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My husband and I made the decision to buy the Angelcare AC300 Movement Monitor when I became pregnant with our first child. I know that mattress monitors existed because my parents had bought one when I was a baby, although back then they were much harder to come by and much more pricey. This Angelcare device came highly rated as a mattress sensor. (Please note that this is not a sound or video monitor so you'll need to buy one of those separately.)
The product consists of one sensor pad which is connected to a controller by a cable. The controller then plugs into the wall. When setting up the pad, you place it under the mattress at the base of the cot. It needs to sit on a solid surface so if your cot has a slatted base you will need to buy a piece of hardboard around 30 x 30 cm to rest underneath. The controller needs to be put on a surface (e.g. Bedside table) theoretically 1.5m away. When we set ours up we found that the cable is not really long enough to make this possible once you have accounted for going under the cot and around the surrounding furniture. Ours is set up around a metre away and seems to work fine.
When you put the baby into the cot you switch on the device and the controller flashes red once then starts to flash green sensing movement. If it doesn't sense movement for 15 seconds the red light flashes once as a warning then repeatedly as a beeping sound starts. I have found that I often forget to turn it off for those dreaded night time feeds (eight months and still not sleeping through!) and the warning beep gives just enough time for me to get to the controller to switch it off before the alarm goes and completely freaks the LO out.
The pad is very very sensitive. We have ours under a full thickness mattress and the Sleepyhead mattress on top of that and we have never had a problem with it not sensing baby's breathing. Because of the Sleepyhead, my LO cannot roll off the pad easily but I imagine that if we only had the cot mattress, that might be a problem.
To be honest when we bought the Angelcare Movement Monitor, I assumed that the controller would be wireless and I could carry it around with me. Because it's not, you do need a sound monitor as well to be sure of hearing it.
This product does work consistently and definitely gives peace of mind.
We originally brought a video monitor for the nursery, but I still worried about baby at night. I would lie staring at the monitor looking to see if I could see her chest rising or a movement. This Angelcare monitor has solved our problems!
It is so simple to use. We use it as well as our video monitor as our baby sleeps in the nursery. We have never had a false alarm and it gives me such peace of mind. We have had the monitor for 2 months now and have not had to change the batteries yet.
If we forget to turn it off before we pick baby out of the cot, the warning beep sounds after a few seconds. This shows how sensitive the monitor is. Our baby is a mover too and it still manages to pick up her breathing wherever she ends up! The product is expensive but for us it was well worth the money.