SIDS is a serious thing, and it is easily my biggest fear as a parent. The trouble is, marketers of baby sleep products know this. And they will exploit your fear so you buy their products. Case in point: baby monitors. For the record, I think it's a good thing to own a baby monitor as long as you don't run into the nursery at every little peep the baby makes. There are several types of baby monitors; some come with a video camera; some with motion sensors; some made by Skynet come with a robot nanny who soothes your child to sleep, so long as your baby isn't named John Connor.
|Just as a general rule, I don't buy anything made by Skynet.|
The one we use is called the Angel Care monitor, and I highly recommend it. I also highly recommend reading the instruction booklet. Let me explain why.
The Angel Care monitor has a motion sensor that you place under the baby's mattress that responds to the baby's breathing. In theory, if said baby stops breathing, the monitor lets you know. But it doesn't do it calmly, like "Oh hey guys, I think your child might have stopped breathing. Probably a false alarm, but you might wanna go check it out. Just a suggestion."
No, the Angel Care monitor freaks the eff out. It's like the sound of your alarm clock, if your alarm clock were forged in the fires of Mordor. And if you don't know how to adjust the monitor, you're going to be in for a lot of false alarms, like we were.
|Angel Care's corporate headquarters.|
The problem lies in the motion sensor's sensitivity control. Turn it up too high, and you can swap your baby out with a stuffed animal without the monitor catching on. Turn it down too low, and Susan could be springing backflips on the mattress and the monitor would still think she's down for the count.
As it turns out, we had ours turned down too low. Waaaaaay too low.
Picture this: mom and dad sleeping in their warm cozy beds, dead to the world since they get far less sleep than they need. Mom is dreaming about Susan. Dad is dreaming about dinosaurs because (as his wife tells him to make him feel better about the fact that he is really a five-year-old at heart) he has a "vivid imagination." The dog is in the middle of the bed dreaming about owning a pet lemur named Larry. It's 2:00 a.m. It's quiet. It's dark. It's peaceful. And then this happens:
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP
Mom and dad jerk awake, and before mom can even yell "OMG SHE'S DYING!!!!!", dad has jumped out of bed like Usain Bolt from the starting blocks in the 100 meter. He cuts left through the hallway, right into the living room and bolts up the stairs, bounding up to the second floor in just four steps with a level athleticism that is completely absent in any other endeavor of his life. His adrenaline is pumping, and he throws open the door to the nursery expecting to find his baby blue in the face. He tries to remember if infant CPR requires 20 chest pumps or 30, and how many times you're supposed to blow air into her mouth. Or no, do you blow air first, and then start the chest pumps? And when should he call Addison Shepherd?
Except when dad looks in the crib, baby is sleeping peacefully. And breathing. She just shifted off the motion sensor pad. By this point, mom has made it up the stairs. Even the dog came along to check on baby Susan. Everyone's relieved that things are OK, and now they can all go lie awake in bed for the next two hours.
In summary, none of this is conducive to a good night's sleep.
So what was the beeping about? Apparently the Angel Care monitor's sensitivity control ranges from "YOUR BABY IS DYING" to "ALL IS WELL" modes. As we had it set, our monitor, instead of telling us when there IS a problem, told us when everything was OK. When it went off in the middle of the night, what it's really saying is this:
ATTENTION COOK FAMILY. ALL IS WELL. I REPEAT: ALL IS WELL.
YOU HAVE NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT. SUSAN IS SLEEPING. SHE IS NOT DYING. DO NOT PANIC. I REPEAT: DO NOT PANIC. IF SHE STOPS BREATHING, I WILL LET YOU KNOW BECAUSE I AM THE ANGEL CARE MONITOR AND I GIVE YOU PEACE OF MIND. CONSIDER YOUR MIND EASED. YOU MAY NOW GO BACK TO SLEEP. I REPEAT: GO BACK TO SLEEP. SHOULD YOU NEED A LULLABY, I WILL CONTINUE BEEPING. PLEASE TURN ME OFF ONCE YOU ARE ASLEEP. THANK YOU.
On the plus side, I've gotten really fast at running up the stairs. I can consistently go first floor to second floor in under 4 seconds, which is probably an Olympic record if they keep track of such a thing.