Table of Contents: Masthead StickySummary List Placement
On March 1, 2020, my wife and I learned that our two-year adoption journey had come to an end. We’d finally been matched with a birth mom and had less than 21 hours to get to the hospital — in another state. We had none of the gear you normally pull together pre-baby: clothes, diapers, a carrier, and of course, a crib.
My wife brought up the idea of the Snoo, a $1,495 smart bassinet. I was taken aback, but she reasoned we could rent it for $149 a month. Since it’s intended for five to six months before weaning an infant off, we’d still be dropping around $900.
But it didn’t take long before memories of the first few difficult months with our daughter returned to me and I caved. We signed up for the Snoo rental program and it arrived five days later. Here is my review of the Snoo after seven weeks of use.
Design and specs for the Snoo
The Snoo is billed as a technologically advanced bassinet that soothes babies and boosts sleep. It was created by pediatrician Harvey Karp, author of “The Happiest Baby on the Block.” He is known for his “fourth-trimester” theory, which asserts babies are born three months too early. In order to calm them and help them sleep, Karp recommends swaddling and shushing to replicate life in the womb.
In partnership with Deb Roy, PhD, director of Laboratory for Social Machines, MIT Media Lab, and well-known Swiss designer Yves Béhar, Karp put his theory into practice with the Snoo. The smart bassinet has two rocking motors that rotate the mattress, clips on either side of the mattress to anchor the included swaddle’s wings, built-in speakers for various levels of white-noise shushing, and three microphones to detect an infant’s sounds and movements.
It’s more like a robot than a crib, really.
Using the microphones, the Snoo interprets your child’s crying to adjust the bed’s speed of rotation and shushing volume, from a “Baseline” similar to a gentle rocking to a fairly intense “Level 4” comparable to driving a car on a bumpy road. With the well-designed Snoo smartphone app, you can manually control the levels, get daily tips, and track your baby’s sleep patterns.
The Snoo isn’t just a smart bassinet though. It also keeps an infant safely secured in a swaddle clipped into the bassinet. This prevents them from rolling over while sleeping — a common concern for parents and something that woke me and my wife up many times with our first child.
Dr. Colleen Kraft, former president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, understands this concern well. “My families who use [the] Snoo are happy knowing that as they are able to sleep, their babies are staying on their backs and sleeping safely,” she told Insider Reviews.
Setup of the Snoo
Fully assembled, the Snoo weighs about 40 pounds and measures 30 inches (length), 20 inches (width), and 32 inches (height). You can buy leg extenders ($20) to raise one side of the bassinet, which can help with babies who might spit up more frequently.
Within about 10 minutes, it was fully set up and connected. The app is simple to download, and there is a button underneath the bassinet to connect to WiFi, so no matter where you are in the house, you have motion control.
My review of the Snoo
The Snoo took a little time to dial in. At first, it would misinterpret my son’s random noises while sleeping as fussing and raise the level of rocking and shushing. This actually woke him. I used the app to manually lower him back to Baseline and he was fine.
Eventually, I made adjustments in the app settings to limit the rotating speed. I stopped it at Level 2 because at the highest level his little head was bouncing back and forth too much for my comfort. No safety issues have been reported, but as a parent, it’s important to stick with what you’re most comfortable. I could keep the shushing at the highest level, which I liked. I also adjusted the mic sensitivity so the next level isn’t triggered so quickly.
The app has been helpful for tracking his sleep patterns and I use it to remember when he most recently woke to calculate feeding times.
The Snoo comes with a crib cover and its proprietary swaddle, both of which you keep even if renting. The bassinet is designed for your baby to sleep on their back, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Our little cross-fit baby was able to work his arms free from the swaddle and wake himself up, so we double-swaddled him using the recommended method from the Snoo website and that fixed the problem.
What makes the Snoo stand out
The Snoo is simple to use, easy to set up, and it actually works. Having the ability to keep tabs on your baby’s sleep experience and knowing the Snoo will help you calm them is invaluable. Its design team consisting of a famous Swiss designer and engineers at the MIT Media Lab set it apart from the rest of the field aesthetically too.
The biggest downside is that, at $1,500, the Snoo costs so much you’ll be embarrassed to name drop it at dinner parties. Unless you plan to have multiple kids in close succession, renting it makes the most sense.
Like other technology connected to WiFi, the Snoo is not immune to security flaws. In April 2020, security firm Red Balloon uncovered vulnerabilities that allowed its researchers to take control of the Snoo’s motor and speaker systems. They found they could shake the bassinet significantly harder than intended by its design. Happiest Baby said they have since patched these vulnerabilities. Parents can disconnect the Snoo from WiFi for extra security.
The elastic bands on the wings of the swaddle have to be slid onto plastic clips. Those openings are difficult to find, especially in the dark while putting my son to sleep. Because the swaddle is specific to the Snoo, if you have a baby who spits up frequently, you’ll need to wash it before the next use or buy multiple swaddles.
The bottom line
The Snoo is great, but every baby is different. There are some Reddit threads where people share their disappointment. My wife and I have had second-guesses like, “Will our baby be able to sleep without constantly rocking?” However, the Snoo FAQ page says to use the “wean” feature in the app to slowly transition your baby to a crib after five to six months.
Of course, Happiest Baby doesn’t have the market cornered on this type of bassinet. Other motion-enabled bassinets include 4Moms’ Mamaroo Sleep Bassinet ($350), Chicco’s Close to You Bassinet ($300), and the more affordable Fisher-Price Soothing Motions ($128). Only the 4Moms bassinet has an app, and none of them can function on their own to soothe your child like the Snoo.
If you can spring for $149 per month, you should give this thing a try. If it doesn’t work for you after one month, you haven’t dropped $1,500 on a pretty piece of furniture.