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Home Apnea Monitor For Infants


An apnea monitor

is a device that monitors how well your baby is breathing. The apnea monitor is connected to your baby's chest with a belt or sticky pads. The belt and sticky pads have sensors that measure your baby's breathing rate and heart rate. The monitor will alarm when your baby stops breathing or takes shallow breaths. It will also alarm if your baby's heart rate is lower or higher than it should be.

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • Your baby cannot be woken.
  • Your baby stops breathing and you cannot get him or her to breathe.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your baby's heart rate is higher or lower than the provider said it should be.
  • Your baby is breathing faster than usual.

Contact your baby's healthcare provider if:

  • You have questions about how to use the apnea monitor.
  • You have questions or concerns about your baby's condition or care.

Why your baby may need an apnea monitor:

  • Your baby may need an apnea monitor if he or she was born early. Babies that are born early are at risk for periods of shallow breathing or no breathing (apnea). Your baby's heart rate may decrease when he or she stops breathing. These problems usually go away by the time your baby is 2 to 3 months old.
  • Your baby may need an apnea monitor if he or she had a brief resolved unexplained event (BRUE). A BRUE is when your baby suddenly stops breathing and will not respond.
  • Your baby may need an apnea monitor if his or her sibling died from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). SIDS is the sudden death of a sleeping baby younger than 1 year old. The death cannot be explained even after a review of the baby's health history, surroundings, and autopsy results.

How to use an apnea monitor:

You will be taught how to use the monitor before your baby leaves the hospital. You will be taught how to attach the monitor to your baby and what the alarms mean. You will also be taught what to do if the monitor alarms. Check the monitor's user manual if you forget any directions. Your baby's healthcare provider will tell you when to use the monitor. The provider may tell you to use the monitor all of the time or only while your baby is sleeping.

Keep your baby safe while you use an apnea monitor:

  • Place the monitor on a firm, sturdy surface. Make sure the monitor cannot fall into your baby's crib.
  • Do not place the monitor near your baby's head. The alarm can be very loud and may damage your baby's hearing.
  • Keep the wires away from your baby's head and neck. This will prevent them from strangling your baby.
  • If the monitor uses a belt, make sure you can fit 2 fingers between the belt and your baby's chest. A tight belt may prevent your baby from breathing well.
  • Make sure you can hear the monitor's alarm from another room. Place a baby monitor near the apnea monitor if you cannot hear the alarm from another room. This will help make the alarm louder. Check the monitor's instructions for how far apart you should place the monitors.

What to do if the apnea monitor alarms:

  • Check your baby every time the monitor alarms. A false alarm may be caused by a belt or sticky pad that falls off. A false alarm may also be caused by a low battery. Make sure your baby is attached to the monitor and the battery is charged.
  • If your baby has stopped breathing, stay calm. Follow the instructions given to you by your baby's healthcare provider. The provider may tell you to gently rub your baby's back, arms, or legs to make him or her breathe. Never shake your baby. This can cause brain damage. Press the reset button on the monitor after your baby starts breathing.
  • If your baby does not start breathing after you have followed instructions from the provider, call 911 and start CPR.

How to give your baby CPR:

The following is an overview of newborn CPR:

  • Open your baby's airway. Hold the airway open and give 1 rescue breath. Do not give large breaths. Do not breathe hard or fast. Take a normal breath for yourself after each breath that you give.

  • Give 3 chest compressions. Push hard and push fast. Do not delay or stop the compressions. Count the compressions out loud to help you do them at a steady, even speed. Fast, steady compressions increase the chance that your baby will live.

  • Repeat a pattern of 1 rescue breath and 3 chest compressions until your baby responds, help arrives, or an AED is available.

Care for your baby's skin:

  • Bathe your baby as directed. Gently pat his or her skin dry.
  • Do not put powders or lotions on your baby's skin before you attach the monitor. This will prevent the sensors from working correctly.
  • If the monitor uses sticky pads, remove and replace them as directed. Do not change the sticky pads more often than the provider says is okay. This could irritate your baby's skin.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.