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Review: The Owlet Smart Sock and Cam – If you’re making a baby registry, this is a must-have

Seriously, go add this to your list right now.

owlet smart sock on baby foot
Image: Joe Rice-Jones / KnowTechie

[letsreviewunique pros_title=”The Good” pros=”Hospital-grade pulse oximetry sensor,Wireless convenience,Great night vision on the cam” cons_title=”The Bad” cons=”Some minor connectivity issues” accent=”#891b8e” final_score=”95″ format=”2″ skin=”1″ animation=”1″ design=”1″][/letsreviewunique]

If you’ve got a bun in the oven, you might be wondering which of the multitude of baby products on the market you’re going to use to watch over your little bundle of joy. You can stop your search now because I’m here to tell you that the Owlet Smart Sock and Cam bundle is all you’ll ever need and more.

It’s got a wireless pulse oximetry sensor (yes, like those ones the hospital use) to monitor vitals and a high-def camera that can see in the dark. What more do you want?

So, what’s it all about?

owlet smart sock and base unit on a crib mattress

Image: Joe Rice-Jones / KnowTechie

The core of the Owlet Smart Sock 2 is the pulse oximetry sensor. That little thing wraps around your little one’s foot, measuring their heart rate and percentage of oxygen in their blood. It also measures movement, knowing if those little toes are just wriggling, or if they’re awake. Three ‘socks’ come in the kit, one for newborn, one for slightly larger feet, and one for about six months til eighteen months. Oh, and it can be worn on either foot, so we decided to switch feet daily to limit any potential irritation to our little one’s skin.

READ MORE: Owlet Cam 2 now knows if your baby is actually crying

That’ll cover the period that your little one is most at risk of SIDS, and while the Owlet isn’t a prevention method, it does help you to respond immediately to any changes of your little one’s breathing. Phew.

The sensor in the Smart Sock is just as sensitive as the corded versions used in the Emergency Room of your local hospital. Wanna know how I know that? Two trips to our local one, when the little one was diagnosed with dual hernias (groin and belly button). The Owlet was a real sanity saver after her operation, letting us know that her breathing was fine after the general anesthetic.

Connected to that wireless sensor (which has an 18 hr or so battery life) is the base unit. That’s where you recharge the battery, but it’s also got a glowing ring that shows a pulsing green if everything’s fine, yellow if it’s having issues getting reading, blue if it can’t connect to the sensor (usually because it’s out of range of the Bluetooth), and red if there’s a potential issue. Those notifications can be audible on the base unit or silenced so that only your smartphone gets the noisy alerts.

It can also be made less bright (and you’ll want to do this as the default is like nova-bright) by pressing and holding the center of the base unit for a few seconds. Pressing the base unit once turns it on and off, which slightly feels like the wrong way around to me. I mean, you’re more likely to want to change the lighting setting than turn off the unit once it’s on, right?

The Cam is 1080p and has night vision with some super bright infrared LEDs illuminating whatever it’s pointed at

owlet cam on wall with crib in shot

Image: Joe Rice-Jones / KnowTechie

Perfect for replacing pacifiers in the middle of the night. Color reproduction during the day is great too, which is something I’ve had issues with other cams. The Cam has a magnetic mount so you can position it easily, and comes with enough cable covers to take the power cord over the recommended three feet away from the crib. Nice. Oh, and that power cord also has a temperature sensor, so you always know if the area near the crib is comfortable.

The only minor issue I have with either the Cam or the base unit is that it’s all using the 2.4 GHz band for WiFi. Now, I get the choice here. The 2.4 GHz band is a better choice for large houses as it can penetrate walls better. I’d still like to have the choice for 5 GHz, especially for the Cam which sometimes overloads my WiFi and freezes or skips frames. Using the 5 GHz bandwidth would fix that.

The other thing is that my apartment uses a mesh network with a shared SSID (basically both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz are on the same name and the network decides which it connects to). When I first got the Owlet Cam, it wouldn’t work unless I split the bands into two names, call the 2.4 GHz what I’ll call the network once combined again, connect to the Owlet, then recombine the network names. It was a pain every time the base unit mysteriously lost the WiFi settings. Now, this issue has been fixed, but it was an annoying workaround at the time.

More than just peace of mind

Image: KnowTechie

Owlet sells the Smart Sock on the safety features, but it’s much, much more than that. If you’re the data reading type, you can dive into the history of your little one’s sleep, seeing what’s going on and work out how to improve their quality of sleep. We’ve found the data on light sleep, deep sleep, and sleep onset times to be invaluable.

You know about the 40-minute sleep cycles for babies by now, right? Well, the live data on the Owlet can tell you when your little one is about to transition to the next cycle, giving you warning to not do anything noisy that might wake them up while they’re in the lightest part of their sleep. That means more quality naps, which means more quality sleep at night for everyone. After time, you’ll get a picture of your little one’s overall sleep habits, which then lets you know when they’ll wake so you know to get food ready, or when to not go into the kitchen to make that cup of coffee you’ve been craving for ages.

It also gives us the data we need to figure out the cause and effect with her sleep. Most nights she sleeps through, but we can see if it’s light sleep or alternating light and deep sleep cycles as it should be. Nights with more light sleep usually mean her daytime naps were of terrible quality, or she was overstimulated with our daily activities, so we can adjust those going forward.

So, should I buy it?

owlet full system

Image: KnowTechie

In a word – yes. Better yet, put it on your Baby Registry and see if your family will get it for you. You can’t really put a price on peace of mind, but if you could, $400 would be a bargain. Don’t forget that the Smart Sock is usable for 18 months or so, and the Cam for as long as you want to use it. It’s helped us understand our little one’s needs better, leading to better sleep all round. Couple the hardware with the insights in the app, and the Owlet Dream Lab, and you’ve got everything you need to get through sleep training without going crazy.

Seriously, if I had to make a list of “Five Things You Need To Add To Your Registry”, the Owlet Smart Sock and Cam bundle would be there every time. Bonus? It’s FSA/HSA approved, so if you need to use up some before the year is up, now is the time.

Editors’ Recommendations:

Just a heads up, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale. Click here for more. A sample unit was provided for the purpose of this review.

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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek with nearly half a decade of blogging experience at KnowTechie, SlashGear and XDA Developers. If it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't), Joe probably has one around his office somewhere, with particular focus in gadgetry and handheld gaming. Shoot him an email at joe@knowtechie.com.

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