Image Credits: Amazon
After my fourth child was born, this bassinet was the help we needed to get much-needed rest.
When my third son arrived, we knew parenthood was going to be different forever. Not because he was third, but because he had colic and a host of minor but persistent health issues causing him to cry for hours per day and into the night. Every day. Every night. My husband and I alternated 15 minutes shifts holding him to survive, with both of us in a pretty dark place for months of his newborn life. In retrospect, as we live through life with our fourth son, I realize only one thing could have saved us back then: the Snoo bassinet.
Is the Snoo Worth It?
By now you’ve probably heard of this “smart” bassinet that basically doubles as a nanny for your newborn. Its key features include a shushing sound, rocking motion, and a Snoo sleep sack that clips to the bassinet, ensuring safety and security through the night. It links to an app that shows if your baby is calm or fussing a bit and being soothed by the bassinet, which increases its motion and sound level in response to fussiness. It’s straight magic, and it has changed my ability to maintain my mental health in the newborn months in a way I never thought possible.
When people ask how we are managing with four sons, I inevitably end up crediting the Snoo. While it doesn’t prevent my child from waking to eat in the night when he’s hungry (as it shouldn’t), it helps him fall back asleep within minutes. It also rocks and shushes him through night wakes that would otherwise mean my husband or myself waking up to walk and bounce him around the room for hours, causing parenting and working the next day to be virtually impossible. I fully credit my improved state of mind this time around to this product, and I’m not alone. The $1,495 price tag is steep, especially considering the cost of childbirth medical bills and other baby equipment, which we pay for from less-than-impressive maternity leave salaries. There is also an option to rent a Snoo from maker Happiest Baby for $149 per month. Both the purchase and the rental packages include a waterproof mattress cover, sheets, and three sleep sacks. The product also has a competitive resale market on social media, which can help recover some money when you are done and help another family out.
Is the Snoo Safe?
The Snoo is under review by the FDA to be considered a medical device, which would eligibility to be covered by insurance or purchased through a Health Savings Account (HSA). The rationale behind calling it “medical” is not just that it guarantees a baby is following the rules of safe sleep (keeping them on their back on a flat surface without other blankets or items in the bassinet), but it also claims to promote parents’ mental health by helping them get the rest they need.
I can attest that the Snoo has been part of what’s keeping postpartum depression (PPD) at bay for me with my fourth child. But as of this writing, Happiest Baby can’t officially make any claims that it prevents sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), as that is still being evaluated by the FDA.
Dr. Harvey Karp, Snoo inventor and pediatrician, as well as the author of The Happiest Baby on the Block, wants more attention paid to the mental health benefits of his advice, and the fact that we need help like this more than ever before. He points to recent research showing that PPD has risen from 15 percent pre-pandemic to 36 percent during the pandemic (May to August 2020).
“Snoo helps protect maternal mental health by offering an hour or two of extra sleep, peace of mind that the baby won’t roll to a dangerous position in the middle of the night, and helpful support all day and all night,” Karp explained to me. “This help is critically important.”
While we’d all love to have a grandma, nanny, or other person rocking our babies while we take a much-needed shower or eat our first meal all day, that’s not always reality. Until now. I’ve been more well taken care of with my fourth child, and the Snoo, than with any of my first three children because I have had the rest necessary to take care of myself too.
It may, at first, seem like the Snoo is doing the parenting for you, but you’ll soon realize there is still more than plenty to do. It just adds a tool to your toolbox of things you can try and safe places you can put your baby while you get your act together. Karp encourages responding promptly to babies’ cries, and the Snoo immediately responds to crying just as you would. I became a better and more responsive parent when I knew the Snoo was rocking the baby for a minute while I finished what I was doing and then went to help as well. Over time, I believe this helped prevent PPD being triggered by exhaustion, persistent crying, feeling unsupported or incompetent, or anxiety over my baby’s safe sleeping.
Can Babies Get Addicted to Snoo?
Well, I sure am. While the Snoo hasn’t ever replaced my parenting, it’s a strategic tool to use when one of my other three children needs attention. I can put the baby down for a nap rather than rocking and shushing him for hours, and he simply falls asleep. During that time, I can tie my other son’s shoes and hear about his day at kindergarten. I can push my toddler on a swing in the backyard (while checking my baby on the Snoo app). I can even work from home. As I write this very article, I glance at the app, which reports to me that my son has been sleeping for two hours and 21 minutes, with three moments of fussiness that lasted for under two minutes each time, after which he fell back asleep easily.
So will I struggle to get my baby out of the Snoo when the time comes, at the recommended weaning time of around 6 months old? I doubt it, because of what Karp explained to me about babies’ development.
“Part of what makes babies fuss is the fact that they miss and crave the constant womb sensations they loved for so long,” he told me. “SNOO efficiently soothes babies by providing a familiar environment and offers an alternative to parents and caregivers having to constantly rock babies to soothe them or help them sleep. By 6 months of age, when babies wean out of Snoo, their brains have doubled in size, and they are much better able to maintain their attention all day and their great sleep all night.”
The weaning function—which I will start when he is around 5 months old, if all is going well—involves limiting the bassinet’s motion to just when it is soothing the baby, rather than all the time. This gradually helps the baby need motion less and less until he’s ready to move to a traditional crib.
I will continue to recommend this product to every new parent I meet, boldly proclaiming how the SNOO is the “village” you need at 3 am and a key tool in mental health maintenance during the newborn fog.
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