Why this sleep-tracking baby sock was my dream gadget for my new parents

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Is it safe to say that all new parents need more sleep? This is partly why baby monitors were invented in the first place. I still remember when video baby monitors became mainstream, which meant I no longer had to lug a walkie-talkie-like device around my house and now carried a monitor instead.

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Now trackers like Owlet Dream Sock have become so sophisticated that they can measure your child’s blood oxygen levels, heart rate and sleep cycles and alert you if anything sounds unusual.

Such wearables have been an important household item for me, especially because my family has had febrile seizures, which gives a sense of discomfort when my children sleep. In hopes of helping other new parents who may experience similar discomfort, allow me to share why a sleep tracking baby sock is highly recommended.

How Owlet tracks sleep and other metrics

Similar to one Apple Watch or Fitbit, the Dream Sock is worn by your baby while they sleep and tracks their heart rate and oxygen levels to chart their sleep stages. It also alerts your smartphone if your baby is awake or showing signs of irregularities.

Owl care

The box comes with the sensor, a base station and four fabric socks in two sizes, suitable for babies from birth to 18 months. In subsequent years, Owlet offers a Plus option that includes two additional toddler-sized socks that fit children from 30 lbs to 55 lbs.

The sock itself has a photoplethysmography (PPG) sensor that the baby wears on the foot, similar to what you wear in the emergency room to track your heart rate. Via the Dream Sock, the Owlet app can track not only heart rate and average oxygen levels, but also noise, awakenings and movements to learn your baby’s baseline behavior and metrics.

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Once that baseline is measured, when the sensor on the sock detects a deviation from those numbers, the base station will send an alert to your phone, indicating that your baby needs your attention.

Sleep regressions and tracking

As a millennial parent, I’ve always sought guidance from educational apps and occasional parenting forum groups to get me through the initial challenges of parenthood. For example, these resources helped me navigate sleep regressions, and the Owlet Dream Sock has also been helpful.

As my kids got older, I decided to make the Owlet Dream Sock Plus grow with them.

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

With enough use, the Owlet app builds a schedule for when you need baby’s next sleep or nap to begin. Part of this depends on the measured baseline and their age, of course, which you can enter manually. For times when your baby doesn’t sleep with the sock on – there are moments when I drop off my one-year-old at daycare, for example – you can enter their sleep cadence yourself for the Owlet app to work from.

Also: I wore an Apple Watch and a Fitbit to track my sleep. Here’s how the data compares

The app also includes historical sleep data so you can view your baby’s sleep patterns and see how they change as they go through sleep regressions, growth spurts or illnesses.

Why I bought a sleep tracking baby sock

I first bought a smart baby sock for my firstborn six years ago, hoping it would help me keep track of my baby’s breathing and give me peace enough to sleep without worry.

As first-time parents, my husband and I were concerned about sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), so we wanted our newborn to wear the Owlet more for peace of mind than anything else, and knew we weren’t the only ones who thought so. According to a medical study conducted from 2015 to 2017, the Owlet Smart Sock helped 94% of parents sleep better at night.

Owl care

When our first born was over six months old, we rarely used the Owlet Smart Sock – until she started having complex febrile seizures. I don’t know if you’ve ever held a small child during a seizure, but I can tell you it’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened in my life, especially since I didn’t know what was happening the first time.

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My family has a significant history of febrile seizures, so we were told after the first one that it probably wouldn’t be the last, and it wasn’t: my daughter had three more before she naturally outgrew them when she turned five .

The Owlet Dream Sock charges wirelessly with its base station.

Owl care

At that time, the Owlet sleep sock served an even greater purpose for us as parents: it was able to alert us when there were signs of a seizure while our baby was sleeping, such as an elevated heart rate or low oxygen, and help us rest a little easier at night.

Fortunately, our second child never had a febrile seizure, even though she was given her own Owl sock to wear. When baby number three arrived, the standard sock had just enough battery left for us to pass it on to her. For longer use, however, I would strongly recommend picking it up Plus sizewhich Owlet says should last you up to five years.

A note about baby stocking monitors

It’s worth noting that baby sock monitors like the Owlet and Eufy are not medical devices, nor are they approved by the FDA as such. Owlet used to market its sleep sock as a heart rate and oxygen monitor until the FDA forced the company to remove that language from its product descriptions through a warning letter in 2021.

Also: The Best Sleep Trackers (And Are They Really Accurate?)

As a result, Owlet shifted its focus to sleep tracking. While its Dream Sock still tracks heart rate, blood oxygen monitoring is now delivered in a ten-minute average, which is still useful to have, and the readings are translated into sleep quality indicators in the Owlet Dream mobile app. When the company’s algorithm detects that these measurements are shifting from the regular baseline, you’ll get an alert to check in on the baby.

Bottom line

That Owlet Dream Sock retails for $299, which isn’t cheap, but it helps that you can use HSA or FSA funds to buy it. Fortunately, there are no additional monthly fees or subscriptions to track your baby’s sleep after you purchase the Dream Sock.

Cost aside, the Owlet Dream Sock is definitely an innovative smart device and has really helped me mentally, emotionally and to a subtle degree physically. I’ve always loved seeing data in black and white, and I often use my Apple Watch and Fitbit to track my own sleep. Being able to extend these skills to my children, I think, is a no-brainer.

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