Being first-time parents came with many helpful suggestions of “things we should get.” Some were useful, but we ended up not needing many of those items; some of them we ended up regretting instantly, exchanging them for things we would actually use. But one of the saving graces over the first 5 months of our daughter’s life hasn’t been new toys or a NoseFrida, but what she’s slept in. After the past few months, it’s been repeatedly shown why the Happiest Baby SNOO Smart Sleeper Bassinet has been the best thing we’ve used with or our newborn.
The SNOO Smart Sleeper Bassinet is for parents who are willing to try something new and different; some will love the idea, but it will cause some to balk. It’s discouraging to hear from the older generation that “technology shouldn’t raise your children,” or have it said that we are “lazy parents” because we’ve effectively utilized decades of research that allow parents — and their babies — to have a good night of sleep without middle-of-the-night wake-ups. The SNOO allows your baby, in their first six months of infancy, to sleep safely and securely without worry of them turning over and possibly hurting themselves or worse.
Happiest Baby is a company that was founded by Dr. Harvey Karp, a pediatrician and child development specialist, and his wife and business partner, Nina Montée-Karp. Their goal is to develop science-based products, content, and services to enhance child well-being and help solve everyday parenting challenges.
Dr. Karp’s celebrated books/videos, The Happiest Baby on the Block and The Happiest Toddler on the Block, have been translated into over 20 languages and have helped millions of parents around the world. His landmark theories guide parents to understand and nurture their infants and toddlers and relieve many stressful issues, like new-parent exhaustion, infant crying and toddler tantrums. His groundbreaking 5 S’s method (Swaddling, Shushing, Swinging, Sucking and Side position) is standard pediatric practice for soothing fussy babies. Over 3,000 Happiest Baby certified educators have been trained to teach Dr. Karp’s work in hospitals and clinics across America and more than 20 other nations. And, his innovative Happiest Toddler concepts of Toddler-ese, Feeding the Meter, etc., can immediately improve the confidence and emotional resilience of children from 8 months to 5 years of age.
SNOO was designed in collaboration with Dr. Deb Roy, Director, Laboratory for Social Machines, MIT Media Lab. The approach was to take the “Five S” method he developed with his book and apply it as the bassinet’s ideals. This explains why the bassinet mimics a mother’s womb by using technology to swaddle, swing, and shush your baby back to a peaceful sleep. As a first-time parent, you might hear the term SIDS be thrown around loosely and wonder what you can do to keep it from happening to your child. The way it was described to us is that SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, is the unexpected death of an infant from 1 month to 1 year of age. According to The Happiest baby:
How Common is SIDS? In 2017, 3,600 sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUID) were reported in the U.S., according to the CDC, with an estimated 1,400 due to SIDS. There were an additional 1,300 infant deaths due to unknown causes and about 900 cases of accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed. SIDS declined significantly between 1990 and 1999, but has not shown much change in the past 20 years.
They also list 15 Prevention tips on reducing the risk of SIDS:
1. Only let your baby sleep on the back.
2. Breastfeed if you can: This cuts SIDS by 50%.
3. Have a smoke-free house: Don’t smoke or allow others to do so. Avoid wood stoves, incense, scented candles, and fireplaces, unless the room is well vented.
4. Avoid overheating or overcooling: Keep the room between 68°F to 72°F (20–22.2°C), and avoid overdressing. Your baby’s ears should feel slightly warm, not cold or hot.
5. Use snug swaddling for all naps/nights to help reduce the risk of SIDS.
6. Offer a pacifier at bedtime (if you’re breastfeeding, wait a couple of weeks until the nursing is well established before giving a paci).
7. Don’t sleep with your baby in your bed for at least the first 9 months.
8. Never let him sleep on a couch, recliner, sofa, armchair, beanbag chair or waterbed.
9. Remove pillows, toys, bumpers, and thick or loose bedding that could cause smothering, like duvets, pillows, bumpers, stuffed animals, sleep positioners, lambskin.
10. No thick blankets under the baby, either.
11. Practice tummy time to help your baby develop strong muscles to move his face away from choking risks.
12. Don’t let your baby sleep sitting up in a car seat, infant carrier, or inclined swing (especially if she’s premature or developmentally delayed).
13. Sleep in the same room as your baby for the first 6 months, with the baby in a bassinet or SNOO Smart Sleeper right near you.
14. Make sure your baby has received all their immunizations.
15. Avoid cribs with missing slats, net siding, or a space between the mattress and the side wall where your baby’s head might get trapped.
With that laundry list of ways to prevent SIDS, we determined that we wanted to do our best to provide the safest sleep for our baby girl as possible, so we were eager to try a SNOO Smart Sleeper Bassinet setup on loan.
When unboxing, you’ll notice there’s not much to put together as most of the SNOO is built to scale; you only have to attach the legs to the larger basket unit and then plug its cable into the wall. Once you’ve done this, you’ll notice that the base of the SNOO is where the majority of the functionality lies. There are three microphones, a speaker, and two internal motors that allow the SNOO to operate. Before getting the SNOO, our daughter slept in a Pack ‘n Play. Due to her startle reflex, she would constantly awaken, resulting in us having to pick her up to soothe her throughout the night; that is no longer the case with the SNOO.
To use the SNOO’s motion functionality, you have to swaddle your child in a SNOO Sack, one of their custom swaddling sleep sacks. When you get a SNOO Smart Sleeper, three SNOO Sacks are included.
On the inside of the SNOO bassinet, there are clips on the left and right to which you’ll attach the SNOO Sack; this ensures that your child will not roll over in the middle of the night. You start by clipping the SNOO Sack to the SNOO bassinet, and then you place your child into the SNOO Sack and zip it up. Initially, I thought it looked a bit like a straight-jacket, but as soon as you turn the SNOO Smart Sleeper Bassinet on, you’ll begin to see the benefits.
On the SNOO Smart Sleeper Bassinet’s side, there is a power button that you can manually turn on, or you can do everything directly from the companion SNOO app. One thing I have to mention, regarding the physical SNOO Button, is that I wish it were a bit higher. The SNOO bassinet sits pretty low — even if you decided to go with the leg lifters — which I’ll get into a bit later. This can result in parents who are holding the baby to have to slightly bend down to tap the button with their knee or foot to start up the SNOO. But once pressed, the SNOO begins a rocking motion with a companion white noise that will help soothe your baby to sleep.
I am a fan of the white noise that the SNOO bassinet produces, and when our daughter was still sleeping in our room, we would also fall asleep to the SNOO’s soothing sounds.
The first couple of days with the SNOO Smart Sleeper Bassinet were very awkward because our baby was used to freely kicking herself out of the swaddling method we had been using. With the SNOO Sacks having zippers, not only could she not kick herself out, but she seemed a bit frustrated at the fact her arms and legs were not free. You’ll find methods to slowly transition your child to sleep in the SNOO Sacks by freeing one arm, then another, including legs. The SNOO bassinet comes with an elastic band that goes over your child’s tummy to keep them securely in place before they are fully zipped into the sack; as your child gets larger, you can eliminate the zipper process and just opt to keep them secure in the bassinet, using the band for peace of mind.
If your baby starts to fuss overnight, the microphones in the SNOO Smart Sleeper Bassinet work in a miraculous way to pick up their cries, and it will slowly increase the movement of the SNOO bassinet’s motors to emulate a parent cuddling the baby in motion. The white noise levels will also increase to a higher volume that calms the baby until she is slowly soothed back to sleep, decreasing to the “baseline.” I’m sure there will be some parents who see this as a bad idea or think that you are allowing your child to essentially “cry it out” until the machine deems them to be soothed, but rest assured that if the SNOO bassinet cannot comfort your baby, at Level 4 (the highest) the SNOO bassinet will stop moving; you will be alerted via SNOO app. Usually, if it’s reached this level, it’s a direct signal to the parent that your child’s crying has peaked and she needs YOUR attention. At this point, you can figure that your baby needs either food or a diaper change.
Unlike most baby products on the market, you can still control the SNOO Smart Sleeper Bassinet without being on the same Wi-Fi network. For example, when my wife and I put her down for naps, should my wife leave for a moment, while I’m in the kitchen doing a chore, she can readily see the levels our baby is at by glancing at the app and seeing an overall diagram of how her sleep is going. This was one of the best situations for having the SNOO bassinet, in our opinion.
Unfortunately, there’s a bit of a learning curve for the baby if you attempt to switch to a different bed from the SNOO. With the COVID-19 Pandemic causing us to be home a lot, the small blessing is that we could drive to see our parents out of town safely and quarantine together. While we could bring suitcases, diapers, and other essentials, the one thing we surely missed that we were unable to take was the SNOO. The large bassinet can be tossed in a trunk if you have nothing else that you’re traveling with, but for a couple with a newborn, dog, suitcases, and bags, the SNOO would have to stay at home. So, there might be one to two weeks at a time when Skylar would go without the SNOO Smart Sleeper Bassinet, and she would have to adapt to sleeping in a pack-n-play.
I’ll be frank; the first nights were never good at all.
Constant fussiness and trips to Target to find a suitable substitute for the SNOO Sack that wouldn’t allow the baby to roll over in the middle of the night resulted in us buying a Halo Sleepsack, as well as a Merlin suit which makes our child look like a little yellow marshmallow when lying down to sleep (but she’s so dang adorable).
When we return and can use the SNOO Smart Sleeper Bassinet again, it’s some of the best sleep our baby has received. Not only because it soothes her, but also because we taught her to sleep in it so early. The SNOO isn’t a product that you can just purchase when your child is four months old and expect the child to get used to it. At that point, the baby has developed its habits and sleeping patterns.
The Happiest Baby suggests that 0-3 months is possibly the best time to get the SNOO for your baby; that way, you get the most for your investment. While it’s not guaranteed to extend your child’s sleep from 4 hours to 7, it will give you a baseline structure on how your child sleeps by following the trends in the SNOO app. My wife and I only put Skylar down for naps in her MamaRoo or in our arms for comfort, and we saved the SNOO exclusively for nighttime sleep. The reason for this is that we wanted to make sure when we eventually transition Skylar into her crib, she will be adjusted to different environments, and she’ll be able to sleep on her own without the need for the SNOO to constantly keep her soothed and asleep. In doing this, we tend to put her down around 8:30 pm after her bath and last feeding, and she wakes up around 7 to 7:20 am without a middle of the night feeding. Keep in mind that this depends on your parenting style, how you feed the baby before bed, and her surroundings — the TVs, ambient noise, etc.
We immediately started seeing the benefits of the SNOO Smart Sleeper Bassinet during Skylar’s four-month regression period. She would still occasionally startle herself awake by kicking her legs up in the SNOO sack because she wanted to move her legs around freely, so we switched to legs out, arms out; the only thing in the SNOO with her was her trusty pacifier, Mr. Giraffe. Without the SNOO, there’s no true telling how that four-month regression would’ve been, but I know for a fact it saved us at least 4-5 nights of sleep knowing that when she began being fussy the moment we shut our eyes, the SNOO had our backs.
We are currently in the transition period, or what SNOO has called “Weaning mode,” at 5 months. Our goal is to allow Skylar to fully transition into the crib by the end of January without setbacks. In doing this, we’ve limited sleep dependency by using the built-in functions of the SNOO, also known as “Weaning Mode.” This mode starts initially with ZERO motion, with just white noise in the background. If your baby startles themselves awake, the SNOO Smart Sleeper Bassinet will give rocking responses but only for cries, which is the equivalent of you — the parent — jumping out of bed to rock your child to sleep at 2 or 3 am to get them back to sleep comfortably.
I have to truly say that my wife and I don’t really know what we would’ve done as first-time parents without the SNOO (and the Hatch Baby Rest) over the past months. As you can see from the charts above, our baby’s sleep has improved significantly over the months we’ve used the SNOO Smart Sleeper Bassinet and its companion app. These two products have been a saving grace for our baby and us — but we completely understand that the price can be daunting, so let me explain how you can make it work for you.
You don’t actually have to purchase the SNOO Smart Sleeper Bassinet. You can rent one. Yes, the company completely cleans, sanitizes, and replaces all elements that may be touched by someone, including the fabrics, before sending it out to you. You’ll keep it for six months before returning. I highly suggest keeping the box, and everything that comes with it, so you can send everything back without being charged for missing pieces.
The Happiest Baby states that you can keep the Snoo Sacks if you choose, which is great for those planning more babies in the future. Extra SNOO Sacks sell for $29.95 (right now, you can buy one and get two free). They also sell the SNOO Sleepea for $23.95 (also buy one get two free now). The Sleepsack is the model with the wings that need to be clipped into the SNOO Smart Sleeper Bassinet to activate the motion, while the SNOO Sleepea is for use in regular cribs and bassinets. When you purchase or rent the SNOO, you receive three sleep sacks (small/medium/large), but I HIGHLY recommend purchasing another set or spares because blowouts are bound to happen overnight, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Extra SNOO Fitted Sheets cost $19.95; one comes included with the SNOO Smart Sleeper Bassinet. You’ll want to invest in some extra fitted sheets. Some people in the SNOO community have mentioned the American Baby Waterproof Sheet Saver ($7), but that choice is on you.
If you have a child dealing with Colic, I can recommend the SNOO Leg Lifters. They allow you to raise the head of the SNOO up by roughly 6″ and promise to assist with reflux. At $18.50, they are pretty expensive, but they are safer than putting the SNOO Smart Sleeper Bassinet’s legs on tuna cans or inside an old shoe.
We told my mother how the SNOO could soothe our fitful baby in the middle of the night, so we wouldn’t have to, and she was absolutely against this. “That’s your job,” was the result of that conversation. We had to explain that we still do soothing techniques, but the SNOO allows for fewer sleepless nights spent attempting to guide our baby back to sleep. The issue we would run into is that once our baby had been comforted in our arms and had once again fallen asleep, she would instantly startle awake when laid down in a bed without motion. The SNOO Smart Sleeper Bassinet removes that problem.
You’re probably wondering if the SNOO Smart Sleeper Bassinet is worth it? And the answer is simple: Try it for thirty days. There’s a trial period by Happiest Baby that allows you to test the SNOO for 30 days; if you like it, you can rent or buy it. The ability to rent one is obviously great, but it’s $129 a month, and you’ll be using it for about six months. If you know for a fact that you’ll have more than one child, the best thing to do is buy one. If you plan on this being your only child, renting is the way to go. Obviously, not every baby is the same, so your first baby might love it, and the second one might absolutely dread it. $129 per month to rent feels worth it, knowing you’ll have peace of mind with what is essentially an “electronic nanny” for your child as he or she sleeps. Just keep in mind, of course — you only can use the SNOO Smart Sleeper Bassinet for the first six months before transitioning. Make sure to get the extra SNOO Sacks and sheets!
Source: Manufacturer supplied review unit on loan for six months (should ONLY be used for the first six months of the child’s life)
What I Like: The peace and mind of sound sleep for our daughter — and us; Small-ish footprint that goes with all decor; The Facebook “SNOO Mamas” community group is informative and can answer all questions you might have; Helped with the four-month sleep regression better than any other product we tried; Rental option; Customer service is 24/7
What Need Improvements: AC Adapter could be a bit longer than it already is; White mesh netting to the SNOO has the potential of getting dirty but cannot be removed; Leg lifters are great for colic and reflux, but if you have an active baby they may slide downward causing the chest elastic to reach their neck