial than choosing a monitoring device. This safe space should have good airflow with a fan or air filter nearby to increase circulation. There should be no smoking, and the room should be a comfortable temperature for an adult in lightweight clothing (no overheating the space or keeping it too cool).
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz