From two mothers who understand the exhaustion of having a baby who doesn’t sleep comes the newest offering to the infant sleep market, the Whisbear (whispering bear, whis-bear, get it?).
Having already won a Parents Choice award and Toy of the Year 2014 in its native Poland, the Whisbear is poised to break into the UK and international markets in a big way.
The Whisbear is geared toward all infants but especially those who are difficult to settle. It plays white noise similar to a hair dryer for 40 minutes to calm and ease infants into deep sleep.
The CRYsensor feature turns the white noise back on when your child stirs, to put them back to sleep.
With magnets in its feet, the bear can be attached to the side of a buggy, placed in or near a crib or cuddled as a child gets older.
My daughter Emily was very difficult to settle as an infant and has always slept better with white noise, so was a prime candidate for Whisbear. We didn’t get it until she was 5 months old, however, and I think she probably would have gotten more from it, had we used it from birth.
She recently started nursery where the staff told me she was difficult to settle and easily disturbed by noise, so we decided to send Whisbear to school.
Now they tell me that Emily loves cuddling the bear at naptime and she has gone from one or two 30 minute naps to two naps of over an hour after a few weeks of having the Whisbear with her.
Whisbear is easy for me to bring to and from school and means that Emily can have a little white noise as she sleeps to make the busy atmosphere of her classroom feel more like her bedroom at home.
Bedtime, we’ve got that covered….
How does the Whisbear work?
Whisbear has a small device that goes inside a Velcro pouch in the head and emits a shushing sound, similar to a hair dryer.
There is only one button that is activated by squeezing Whisbear’s head. One squeeze to turn the white noise on, then hold the button in to turn the volume up to its highest level and then back down to its lowest level and squeeze again to turn it off.
Once on, Whisbear shushes for 40 minutes, at which point, it is expected that your baby will have transitioned to deep sleep and so the device turns off.
If your baby stirs, the CRYsensor feature turns the bear on again for a further 20 minutes, hopefully helping your baby to go back to sleep again.
The sounds fade on and off so as not to disturb a sleeping child and this seems to work for Emily.
What is the CRYsensor feature?
The CRYsensor is designed to help your baby return to sleep after waking. The makers claim that it recognises ‘the cry of the waking baby’ but I found the feature very sensitive and that it turned on at any noise Emily made.
It didn’t appear to wake her, and seems designed to turn on easily so that it is already on by the time the baby wakes.
It’s a useful feature as the fact that the device turns itself back on means that parents won’t find themselves getting up in the middle of the night just to turn the bear back on.
The device can be set directly to the CRYsensor setting, which would be ideal if your baby is already asleep (in a carrier, buggy etc.) when you’re settling them into bed.
Does the Whisbear calm babies?
I didn’t find that it calmed Emily any more than her other cuddly toys (she loves a stuffed animal!), the white noise is excellent, but not any better than the white noise machine in her bedroom.
At this age, she loves chewing on Whisbear and giving it a cuddle as she falls asleep. Emily also likes the crinkly material in one ear and two of the legs.
The makers claim that Whisbear has no body so that there are more legs for chewing and while Emily certainly does a lot of drooling on Whisbear, the legs are pretty big for most babies’ mouths!
The bear is covered in a soft material with plenty of padding in the head so you don’t feel the noise maker too much.
Unlike similar products like, Ewan the Dream Sheep, Dex Baby Mommy Bear and Prince Lionheart Back to Sleep Bear, Whisbear doesn’t play womb recordings and doesn’t have a choice of sounds, but this was never an issue for us. Emily likes the steady white noise.
Can you control the volume of the white noise?
Yes, the volume is easily controlled, but it’s worth noting that the loudest volume is very loud. That setting is intended to settle a crying baby, but you would want to be sure it’s turned down afterward.
Sleep aids always make me a bit nervous about hearing damage, but at its softest setting, Whisbear measures about 55 decibels, or the same as normal conversation so I felt it was pretty safe.
The option to attach it to the outside of the cot using the magnets is a good compromise, but beware that older babies (around 5-6 months) will be able to pull it down easily.
It’s also worth noting that the bear turns on at the same volume level it was at before it was turned off.
What do you think of the design?
The Whisbear is designed for play with textured appendages and brightly coloured fabric on its four legs.
The design is based on the drawings of children, which is why it just has a bear head and four legs.
It’s a bit strange looking – like an octopus with ears – but there must be something to the design because my daughter, Emily, loves it.
Do it need batteries?
Yes, three AAA batteries
Is it easy to clean?
I’ve been able to wipe most drool and spit-up off Whisbear with no problems, but it’s a bugbear of mine when children’s toys aren’t machine washable. Hand washing is a pain and we all know kids are masters of getting things dirty.
I probably will end up putting it in the machine and, given its construction, I expect it to hold up well.
Emily has given Whisbear a rough and tumble loving, it goes into nursery school and it still looks as good as the day we took it out of the box.
What’s in the box?
- Carrier bag
- Swaddle blanket (optional extra)
Whisbear comes in a nice, drawstring bag, which the makers suggest can be used to keep the bear clean or even as a nappy bag. Anyone who has had an infant knows that neither of those is remotely likely. It looks lovely when you open the box, but it’s pretty useless after that.
For an additional cost, you can also get a swaddle blanket, which is very cute and easy to work with. All together, it’s a sweet, time-to-sleep package.
Whisbear and the swaddle blanket come in several different colours and there is a special edition available for Christmas with a red paw and red velvet bag.
Is the Whisbear value for money?
At £39.90 for the bear or £55 with the swaddle blanket (blanket is £20 on its own), the Whisbear is an expensive teddy.
If you just want white noise, you can get an app for a smart phone for a few pounds. Here, you’re paying a premium for the bear.
Even compared to similar products like Ewan the Dream Sheep (£29.99) and Prince Lionheart Back to Sleep Bear (£34.99) it’s on the pricey end.
It seems pitched at a high-end luxury market (Princess Charlotte was given one!) so perhaps it’s not outrageous in that context.
Having had months of broken sleep, however, I can understand that a good night’s sleep or even just a decent nap can be priceless.
The Whisbear might look a bit odd to adults, but it hits the spot for little ones and its clean lines and modern patterns makes it surprisingly chic.
If you’re looking for something more than just a white noise machine, then Whisbear might be the perfect combination of cuddly sleep buddy and white noise to lull your little one to sleep and keep them there.
The stylish packaging and swaddle blanket would make it a really lovely gift for new parents.
We’ve got some more sleep time aids for a good night’s sleep…