40 weeks of pregnancy. 10-15 prenatal visits.
Your pregnancy is one of the most exciting times in your life. However, growing a baby comes with great responsibility, and it can feel like an eternity between doctor visits just to hear the heartbeat of your baby again.
That’s where the fetal doppler (or baby heartbeat monitor) comes in.
A fetal doppler allows you to listen to your baby’s heartbeat from as early as 8-10 weeks in your pregnancy, from the comfort of your own home.
But with a wide selection to choose from, it can be difficult to find which baby heart monitor is best for you. This article will delve into the details of how to find the best fetal doppler for you.
What is a Fetal Doppler?
A fetal doppler is a handheld ultrasound device that picks up on sound waves to listen to a fetal heartbeat. The doppler lets you hear your baby’s heartbeat from a very early stage of your pregnancy. It is designed to grant you peace of mind and help shape that maternal bond with your little one.
Dopplers were originally intended for medical professionals’ use. More recently, they have become available for household use, for moms to share their baby’s happy heartbeats with dad and the rest of the family.
Hearing the thumping heart of the little new life you’re bringing into this world will bring joy to yours. Between prenatal visits, there is nothing more reassuring than audible proof that your baby is healthy and well.
While they certainly do not replace visits to the doctor, there are plenty benefits that come with your fetal doppler. These are the two most compelling reasons to use one for yourself:
1. Connect with your baby.The time that you share with your baby while she is in the womb is so significant. These are very literally your baby’s formative months. Your baby’s heart and circulatory system begin to take form at six weeks. With the fetal doppler, you can start bonding with your baby, just as they learn to recognize your voice and adjust to your body.
2. Peace of mind.When pregnant women hear their baby’s heartbeat through the fetal heart monitor, they can breathe the deepest sigh of relief. Hearing the quintessential sign of life will provide unparalleled reassurance between appointments.
10 Features to Look For in Your At-Home Fetal Doppler
Now that we know the benefits of the fetal doppler, let’s understand its technical components. Fetal doppler monitors on the market in 2020 are beginning to differentiate from each other in their specs. Like any other tech product, your needs may be entirely different from another mom’s needs.
Buckle up (or at least sit tight if the strap is too much): the key differences in product design for home dopplers can be found in the following 10 comprehensive categories:
Though many doppler monitors look quite similar, some are more attractive than others. The monitor typically has a small LCD display above a speaker that plays back the baby’s heartbeat, attached to a corded probe that will pick up the ultrasound waves.
You’re going to want a product that you find aesthetically pleasing so that you enjoy using it every time you pick it up. This will ensure that your first moments bonding with your little one are as delightful as they ought to be.
More advanced fetal dopplers will display your baby’s heart rate. Depending on which of the doppler benefits are most important to you, you may opt to go with or without a display. From the perspective of connecting with your baby, just hearing the baby’s heartbeat will spark that relationship.
However, if you are looking for reassurance regarding your baby’s health and beats per minute, you may want to look for this additional feature. Look for a backlit LCD display for visibility even in darker rooms.
This is why you bought the monitor: to hear your baby’s heart beat. As such, it is one of the most important features on your doppler, and should not be compromised. Detecting a heartbeat becomes a lot more difficult when all you can hear is static.
This is especially the case if you plan to broadcast your little one’s beats to your friends and family around you. Aim for a powerful, high definition sound amplifier with adjustable volume control.
Depending on your individual needs, however, you may want some one-on-one time with baby. If you want to check in at night without waking up your partner, it may be much more convenient to connect your monitor to earbuds.
Just like the smartphones you find today, many models are manufactured with headphone jacks, and some are built without. Having this additional listening option is a nice plus to have, especially if there’s noise around you.
5. Probe sensitivity
Remember this: the higher the frequency, the lower the penetration. A higher 3 MHz frequency probe may be preferred to a 2 MHz earlier in pregnancy as it is more sensitive to the baby’s heartbeat. However, the standard 2 MHz will consistently pick up the fetal heart rate from 12 weeks.
Some devices have the capacity to plug in to an external recording device to capture your baby’s beats as a special memento. Though this is a nice feature to have, it is not much more effective than recording with your phone’s voice recorder.
Is your doppler meant for household or medical professional use? Certain dopplers are more accessible for household use, while others are built for your doctor’s office. Your doctor may be looking for accurate and advanced heart rate modelling.
Finding a happy medium is key here - not too simple that it’s not functional, but not too complex that it’s difficult to understand, stressful, and thus counterproductive. At the end of the day, you want your doppler to be easy to pick up and use.
It’s always safer when your tech is waterproof. Water resistance makes your electronic monitor less susceptible to damage or failure. It's especially useful for midwives' use in water births to monitor your baby.
A fuel-efficient monitor is the way to go. Of course, the battery is the heartbeat of your heartbeat monitor, so you want it to last your whole pregnancy.
You can find low battery consumption at less than 0.8 W. Certain models actually have rechargeable batteries, which is useful for high usage moms and high consumption monitors.
Now this final category actually spans two planes: safety, and reputability:
Get a product you can trust. If your doppler has a legitimate stamp of approval from the government, you can be sure that it’s been tested and cleared to meet the health and safety standards you can rely on.
Look at how your product presents itself online. Poor design, spelling errors, and outdated information are common indicators of unreliability. Don’t buy a product that’s not forthcoming with their specs.
Finding You the Right Doppler
Here we’ve taken a balanced approach to reviewing the top 10 fetal dopplers on the market today. Using all the above criteria, we have provided the overall ratings and rationale for our top ten list.
Most dopplers on the market have ecommerce channels (many can only be found online), so we’re only going to take a look at the ones you can order today from home.
It’s worth repeating that the most important thing is to find a doppler that will suit your personal needs. Keep that in mind as we dive into the first item on our list:
#10. SneakPeek Fetal Doppler - 81
SneakPeek is known for their accurate at-home gender tests, so you can get planning your baby’s gender reveal party early.
They’re not as well known for their own at-home fetal doppler. SneakPeek’s Fetal Doppler monitor makes the list because it’s so simple to use. The egg-shaped device looks like a wide computer mouse, and it has as many buttons.
But because of its minimal functionality, design, and lack of transparency, the SneakPeek Fetal Doppler is simply a financially friendly option for moms who are looking for nothing more than the sound of their baby’s heartbeat.
#9. Edan SonoTrax Basic Fetal Doppler - 84
Edan offers a variety of products and services to make medical equipment more accessible. Their medical-grade SonoTrax Basic Fetal Doppler does just this: it features a clear display that is easy to read, and features an interchangeable probe.
The SonoTrax is more water-resistant than many other monitors available on the market, and the model feels more durable overall. That being said, it comes in a rather clunky package.
Its battery life and build are both professional-quality, but it all comes at a very steep price of $135, which frankly does not seem justified. Its strong functionality at least makes up for the less-than-attractive design. As you’ll find with medical-grade dopplers, the price tag can often run much higher than your budget permits.
#8. FaceLake FL-100B - 85
With a similar design to the previous SonoTrox model, FaceLake isn’t exactly the sleekest model on the list. Where it wins is in its functional design. Its speaker and battery are impressive (rechargeable batteries make a nice bonus), and its emphasis on safe ultrasound technology makes it more reliable. Complete with a waterproof probe, this doppler can withstand a little wear and tear.
An impressive build with solid specs, the FaceLake FL-100B is mostly held back by its aesthetic (even the display is rather unattractive). At just $46, it is a really solid option for moms looking for a reasonable price on a reliable product.
#7. Wellue BabyTone Fetal Heart Monitor - 86
Wellue shines in innovative health technology, and their BabyTone Fetal Heart Monitor is no exception. This fetal doppler is intended to be paired with a smartphone app to optimize user experience.
While the device itself is not the prettiest one out there, it does feature a small LCD display to highlight your baby’s beats per minute. The focus meant to be on the app, which should provide new options for accessibility, such as the ability to share your results with your medical practitioner, or record your baby’s heart rate history. However, the app is not very accessible, and has received mixed reviews.
Despite the app’s shortcomings, the fetal heart monitor itself does the job quite well. Priced moderately at $60, the BabyTone delivers with a strong speaker and battery life. Their website is well-designed, and coupled with their expertise in other medical technology, they rank a little higher in the reliability category.
#6. Womb Music Baby Heartbeat Monitor - 87
This popular fetal doppler by WusicTech takes us back to the screenless models.
The Womb Music Baby Heartbeat Monitor is a sweet, little turquoise device that a mom can place directly onto her pregnant belly to hear the drumbeat of her little musician. In an astute move, this model incorporates a built-in audio splitter, featuring two headphone jacks for both parents to listen to their baby’s heartbeat together.
Its probe actually works quite well, and the quality speaker and easy access are pronounced in absence of an LCD display. True to its name, the Womb Music doppler offers personalized lullabies included in its affordable $55 package!
However, the lack of a display and tacky web design are limiting factors when considering purchase of this item. Nonetheless, it is still a respectable and highly-rated product online.
The Womb Music Baby Heartbeat Monitor is definitely one of the easiest devices to use on this list. If you’re an expectant mom and you simply want to bond with your baby on your own or with your partner, this doppler is a top four option.
#5. AngelSounds 2.0 Smart Baby Heartbeat Monitor - 87
Similar to Womb Music, AngelSounds is a well-received fetal doppler. It has nearly an identical model, save for the pink accented design on a white body, in contrast to the seafoam doppler in #6. The way this product is differentiated is in its “smart” features.
Where Wellue couldn’t quite succeed, AngelSounds couldn’t really manage to either, leaving plenty of room for opportunity in the smart fetal doppler market. However, while failing to live up to its potential in the app, the AngelSounds model has always been loved for its simplicity and design. Though you may have to replace the batteries once or twice, its peripherals rate well, too.
AngelSounds comes with a reputable name, along with medical certification, and excellent reviews. Definitely the best looking website on the list. But that’s not all, moms: AngelSounds comes with the most cost-effective price tag at just $40. Again, if your goal is to connect with your baby and you’ll be reassured by hearing his heartbeat, go for AngelSounds and save a few dollars on this pretty, little model.
#4. SpringBud FD-500B Fetal Doppler Detector - 88
We’re getting closer to the complete package with this SpringBud FD-500B doppler. There’s a few great things about this monitor that rank it in the top four:
- Design & Display: We finally get a look at a more attractive device with a more modern HD LCD display that puts design and display together in one device. The screen is equipped with a backlight so you can clearly see your baby’s heart rate even in dim lighting. It’s clear, clean, and simple.
Easy to use: The FD-500B is easy to carry, and the probe is easy to use. SpringBud provides tips on their website for when and where to use the doppler to get the best results. Different options are available online for purchasing together with ultrasound gel for ease of pickup.
- Bang for your buck: At essentially the same price as the AngelSounds monitor, you’re getting one of the best displays, and a great quality product. Add a few dollars making that a grand total of just $45 to get batteries and plenty of Aquasonic ultrasound gel.
SpringBud’s website is well-designed at first glance, but browsing around a little bit you may have some reservations about their reliability. Still, their reviews are overwhelmingly positive. At this price point, SpringBud is the best you’re going to get for a doppler like this.
#3. Neeva Baby Fetal Heartbeat Doppler - 90
By far the sleekest product we’ve reviewed yet, Neeva Baby’s Fetal Heartbeat Doppler headlines the upper tier as the best overall fetal doppler for most people. Let’s talk about the features that make this doppler stand out.
Neeva Baby has crafted a beautiful product that works seamlessly. It’s the most accessible product on this list - a simple backlit LCD screen displays the fetal heart rate clearly and accurately. Its speaker is loud and clear, as you can listen to the galloping sound of your baby’s little heart.
So in design, display, and speakers, this doppler is winning. Neeva also scores high in reliability (FDA-cleared) as a reputable seller with a chic web design. Plus, you’ll only need one pair of batteries all pregnancy with the monitor’s low power consumption.
While you might expect as professional a product as this one to sell at $100, it actually sells for a very affordable price of $60. For all the reasons stated above, the Neeva Baby Fetal Heartbeat Doppler is the best overall fetal doppler for everyone.
#2. Little Martin’s Drawer Sound Amplifier and Recorder - 90
Little Martin’s Drawer saw the dopplers out there and challenged the norm with a minimalistic, elegant monitor with a modern feel. It’s been rewarded with great reviews and a reputable brand name.
Though the display is very simple, it gets straight to the point. The fetal heart rate appears on the backlit screen as the sky-blue probe is pressed on your pregnant belly. It’s got a cute, little docking station where the small but effective speaker is placed.
It is on the pricier side at $72, but at least you’re paying for an attractive product that you’ll be excited to use. With its modern, light product design and accessibility, Little Martin’s Drawer rates as one of the best fetal dopplers.
#1. Huntleigh D920 Obstetric Audio Dopplex - 91
The highest quality doppler money can buy is this little device by Huntleigh. Hands down the most professional doppler device on this list, the D920 will provide the best in class speaker quality and reliability.
While its design leaves something to be desired, the D920’s high sensitivity probe and excellent audio playback equipped with noise reduction are top of the line. Designed for medical grade, it is also waterproof and built to last, making it safe for water births and durable throughout your pregnancy. If doctors are using the D920, you know you can rely on it.
Considering that Huntleigh supplies hospitals with these advanced, medical-grade dopplers, this device comes at a hefty price of $519. Although out of the reach of most consumers, the D920 doppler will guarantee the best quality, and serves as the gold standard for fetal heartbeat monitors.
It’s truly all about what you need.
If you want visual proof that your baby is healthy, you need to go with a model with a display.
If you just want to hear that your baby is doing okay, Womb Music and AngelSounds are reasonable options.
For the best budget-friendly doppler, the SpringBud FD-500B is our recommended choice. At under $50, you can’t get much better than this solid device.
If you’re willing to spend the extra cash, Huntleigh’s D920 model will get you the professional quality you’re looking for in our recommended advanced option.
However, the best choice for most people is the Neeva Baby Fetal Doppler. It is sleek, portable, effective, and easy to use. What more can you really ask for?
As you can see for yourself, some models are more visually appealing than others. At the end of the day, your fetal doppler is the link between you and your baby. Anything that brings you closer to your little one deserves to be loved.
So make sure to choose a fetal doppler that you’re going to love.
Here’s a handy little graphic to summarize our top choices: