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The Snoo Is Not All It's Cracked Up to Be

Updated: May 7

infant being zipped into the Snoo bassinet

The Snoo is not all it's cracked up to be!

While it's innovative and has a sleek design, the Snoo is not all it's cracked up to be. I am leaning into the science and what we know about infant and child development. It is my hope you get what you need from this review to make an informed decision about the SNOO.

The Snoo is aesthetically beautiful!

With its sleek, mid-century modern look, the Snoo is appealing to the eye. It appeals to both minimalistic-minded parents and gear gurus alike. In this review of the Snoo, I couldn't forget to mention the features I qappreciate. The Snoo has mesh sides for breathability and airflow, a wooden base surround, and hairpin-style legs! Simply beautiful, but that's about all I appreciate!

The Snoo, created in 2016, is a high-tech bassinet!

Developed by Dr. Harvey Karp, the pediatrician behind "The Happiest Baby on the Block," the Snoo is a high-tech bassinet designed to soothe fussy babies and provide sleep-deprived parents with some much-needed relief. However, like many products, it's not without its flaws. In this blog, we'll explore why the Snoo may not be all it's cracked up to be and introduce additional reasons for caution.

  • The High Price Tag: Let's start with the elephant in the room: the Snoo's cost. This smart bassinet comes with a hefty price tag that can make most parents gasp. While its technology is undoubtedly impressive, not every family can afford to splurge on such an expensive device. Many parents find themselves wondering if the Snoo is worth the investment, especially considering bassinets are designed to be used short term.

  • Limited Lifespan: Babies grow fast. Very fast. Most bassinets are designed to be used until the baby is around 2-4 months old at which time they are starting to try and roll over and they have reached the maximum weight OR height for the bassinet. but, the Snoo is designed for infants up to six months old or when they can get up on their hands and knees. Some parents are tempted by this, thinking, okay six months is better than the 4 months I can get from another bassinet. Other parents say, okay I get 2 extra months of use, but is that worth the high cost for something that their baby will only use for an additional 2 months? I have an entirely different concern for a baby who is being contained for 6 months in a bassinet and I will elaborate on this more further down the rabbit hole we go!

  • Lack of Personalization: The Snoo operates based on a series of built-in sensors and algorithms, designed to respond to a baby's cries and provide the appropriate level of soothing motion and white noise. However, every baby is unique, and their needs and preferences can differ widely. This one-size-fits-all approach may not work for all infants, leaving some parents frustrated when the Snoo doesn't adequately address their baby's specific needs.

  • Potential for Overdependence: While the Snoo is marketed as a sleep aid for babies, it has the potential to create dependency. Some experts and parents worry that relying on the Snoo for a baby's sleep might hinder the development of self-soothing skills and prolong the inevitable. Babies who are accustomed to the constant motion provided by the Snoo may struggle to transition to a crib or self-soothe when the Snoo isn't available.

  • False Promises of More Sleep: The Snoo's primary selling point is the promise of better sleep for both babies and parents. However, many parents have reported that their babies still wake up frequently despite using the Snoo. While the Snoo may help some infants sleep longer stretches, it's not a guarantee. For parents who have invested in this costly device with high expectations of blissful, uninterrupted sleep, the reality can be disappointing when you have a baby who is a frequent pooper, or a baby who is dealing with reflux.

  • Limited Portability: The Snoo is not a portable bassinet, which can be a drawback for parents who travel frequently or want to have their baby sleep in different rooms of the house. This lack of portability means parents may need to invest in an additional sleep solution, such as a travel crib, making the Snoo less versatile than traditional bassinets. It also requires specific swaddles and sheets.

  • Parental Involvement: The Snoo's design is meant to be a self-soothing solution for babies, but it's not entirely hands-off for parents. Setting up the Snoo correctly, responding to false alarms, and troubleshooting issues is often time-consuming. Parents may find themselves relying on the Snoo's technology more than they initially expected, leading to a sense of frustration and disappointment, and quite frankly a lack of confidence in their own ability to read their baby's cues.

  • Overheating: Some parents have reported to us concerns about the Snoo potentially causing overheating in their baby. The bassinet's snug design, coupled with its constant motion and built-in swaddle, can make it difficult for parents to monitor and control their baby's temperature, potentially posing a safety risk.

  • Relying on the App for Safety: The Snoo relies heavily on a smartphone app for operation and safety. Parents need to ensure their phones are charged and nearby at all times, or they risk the bassinet not responding to their baby's needs. In emergencies, dependence on a smartphone app might not be the most reliable approach.

  • Delaying Developmentally Appropriate Skills: The Snoo's can lead to a delay in developing certain self-soothing and sleep independence skills in infants. Some argue that using the Snoo might hinder a baby's ability to learn how to fall asleep on their own and might prolong the transition to a crib. Many occupational and physical therapists strongly advocate for the practice of placing infants on their backs but enabling them to reposition themselves independently, typically around three months of age, likely because of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations. When this natural movement is hindered, it can lead to delays in rolling during wakefulness, subsequently affecting the developmental milestones of crawling and exploring their surroundings. It is important to note that a baby who sits or walks early but has not had the opportunity to crawl for a significant period may not follow an ideal developmental trajectory.

  • Restricts Mobility: Traditional swaddling is discontinued around 8-10 weeks of age to allow babies to safely roll onto their sides and eventually their tummy. The Snoo, on the other hand, is designed to prevent rolling and is promoted as a safer option from the perspective of preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). This approach contradicts the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which suggests placing infants on their backs to sleep but allowing them to independently reposition themselves onto their sides or tummy when they do so.

The Claims

"The SNOO is your extra pair of hands, helping 24 hours/day, 7 days/week! It soothes your baby when you shower, cook, do zoom calls…or get some sleep."

"The SNOO adds 1-2+ hours of sleep/night and automatically responds to fussing - with soothing sound and motion - often calming crying in under a minute!"

"And, SNOO's extra-safe sleep sack keeps your baby securely on the back, giving all the benefits of swaddling...while preventing risky rolling."

It's not really an extra set of hands.

It's a smart device that is responsive to a baby's cry or fussing. It's a pretty cool one at that! However, it can't tell you if your baby has spit up and is lying in it uncomfortably and the night vision on the camera is also hard to catch that. It can't tell you if your baby has soaked through his/her diaper or if they've pooped. It can't tell you if your baby's body temperature is above or below normal or if they have hair tourniquet syndrome (like a strand of hair wrapped around their tiny toe). It does indeed soothe or at least attempt to soothe babies and that's great for the times you really can't give your baby a human response, but this should be a supplement to care, not a replacement for a responsive caregiver at night.

What Does the Science Say?

"The emotional experiences of newborns and young infants occur most commonly during periods of interaction with a caregiver (such as feeding, comforting, and holding). Infants display distress and cry when they are hungry, cold, wet, or in other ways uncomfortable, and they experience positive emotions when they are fed, soothed, and held. Associations between positive emotions and the availability of sensitive and responsive caregiving are strengthened during infancy in both behavior and brain architecture." 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Final Thoughts

To date, this has been one of the hardest blogs for me, Elizabeth Luke, founder, CEO, Infant Sleep Specialist, and Postpartum and Infant Care Specialist (an expert in the fourth trimester and infants) to write. Not only am I limited by safe sleep guidelines set forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) I am also limited by how much we know to be facts (not theoretically) about SIDS. While it's clear that I wouldn't use the Snoo, my team still absolutely provides support to parents who love this thing! When we are there overnight, parents have the best eyes, hearts, and hands at their service!

lady in orange dress in hammock swing wearing glasses

Authored by Elizabeth Luke

Elizabeth is the founder and CEO of The Jacksonville Baby Company. Elizabeth and her husband and best friend, Richard are parents to four children. With certifications in Postpartum and Infant Care Support, Childbirth and Newborn Care Education, Lactation Support, and Infant Sleep, she is a wealth of knowledge and has a heart that is passionate about helping parents live their best lives while also ensuring their children are safe, happy, and leading their healthiest lives possible! Contact us today to book support!

1. Thompson, R.A. (1998). Early sociopersonality development. In W. Damon (Ed.), & N. Eisenberg (Vol. Ed.), Handbook of Child Psychology,Vol. 3, (5th Ed.), Social, emotional, and personality development (pp. 25-104). New York: Wiley.

2. Denham, S. (1998). Emotional Development in Young Children. New York: Guilford.

3. LeDoux, J. (2000). Emotion circuits in the brain. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 23, 155-184.

4. Fogel, A. (1993). Developing Through Relationships: Origins of communication, self, and culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

5. Shonkoff, J.P., & Phillips, D. (Eds.) (2000). From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The science of early childhood development. Committee on Integrating the Science of Early Childhood Development. Washington, DC: National Academy Press

6. Cassidy, J. (1994). Emotion regulation: Influences of attachment relationships. In N.A. Fox (Ed.), The development of emotion regulation and dysregulation: Biological and behavioral aspects. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 59(2-3), 228-249 (Serial no. 240)

7. Children's Emotional Development Is Built into the Architecture of Their Brains

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