Sleep. It’s every first-time parents’ biggest fear and no amount of preparation can prepare you for it. Yet, with this fear comes the opportunity for products and services alike to pray, because as any Dad knows we will pay almost anything to sleep. From sushers to swaddles to sleep coaches I’ve personally tried heaps of them and was relieved to discover the smart bassinet that is the Snoo Smart Sleeper.
The Snoo Smart Sleeper by Happiest Baby was designed and created by Dr Harvey Karp, a paediatrician with 25+ years experience and one of the world’s leading child development experts. He’s on the faculty of the University of Southern California School of Medicine and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics so he really knows what he’s talking about. He’s also the guy that coined the 5’s to soothe babies: swaddle, side or stomach, shush, swing and suck. If you haven’t tried them they work! PS he believes Dad’s are better at them too (go Dads!).
I had the opportunity to speak with Dr Karp and thoroughly enjoyed it. He brought up some interesting insights about babies and parents that informed the creation of the Snoo Smart Sleeper.
- Human babies are born a trimester too soon – If you’ve jumped on the “Sapiens” bandwagon like me this makes total sense. Humans are born with very immature brains meaning our babies have little control over their movements.
- Because we are born ‘premature’ things that resemble the womb comfort babies – Thinking about it it’s kind of crazy to expect a newborn to sleep on a flat, still and quiet bed when all they know is a warm, noisy and moving womb.
- It’s in our blood as parents to worry about baby’s safety – With so many guidelines today about baby sleep safety knowing they are safe enables us, parents, to sleep more too.
The result of these insights any many more years of research is the Snoo Smart Sleeper or responsive baby bassinet. The smartness and responsiveness come from three key features;
- Gentle Rocking – The bassinet moves from side-to-side to rock baby to sleep so you don’t have to. This rocking increases in intensity if it hears the baby crying in an attempt to soothe and settle them.
- White Noise – The bassinet’s built-in speaker plays white noise (if you’re not using white noise you are missing out) that adjusts tone and volume if it hears the baby crying in an attempt to soothe and settle.
- Safe Swaddle – This thing is a winner! If you were like me and failed the swaddle test in the parenting class then you can not mess this one up. Each Snoo Sack has velcro straps to secure the baby’s arms at their side and a zipper to securely snug them up. Additionally, little ‘wings’ secure the swaddle to the bassinet so it’s impossible for the baby to flip over because as we know it’s not SIDS safe to sleep any way but flat on the back. (note that as baby grows there are snap button armholes that can be used if the baby prefers arms out over arms in).
Happiest Baby claims that Snoo Smart Sleeper;
- Adds 1-2 hours of sleep
- Often calms fussing in under 1 minute
- Naturally sleep trains, no need to cry-it-out
- Only bed that prevents dangerous rolling
- Your smart helper, like an extra pair of hands it soothes baby while you work/sleep
I’ve addressed each of these claims as a summary of my experience of the Snoo.
1-2 hours of additional sleep
This is a hard one to gauge as a first-time parent. I’m sure Happiest Baby has the data to back this claim up but I have no idea if the sleep was better or not. I wasn’t about to run a controlled experiment with my newborn daughter. I will say that my daughter was your average sleeper. She wasn’t bad but she was for sure not one of those miracle children that slept through the night from 2 weeks old. I do know however for a fact that the Snoo was able to settle my baby more often than not so this leads me to believe she slept more as a result of using the Snoo.
Calms fussing in under 1 minute
Yes, this is true in my opinion even though 1 minute of a baby crying feels like an hour to a new parent. I will say have reasonable expectations here though. The Snoo will not stop your baby from crying if she isn’t ready to sleep or nap. It will not stop them crying if she is hungry and we all know how frequently they need to eat. It will not stop them crying if they have gas, have soiled their nappy, have reflux or are too hot or cold. The Snoo isn’t a miracle machine and you will be disappointed if you expect it to be. It definitely helps but babies are complex beasts that I doubt we will ever fully understand.
Naturally sleep trains, no need to cry-it-out
I would agree that the Snoo helps sleep train but it doesn’t solve sleep training full stop. I believe the fact that the Snoo settles baby without direct contact or presence of Mum or Dad helps subtly build the self-soothing confidence that is so vital to sleep training. For those that think the baby will get addicted to the Snoo, there is a clever weaning feature that makes the transition from Snoo to crib very simple. In full transparency, we still did sleep training with our daughter because we had dummy dependency issues (that’s a whole different article) but it only took us three days to go from dummy issues and sleeping in the Snoo to sleeping through the night in the big girl crib with no dummy at all.
Only bed that prevents dangerous rolling
SIDS is a huge problem that can be simply solved. The Snoo absolutely solves this issue and the fear of parents thanks to their innovative Snoo Sacks.
The smart helper and an extra set of hands
The Snoo does soothe your fussy baby excluding the other normal instances listed above. However, if you can function as a normal human while your baby is crying then you are a stronger man than I. I did love the fact that it made soothing a hands-free exercise and helped my daughter build natural self-confidence.
If you’re like me and value quality and intuitive design you’ll love the look and build of the Snoo. (Side note: does anyone think most baby stuff is awfully designed and constructed?). It feels solid like it will last multiple children. I moved it around between our house and the in-laws and it handled like a champ. Being solid it is on the heavier side but anything to fend off the dad bod right? I also appreciated the minimal, mid-century modern design aesthetic. Surely, I’m not the only one who despises the traditional thoughtless ‘baby look’ design.
First off, I love that the Snoo is connected to the cloud and an app giving me confidence that it has the potential to get better with updates over time. Set up was simple and very intuitive. I did have wifi connectivity issues at times so you will want to make sure your internet connection is even across the whole of your home or you might want to put a router in your child’s room (my fault not Snoo’s). The app is simple but works well. You can control rocking/shushing intensity manually, access options from newborn and weaning modes to crying sensitivity. There is also a Snoo Log that gives you a report of sleep versus wake time which is pretty nifty if you are into that sort of data. I have seen parents get competitive, posting these on social but there are always those types of parents out there.
It’s reassuring to be able to glance at your phone and know if the baby is fussing or not even if you are not at home with baby yourself (this feature might not be the best thing for the Mum who needs to disconnect but I won’t open that can of worms). Also, the Snoo Sacks having secured ‘wings’ makes it impossible for the baby to flip onto her stomach (and if you are complying with SIDS guidelines) there is literally nothing to worry about safety-wise.
Priced at $1,640.00 the Snoo Smart Sleeper is one of the more expensive baby items to consider buying however Happiest Baby realises this and offers a rental option as well. What I discovered is that heaps of my friends had babies around the same time I did and you could easily split the cost between families as the Snoo is generally used for around the first 6-months. There is also a burgeoning second-hand market for these bad boys too. To me the extra sleep is worth it and there’s tons of baby stuff I didn’t need to buy that easily could pay for the Snoo.
Happiest Baby makes the Snoo Sack swaddles for use outside of the Snoo as well. They are essentially the same thing sans the wings and they are by far the easiest swaddle out there. I tried heaps of swaddles and these were the only ones that made sense to my swaddling challenged hands.
Overall, I’d recommend the Snoo Smart Sleeper to any new parents fearful of baby sleep issues. It’s not essential but if you can afford it I would go for it in a heartbeat. Happiest Baby and Dr Karp have taken the complexity out of sleep and for that I am grateful. Their customer support goes beyond product support to truly help parents get the best from their Snoo for their baby. Kudos to Happiest Baby for creating a rental option for those of us not wanting to buy outright too. Lastly, if you haven’t heard of Dr Karp and his company Happiest Baby I’d encourage you to check out his books, website and social content for loads of Dad friendly parenting resources.
When chatting to Dr Karp he made an ironic and hilarious point about how parents to be read more parenting advice when pregnant than all the years that follow birth. He stressed worry less about what type of fruit your baby is comparable in size to in the womb this week and focus more on arming yourself with the knowledge and techniques to help your born child develop as happy as possible. Check out his book “The Happiest Toddler on the Block”.
Have you tried the Snoo? What was your experience like?
Discover more at happiestbaby.com
ATYD would like to thank Happiest Baby and Dr. Karp for providing this product for review. The opinions expressed above are the writer’s own. All sponsored content on All The Young Dads is disclosed as such.