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Baby expert Dr Harvey Karp has built a career out of helping new parents to calm and soothe newborns, and that work has culminated in the invention of Snoo, the flagship product from Karp’s parenting empire Happiest Baby.
The Snoo is an advanced “smart sleeper” crib with built-in calming abilities. From the outside it looks like a regular crib, but this little robot cot connects to an app on your phone and can automatically rock, shush, and soothe your baby without you even needing to get out of bed.
Unlike most cribs, it also comes with an unusual integrated swaddle, designed to keep your baby in a safe sleep position throughout the night.
Gemma is Consumer & Commerce Editor at MadeForMums and mum to 19-month-old Myles. She tested the Snoo when her son was a newborn, using it for all nighttime sleep and some naps until he was almost 6 months.
What were your first impressions of the Snoo?
As any new parent will know, when it comes to sleep – for you and your baby – every second counts, so I was very excited to put this cot to the test.
At first glance it just looks like a stylish and modern newborn crib, with its curved shape, white mesh fabric, metal legs and wood-effect trims. It’s a chic design that works in most rooms.
How do you set it up?
It took just a few minutes to set up: all you need to do is click the legs into place, add the mattress, cover and sheet, plug it in and it’s ready to go.
The basic functions can be controlled using the power button, but you’ll need to scan the QR code on the base and download the app to use the Snoo to its full potential.
What age is it suitable for?
The Snoo is designed to be used from birth to around 6 months of age. It is relatively small for a bedside crib, but it can hold a baby weighing up to 11.3kg, and Happiest Baby claims it has been tested with a 9-month-old baby in the 95th percentile for height. My son was born in the 97th percentile for height and weight, and although he looked snug by the end, he never seemed uncomfortable.
Is the Snoo a bedside crib?
The Snoo is a standalone newborn crib rather than a co-sleeper, as doesn’t fasten to the parents’ bed or have a drop-down side mechanism.
However, most parents (myself included) put it beside their own bed and use it in the same way as a bedside crib or moses basket.
What special functions does the Snoo have?
There are two main selling points to the Snoo. The first is the swaddle, known as the Snoo sack, which comes in 3 sizes (small, medium and large). The Snoo sack then has two fabric “wings”, which fasten onto two long clips in the sides of the crib. These keep the swaddled baby securely in a safe position, lying on their back, with the aim of reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Safely swaddling a baby with their arms down can also keep them from startling themselves awake, and a lot of newborns respond really well to being swaddled, my son included.
The other — and perhaps most exciting — feature of the Snoo is the mechanical element. With the flick of a switch, the Snoo will gently rock the baby from side to side, and play white noise through speakers under the mattress.
It does this all night long on the standard “baseline” setting, but the noise and movement are also responsive. This means if the baby begins to fuss or cry the Snoo will level up, increasing the volume and vigorousness of the rocking based on the settings chosen in the app. You can also adjust the levels manually using the app or the power button on the front of the crib.
Was the swaddle easy to use and good quality?
The Snoo sack is a stretchy zip-up sack with mesh panels, and inside are two velcro flaps that you cross over to swaddle your baby. It’s really easy to use since there’s no complicated folding or wrapping.
Although the velcro is easy to use it’s not perfect, I found as he got older that my son could wriggle free quite easily, but Happiest Baby has a great hack to help if that happens. The velcro did also lose some of its stick after repeated washing, but I found that was a sign to move up to the next size.
Annoyingly there is no official tog rating for the Snoo sack, so there’s a bit of guesswork involved in working out how to dress a baby inside it. I would say that it’s probably the equivalent of around 0.5 to 1 tog and my winter baby needed a couple of layers beneath it.
Did your baby seem comfortable in the Snoo?
My son seemed to be really comfy in the Snoo and often went to sleep with a smile on his face. The mattress is firm and breathable and the swaddle kept him cosy but allowed the air to circulate.
The swaddle has lots of stretch so while it looks tighter than some others on the lower half, I felt he had loads of room to wiggle his legs. It’s comforting to know the sack is certified “hip healthy” by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute. Not all babies love to be swaddled but my son definitely did, and I think this was a key aspect in keeping him sleeping soundly in the first few months.
How does the rocking feature work?
The ‘baseline’ of the Snoo features a gentle side-to-side rocking motion, accompanied by white noise that’s designed to mimic the sounds in the womb. You can see a video of the Snoo at baseline level here.
Each level (up to 4) increases the amount of rocking and the volume of the white noise, and these kick in automatically when the baby fusses or cries (although they can also be done manually).
The highest level will time out after a few minutes if the baby doesn’t calm down, alerting the parent that they’re needed via an app notification.
Is the rocking feature safe for newborns?
The standard settings have the Snoo rocking gently from side-to-side all night long, with constant white noise at a medium level, and Happiest Baby says this is safe to use with a newborn.
However, the higher levels can be a bit much for a very young or small baby, so there is a motion limiter you can switch on via the app for the early days, which will stop the Snoo from using the highest levels.
As my son was over 10lbs at birth, and we never let the Snoo get to the higher levels before attending to him, we didn’t use the motion limiter but it’s a great feature to have.
There’s also a “weaning mode” (more on that later) which turns off motion entirely.
Can you use the Snoo for naps too?
We used the Snoo for all nighttime sleep, starting when Myles was about a week old.
Happiest Baby recommends you use it for naps too, but that didn’t work for us due to the layout of our house, so he only napped in it occasionally.
He wasn’t a good napper in his first 6 months and the Snoo didn’t really seem to help with that, so I used naps as a way to practise sleeping in his cot or on the move.
Does the Snoo really soothe a crying baby?
In the early days, like everyone, we struggled with settling and frequent wakes. But after the first 6 weeks, the Snoo really came into its own at night. He responded so well to the rocking that it wasn’t long before I was able to attempt the infamous “drowsy but awake” bedtime.
We still went through the 4-month sleep regression but most of the time when he woke I could turn up the Snoo to soothe him, rather than having to take him out.
This is not everyone’s experience and I do think the success of the Snoo has just as much to do with the baby as it does the tech behind the device.
As a first-time mum I have nothing to compare to, but it’s clear that overall he is a good nighttime sleeper.
Can you use other soothing techniques with the Snoo?
You can use any safe soothing techniques you want, such as taking your baby out of the crib to cuddle, rock, or soothe them yourself.
We chose to give our baby a dummy, but as his arms were swaddled it meant he couldn’t teach himself to replace it when it fell out.
Importantly, you shouldn’t place any other loose items in this or any other newborn crib: no cuddly toys, comforters, muslins or blankets. This is particularly important with the Snoo because it moves, and a loose item could end up over your baby’s face.
How does the Snoo app show sleep data?
Pictured are a few typical examples of our sleep logs from the app in the early weeks, showing 24 hours in the life of the Snoo:
- The bright blue represents sleep/calm time
- Red is when the Snoo was on higher levels soothing the baby
- The rest (very pale blue) is when the Snoo was turned off
At this point we were still doing some naps in the Snoo, and a lot of night feeds.
The pictures below show our logs from later on.
The first shows a typical day as we entered the 4 month sleep regression period (slightly early!). Our baby needed more help to go to sleep so I used a higher level to rock him to sleep, and he would wake frequently from about 3am onwards. I could usually get him back to sleep by turning the Snoo up to level 2 or 3 for a while.
The final log shows the best night we ever had in the Snoo: the legendary 12 hours of baby sleep. This was not the norm, but here’s proof it did happen!
Is the Snoo safe to use?
Happiest Baby takes safety very seriously, and the Snoo is currently being fast-tracked for approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the USA as a SIDS-reducing device. If it’s approved it may be made available through insurance or other benefits to people in the USA as a safe sleep tool.
The reason the Snoo is considered so safe for newborn sleep is because it keeps them safely on their backs all night long. Babies can be swaddled for longer in the Snoo – past the age that they can roll over – and there have been questions from some camps as to whether this may affect development.
A representative of Happiest Baby said, “Studies of cultures where babies are swaddled 24 hours a day for the first 6 months have reported that there is no delay in the development of motor skills. But Snoo is only used for 12-14 hours/day…and during those hours of sleep babies are doing very little active movement/practicing new motor skills. That leaves 10-12 hours/day for babies to practice all their motor skills when they are awake and not in Snoo.”
This is obviously something anyone buying a Snoo may want to research further themselves. All I can say is that my son is now 19 months old, and he has hit every developmental milestone without issue.
Is the Snoo a replacement for cuddles and soothing by a caregiver?
I feel using the Snoo is really no different to pushing a sleeping baby in a pram, using a rocker or driving them around in the car. It is not magic, and it won’t put a hungry baby back to sleep or mask real discomfort or upset. But it did provide a safe, familiar sleep setting for our newborn, intervening at the first signs of fuss to help him to resettle between sleep cycles.
Dr Karp describes it as an “extra pair of hands” and I really felt that, especially as most of the first year of my son’s life was spent in lockdown without help from friends and family.
Do babies get addicted to the sound and motion of the Snoo?
Although the manual assured me that most babies are ready to move to a cot at around 6 months, I was convinced we’d struggle and that the motion would be a sleep crutch.
But, right on schedule around 5.5 months, my son became a bit unsettled in the Snoo. He was already taking naps in his cot, and although they were short and unpredictable, I could tell he was enjoying having the freedom to move around.
I had a plan to gently wean him over a few weeks: the Snoo has a dedicated weaning mode with just sound and no motion, and the Snoo sacks have poppers so you can let the arms out of the swaddle one at a time. In the end we never got further than letting one arm out. A heatwave hit and the room he was in was so hot I decided to fast-track the move to the cot in his (much cooler) room.
We had a handful of rough nights as he adjusted to his newfound freedom, but before long he was sleeping as well in his cot as he did in the Snoo.
A year later, in general my son has been a great sleeper and I do think the Snoo had something to do with that.
Does it use a lot of power?
The Snoo is plugged in and operating all night long so you may notice a small difference in your electricity bill. It was hard for me to judge exactly how much of a difference it made as soon after my son was born we went into lockdown (so everyone was in the house more), plus there was a lot of extra washing, heating and sterilising going on with a newborn anyway.
Did it ever stop working or refuse to connect?
I never had any issues with the Wi-Fi connection and found using the app to control it quite easy and practical. However, there was a point a few months in when Snoo started to make a slight clicking sound as it operated. Other Snoo users recommended removing the mattress and firmly pressing down on the base of the crib.
When I did this it seemed to click all the plastic pieces back into place, and when I turned it back on the noise had stopped. This was the only real issue we had, overall it seems quite sturdily built.
How easy is it to clean?
The sheets can be easily removed for washing and the mattress cover can be sponged down (it’s water resistant so shouldn’t get too messy). The base of the Snoo is plastic but there are electrical parts underneath, so I just wiped that with a dry microfibre cloth. The mesh sides can be sponged clean, and some users recommend using a little hand-held vacuum to suck up dust and debris from between the mesh.
If you want to clean further into the crib, that’s where it gets difficult. Unscrewing or unfastening it will void the warranty, so I wouldn’t recommend it!
What’s in the box?
- Snoo Smart Sleeper
- Small Snoo sack
- Medium Snoo sack
- Large Snoo sack
- Fitted sheet
- Mattress cover
What accessories are available?
You can purchase extra Snoo sacks and sheets and I’d recommend getting at least 1 extra of each in case of accidents (there’s a bundle offer). There’s also a mosquito net, and low legs in case you have a very low bed frame.
You can also buy leg lifters, which put the bassinet at a slight incline to help with congestion, reflux or digestive issues. MadeForMums recommends you speak to your doctor or health visitor for advice before using a recline/tilt function, as a completely flat surface is usually recommended for safe sleep. Myles had quite bad reflux, but we never ended up lifting the Snoo.
What would you have wanted to know before buying the crib?
I’d have liked to have known more about how the app can be used to customise the experience (using the motion limiter, turning the volume up and down etc). This is in the manual but there’s a quick start guide too and I just used that.
I also discovered a couple of months in that there are active communities for Snoo users on both Reddit and Facebook, which are great if you have a question or need help and support during a rough sleep period.
How much does the Snoo cost, and is it value for money?
The Snoo retails at £1,145 in the UK, which is obviously a lot more than most next-to-me cribs and moses baskets, and a huge outlay for something that is only used for 6 months.
Happiest Baby offers a rental service in the USA and when I spoke to them the aim was to bring this to the UK at some point, but at the moment you need to buy it outright.
However, it offers a lot of features for that money. The safety aspect of it was important to me as I was very anxious about SIDS in the early days. As for quality of sleep, although I have no real way of knowing if my son would have slept for similarly long stretches in a regular crib, I do know that I would have spent a lot more time picking him up and soothing him in the middle of the night.
Even if the Snoo didn’t give him extra sleep, it gave me extra sleep, which allowed me to be a better and more present parent during the day.
It’s worth noting that the Snoo currently has great resale potential, and unlike rockers and swings it’s designed to work for millions of cycles, so if you have more children you should be able to use it again. Our Snoo is now onto its third owner and it’s still going strong.
Where can I buy the Snoo?
An exciting and innovative product that combines excellent safety features with exciting technology.
It will appeal to tech-minded parents who want peace of mind and a little helping hand at bedtime (and throughout the night), and may also be a lifeline to parents struggling with sleep.
However, without the option to hire it in the UK, it’s prohibitively expensive for many, especially given its 6-month lifespan.
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|Model||Snoo Smart Sleeper|
Dimensions & Weight
|Weight||17.4kg – Assembled|
|Dimensions||H:81.9cm W:90.8cm D:48.3cm – With regular legs|
|Child age (approx)||Birth to 6 months|
|Child weight||Up to 11.3kg|
|Sleep height positions||2 – With additional legs|
|Drop down / Removable side||No|
|Made from||Breathable mesh, wood-effect panel, metal legs|
|Accessories included||EU and UK power cord
3 White Snoo sacks (S, M, L)
White Snoo sheet made of GOTS certified organic cotton
Mattress and water-resistant cover