Help prevent SIDs with a movement sensor

Up to nine children die from SIDs per day in the United States. One can interpret this as either a positive considering that since there are tens of thousands of babies born each year, statistically the odds of your baby dying from SIDs is very low. Unfortunately, if you are one of those affected, the statistics mean nothing.

Children are generally considered to be at highest risk of dying of SIDs between birth and one year of age. Cases of SIDs have been reported in children as old as two years, but this seems to be rare.

I decided I wasn’t willing to take the risk. A friend of ours had a  baby a few months before us. They had looked into the topic of SIDs and found several products that looked promising.

The product I and our friends both settled on is an infant motion monitor. It works by sensing the baby’s smallest movements from breathing and all other body movements. As long as the baby is breathing, it will flash a green light. If it doesn’t detect movement for 20 seconds or if movement slows to less than 10 movements per minute, a loud alarm sounds.

We bought the HiSense BabySense V Infant Movement Monitor from Amazon for about $120. It comes with two fairly large sensor pads. You place the pads under the baby’s mattress in the crib. It will detect the movement through the mattress. Installation is extremely simple. Install the batteries, then connect the sensors. The sensors have what look like telephone connectors at the end of the wires and you just click them into the sensor controller. The controller itself just hangs on the side of the crib with a clip.

babysense2Although the instructions tell you to install only one pad when the baby is a newborn and doesn’t move much, I suggest you just install both sensor pads from the start. The first night home, I had several false alarms with only one pad installed as I had put a snugglerest baby positioner on top of the mattress which apparently dulled a lot of the movement (note: the doctor told me to ditch the snugglerest). With both sensor pads installed, it worked fine.

You will find yourself wondering if it really works since the baby barely makes any movement at all while sleeping other than breathing. I decided to test it. I put a baby doll in the crib with a bottle of water to simulate weight. The monitor worked as advertised. In 20 seconds a piercing alarm went off as it detected no movement. You will also discover that it works when you pick up the baby and leave the room forgetting to turn it off. I get about half way to the living room when it goes off and I have to turn back around. You get used to turning it off automatically after the first day.

babysense3My wife swears by the thing now. She tells me pretty much daily that she wouldn’t be able to sleep if it wasn’t for the movement monitor. Now that we have it installed, if she wakes up worried about the baby, she just looks over to the control unit and looks for the green light. Since it only blinks when it detects movement, she goes back to sleep comforted, knowing that baby Alex is fine.

A friend of hers from work told us about how she never had a SIDs movement monitor and would actually resort to putting a mirror under her sleeping baby’s nose to see if it would fog up from the baby’s breathing. LOL

I strongly encourage you to take an Infant CPR class. It only takes a few hours and you will learn valuable techniques. Keep in mind this monitor just tells you that there is a problem. If your child stops breathing, you need to know how to react. Even if you call 911, you don’t want your baby laying there not breathing for the 10 minutes it may take the ambulance to get there.

Since no one really knows what causes SIDs, no one can sell a product to prevent it. There are some clues out there regarding prevention. Studies have been done examining the events surrounding the death of SIDs babies. Several schools of thought exist on the topic and all seem plausible and have easy steps to take to minimize the risk. Some of them include:

- Never put your baby to sleep on its stomach. Babies may move their heads face down into the sheets and suffocate.

- Keep the crib free of everything except a tight fitting sheet and the baby. If you must put a blanket in for warmth, you should tuck the blanket in between the mattress and the crib sides so that it is tight on the baby from the middle of her body down. Big fluffy blankets can get in the baby’s face and suffocate it. All stuffed animals and other items including crib bumpers must be removed. Crib bumpers are actually not needed. When your child is an infant, it doesn’t move enough to need protection from hitting the crib sides. When the baby gets older, bumpers can be dangerous because the child can try to climb on them and fall out of the crib.

- Use a fan or air filter in the room – even in winter. Some theories speculate that babies may build up too much Co2 near their face from breathing in certain positions. A fan or air filter in the room circulates the air and can help prevent the buildup of Co2 near the baby. I bought the Honeywell Pure HEPA Air Purifier. I like this unit in particular because the filter can be cleaned just by vacuuming it out instead of buying a new one, so you save money.

- Don’t smoke around the baby. I am a smoker, but have made it a point to only smoke outside now that the baby is here. Babies in a smoker’s home have a higher chance of SIDs than those that don’t.

- Keep baby cool. Overheating is thought to be a contributor of SIDs as well. My pediatrician suggested keeping the baby’s room between 69 and 72 degrees. When dressing the baby, a rule of thumb is, dress her the same as yourself plus one layer. So if you sleep in your underwear, put the baby in a t shirt plus a onesie or footsie.

- Make sure that anyone that cares for your baby, such as a grandparent or babysitter is aware of these points and follows them.

UPDATE:

Alex is now two months old and I am a total believer. It really allows you to relax while the baby is sleeping. I sometimes get worried about Alex and will just peak in at her. She can be a deep sleeper so it’s not always obvious that she’s breathing. The little flashing green light tells me that all is well.

We did have false alarms about twice a week during the first few weeks, but now that the baby has gotten heavier, we haven’t had one in the last several weeks.

Do you have any tips or experiences with SIDs prevention? Please leave a comment below!

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