When Rob and I were expecting our little bundle of joy, we tried not to set our expectations too high. It's pretty much impossible to fully anticipate how your life will change once a baby joins the family, but as expectant parents, you can't help but try. As we planned and prepared the nursery in our house, Rob and I were determined to have Dessa make use of the nursery right from day one. When friends and acquaintances asked how our preparations were coming along and inquired if we had purchased a bassinet, I didn't hesitate to share that there was simply no room to spare in our bedroom and that the baby would be sleeping in his or her own room right from the start. At that point, a lot of people would smile and nod with a look that clearly said “sure you are. Just wait until that baby is in your arms – you are not going to be ok with a baby that young sleeping in another room.” Dessa actually has been sleeping in her own crib since her first week at home. This is how we found the peace of mind for all three of us to sleep through the night without any fear or anxiety of her heart rate or breathing.
One quick note before I continue… this post contains affiliate links, including a link to the Owlet Smart Sock on Amazon. We earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase through one of our links, which helps us support the blog and our family. This is not a sponsored post – we just genuinely use and love our Owlet and wanted to spread the word about this amazing device in the hopes that it helps set some other new parents minds at ease.
Everyone had the best of intentions, but I could read their faces like a book. They thought I was downright delusional about how nights with a baby would go. The thing is, I wasn't overly concerned about our nights. We live in a really small house (only 950 square feet) and space is limited on the first floor of our little bungalow. There truly is no room to spare in our first-floor bedroom – there's just a narrow walkway around our queen size bed and I knew that placing a bassinet in the bedroom would be downright impossible without obstructing access to the bed for Rob or I. Once we set up the nursery, I counted the steps from my side of of the bed to the crib and realized that the baby would only be 12 short steps away. Twelve. I think some people with spacious master bedrooms might have more steps than that between their bed and the baby sleeping in the same room! Rob and I planned to sleep with both bedroom doors open so we easily hear when the baby woke up. We also invested in a video monitor and an Owlet Smart Sock to track the baby's heart rate and breathing.
When Dessa arrived, we were overjoyed and exhausted, but we weren't concerned in the least, since she had been such a great little sleeper at the hospital.
Then we came home.
That first night was an absolute train wreck. Despite all our best efforts, our sweet little baby girl simply would not settle no matter how many times we rocked her to sleep and placed her into the crib. Finally, in an overtired haze around 2 am, I sent Rob in the basement to get the Rock N Play that we received as a gift, even though we had not registered for it. I hadn't even laid eyes on it and wasn't sure what it was, Rob just told me that his friend had bought us “some type of rocker” and I insisted that the non-registry gift stay in the basement so I could return it to Amazon.
It's amazing how a little sleep deprivation can change your whole perspective. I was so desperate for a little shut eye that night, I didn't care where Dessa slept or how I would crawl into bed if she joined us in the bedroom. Dessa lasted for about 4 nights in the Rock N Play at my bedside before I hit my limit. I had a whole collection of stitches after giving birth and it was too difficult and painful to crawl in and out of bed around the rock n play. And once the three of us were tucked in and ready to sleep, Rob and I discovered just how restless our sleep was when we were constantly awakened by all of the crazy breathing noises that a newborn makes.
After four nights, we were ready to kick Dessa out and send her back to her own nursery. When it was time for bed, we put on pajamas, added the Owlet Smart Sock, swaddled our baby girl, rocked her to sleep, laid her in the crib and tip-toed away with the video monitor in hand. She looked so tiny and peaceful sleeping in her big crib. A little too peaceful, perhaps.
Thankfully, Rob and I were both completely at ease with our precious girl sleeping in the next room over. And it wasn't the video monitor that gave us a sense of peace – it was our Owlet.
So what exactly is the Owlet? The Owlet Smart Sock is a fabric sock with a small electronic sensor inside that monitors your baby's heart rate and oxygen levels. The sensor communicates wirelessly to a base unit, which alerts you if those vitals change to an unsafe level. I heard about the Owlet long before I was pregnant and knew that if we ever became parents, the device was going on my must-own list of baby products.
Now that we are parents, I cannot say enough good things about the peace of mind that the device brings us. Dessa has proven to be a great little nighttime sleeper since she was just a few weeks old. And it just kept improving. Rob and I were astounded when our 5 week old baby girl slept for 8 hours straight. We couldn't stop smiling all day because we were so well-rested. Like any new parent in this day and age, we shared our good news on social media and more than one person asked us if mommy and daddy got any sleep that night. Heck yeah, we did! Caring for an infant is exhausting and we both sleep well when our heads finally hit the pillow. We don't spend our nights tossing, turning, and worrying about Dessa's sleep because we don't have to. When Dessa goes down for the evening, we kiss her goodnight, turn on the Owlet and rest easy. I have never once worried about whether or not she is breathing properly when the Owlet is turned on and connected. In fact, I worried far more about her little airway when Dessa slept beside me in the Rock N Play because she wasn't laying flat on her back. During those first few nights, I did worry and checked often to make sure she was ok.
Of course, babies grow bigger, learn new tricks, and create brand new ways to worry their parents. That's exactly what happened to us when Dessa learned to roll over. We continued to swaddle our baby girl when we put her down for the night and it wasn't uncommon to find a lose blanket wrapped around her. Then, as she began to roll over, the worry really started to kick in. I suddenly had a whole new set of fears that she would loosen her swaddle, roll onto her tummy, and be unable to lift her head out from the muslin blanket around her.
As Dessa got better at rolling from tummy to back, the Owlet continued to bring peace of mind while we waited for her to roll from back to tummy. Once she finally mastered that more challenging skill, we said goodbye to the swaddle, hello to the sleep sack, and have been resting easy ever since.
There's something about the nighttime that's especially worrisome for parents and we have always been diligent about putting Dessa to sleep with her Owlet in place and turned on. When it came to naps, we tended to be a little more lenient and worried less about SIDS – until I read this story about baby Knox who never woke up from his nap and from that moment on, we've been much more diligent about using the Owlet every time Dessa sleeps in her crib – whether it's just for a quick nap or for the entire night.
The Owlet is simple to use – just wrap the sleep sock around your baby's foot and ankle and turn the base unit on. It's made of extra soft material that comfortably fastens into place with velcro. If there is ever an issue that requires your attention, the base unit will change color and make a noise to alert you. You can also install the Owlet app on your iPhone or Android device to check your baby's heart rate and oxygen levels while the smart sock is turned on. Any notifications from the base unit will also be sent automatically to your phone if you have the app installed. If you're ever worried about your baby's sleep, it's very comforting to know that you can just open the app and get an immediate reading of his or her heart rate and oxygen levels.
We have had our fair share of false alarms in the Gavin house. The most common of which is an alert that prompts us to check the sock placement. When this happens, it doesn't mean that Dessa is in any danger. We've had that alert occasionally happen when she bangs her little feet against the rails of the crib hard enough to dislodge the sensor and make it askew on her foot. More commonly, one of us (usually me) forgets to turn off the base unit before removing the smart sock after a nap. When the base unit can't get any type of reading, our phones get an alert and the Owlet base unit starts to play “Hush Little Baby” to get our attention. Rob and I both get alerts on our phone, so if one us is out of the house when the alert comes through, we usually send that person a text that tells them not to worry, all is ok.
The Owlet is hands-down the best investment we made for our baby girl. We registered for one, but weren't entirely surprised that we didn't receive one as a gift at our shower. So we took a stack of buybuyBaby gift cards and purchased the Owlet long before Dessa was born so it would be ready when our baby girl finally arrived.
If you know a couple that is expecting or that desperately needs some peace of mind while their infant sleeps, we highly recommend the Owlet. It has literally been a life saver for many babies and helps us all sleep peacefully through the night, so we can look forward to seeing this sweet face in the morning!