Baby Breathing Monitors
Baby Breathing Monitors

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) occurs when an infant suddenly stops breathing due to reasons not readily apparent. Although not commonplace, the possibility of SIDS occurring has led to the development of baby breathing monitors. Some families find them useful tools to help protect the health of their infant children.

SIDS and Cot Death

While some health care professionals do not distinguish between SIDS and Cot Death, others differentiate between the two. They apply the latter after an examination, such as an autopsy, reveals the cause of death and the former when the cause remains unknown despite a thorough examination. Causes of SIDS presently defy explanation and research in the subject continues. Theories include choking, excessive warmth and suffocation. The babies usually die in the same position in which they were placed, compounding the mystery. Any baby may die from SIDS, but those considered at highest risk include babies born underweight and premature. For reasons as of yet unexplained the SIDS rate increases in winter months.

Baby Monitors

These devices register infants' breathing and/or movement and when a substantial gap occurs they sound alarms. A typical gap may be twenty seconds. Various monitors utilize different components to register breathing including sensors placed on the baby's midsection, sensors under the baby or the mattress, or ultrasound beams. In the case of an ultrasound beam the alarm is sounded when the beam is not interrupted. However, you should be aware that these monitors only sound alarms. They do not actually prevent SIDS or Cot Death. Monitors should not be used as a replacement for normal care and in order to assure their proper usage, they should be issued under the advice and supervision of health care professionals.

Baby Monitor Controversy

Baby breathing monitors have alerted parents in cases of potential death, helping to avoid tragedy. Nevertheless, many dispute the effectiveness of these devices. First, use of these devices may lull parents into a false sense of security. Even though monitors do not prevent SIDS or cot death, some may not fully understand the usage of the monitor. Like any electronic equipment, monitors may contain manufacturers' defects or may give false readings. Moreover, repeated false alarms may cause parents to disregard actual emergencies.


Although baby breathing monitors present a useful tool in addressing the danger of SIDS and cot death, they do not represent a solution to the problem. These monitors solely alert parents or caregivers in case of a gap in a baby's breathing and/or movement. Monitors may fail to read a gap in breathing and allowing oneself to rely solely on the monitor may lead to tragedy. In addition, a monitor may send out a false alarm causing parents or caregivers to disregard the alarm. These devices are best used when recommended by a health care professional and used under supervision.