Considering a movement monitor for your infant available today? We considered more than 20 of the 6 top contenders we purchased for testing to help you determine the right monitor for your needs. For some parents, having a movement monitor in the nursery provides peace of mind for a better night's sleep by helping to limit their fears of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Movement monitors track the baby's breathing movements, and while movement monitors don't claim to prevent SIDS, a reliable monitor can ease some anxiety. Remember safe sleep guidelines should always be followed with EVERY sleep to help reduce the risk of SIDS.
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.
To help ensure that you never miss an alarm or cry from the nursery, you can combine any movement device with a sound or favorite video baby monitor. Combining monitor types can provide the most useful information about what is happening.
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 SE is an excellent choice.
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 works reasonably well even after your baby is mobile (up to one year old).
This monitor can be purchased with a video monitor. While we understand the desire to see and hear your infant along with movement alerts, we recommend not purchasing the combination as the video camera emits more EMF (Volts/meter) than the top-rated video monitors we tested. Even at 6 ft from the camera, our EMF results were 3.5 V/m, while the average value for similar cameras in our review is closer to 2 V/m at this distance. If viewing your little one is important, we recommend purchasing a video monitor separately. Video is useful longer than movement, and choosing a quality product with lower EMF is more important than saving a few dollars or the convenience of buying a set. Plus, you get to choose what you want instead of being stuck with one option.
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.
The Sense-U Baby 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 like a button or can clip-on. It is easy to attach and turn on. We like the free app you pair with your device and feel the user-interface is relatively intuitive and friendly, especially if you use apps frequently. This app provides information beyond just movement, including baby position, temperature, and more. It is portable, making it an excellent choice for travel, and it has less EMF than the other button style wearable in this review.
The Sense-U can only be paired with one device at a time, which can be frustrating if the parent with the unit is not home. Its Bluetooth is only good up to about 50ft, so it may not work in larger homes as it must pair with a smartphone. Set up is also more convoluted, and while not hard, it does have more steps than the other clip-style wearables. While the EMF is similar to other products, it isn't as low as most wearable monitors in this review. 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.
Always 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!
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 all of the movement style monitors in this review (as well as all baby gear we test). 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.
Our testing of movement monitors for babies covers 4 rating metrics:
Reliability tests (40% of overall score weighting)
Ease of Use tests (30% weighting)
EMF tests (20% weighting)
Portability tests (10% weighting)
Since 2012, we've purchased and tested more than 19 movement monitors and over 100 monitors across multiple monitoring types. Our tests include multiple tests per metric to rate reliability and other functions.
Movement products are subjected to more than 12 individual tests to rank performance. The critical metric for movement monitors is the reliability score, which corresponds to 40% of the overall movement score. Our Reliability results combine real-life experience during testing and extensive research online to capture the experience of a vast swath of users. We record and rank reports related to reliability, false positives, and potential failures.
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 and which options are the right choice for different situations.
There are several value products 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 a purchase to consider beforehand. The Levana Oma Sense and the Snuza Hero SE 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. 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 when it goes wrong. 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 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 dependent 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 be the more reliable option. The highest-ranking option for reliability is the Angelcare AC327 earning an 8. The lowest-scoring is the Monbaby with a 2.
Ease of Use
Parents should consider how challenging a monitor is to use. Factors such as the setup time, buttons, settings, smartphone interface, and battery changes all come into play for this metric. 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 Hero SE 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 and the Sense-U Baby can also be challenging to attach. 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 the typical user interface found on other tech gadgets and apps.
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 the ability to adjust motion sensitivity. 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's movements. 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 at least move it away from the baby's crib, as it doesn't have an adjustment feature. 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. It is a nonessential practice, and we think parents should weigh the pros and cons before doing so. This concern is why we test each product to determine how much EMF it generates.
In comparison, both Snuza models and the Levana Oma emitted no EMF higher than 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 items you use or wear daily. We believe parents can better 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.
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.
We recommend that any EMF emitting monitor you feel is necessary should be placed as far away from your baby as possible without disrupting their performance.
Portability includes evaluating 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 function. The sensor pad-style monitors require a specific kind of mattress and a hard surface underneath. They also involve a fairly intensive setup. This all means when you reach your destination, there is a potential that you'll need to modify the crib offered to you, and it may not be suitable to work with your 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 or purse, and set-up only takes a few moments. This makes getting little ones ready for bed when you reach your destination an easy, quick, and efficient no-brainer. If you plan to travel with your monitor, we think the Snuza Hero SE and Levana Oma are the easiest and most user-friendly options for portability. They are all similar in design and user interface. Still, 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.
Wearable units do not work in a moving car or stroller as they can't differentiate between a baby's movement or the movement of a 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, some parents find that this monitor style offers peace of mind that they would not have otherwise. If it can help increase your odds of achieving a good night's sleep, you might consider making it a part of your nursery. If a movement monitor is on your list of baby products, we put together this review of top options, and we believe everyone can find something to meet their needs. 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, and 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).
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BabyGearLab was founded by a Pediatrician Mom with a mission to provide a reliable, independent, source of information to new parents. Our experts have tested thousands of baby and kids products to share key performance, health, and safety findings. We spend tens of thousands of dollars crash testing car seats to inform our ratings. And, we combine our review work with gobs of expert parenting advice. To assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing by people who care.