The sock tracks your child’s breathing and heart rate (Picture: Owlet)

Owlet is a blockbuster name in baby care products. Even before I got pregnant, I had heard of its ‘sock’ – a monitor that wraps around one foot to let you know your baby’s heart rate, blood oxygen level, and sleep quality. 

So it was one of the products I was most interested to test out once I did actually have a child.

With newborns so tiny and fragile, I thought it possible I could find myself unable to sleep even when the baby slept – despite this being the the advice given to everyone about to become a parent.

The main selling point of the Owlet sock is that it does the job for you of sitting up all night checking that your baby is breathing.

Need to know

Price £289

Age range Newborn to 18 months, though a follow-on Smart Sock Plus can be bought separately and worn until age five

Weight limit 2.3kg to 13.5kg (5lb to 30lb)

Where to buy

SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, is rare but still terrifying for many parents, especially those who have previously experienced a loss. Then there is the additional fear of them somehow pulling something over their face and overheating or suffocating.

The sock, which does not need any cable to connect, tracks blood oxygen and heart beat in real time using pulse-oximetry technology, so if such a horrible event happens, it should alert you that readings are unusual by setting off an alarm so you can check on your baby and help them if needed. 

I didn’t actually end up using it very much, but it worked well and I’d recommend it – though I didn’t get on as well with the Owlet camera monitor.

Owlet doesn’t market its sock as a medical device, because it does not alert you as immediately as monitors used in hospitals, and the notification thresholds are not as stringent.

But many parents rely on it even so, because even with a delay they would be able to react to an emergency quicker than if they had no alert at all. 

Although the phone app to look at the readings works via WiFi, the sock connects to its base (where the alarm goes off) via Bluetooth – so could still alert you even if the internet connection dropped and the phone app didn’t work, as long as the electric connection to the base was still on.

The sock goes on one foot and can be worn up to age five with an additional purchase (Picture: Owlet)

The alarm is very piercing and annoying – which is good to wake you up. It didn’t ever go off when my son was actually wearing it, but it did go off extensively when trying to put the sock on him, to alert me that it wasn’t getting normal readings. So I’d advise putting the sock on first and then plugging in the base afterwards to avoid this.

When he wore the sock, it did ease my mind, especially in his first nights sleeping in a new place or when he seemed out of sorts.

But I also found myself checking my phone a lot and worrying if his oxygen had dipped – even if it was just from 100% to 99%. I would also repetitively refresh the app to see if he had moved from light sleep into deep sleep, even though this information didn’t update immediately and had a lag of about ten minutes. 

So in some ways it actually made me a bit more anxious, but at the same time it did help to know there was a fallback if something went wrong overnight. If my son had been born with a health issue or if I felt particularly worried, then the sock could really help to reduce that fear and make it easier to focus on enjoying time with baby – and be able to relax enough to go to sleep. 

Some parents also find the sock helpful for gauging when their baby is in a deep enough sleep to put down in their crib without waking, as they can see when the heartrate slows down even if the app hasn’t fully updated yet.

One mum wrote in Metro previously how ‘I genuinely believe the Owlet has saved my son’s life’ after it alerted her to dipped oxygen levels and she realised he had rolled over to sleep on his front while he was still little. 

She said it also helped her to feel more confident when her baby would only sleep in bed with her.

Some parents choose to use a Nanit baby monitor instead, which works in a different way. It tracks breathing motion using the camera and a swaddle or breathing band, which some parents prefer as no electronics need to touch their baby’s skin.  

Owlet socks are provided for both the left and right foot so check which letter you need first (Picture: Owlet)

Using a monitor like these does not mean safe sleep guidelines can be ignored. Newborns should still be put to sleep on their backs, for example, but the monitor can give peace of mind that there is an extra layer of protection if they manage to roll over themselves.

We were lucky enough to have a healthy, full term baby who was mostly happy enough to sleep in his cot, so after making sure he had a safe sleeping space I trusted he’d be okay, even without the sock.

Although he never seemed uncomfortable wearing it, I still thought that it would be nicer for him to sleep without his ‘electronic tag’. 

Owlet make clear in their instructions that the sock needs to be put on in a specific way, or there is a rare risk of the baby getting burned. Luckily, the sock is not very difficult to put on correctly and I never noticed any skin irritation. You mainly just need to make sure you haven’t put the left sock on the right foot, or vice versa – but even so, I thought that if he didn’t need it, why take even that very small risk?

Before using it, I also worried about whether it would be too bulky to be worn underneath an actual sock, or a sleep suit with feet. I didn’t want to leave him with bare toes in the cold, but luckily it still works fine underneath clothes. 

At almost £300, the sock is not cheap – especially with all the other costs and reduced income which come with being a new parent. 

With that in mind, if budget is tight and you are considering buying it, I would wait until your baby arrives and see if you feel it will be necessary or not. 

If you do, there is not much else like it on the market and Owlet could be a good option. 

Owlet Sock 3

What’s good?

  • Comfortable for baby to wear and stays in place well
  • Gives useful realtime information about baby’s heart rate and oxygen level
  • Alarm is loud enough to wake you up if needed
  • Protection against worst case scenarios

What’s bad?

  • App takes a while to update with sleep quality data
  • Can ironically make you more anxious if you can’t stop checking the readings
  • Doesn’t get an accurate reading if baby is wriggling and instead pauses measuring
  • Alarm goes off a lot when trying to put on the sock if the base is switched on

Owlet Cam 2 review: Capable but frustrating due to connection issues

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