Baby Monitors

Nanit Red Alert and Accuracy Guide 2024

Sandra W Bullock

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Receiving a red alert notification in your Nanit app should jolt you to check on your baby but you need to be calm and collected as Nanit’s Band and Swaddle have been known to give false red alerts. In this article, I have provided detailed information on Nanit’s red alert prevalence, its causes, and what to do when you get a red alert. I have also given helpful info to understand the accuracy of Nanit’s breath-monitoring technology.

Nanit’s Red Alert: Here is what’s to know:

If you receive a Red Alert notification from your Nanit camera, it means that the camera has detected a potential safety issue in your baby’s sleep environment. While Nanit’s red alerts are known to be inaccurate at times, you need to take any red alert notification very seriously as you’d blame yourself if something could happen to your baby.

If the Nanit camera does not detect Breathing Motion for 20 seconds, it will activate an alarm. By default, both your phone and the Nanit camera will emit a Red Alert sound, and your phone will vibrate. You can customize these settings through the Nanit app by visiting the Breathing Motion section in the Settings tab.

Below is a typical red alert notification you’ll receive on your Nanit app(source);

image of Nanit's red alert notification on the phone
An image of Nanit’s red alert notification on the phone

Here are common causes of red alerts that can cause false alarms and inaccurate readings of your baby’s breathing rate per minute(bpm).

False Triggers of Nanit Red Alarm:

  • Breathing wear is too tight or too loose
  • Nanit Breathing Wear pattern is covered or obstructed
  • Breathing Wear Patterns are bunched up and not flat making computer vision algorithms inaccurate signal relays
  • The use of sheets that are not blank and resemble the square pattern used in Nanit’s Breathing Wear. Non-blank crib sheets can confuse the algorithm reading the breathing movement giving you a false red alarm when the sheets indicate no movement.
  • Using thick fabric on Nanit Breathing Wear. Light clothing on your baby makes it easy for the algorithm to easily detect breathing movements.
  • Using both the Breathing Band and the Nanit Swaddle at the same time.
  • The presence of mobiles on the crib

Nanit’s Red Alert Real Triggers(Positive Alerts)

Below are the causes of red alerts that should be taken very seriously as it may suggest a life-threatening situation for your baby. These causes may require immediate medical attention;

  • Obstructions on the face or mouth of the baby
  • Poorly swaddled babies that can pose breathing restrictions
  • Overly tightened Swaddle flap or Breathing Band which may restrict breathing and cause suffocation.

8 Things To Do When You Receive Nanit Red Alert:

When you receive a red alert, here are some steps you should follow;

  1. Stay calm and try not to panic. Take a deep breath and assess the situation. Don’t get the ‘Nanit red alert anxiety syndrome‘. Chances are that your baby is breathing fine.
  2. Check on your baby immediately. Look for any obvious signs of distress or breathing difficulties.
  3. If your baby is visibly struggling to breathe, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
  4. Adjust the room temperature if it is too high or low. Remember Nanit temperature and humidity sensors can be inaccurate so you need to confirm the temperature with a thermostat before making any changes. Read our guide on Nanit’s temperature accuracy here.
  5. Ensure no objects are obstructing the camera’s view of your baby.
  6. If your baby is wearing clothing with a tight collar or hood, remove it to allow for proper breathing.
  7. If there are no visible signs of distress and you do not hear any unusual sounds from your baby, gently try to wake them up. If your baby can wake up, there is a high chance that the red alert was a false alarm.
  8. If your baby does not respond or has difficulty waking up, check for any obstructions on their face or mouth and remove them if necessary. You can also try to gently reposition your baby to see if it helps with their breathing.

Nanit has a list of 11 things to improve the accuracy of Nanit’s breathing alerts on its website here.

My case of Nanit Red Alert False Alarm:

A few weeks after using Nanit in 2022, I received a sudden red alert that jolted me out of deep sleep. Without hesitation, I bolted to my little boy’s crib, feeling an adrenaline rush. When I reached his side, I found him peacefully slumbering, taking a moment to awaken even after I gently picked him up. The experience left me shaken, unable to return to sleep as I held him close for a long while.

My case isn’t unique. I’ve read many cases where parents found themselves terrified as hell if their little ones stopped breathing or worse, succumbed to SIDs. My initial thought was that the strap was loose and somehow the breathing wear stopped detecting the subtle breathing movements when the baby was in his REM-sleep phase.

I was curious to know if other parents had similar false red alerts from Nanit. I was a bit relieved after reading about other instances on Reddit(here) and Nanit’s support page. These stories were truly alarming, as they described parents being abruptly awakened, fearing the worst possible scenarios.

Realizing that there are several cases of Nanit false alarms surprised me a bit considering that I had read of studies that mentioned Nanit being very accurate. Further research on Nanit’s accuracy points to the accuracy of its sleep classification and not the breathing wear/onesie tracker, as per this 2023 Study.

While I didn’t have the chance to get my baby to use the Nanit Band, my online research suggests that both the Nanit Swaddle and the Nanit Band generate false red alerts. Hence, it seems unnecessary to switch between the two.

How Accurate Is Nanit Band and Swaddle?

When comparing the accuracy of Nanit and Owlet, it becomes evident that Owlet outperforms Nanit significantly in terms of false alarms. According to a 2018 study, Owlet was found to accurately detect hypoxia 88.8% of the time. While I couldn’t find peer-reviewed studies on Nanit Breathing Band’s or Swaddle’s accuracy, the numerous complaints suggest that it falls short, likely not exceeding 80%.

Although the rate may seem high, it is worth noting that independent testing conducted by organizations like BabyGearLab revealed no instances of false alarms. They even encountered difficulties attempting to deceive the device into perceiving that their simulated baby had ceased breathing.

I want to clarify that I agree with BabyGearLab regarding the Swaddle and the Band as they provide fairly accurate readings of breaths per minute (bpm). However, I want to emphasize that the concerns about Nanit’s Band and Swaddle’s accuracy are related to false alerts, not the bpm readings themselves.

It is worth mentioning that Nanit’s higher false alarm rate can be attributed in part to its utilization of new computer vision technology, which is comparatively less advanced than the medically proven pulse oximetry technology employed by Owlet. This brief article explains the limitations of computer vision technology leading to suboptimal/decreased accuracy with computer-aided diagnosis.

Owlet’s pulse oximetry technology, which has been in use since the 1940s, employs the same advanced technology found in hospitals to measure oxygen saturation levels with a remarkable accuracy of 95%. On the other hand, Computer Vision technology’s application in high-stakes diagnosis is barely a decade old and could use a lot more improvement.

Understanding Nanit’s Breath Monitoring:

As indicated in the table below, newborn infants tend to breathe rapidly and may have shallow breaths. It is also common for them to experience brief pauses in breathing, lasting around 5-10 seconds, multiple times per hour.

These pauses, known as “apneas,” are typically not a cause for concern in young babies. However, the Nanit Plus camera will notify you if it detects no movement in your baby’s chest and abdomen for more than 20 seconds.

Breaths per minute range you can expect for babies

Final Word:

Nanit’s breath monitoring technology, although innovative and potentially helpful for parents, is not yet on par with the accuracy of medically proven pulse oximetry technology. However, as computer vision technology continues to improve and develop over time, we may see more accurate and reliable breath monitoring in the future. In the meantime, it is important for parents to understand the limitations of this technology and to consult with a healthcare professional if they have any concerns about their baby’s breathing.

If you are considering purchasing this HSA-eligible monitor, first read our review of the Nanit Pro Smart Baby Monitor. If you already own a Nanit Monitor and having issues to get it to work properly, we have a guide for troubleshooting Nanit here.

We appreciate your readership and welcome feedback or comments. If you don’t agree with my assessment of Nanit’s accuracy or have other opinions on Nanit’s red alerts, feel free to reach out.

Happy monitoring!

FAQs

What does Nanit red alert sound like?

The Nanit red alert emits a distinct and loud high-pitched sound, surpassing 70 decibels. This sound can be heard both in the app and through the camera. Even for heavy sleepers, you can rely on it to wake you up with confidence.

Does Nanit notify you when the baby rolls over?

The Nanit camera is equipped with highly sensitive sensors that detect even the slightest movements made by your baby. You have the flexibility to adjust the sensitivity settings even higher to your preference, ensuring that you receive notifications when there is any slight roll. This way, your Nanit doesn’t fail to notify you when the baby rolls over. Follow the steps below to increase the sensitivity for movement alerts;

  1. Open the Nanit app
  2. Tap the side menu
  3. If you have more than one Nanit camera – Tap the camera you’d like to adjust
  4. Choose your baby’s settings
  5. Tap ‘Notifications’
  6. Make sure Motion Alerts are ‘on’ and slide the sensitivity bar to ‘more’

If adjusting it to the highest setting gives you several false motion alert notifications, you can try different levels in the app to find one that gives you the most accurate readings.