Tech Guide

This $299 smart sock could save your baby's life — and the peace of mind is worth every penny

Owlet Smart Sock Review
Owlet Smart Sock Review

My cousin died of SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, when she was just six weeks old. She was sleeping on her back, there were no bumpers on the crib or any blankets or toys near her — it was just a tragic mystery. More than 3,700 babies died of unexpected causes in their sleep in 2015, according to the CDC.

So when my daughter, Juniper, was born in October, my paranoia levels were at an all-time high. I couldn't sleep. Every noise that Juniper made woke me up and when she was silent, I panicked and had to check to make sure she was still breathing. Even when she started sleeping through the night, I still could not.

Juniper is four months old.
Jeniece Pettitt | CNBC

I needed some peace of mind, so I decided to try out the Owlet Smart Sock baby monitor. It's a wireless pulse oximeter, similar to technology that is used in hospitals, that monitors your baby's heart rate and oxygen levels. There is a base station and an app that notifies you if the baby's oxygen and heart rate levels are dangerously low or high. I've been testing out the product for about a month now.

The pulse oximeter in the sock is similar to technology used in hospitals to monitor heart rate and oxygen levels.
Andrew Evers | CNBC

The Good

It could save your baby's life.

When Owlet launched, I interviewed a mom who had a premature baby with breathing issues. She swears the sock saved her little boy. The company said they have now sold more than 250,000 units, and though they cannot and do not claim that it can prevent SIDS, there has yet to be a report of a baby dying while being monitored. Instead, there are dozens of testimonials from parents who said the monitor helped them sleep better and notified them when their baby's vitals were at dangerous levels.

I had a good experience using the product. It definitely gave me peace of mind. I slept a lot better knowing that a loud, red alarm would go off and wake me up if there was a problem.

I've noticed in some of the mom forums I am a part of, other reviewers complain about false alarms. But it seems the company has done a good job fixing these issues that occurred more with the first iteration of the product. I didn't get any false alarms. The sock is designed really well and never fell off, even though my daughter flails about wildly in her sleep.

This is the company's second iteration of the Owlet Smart Sock. It is well-designed and stayed on all night.
Jeniece Pettitt I CNBC

The bad

It costs $299. On top of all of the other things that new parents need to purchase, this is too much to swallow. The company helps parents with financing and it is available at major retailers so moms can add it to their baby registry in hopes that it will be gifted to them.

Another con, the alarms on the base station can be rather annoying. Yellow and blue notifications tell you when there are connectivity issues or when the battery died on the sock. The first night I used the product, a flashing blue alert went off at midnight because I forgot to charge the sock. It played a loud, obnoxious song, waking my husband and I up. Anything other than a crying baby that wakes up sleeping parents is a very bad thing. I later learned that you can turn the volume off on the yellow and blue notifications. I highly recommend doing this if you purchase the product.

The base station has a variety of alarms that notify the parent of a problem.
Andrew Evers | CNBC

And it would be great if the battery lasted longer. You have to charge the sock every day, and when your baby is crying in the morning and has pooped all over the changing table, it is very easy to forget to do this.

One other issue that could come up — the blue tooth range between the sock and the base station is fairly short at 100 feet. This was not a problem for us since we live in a small, San Francisco apartment, but for folks with larger homes, they could experience connection issues.

Should you buy it?

Yes. Though it's expensive, you cannot put a price on peace of mind, better sleep and something that could potentially save your baby's life. I would especially recommend the product for premature babies with breathing issues, or any other health issues. Though the product is designed for healthy babies, I think it could really help out parents who have extra stress from a sick baby.

One more thing to mention — Owlet offers a Connected Care App that captures all of the data the sock collects and gives parents a report on the baby's sleep cycle and oxygen and heart rate levels throughout the night. Though it is very cool to see your baby's sleep cycle, I don't think the app is worth the $7 a month subscription fee.