HomeBlogMy SNOO Review: 30 Days with a Robotic Bassinet
My SNOO Review: 30 Days with a Robotic Bassinet
July 13, 2020
I just took a DNA test, turns out, I’m 100% missing whatever gene creates babies who sleep.
I’d guess that my husband is lacking it too. As adults, it’s handy. My husband stays up late working on his hobbies: writing music and drooling on his Magic the Gathering cards. I wake up early for work. Actually, right now I’m on maternity leave but usually, I’m up before 6 am.
They say if your first baby is tough, your second one will be easier. They lie.
My daughter had to be rocked forever and would still be staring up with bleary, wide eyes. When my son was born, I was excited for this “easy” baby I’d been promised. I’ve come to believe there is no such thing as an easy baby. Only parents who lie. Or maybe parents who were so sleep-deprived they don’t remember how bad the newborn stage is.
“Hey! I thought this was a blog about gaming and parenting, but this article has nothing to do with video games.” -You
My daughter spent her first year waking up at least three, and usually many more, times per night. After about 6 weeks, when it became clear that my son was on the same path, I got desperate. And desperation is probably the only way I’d spend as much money as I am on this robot baby bed (a robot bed, not a robot baby). Although I’m not spending as much as some people, keep reading for more details on that.
What’s a SNOO?
Per their website, “SNOO is a responsive baby bassinet that boosts a baby’s sleep by combining gentle rocking with soothing white noise and snug, safe swaddling. Created by Dr. Harvey Karp (The 5 S’s, Happiest Baby on the Block), SNOO helps babies by imitating the calming sensations of the womb.”
The SNOO didn’t exist when my daughter was born, but I had heard about it over the last couple of years. Honestly, my initial impression was that it was some bourgeois piece of parent clickbait. The legions of online moms reviewing the thing didn’t have me convinced either. Their posts looked perfect. A little too perfect. Like maybe its cult following was actually a cult.
There are literally hundreds of blog posts that say “honest review” and have the same clarendon-filtered pictures of their soft pink and cream master bedrooms, the SNOO standing on a shaggy designer rug (Pro tip: You will want to put this on carpet). Now, I know you’re not being “honest” if there isn’t a dirty pile of newborn clothes on the floor and milk stains on everything. But, then I thought, maybe these moms are getting so much sleep, they have time to tidy up? I want in this cult! Let me in!
So, I did it. One morning, at 3 am, while bleary-eyed and breastfeeding, I ordered a SNOO. The price tag is daunting: $1,400. But I haven’t been to Starbucks in 3 months so I got it with all the money I’ve saved on lattes since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Hahahaha, kidding! I blew any savings from Starbucks and daycare being closed on Amazon desperately buying toys to keep my toddler entertained and educated while she spent 3+ months trapped with me.
SNOO’s Rental Program
Luckily, Happiest Baby (the company behind the SNOO) recently started a rental program. It’s still not cheap, but it makes it more attainable for those of us without a stuffed savings account. Here’s the financial breakdown of what I paid in June 2020:
Which adds up to an initial payment of about about $350. After this, it’ll be only the monthly charge ($118).
So, if you’re considering a SNOO, do your math. Are you getting it in time to use from Day 1? Will you have a second kid? If you plan to have 2 kids, renting for 6 months each, then the total rental cost would be $1880 (Turns out you don’t have to do the math, I did it for you. That’s the Moms with Game advantage). At that point, just buying the dang thing would be cheaper.
The total cost for one kid and 6 months is $940 (whew). It’d even make sense to buy one with a friend who is also pregnant but 6 months behind (or ahead of you) and split the cost ($700/each).
For me, my son is my second and last kid, and I didn’t order it until he was almost 6 weeks old. Plus I suspect he’ll outgrow it early because he is enormous.I’m looking at maybe a 4-month run, so in our case, renting made sense.
And now, I’m here with my very own honest review of the SNOO and our first 30 days co-parenting.
How the SNOO Works
Pull it out of the box, pop the legs on, and plug it in. Next, strap kiddo into the SNOO-compatible swaddle which has a Velcro band to hold baby’s arms down tightly. Then you zip it up and slide the wings into clips on the side of the bed. The swaddle reminds me of a sanitary pad (because of the wings mostly). Then, when the clips are engaged, you push a white button on the bassinet, and the SNOO starts rocking gently back and forth and playing white noise. And then it keeps going and going and going.
The SNOO rocks baby all night. I must have missed this part in the videos and reviews I read, and I was legit surprised. It doesn’t stop moving unless it’s off (aka Suspended Mode). I thought the SNOO only turned on when the baby cried and then turned off when he stopped crying. Not the case, although there is an option that does that called Weaning Mode for when you are transitioning baby from the SNOO to a crib.
There are 5 levels of motion and sound. Baseline has a gentle sway and low volume white noise that plays through a speaker right into baby’s earhole. The SNOO is a responsive bassinet, meaning that when it detects an upset baby using its microphone and motion sensors, it can respond by cranking up the motion. Levels 1-4 have progressively faster rocking and louder/different white noise. The SNOO only rocks a fussy baby for a few minutes before slowing back down and alerting you via the app (but let’s be honest, you’re already awake) that baby needs you. The idea is that is the rocking motion doesn’t settle baby quickly, then the issue is probably something like hunger or a diaper.
If you enable wifi on the bassinet, you can use the SNOO app to track baby’s sleep, to turn the SNOO on and off, or to bump the SNOO up to the next level.
I’m a numbers person, so I want to see the data. The app tracks the start and stop of each sleep in the SNOO and displays the total amount of sleep for the day, the number of naps, and the longest strength of sleep. Below you can see a normal day/night for my son. The blue is when he is in the SNOO and it’s at Baseline. The red is when the SNOO is moving up levels to try and settle him, and the white is when he is not in the SNOO (awake, eating, napping on me, etc). We got the SNOO when my son was about 6 weeks old.
Shortest stretch: 2 hours and 24 minutes (on Day 3 and Day 29)
Longest stretch: 5 hours and 41 minutes!!! (on Day 30-he was exhausted from a bad night before)
Average Longest Stretch of Sleep
Week 1: 2 hours and 51 minutes Week 2: 3 hours and 9 minutes Week 3: 4 hours and 1 minute Week 4: 3 hours and 36 minutes
Average Number of Wake-ups (between 10 pm and 7 am)
Week 1: 3.1 times Week 2: 2.6 times Week 3: 2.3 times Week 4: 3 times
We saw steady improvement for the first three weeks and then a bit of set-back during Week 4 when he started sleeping shorter stretches and waking up more. But overall, there are still definite improvements from Week 1.
His longest stretch of sleep was always the first one (bedtime around 9pm). At the end of the month, he spent most nights (10 in total) waking up after about 3-4 hours of sleep, but we had 6 nights where his longest stretch of sleep was between 5-6 hours. And those 6 nights were awesome.
According to their website, there hasn’t been a SIDS death in a SNOO. This is because you are strapping your child down and preventing them from rolling. For moms who worry like me, this is awesome. The downside is that most babies seem to hate sleeping alone and on their back (the safest way), so a lot of parents end up in a rough place of choosing between safety and sleep. I’m anxious so I pick safe sleep, but I also end up with kids who wake up a ton. The SNOO is supposed to help kids sleep longer when they are on their backs, making the safer choice easier to make, but as you read above, my experience has been mixed. We’ve had plenty of bad nights, when a parent might be tempted to bring baby to bed with them.
Also, for anxious moms (like me) who like to check on baby overnight: between the swaddle and the rocking motion, it’s really hard to tell if baby is breathing. I debate turning it off for a second to check but usually settle for poking him a bit until he sighs and I know he’s good.
It’s hard to know for sure the impact of the SNOO, because I can’t use it and not use it on the same night and tell which is better. Would we have seen this same improvement in his sleep if he were sleeping in a crib? Is it more related to his age (starting at 6 and then now 10 weeks old) and weight than his bed? Also we aren’t seeing the 8 hour stretches some babies are doing by this point, sadly.
But I have watched the Level 1 noise and movement soothe him from fussing to sleep, and there have definitely been nights where I would’ve had to wake up to settle him but the SNOO took care of it for me (see picture). We’ve also had more than a few nights where his longest stretch was 2-3 hours and no robot could replace mama in his eyes. Pretty mixed results I guess.
I do know that I will keep using the SNOO until he outgrows it, just for the hope of a few more of those 5+ hour stretches. Bliss.
We all know this. It’s a lot. I read that Happiest Baby may pursue FDA approval as a medical device (to prevent SIDS) so in the future that may lower the price for those with insurance.
I noticed that the SNOO needs a lot of noise and movement from baby before it bumps itself up to the next level of motion, even when set on Very High Responsiveness. I’ve got a grumpy, grizzly baby who doesn’t cry immediately but who fusses and fusses and is wide awake before the SNOO senses a disturbance in the force.
When I’m awake, I manually bump the level up to help him settle. At night, by the time he wakes me up, he’s all the way awake and very fussy. That said, the SNOO has gotten him a few times without waking me. Those pink bars are minutes the bassinet was rocking him while I peacefully slept away.
Even if you aren’t normally super concerned about germs, the current pandemic has a lot of us thinking about cleanliness. Not gonna lie, there’s a bit of a gross factor knowing another kid has probably had a blowout on the very same bed my darling son now rests his head. The sheets and swaddles are brand new, and the parts that can’t be replaced are cleaned thoroughly (per the SNOO website), but the sides are cloth and can only be vacuumed.
Then I remind myself that he will go to daycare in a few weeks and sleep in a crib that lots of other babies have been in before. And then I also remember my toddler ate some rabbit poop in our front yard when she was about a year old, sooooooooooo, it’s clean enough. Plus, he’s strapped on top of the new items (brand new mattress sheet and swaddle) so that’s all he really touches.
It kinda weirds me out that there is a microphone on this thing, I can only imagine what it’s picked up being right next to my bed. I read the Terms and Conditions and didn’t see anything about whether Happiest Baby can record or save what the microphone hears. If you are extra concerned, you can turn off WiFi using the button on the bassinet, but then you can’t use the app (which is not critical to function but nice to have if you want to increase the level manually and are not right next to the bed).
Because it’s moving all night, it’s shaking all night. I’m very sensitive but there are times I can feel the vibrations in my skull. As I mentioned before, you’ll want to put this on on carpet or a rug.
Does Baby Like It?
As I mentioned, I’m a sensitive person, and I’ve noticed that when I stare right at it, the breathable mesh sides hurt my eyes. It’s like a trippy optical illusion. I wonder if it bothers my son too.
The Extras (or lack therof)
The SNOO rental comes with one sheet and one swaddle of each size (small, medium, large). I was going to try and get away with it but a few days after I started writing this, my son projectile vomited all over everything and I had to hand wash and dry the sheet and swaddle at 3:30 am. At 4:30 am, I paid $80 for two more sets of sheets and 1 extra swaddle in each size, and I’m still holding my breath hoping the package arrives before another accident. Don’t be like me. Get it in advance.
I’d have loved an option to rent the short legs (great for low beds like mine) and the lifters (a slight rise for babies with reflux) too. They aren’t cheap and I’d have to purchase them on top of the already expensive rental fee. I’d happily send them back and I’m sure they could be cleaned the same way as the machine.
I wish I had a magic kid who slept 8 hours straight, but I don’t. I wish I could tell you the SNOO has turned him into one, but it hasn’t (yet- I’m forever the optimist). We’ve had a few great nights and fingers crossed for more of those to come. I hope this review helps you weigh whether a SNOO is worth it for you.
Beth lives in Georgia with her husband, toddler daughter, infant son, two cats, and basement full of video games. She has a full-time job and a crazy commute. Beth describes her parenting style as “instant oats mama.” She’s a crunchy mama who also appreciates modern conveniences. In her spare time, you’ll catch her playing exploration, simulation, survival, or puzzle games.