High-tech baby monitors give new parents peace of mind, but are they foolproof?

- Yessica Etchebarne is crazy about her children, and it shows on her Facebook page.

“I filled everyone's newsfeed with pictures and videos galore,” she says.

And Yessica's grade school friend, FOX 5's Katie Beasley, got used to seeing Dior, and Jaydn, and AJ on her feed.

Especially AJ.

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"You'd see his face pop in all the time,” Katie says. “She's kind of like me; she's an over-sharer, in a good way."

But in April of 20-14, AJ was suddenly, inexplicably gone.

"He was 9 months and 11 days," says Yessica.

He died in his crib.

"It was SIDS.  Sudden Infant Death Syndrome,” his mother says. “We went to lunch. I went on my lunch break and I took him out to eat and we ate barbeque and he flirted with the waitress. And then I went back to work, and he went back to the babysitter."

AJ, napping in an apartment just a few hundred feet from his mother’s office, stopped breathing.  CPR couldn't save him.

"I think it hit our whole community and our whole friend group from high school hard," remembers Katie.

And, within months, Katie and her husband John were expecting. She says she worried about all the things that could go wrong during her pregnancy.

"Then you're in the hospital, and they give you a baby, and the nurses turn and leave the room,” says Katie. “And you're like, ‘What do I do now!’ And I said, 'I'm not going to sleep a wink, because I'm just so afraid she's going to stop breathing!'"

To help, friends gave Katie and her husband a $130 Snuza Hero baby movement monitor.  It clips to Ava’s diaper.  The sensor touches Ava’s belly.  If she stops moving for 15 seconds, the device vibrates to rouse her.  If she doesn't move for 5 more seconds, it sounds an alarm. A very loud alarm.

“And that's the most frightening noise I've ever heard," says Katie.

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta pediatrician and WebMD medical editor Dr. Hansa Bhargava says the there is an explosion of monitors on the market. Ranging in price from about $100 to over $200, the monitor oxygen levels, heartbeat and movement. Dr. Bhargava says the monitors can give nervous new parents peace of mind.

“But, she says, "Monitors can also give you a false sense of security.  And you can get dependent on them. You think the baby is fine because the monitor has not gone off."

Dr. Bhargava doesn't recommend the devices to her patients, because she says most are not FDA-approved.

"So, they may work, but they may not work,” she says. “And to get dependent on those to prevent things like SIDS is just not a good idea."

"In the beginning, we had a couple of false alarms,” says Katie.  “It went off a couple of times, and you jump out of bed so fast!”

When Yessica’s daughter Dior was born, a year after they lost AJ, Yessica was sent home with a medical-grade baby monitor.   But after several false alarms, Yessica stopped using it.

"I already had high anxiety from everything I've gone through,” she says. “And that just put me through the roof."

Yessica and Katie both regularly check on their babies when they're sleeping.  But Katie says this device helps her sleep, too.

"You can't let one little monitor do all the work for you, but it's nice to have one added layer,” she says.

Dr. Bhargava says infants should always be placed on their backs to sleep.  That’s the safest position, she says.  She advises parents to take everything out of the crib, removing toys, bumper pads, blankets and pillows.  The baby should sleep on his or her back with only a tight-fitting sheet. 


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