As I sit down to write what is essentially a love letter to the SNOO, the world’s smartest bassinet, my baby is upstairs sound asleep. I know this because I have the SNOO app open next to me tracking how long she’s been asleep (one hour and 29 minutes), how long it took for her to settle (less than one minute), and how many naps she’s had so far today (we’re onto our second out of three). Not every day is this seamless, but I’d say it is about 80% of the time.
My daughter is almost five months old, and the SNOO has made our transition into parenthood easier than I expected. To date, Poppy has slept 1492 hours in the SNOO and counting. That feels like a lot of hours, and enough for me to be able to write this honest review about the SNOO bassinet and how we’re using it.
How do we know it works and our baby wouldn’t be sleeping the same in a regular bassinet? When Poppy was eight weeks old we went away and thought we’d manage just fine without the SNOO. It was after the first night of rocking, patting, shushing for hours that we realised just how much it helped her sleep. After that trip, we vowed that while she still fit, we’d travel with the SNOO. (We later learned that many families pack it back up into the box it came in and ship it ahead of time to their destination, it’s that good).
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re curious about baby sleep. You’re either on the cusp of parenthood and trying to prepare (you can’t, other than to order the SNOO), or you’re desperate for some shut-eye. When Poppy was about 12 weeks old, I was lucky to have a chat over Zoom with pediatrician, author of The Happiest Baby on the Block, and creator of the SNOO, Dr. Harvey Karp. Not many new parents have the privilege of picking the brains of one of the world’s most renowned child development experts, so I thought I’d share some of my learnings, alongside my experience with the SNOO.
First, here’s how the SNOO works
It’s a responsive baby bassinet that boosts a baby’s sleep by combining gentle rocking with soothing white noise and snug, safe swaddling. Once the baby is strapped into the swaddle, you can either ‘lock’ the bassinet onto a certain level of rocking that your baby likes, or you can leave it ‘unlocked’, where it will detect your baby’s cry and respond by increasing its motion to rock the baby to sleep. It’s basically another set of safe hands so you can sleep, work, keep your household running, or just take a breather when you need it.
Aside from the rocking and white noise, it also offers parents peace of mind that the baby is swaddled safely and isn’t going to roll anywhere, thus reducing SIDS risk.
Because every family is different, here’s how we used it
We had Poppy in the SNOO as soon as we got home from hospital on ‘weaning mode’ (no motion when she’s calm, just white noise). When she was or is going through a developmental leap (as per The Wonder Weeks) and acting fussier than usual, we use the SNOO with motion for all naps, and through the night.
We started using the SNOO for all naps plus overnight sleep when she was about eight weeks old. Before that, she did her day sleeps in our arms, in her pram or in a moses basket on the couch next to me. If I could go back, I’d start her day naps in the SNOO earlier (or at least one or two a day) so I could give myself more of a break between feeds and not feel like I was constantly “on” watching the baby. The beauty of the SNOO is you know they’re safe when strapped in.
When she hit four months old it was clear she wanted to release her left arm from the swaddle, she’d wriggle it free from the inner velcro strap and I’d find her with the hand trying to escape the swaddle, so we followed her cues and started with the left arm out for day naps for a few days, then the right arm for day naps for a few days, then moved to both arms out overnight. All up it took about a week to transition from swaddle to arms out. I was concerned about the transition, but I followed her lead when she showed signs she was ready and it was (mostly) a piece of cake.
The transition from SNOO to cot is imminent, and once we’ve made that move I’ll write about our experience. The number one question people have for Dr. Karp is whether the baby can get ‘addicted’ or dependent on the motion of the SNOO and then not want to sleep in a cot. Unsurprisingly it was my number one question too, and I loved his response. “I would say it’s very much like feeding your baby. Right now you’re giving Poppy milk for every meal, milk, milk, milk, milk, milk. Do you and your husband worry that since you’ve given her so much milk, she will never eat solid food for the rest of her life?”. No sir, we do not.
Here’s why I love it (aside from the fact it looks nice in my room)
Dr. Karp and I spoke about sleep deprivation, and how it impacts almost every aspect of your life, including your own personal safety. He told me, “a study was done, I think out of Adelaide looking at car accidents amongst new parents and finding that there was a five times higher risk of serious car accident in those first months after the baby’s born, because you’re just so tired. We’re doing a study at Monash University right now, in Melbourne looking at the prevention of postpartum depression with this bed. When you’re exhausted, it leads to marital stress and depression, anxiety, breastfeeding failure.”
Like any normal person, I love sleep. The SNOO has helped us have big, decent chunks of sleep from very early on (about six weeks). Before I spoke to Dr. Karp we were staring down the barrel of the four-month regression, so I asked his views on sleep training. He explained, “It’s absolutely something that can work, but not if it doesn’t feel good to the parents or the baby.” I’m still not sure about my stance on hardcore sleep training, but we follow a gentle routine and settling methods, and the SNOO has helped us stick to that routine. The app tracks how long the baby has been asleep (along with a bunch of other statistics so you can compare how the baby’s sleep is tracking month on month if you love numbers) so we used that by comparing ‘good’ days with ‘bad’ days to follow the pattern of the ‘good’ days to fall into a natural rhythm, keeping in mind recommended awake times for a baby of her age.
And here’s why I think you should invest in this piece of technology
The concept of “the village” has changed through generations. We no longer live in communities where we all help each other out like ‘back in the day’ (if you do, hold onto it and never let go). Families operate more independently, and not many have the privilege of affording a 24-hour live-in nanny. The SNOO is there to help you. Dr. Karp explains, “the SNOO can help when you’re feeling like there’s no one there to help you. Whether you’re going through sleep deprivation, a crying baby you can’t calm down, or you’re anxious that your baby’s going to roll into an unsafe position if you need to take a break.”
I understand the price can be a barrier for some, but to that, Dr. Karp says “the big misconception is that people think the SNOO is a baby bed and they go, ‘well, this is so much more expensive than all the other baby beds.’ What they don’t realise is SNOO is not a baby bed. It’s a caregiver. It’ll rock the baby all night. It’s a 24 hour-a-day extra pair of hands. I don’t want people thinking about it as a bed, as much as a service, because people will pay for a night nurse. They’ll pay, you know, $200 a night.”
So let’s break it down. If you look at the price of using the SNOO for one child, it’s about $8 a day. If you use it with a second child, it’s about $4 a day. And ultimately you would spend that on a coffee. If you were to hire someone to come into your house and hold your baby one hour a day, while you cook dinner or take a shower, what would you pay? For the peace of mind that your baby is going to stay safe on their back while you have a few minutes to yourself (and that’s without the added benefit of the SNOO helping your baby sleep), the $8 a day is worth it, in my opinion.
The SNOO gives you peace of mind that your baby is safely on their back, as well as the added bonus of a few extra hours of sleep.
When Dr. Karp and I said goodbye, I immediately called my husband to pass on this nugget of wisdom that was shared. “Sleep is not a straight line, from zero to six months, it’s a roller coaster.” And that’s what I’ll take with me as we transition from the SNOO into the cot. I’ll keep you updated on how we work through it.
The SNOO is currently in stock so if you’re expecting a baby, or looking for some extra sleep or peace of mind, shop it here.
The SNOO Smart Baby Sleeper was gifted to this editor for review.