Friday, April 11th, 2008
Night Knight: The Worry Alarm for New Parents
It’s time to come clean. Are you really sneaking a peek at your cute sleeping baby, or are you checking to see that he’s still breathing?
Thank you Sudden Infant Death Syndrome for freaking out new parents every night.
The part I hated with my first child â€” a shallow breather â€” was holding the back of my hand up to her nose and not being able to easily detect anything… or thinking maybe I did, but not being quite sure, and so I’m there hovering over my baby for a full minute.
Today, with my newborn boy, I’m past most new parent worries. My worst crime is coming to bed late a few times and checking that my wife has properly set him down on his back… using an old digital camera equipped with night vision, of course.
So, with that introduction, let’s take a look at Night Knight by UpSpring Baby. It is a motion alarm for your infant. Attach the circular 2.5" unit to the baby’s tummy, and if he stops moving for 23 seconds, an alarm sounds. We’re talking subtle movements such as the rise and fall of a chest due to normal breathing.
On the plus side, you could jump in and save your baby in an emergency. That’s assuming you and your spouse have passed an infant CPR course.
On the down side, if there was a false alarm and the baby is fine, he’s probably crying his head off now because his tummy is screeching.
The Night Knight attaches on the outside of a baby shirt by sealing to a base plate that is positioned underneath the shirt. The whole thing weighs less than 3 ounces.
There are no wires. It is powered by two AAA batteries and has a low battery warning. That warning consists of an orange flashing light and buzzing sound that activates when there are 10 hours of use left on your existing batteries. I see what they were thinking, but that’s a lot of wasted juice. Why wouldn’t a 1 or 2 hour advance notice suffice?
As for the 23 second activation period, my labor and delivery nurse wife says that sounds right. A neonatal cardiac monitor in her workplace has a motion sensor that is placed on an infant’s ribs. It activates an alarm after 20 seconds.
It seems premature infants are prone to apneas and bradycardias â€” a pause in breathing accompanied by a slow heart rate. The first thing a nurse does is touch the infant, such as rubbing a foot, to stimulate resumption of breathing. That is to say, many of the alarms she encounters are not full-blown "events" that degrade into an emergency. (Caution: I’m in no way giving anyone medical advice.)
In some cases, a premature baby will be sent home with an apnea monitor (a belt-like gadget) that records chest movements and breathing rate, and has an alarm.
But all of that is a far cry from the average parent who won’t ever know the trauma of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. I wonder, how much would a new parent pay to alleviate this fear? The Night Knight’s suggested price is $70, although the gadget hasn’t reached market yet.
A product with a similar purpose â€” BÃ©bÃ©Sounds Angelcare Movement Sensor â€” retails for about $80, complete with a traditional sound monitor and two parental receiver units. Motion is detected by having your baby sleep on top of a sensor pad.
So… what’s the verdict? Is a baby-isn’t-dead reminder product worthwhile for peace of mind, or is it merely taking advantage of inexperienced fear? More importantly, tell me I’m not the only parent who has placed an ear to his baby’s face in the middle of the night.
- Reduce the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (American Academy of Pediatrics)