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This sleep-tracking baby sock was one of the best purchases I made as a new parent

If you know a new mom or mom-to-be, the Owlet Dream Sock Plus is a great gift to track their baby's sleep habits.
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer
Reviewed by Kerry Wan
Owlet Dream Sock
Owlet Dream Sock Plus
Owlet Dream Sock
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The Owlet Dream Sock
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

ZDNET's key takeaways

  • The Owlet Dream Sock is an FDA-cleared baby sleep tracker for $299 and is FSA/HSA-eligible.
  • The Owlet Dream Sock goes beyond your standard baby monitor by tracking your child's heart rate, blood oxygen, and sleep patterns. It has three alarms: a yellow incorrect fit alarm, a purple abnormal reading alarm, and a blue alarm when the sock is out of range or low battery.
  • While false low oxygen and abnormal heart rate alarms are exceedingly rare (I've only had a handful in our 7+ years using Owlet products), I wish there were a separate low battery alarm instead of the same out-of-range alarm.

Is it safe to say that all new parents need more sleep? This is partly why baby monitors were invented in the first place. I still remember when video monitors for babies became mainstream, which meant I no longer needed to haul around a walkie-talkie-looking device around my house and now carried a screen instead.

Also: The best smart home devices of 2024: Expert tested and reviewed

Now, trackers like the Owlet Dream Sock have become so sophisticated that they can measure your baby's blood oxygen levels, heart rate, and sleep cycles and alert you if anything reads unusually.

Owlet Dream Sock Plus
Maria Diaz | ZDNET

The Owlet Dream Sock lets you easily track your baby's or toddler's sleep as a wearable that goes on your child's foot. It tracks sleep patterns, oxygen levels, and heart rate.

Such wearables have been a household essential for me, particularly because my family has a history of febrile seizures, which can cause a sense of unease when my children are sleeping. In hopes of helping other new parents who may experience similar discomfort, let me share why a sleep-tracking baby sock is highly recommended.

How the Owlet tracks sleep and other measures

Similar to an Apple Watch or Fitbit, the Dream Sock, is worn by your baby while they sleep. It tracks their heart rate and oxygen levels to map their sleep stages. It also alerts your smartphone if your baby is awake or shows any signs of irregularity.

The box has the sensor, a base station, and four fabric socks in two sizes to fit babies from birth through 18 months. For the years after, Owlet offers a Plus option that includes two additional toddler-sized socks to fit kids from 30 to 55 lbs.

The Owlet Dream Sock on 3-year old foot.
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

The sock holds a photoplethysmography (PPG) sensor that the baby wears on their foot, similar to what you wear in the ER to track your heart rate. Through the Dream Sock, the Owlet app can track heart rate, average oxygen levels, noise, wakings, and movements to learn your baby's baseline behaviors and measurements. 

Also: The 6 best smartwatches for kids

Once that baseline is measured, the base station will send an alert to your phone, suggesting that your baby needs your attention, whenever the sensor on the sock detects a deviation from those numbers.

Sleep regressions and tracking

As a millennial parent, I've always sought guidance from educational apps and the occasional forum group for parents to get me through the initial challenges of parenthood. These resources helped me navigate sleep regressions, for example, and the Owlet Dream Sock has been similarly helpful.

Owlet Dream Sock Plus packaging.

As my kids got older, I decided to get the Owlet Dream Sock Plus to grow with them.

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

With enough usage, the Owlet app builds a schedule for when you should the baby's next sleep or nap should start. Part of this depends on the measured baseline and their age, which you can enter manually. For times when your baby isn't sleeping with the sock -- there are days when I drop my one-year-old off at the daycare, for example -- you can input their sleep cadence for the Owlet app to work from.

Also: I wore an Apple Watch and a Fitbit to track my sleep. Here's how the data compared

The app also features historical sleep data, so you can view your baby's sleep patterns and see how they change as they go through sleep regressions, growth spurts, or illnesses.

Why I bought a sleep-tracking baby sock

I first bought a smart baby sock for my firstborn six years ago, hoping it would help me keep track of my baby's breathing and give me enough tranquility to sleep without worry. 

As first-time parents, my husband and I were worried about sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), so we'd have our newborn wear the Owlet more for peace of mind than anything else, and we knew that we weren't the only ones who thought that. According to a medical study conducted from 2015 to 2017, the Owlet Smart Sock helped 94% of parents sleep better at night.

Owlet Dream Sock Plus
Owlet Care

Once our firstborn got past six months old, we rarely used the Owlet Smart Sock -- until she started having complex febrile seizures. I don't know if you've ever held a small child during a seizure, but I can tell you it's the scariest thing that has ever happened in my life, especially since I didn't know what was happening to her the first time.

Review: Amazon Halo Rise: A sleep-tracking nearable to replace your clumsy wearable

My family has a significant history of febrile seizures, so we were told after the first one that it likely wouldn't be the last, and it wasn't: My daughter had three more before she naturally outgrew them by the time she turned five.

Charging the Owlet Dream Sock wirelessly.

The Owlet Dream Sock charges wirelessly with its Base Station.

Owlet Care

At that point, the Owlet sleep sock served an even greater purpose for us as parents: It could alert us whenever there were signs of a seizure while our baby slept, like elevated heart rate or low oxygen, helping us rest a little easier at night.

Fortunately, our second child never had any febrile seizures, though she got her own Owlet sock to wear. By the time baby number three arrived, the standard sock had just enough battery left for us to pass it on to her. She wore her Owlet religiously for the first year of her life until we felt that the risk of SIDS was behind us -- but then she started having febrile seizures too.

My third baby's first febrile seizure came on when she was 17 months old, so we sprung for a new Owlet Dream Sock Plus, which Owlet says should last you up to five years. This variant comes with an extension pack so it has socks in sizes from birth to five years of age, instead of the standard Dream Sock, which goes up to about 18 months old. With our significant family history of febrile seizures, I felt that buying a new Owlet device made the most sense, even if she was our last baby.

A note on baby sock monitors

Not all baby socks on the market have the FDA's approval. Owlet used to market its sleep sock as a heart rate and oxygen monitor until the FDA forced the company to remove this language from its product descriptions through a warning letter in 2021. After that, Owlet put its baby sock through the FDA's requirements and was granted FDA approval in 2023.

Also: The best sleep trackers (and are they really accurate?)

While awaiting its approval, Owlet shifted its focus to sleep tracking on marketing materials instead of oxygen and heart rate monitoring. The FDA-approved Dream Sock still tracks heart rate, but blood oxygen monitoring is now available in real-time for 1-18-month-olds, which is more useful than the previous ten-minute average the Dream Sock offered. The metrics are translated into sleep quality indicators in the Owlet Dream mobile app. When the company's algorithm detects these measures shifting from the regular baseline, you get an alert to check in on the baby. 

Bottom line

The Owlet Dream Sock retails for $299, which is not cheap, but it helps that you can use HSA or FSA funds to purchase it. Seasonal deals also help. Thankfully, there are no additional monthly fees or subscriptions to track your baby's sleep after you purchase the Dream Sock.

Cost aside, the Owlet Dream Sock is an innovative smart device that has genuinely helped me mentally, emotionally, and, to a subtle extent, physically. I've always loved seeing data in black and white, and I often use my Apple Watch and Fitbit to track my sleep. I think extending those capabilities to my kids is a no-brainer.

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