Swaddling has been part of caring for babies for centuries. It gives them a sense of security and it has been shown to help many babies sleep better and we know, as parents, that we want that precious sleep with a new baby.
Created by renowned pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp and author of The Happiest Baby on the Block, co-founder of Happiest Baby Inc., SNOO is the world’s most advanced bed. With continuous womb-like rocking and shushing, it promotes a few hours of extra sleep and a “like a night nurse for around $7 per night” (Snoo is a bargain if you compare it to a night nurse, but most normal people can’t afford a night nurse anyway). As soon as you tell people you’re pregnant, one of the first things middle-class people in the US ask is whether you’re getting a Snoo?
It’s not surprising that when Snoo was released many parents immediately wanted to buy it, despite the hefty price tag of $1695.00. Especially as many parents believe that when a baby is swaddled and can’t move they can sleep better as it lowers the risk of SIDS and gives a peace of mind. But does it really…? Is it worth it? Is Snoo too good to be true?
I feel like in the US a Snoo is being heavily promoted and endorsed by parents who swear by it and call it a life-saver, so unsurprisingly new parents are often talked into having this “must-have item”. While the Snoo is available in Europe I’ve never heard of anyone talking about it and when I mentioned it to a few friends they looked at me like I lost my mind and even more when they saw the price, so the popularity definitely has to do partially with American marketing.
I believe there’s a middle ground and a Snoo can be the best item in the world for some parents and make the happiest baby (see what I did here?), while for others it might be a giant waste of money and an unhappy baby (even the Snoo website has many reviews stating it and the brand isn’t hiding them).
Keep in mind that many blog top reviews are those “honest” reviews from those “gifted” or “undisclosed gifts” with the Snoo, so naturally, it’s great. If I gifted you a $1695 bassinet would you complain? But, if you have to pay for it you might think twice about whether it’s worth your investment 😉
I believe that every baby is different, so more important whether I like it or not are the facts: what Snoo can and can’t do for you and your baby.
How Does Snoo Work?
The Snoo design harnesses the infant to the sleep surface in a manner different than traditional swaddling. When the device senses movement or crying, it begins to jostle and if the movement and crying persist, the device continues to increase the level of jostling and rocking and adds white noise that gets louder and louder. It has three microphones, a speaker and two motors that create different rocking motions.
That mechanism will put a lot of infants back to sleep and stop crying, but some argue that some of those infants stop crying because they were lulled back to sleep while other infants stopped crying because they learned, “I cried and no one came and so I gave up.” Obviously, it’s hard to tell because babies won’t tell you, but I personally do find it ironic that various people who are proud Snoo owners are very against sleep training requiring even a few minutes of cry-it-out methods, because ultimately… Snoo is like a robotic sleep trainer.
The SNOO never stops moving if your child is sleeping. It will be on the baseline level, which is a gentle rocking motion.
Before putting this article together I surveyed a ton of people about their experiences with Snoo. For a lot of people Snoo works like a charm and their babies sleep through the night. Some people were still swearing by Snoo when their baby was waking up supposedly less – meaning not every 2 hours. Then, there was a chunk of people for whom the Snoo was basically collecting dust because the baby hated it and screamed bloody murder.
Technically speaking, Snoo is easy to clean and perfectly resellable with a minor loss, so if your baby wants nothing to do with it, it’s not like you basically lost a lump sum of money.
Let’s pause here for a second and explain something to new first-time moms: sleeping through the night isn’t what you think it is. I spent months wondering why are my friends telling me their infants slept through the night for a few weeks and mine is still waking up for a bottle once or twice a night.
Sleeping through the night means that the infant is actually sleeping at night and getting some quality shut-eye to help with their development and growth, not constantly crying or fussing and wanting to be bounced. It doesn’t mean that you’re getting an uninterrupted night of sleep. It’s also considered a bit successful if a baby sleeps 6 hours at night by 6 to 9 months.
That said, if your little one is hungry, has a dirty diaper, or isn’t tired there’s nothing the Snoo can do to keep that baby from telling you so and wanting to get out of the bassinet.
Most importantly, various people told me they had no issues with transitioning out of Snoo, but some were basically ending up with babies dependent on the rocking motion. A friend had a baby who was almost addicted to a noise and rocking motion and a transition was awful… while my non-Snoo firstborn son (we tried the Snoo with him and failed miserably because he hates being contained – even in a regular sleep sack) was perfectly sleeping on his own at the same age, because it had nothing to be addicted to. I don’t think parents are aware of what they’re setting themselves up for, with not allowing the baby to learn to sleep independently.
And speaking of addiction, it’s not always the baby who’s dependent on it. Snoo’s official recommendations are there are no breaks when you use your Snoo. Not surprisingly, a common question in forums is how to bring a Snoo on a plane, or where to rent one at a destination.
For me, personally, the biggest issue has always been that Snoo recommends using SNOO for naps and nights—as much as you can. With our travels dragging a giant and heavy bassinet (it’s about 40 lbs without any suitcase or passing so it might count as an overweight luggage when checked) that basically takes a whole checked suitcase is a headache. I traveled alone with the baby a lot and a stroller and carry-on were enough to bring on the plane… if I had a giant box with a Snoo with me I wouldn’t have gone anywhere.
Not to mention that naps on the go have always been big for us… truth to be told I was almost never home with my first baby and I cannot imagine being stuck at home because of the Snoo.
If your power goes off because of the storm or some other issue, it will be a problem as the bassinet depends on it. And speaking off, some people are concerned that the infant is exposed to EMF radiation due to the proximity of the speaker, wifi and the whole mechanism. The company specifically addressed this issue during the manufacturing process. The Snoo has a special metal shield that the company says blocks 99.9% of WiFi radiation.
They also say the bassinet has been tested with three independent labs to ensure the accuracy of this claim, but let’s remember one thing: I often see moms having the Snoo, Owlet, Nanit camera and our phones while you feed or hold the newborn and while the exposure is minimal, it’s a LOT of electronics to watch over the baby.
While it can help with anxiety something, others can get more anxious when something malfunctions and it feels almost robotic to have so many items “taking care of your baby”. Let’s remember that the vast majority of the world raises infants without any monitors or robots and the babies are still fine, so I highly recommend balance in everything. Clearly, parents have survived for millennia without a motorized bassinet – you can too.
You don’t HAVE TO have it all, your baby will be just fine without it too. If you think about… if you get everything many people treat as a must from the baby registry: Snoo, Owlet Sock, Nanit Pro Camera, Doona car seat – that alone costs $2500 (and only lasts for the first 6 months) and you’ll still need a bunch of crucial things like a crib for post-transition, clothes, pacifiers, stroller, normal car seat, and other things. If you think about it… it’s like starting a college fund for the child.
Snoo Sleep Sack
The Snoo sleep sack swaddle is pretty amazing. The baby is stuck in a harness type of special Snoo sleep sack and strapped in, so can’t roll. But, in my opinion, this isn’t its most amazing feature. It’s just super easy to use that even I could do it half asleep, vs. with a regular swaddle my husband was a swaddling master, and when I attempted the baby was instantly getting out, haha!
The Snoo sleepsack is designed specifically with wings that must be clipped to activate the Snoo motion, so it’s unlike any other regular sleep sack. It’s like a Sleepea swaddle, but with extra wings to clip into the sides of Snoo.
The Snoo comes with 3 sleep sacks:
- Small SNOO sack 5-12 lbs
- Medium SNOO sack 12-18 lbs
- Large SNOO sack 18-25 lbs
Get at least one backup Snoo sack and fitted mattress cover for leaks, spits and blowouts – they will happen!
Why is SNOO controversial?
Snoo is being promoted as helping prevent sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS which honestly, it’s partially a marketing trick, which is ironic considering the APP and official guidelines say: “parents or caregivers should be especially skeptical of any product such as mattresses or sleepwear that claim to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) – source“
Who doesn’t want their baby to be as safe as it can possibly be? Especially if you think about it as spending more money on the world’s safest bassinet for the baby. That threw me off because the actual cause of SIDS is unknown and unexplained in babies under 1 year old. It’s also extremely rare.
SIDS comes with no warning signs, and medical researchers only talk about possible causes of SIDS as it’s unexplained. Researchers believe that SIDS is associated with problems in the ability of the baby to arouse from sleep, to detect low levels of oxygen, or a buildup of carbon dioxide in the blood. When babies sleep face down, they may re-breathe exhaled carbon dioxide. Normally, rising carbon dioxide levels activate nerve cells in the brainstem, which stimulate the brain’s respiratory and arousal centers. The baby then wakes up, turns his head, and breathes faster to get more oxygen. SIDS babies, however, may fail to rouse.
This is not an opinion of mine as I don’t conduct any studies, obviously. This is based on a study published in a Pediatrics Journal and acknowledged by Harvard University.
SIDS is not the same as suffocation and is not caused by suffocation. However, more and more research evidence suggests that infants who die from SIDS are born with brain abnormalities or defects, hence why when exposed to the same outdoor factors (eg. prolonged time in a car seat) some babies might be fine, and some might not be.
There are guidelines are sleeping on a flat surface on their back and without anything in the crib. These guidelines aim to curb SIDS because they limit suffocation and other factors, as no one knows the exact cause of SIDS. Since the AAP issued these guidelines in 1992, the number of SIDS-related deaths has decreased dramatically. However…
Many parents understand that sleep in the crib is the gold standard for safety, but when parents are sleep deprived they’ll start looking for other solutions and stop following guidelines very strictly. Hence why the infamous case of Fisher Price Rock N Play recalls eventually, as many parents stuffed their babies in it for the night, or often unstrapped with the reclining position of the Rock ’n Play increased the risk of blocked airways while napping.
The issue is similar with parents stuffing their infants in car seats at all times, often for sleeping or strolling, and babies suffocating because of it or getting issues with their growing spines. While the risks of sleeping on an incline are real and serious, they are vastly outweighed by the protection a well-designed and properly installed car seat offers during a crash but then parents took it outside of the car. Despite knowing it and parents warning others, many still use things like Doona exclusively as the only stroller instead of getting a bassinet, because it’s more convenient and because “everyone uses it and seems fine”. These are perfect examples of products that had good intentions but can cause harm when misused.
Interestingly enough, Snoo leg lifters that so many people recommend actually create an incline and lots of ani-Snoo bloggers automatically said it’s not a safe sleep practice. However, the elevation is at a safe 2.5 degrees, which is well under the maximum federally recommended limit of 10 degrees – meaning, this isn’t an issue with the SNOO.
It may seem like we went off-topic, but I think it’s important to understand this and not fall for marketing slogans that count on parents being stressed about their infants’ safety. Especially with a device so expensive, because let’s get real: Snoo is horrendously expensive, so I feel parents should be aware that there’s no one fits all and if you get unlucky – Snoo might not work for YOUR baby.
Spreaking of the price of the Snoo, there are various ways to get it cheaper. You can get a Babylist or Amazon complesion discount on your baby registy or buy a new Snoo and once you’re done with it – resell it, because the bassinet works great for multiple children and years.
Another option is purchasing a Snoo during Black Friday sale when they’re often 40% off. The downside of doing it before the baby is born is that you won’t be able to return it if you baby won’t like it.
The Reality of Using the Snoo
I personally noticed that Snoo has become a symbol of privilege. The fancy bassinet has a way of separating parents into the Snoos and those who don’t have them. People LOVE to brag about all the restful sleep they and their infants are getting every night. As we move around a lot between the US, Europe, and Mexico I noticed that I’m yet to hear about someone actually using the Snoo in Europe or Mexico, partially because of the price and partially because it’s not being hyped as much as American or Canadian parents make it.
Many parents also fall into unhealthy patterns of obsessing over the data their Snoo collects. I can count millions of times when I saw screenshots of it posted online or sent by friends, some to brag that their infant sleeps a lot and some just to prove… I’m not sure what. It’s a bit of an obsessive cult.
So often you can see screenshots like that proving that despite the Snoo the newborn STILL wakes up for their normal needs.
The Snoo downvoters often don’t realize that it also takes some time for the baby to get used to the Snoo. Many babies will cry a lot for the first few weeks, which is completely normal so you might be fighting with your infant a bit to get them used to it and give up on the Snoo too soon.
While it doesn’t work for all babies sometimes it’s only about the time to adjust. I’m speaking from experience here because I believe that while with the first baby Snoo was absolutely no-go, with the second it MIGHT have worked if we kept it up.
For us, the first baby was stubborn and wouldn’t even come near a sleep sack… we tried for nights in a row to put him in, but it created an awful effect of both parents trying to insert a screaming and kicking baby into a sleep sack alone and leave him to scream for hours. The seconds (I’m not even kidding) we took the sleep sack off he was asleep within a few minutes. We listened to the child and decided it wasn’t doing him any good – plus, he was naturally a great sleeper.
Then my second child was also initially resistant, but not to the same extend and in a few days he was perfectly happy being in a sleep sack. That being said, Snoo offers a 30-day return policy, so if you purchase it and realize it’s not for your baby you can return it without any issues. The only caveat is that the Snoo requires you keep the original box the product came in for return shipping and it’s giant!
Do pediatricians recommend SNOO? Is the SNOO FDA approved?
There was a lot of news concerning the Snoo and FDA approval. The Snoo Smart Sleeper Bassinet was recently accepted into the FDA’s Breakthrough Devices Program, where it’s undergoing review as the first device to prevent the leading causes of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Undergoing though and not yet approved – it’s been over 2 years since it hit the news and FDA has NOT approved any device available on the market.
A similar issue was concerning the Owlet sock that claimed to be a monitoring device, giving parents a false sense of security (and why it was all recalled and had to be reprogrammed and marketing got changed).
There hasn’t been a single reported injury or death involving the Snoo after 75 million hours of logged sleep over the years, so it’s safe to assume that the decision is safe to use. But, there’s also another important point to add to these marketing claims: less than 1% of families would ever have access to Snoo because of the accessibility and pricing. From a full population perspective only ~ 0.01% die from SIDS. Taking into account that Snoo is used by less than 1%, the chances of the 0.01% falling in that category are very slim.
Can SNOO be harmful? Does Snoo Cause Developmental Delays?
The most common accusation is that Snoo may increase the risk for head shape issues according to some because the babies are basically stuck in one position unable to move. I feel like those people really haven’t seen the actual real baby in a Snoo, because a baby can totally move its head from side to side. Even when an infant isn’t in a Snoo or swaddle they can have a flat head syndrome if they favor one position, but you can gently flip their head.
There’s a problem that many medical professionals argue about: does Snoo cause development delays? It’s recommended by pediatricians and long-term studies that as soon as the baby is able to roll, which generally happens around 3-4 months (or even sometimes sooner), they should abandon the swaddle. Yet, in Snoo baby is being swaddled for up to 6 months.
The question is, why should you stop swaddling at this age? Simply because babies could accidentally roll over and suffocate accidentally when they are unable to use their arms to roll back onto their back. In Snoo, because the infant is strapped into their sleep sack, the baby cannot roll over which makes it safe from the suffocation perspective, but is it the only reason why doctors recommend stopping the swaddle?
Although, swaddling in a sack that is secured into the Snoo is a practice that, while not directly addressed in American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines, would contradict recommendations on allowing a child to roll over when they are able to on their own. Strapping a baby to a mattress via swaddle, or any device is not consistent with AAP recommendations, which is slightly contradictory when it comes to the Snoo…
Most importantly, the danger of swaddling all the time for months comes from keeping the legs together and straight, which can increase the risk of hip problems. Swaddling for short periods of time is likely fine, but if your baby is going to spend a significant amount of the day and night swaddled, consider using a lesser-swaddling sleep sack that lets the legs move. It may not be quite as effective from a calming standpoint, but it’s safer for the hips. It’s particularly important with babies that spent time in a breech position.
Before anyone jumps at me with the traditional “my baby was swaddled or in Snoo and has no developmental delays”- trust me, I’m glad they’re fine, but I was one of those babies whose hips were not fine after swaddling too much (I was a fussy baby), so I wholeheartedly agree with many medical professionals here. I personally know another baby with the same issues. We both had to spend months in a correctional brace, or one could call it a harness. Ask any parent whose baby had to use this brace and how was their sleep going for them then… I’ll tell you: we yelled all the time 😉
It’s also important to mention that you might not see immediate results of hip issues in a baby or toddler, they can show up even years later as a result.
Transitioning Out of Snoo
There are plenty of opinions on both sides on whether it’s hard to transition out of the SNOO – some people say it does, others say it doesn’t.
At around 4-6 months, many people introduce the Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit to ease the transition.
There’s no such thing as a magic transition once your infant is out of Snoo, hence why it has a transition period. The problem with it arises when many people misuse it. The Snoo isn’t recommended over 6 months of age or when baby starts pulling up on their knees… yet I can tell you about multiple people who still used it up until 9 months and reddit is full of parents claiming that a recommendation to remove arms by 4th month is “bullshit because they kept their baby swaddled until 6 months and it was fine”, just to avoid the transition issues or sleep regressions. In those cases, it surely increases the possibility of a potential issue in the future as the bassinet is being misused.
Cheaper Alternatives to Snoo: Snoo vs Halo Bassinet
The only bassinet that can be slightly comparable to Snoo is Halo Bassinet. The Halo Bassinet looks nice and modern and has some nice features like the ability to rotate and raise and lower its bed height. But don’t let those fool you—this is not a REAL Snoo competitor.
The Halo (like the rest of the competition) lacks the ability to clip your baby to the bassinet bed, thus it doesn’t stop your baby from rolling over, to begin with. And while it does feature white noise options and vibration, that’s where the end of its function.
Additionally, Halo is only designed for babies up to 15 lbs (vs 25 for Snoo), meaning its useful life is going to be pretty darn short. To put this into perspective my kids were under 50th percentile for weight and they reached this weight right before turning 3 months.
If I was to buy a bassinet again, I wouldn’t go for a Halo Bassinet because the price tag is high – $289 and you might as well rent Snoo for this price. Or, if you decide the robotic bassinets aren’t for you, you might get something like this one. We had it at some point and it was big enough to last the baby forever. I also managed to sell it for 50% of the price.
Unless you’re having twins! Then Halo is a lifesaver because it offers a unique double bedside bassinet. My twin moms swear by it!
Is Snoo Worth It?
Hopefully, that was helpful as you consider the Snoo! Looking back and knowing what I know from other parents I feel like Snoo is surely worth it for people with anxiety issues or postpartum depression caused by sleep deprivation, but again – if you’re suffering from postpartum anxiety Snoo alone isn’t going to fully rescue you from it. But, you need to remember that every baby is different and the bassinet might simply not work for your baby.
In fact, things like Snoo or Owler (or both combined, as I see it with a lot of first-time moms) might heighten the anxiety if it goes off in the middle of the night, and again (and sometimes infants have completely normal sleep apnea with short pauses in breathing that set the devices off), but none of them cannot fully prevent SIDS because the doctors don’t know what causes it as it’s sudden and unexplained.
Even with all the devices and monitors many moms still catch themselves going in and checking on the baby at night to make sure they’re breathing. Nothing will ever completely ease the mind.
Is Snoo an essential? Not necessarily, so don’t stress if you think you might want to spend your money elsewhere. It can be helpful, but in the end, it’s a luxury that isn’t a must-have, especially if you have a fairly good sleeper or you travel a lot. Also, just because something works sometimes doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone or in every situation — and doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think if it’s going to be necessary or not.
I noticed that most parents who like the Snoo have used it from birth and have no idea if their kid is just naturally a good sleeper. Lots of friends who claimed Snoo was a miracle device had incredibly calm babies so I’d be surprised if these babies fussed a lot, but again – they never tried. On the other hand, friends who claimed their Snoo didn’t work as well as expected had very fussy and energetic babies.
Having experienced both with two children, I’m a firm believer that whether Snoo is good for you or not will depend on the child. My first child turned out to be a great sleeper so if I put him in the Snoo since birth I would have said that it was fantastic. Would it be Snoo’s achievement? Absolutely not. On the contrary, with my second child with him we attempted it hated (and even hated is a delicate word) swaddling, so Snoo was a no-go.
Snoo is a no-magic device that will suddenly make a fussy baby sleep all the time. A big plus of the Snoo is cutting down the time that was needed to put the baby back to sleep following a nighttime feed, as it rocks the baby itself.
- Please note that if you already have the Snoo or used it with a previous baby, and after reading this post you’re worried about the effects – it’s a normal part of parenting. There’s no right or wrong in the case of Snoo, but I believe it’s important for parents to have knowledge about its pros and cons.