The Cocoon Cam ($149) baby breathing monitor can track your baby’s breathing while she sleeps. It’s one of a whole new generation of high-tech devices that give parents an unprecedented level of information about their babies (See also: Are You a Bad Parent If You Rely On Parenting Tech? Short answer: no).
It’s certainly not the first of such movement and breathing monitors – Angel Care has been doing this for years – but it’s the first that doesn’t require a special pad in the crib or any type of wearable monitoring device, as seen in the Snuza or Owlet.
How Does it Work?
Unlike competing products, the Cocoon Cam uses computer vision to collect a baby’s vital signs with a motion-detecting video camera that syncs with a smartphone app. It tracks the rise and fall of baby’s chest (or back) to monitor breathing patterns. The detection works even through a blanket (but, why the blanket?) or when a baby is swaddled. You can watch a video of this technology in action here.
Once the camera is centered in the correct position 4 to 5 feet above the mattress, it scans your baby’s chest movements and translates her breathing pattern to a graph, shown below:
It also sends you text alerts when your baby falls asleep, wakes up, or begins crying. As the company advertises, “You know the moment your baby wakes up, cries, or if anything changes with his breathing patterns.”
Disclaimer: The Cocoon Cam baby breathing monitor (and other products like it) have not been proven to prevent SIDS. In fact, baby breathing monitors are not medical devices, and therefore aren’t subject to the FDA’s approval process. There is no evidence that these breathing monitors protect sleeping babies from harm.
Like a typical HD video monitor, the Cocoon Cam presents you with video and audio coverage of your baby in her crib. It has a nice, clear picture as well as optional two-way audio, so you have the option to speak to your baby from another room, Big Brother style.
Because it operates from an app on your phone, you can check in on your baby from anywhere — which I love!
While I initially thought this was going a bit overboard in the “paranoid parent” department, I found I actually did feel reassured by the breathing graph as I checked on my baby in the middle of the night. Coincidentally, I was actually using this camera the first time she slept through the night (woohoo!), and was reassured by the monitor that she was ok, even though I hadn’t heard from her in ten glorious hours!
Does it Work as Intended?
In theory, the Cocoon Cam would actually warn parents if their baby stopped breathing, but there’s no way to test this…or to really know whether the warning would give parents enough time to do something about it if such an event were to occur. At least one reviewer was exasperated that the Cocoon Cam wasn’t “working” because it didn’t pick up on her baby’s apneic spells. If you think your baby might have sleep apnea or a serious medical condition, you should talk to your doctor right away.
That said, we have read anecdotes from over the years of reviewing these “SIDS alert” products from people who say they were able to intervene when their baby breathing monitor alerted them (i.e., they were able to rouse their baby from the deep, non-breathing state they had fallen into). Again, nobody can attest to the accuracy of these reports, but the stories are definitely out there on the interwebs.
Please note that because this technology and product are so new – and sometimes buggy – many reviewers just couldn’t get it to work, but those that did seemed entirely satisfied. Many of the tech-savvy reviewers complained of bad software, but one would hope this would improve as time goes on. (The updated 2019 version, the Cocoon Cam Plus, claims to have improved on some of these issues.) Bottom line: be prepared for potential bugs, but rest assured their customer service is excellent.
Things to Know:
Some caveats I discovered while using it ~
- The app drains your phone battery quickly (e.g., 35% of my phone battery was gone after a two-hour nap).
- The monitor was initially a little buggy, so that sometimes it would freeze or have long delays in its alerts about my daughter waking up or going to sleep. *However, I emailed Cocoon Cam’s customer support and they quickly helped me resolve the freezing issues by trouble-shooting with me. The app has had no issues since! Other reviewers have also remarked on the excellence of Cocoon Cam’s customer support.
- It’s a little tricky to set up the camera, as you have to screw it into the wall to get the exact right positioning in order for the breathing technology to work. You’ll need to be handy with a drill (or know someone who is) to do this right, and it definitely will not work from any other position (i.e., this isn’t the monitor you can simply unplug and take with you on vacation).
- You may need to get an extension cord and/or a wall cable cover, because the cable provided isn’t very long, and you’ll want to make sure you’re keeping the loose cord far away from your baby. Cocoon Cam sells a cord cover kit here.
- Though I found the app simple to operate once the camera was physically set up, the monitor lacks detailed user instructions.
- Even with a strong internet connection, there’s a short lag time (of 2-3 seconds or so) of video/audio from the camera to your phone.
So… is the Cocoon Cam right for you?
The answer to this question depends on how much baby surveillance you personally prefer. Some parents want to know everything that’s going on with their baby at all times. Others are fine just listening for their baby’s cries from another room without using a monitor at all.
At the end of the day, it can be really nerve-wracking bringing home a new baby. It’s understandable that many parents worry during the first months of their baby’s life. If the Cocoon Cam’s breathing detection technology helps you get some much-needed peace of mind (especially if you’re not room-sharing), then it might be a worthwhile purchase. That said, it should never be used as a substitute for safe baby sleeping practices.
At the end of the day, most video monitors will run you $150+ anyway, so the vital stat monitoring capability is a cherry on top (assuming you can get it working properly). And if something isn’t working right, the company’s customer service is top-notch. Cocoon Cam offers a free 100-day trial, so you can return it within that time frame if you’re not completely happy.
*We were provided a free sample of this monitor for this review, but these opinions are purely our own.