So much of parenting babies and toddlers is wondering when their next nap will be, and if it will be long enough for you to accomplish any of those tasks that have been piling up. Some babies find predictable routines early on, but many parents struggle to pinpoint their little one’s rhythms.
The Sproutling ($249.99) is a motion and heart rate sensor that straps to the back of a baby’s calf and collects data while he or she sleeps. After a week-long learning period, the accompanying app uses that data to make suggestions and predict when and how long they’ll sleep. You can also review any sleep session, see how many times the baby woke up, be notified when the baby stirs or rolls over, and see an animation that indicates the baby’s heart is beating (though, it doesn’t tell you the exact heart rate).
The concept is similar to the Owlet Smart sock, but there are some key differences. The Owlet records heart rate and oxygen levels, and you can see those stats in real time via the app or check the base’s pulsing light to find out if levels and sensor placement are optimal. The Owlet also offers the Connected Care app and subscription (iOS only), which provides historical data and sleep analytics for $59.99 per year.
The Sproutling does keep tabs on the baby’s heart rate, but it doesn’t tell you what it is. It cannot sense oxygen levels like the Owlet, but the data it does collect from the motion sensor is probably aggregated in a more useful way for the average parent. Both monitors will tell you whether the baby’s heart is beating, but Sproutling can also tell you with some accuracy a whole lot about your baby’s sleep patterns and offer tips on that front.
The Sproutling also features the Smart Charger, a wireless charger for the sensor that doubles as a nightlight and play lullabies and white noise. The Smart Charger doesn’t glow while the baby is sleeping unless there’s a problem. I’m sensitive to light when I sleep, so I preferred using the Sproutling’s base over that of the Owlet.
After using Sproutling for a few weeks, we felt like its only weaknesses were the strap and the size of the sensor. On my 6-month-old’s leg, the sensor seemed very bulky, and it looked uncomfortable since it hit the top of her heel. I kept thinking of those horrible pairs of shoes that leave blisters on my Achilles heel, but she never developed any irritation, so maybe that was me just projecting my bad shoe trauma onto her.
Even so, the sensor strap was pretty fiddly to secure. One side of the strap goes through a slit in the other side, and then you pull both sides apart and push down to Velcro. This wasn’t easy to accomplish with my squirmy little one, and I had a hard time convincing my husband to put it on her when he changed diapers.
Despite my complaints about the strap design, I am really excited about this technology and the kind of information it puts at a parent’s fingertips. If an extra 30 seconds securing the awkward thing at nap time means I’ll get to squeeze in a shower every day, I’d say it’s worth it.