Action News Jax Investigates: High-tech clothing for babies

By: Cole Heath , Action News Jax

Updated:

Sudden and unexpected infant death: More babies die from it in Duval County than in any other part of Florida.

A new wave of smart technology is targeting parents who want to keep a closer eye on their sleeping babies.  

Action News Jax’s Cole Heath learned more about how it works and why doctors warn it could give parents a false sense of security.

For new parents like Action News Jax producer Bria White, her 5-month-old daughter Luna cooing is the sweetest sound in the world.

But when baby goes to bed, many parents worry about what's happening when they're not there.

The makers of the Owlet Smart Sock claim this technology can help.

A video advertising the Owlet claims, "with Owlet you’ll be able to spend less time worrying and more time sleeping." 

This high-tech baby monitor is marketed to parents as promoting, "more sleep and less scares for their infants."

Heath: “Would you trust your child's life to a product like this?” 

White: “No, not 100 percent no.”

We gave White an Owlet sock to use over a weekend with Luna. 

She recorded the Owlet as it monitored Luna’s heart rate and oxygen levels through a readout on a smartphone app.

The color-coded monitor goes from green to red if something appears to be wrong.

“It kind of scared me. I was feeding her and my phone was blinking red and it said, ‘low oxygen levels,’” White said. “It took me a while to go through the app and say why, what could be causing this. I finally clicked and I was like, ‘Oh OK, I see, it’s feeding,’ then it gives you a whole list of reasons why it could be inaccurate,” White said.

But pediatricians say those false alarms are part of the problem with at-home monitors like this.

“The alarm goes off and lead to parents taking their baby to the doctor or the emergency room for evaluation when really that, no evaluation no  worry is necessary,” said Dr. Mark Hudak, chief of pediatrics at UF Health.

Heath: “Are products like the Owlet a necessity for parents?”

Hudak: “It has not been shown to reduce any deaths in babies.” 

But Florida mom Jennifer Smith disagrees.

“If that alarm wouldn’t have gone off that night, I don't know what would have happened,” Smith said.

Smith credits her Owlet's warning for possibly saving the life of her then-newborn daughter, who was born with life-threatening complications.

“I was able to get her upright, get her on her healthy lung, pat her back and her oxygen shot right back up to 98,” Smith said.

But the American Academy of Pediatrics warns against monitors like these. 

“Do not use home cardio-respiratory monitors, i.e.: the Owlet,” Hudak said, reading the recommendation.

“Parents love the peace of mind they get from the product,” said Owlet co-founder Kurt Workman.

We asked Kurt Workman about the AAP's statement.

“They’re not saying don't use the product, they’re saying don't use the product to prevent SIDS because it hasn't been proven yet,” Workman said.

The Owlet sells for about $300. To Smith, it's worth the cost. 

“I credit Owlet for possibly saving her life that night,” Smith said.

White, however, thinks her mom instincts are the way to go.

“You need to rely on yourself more than a monitor because anything can go wrong,” White said.

Doctors tell Action News Jax the best way to keep your sleeping baby safe is traditional safe sleep practices, like putting them in their own bed.

Next Up: