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Should You Be Using a SNOO?

Updated: May 15

Baby wrapped in a SNOO

Every year, hundreds of new and innovative baby care products hit the shelves. New parents may struggle to figure out what products will be beneficial, and which are simply marketing hype. One recent product that is gaining popularity is the SNOO. It was just approved as a medical device for safe sleep.

You may be wondering, should you be using a SNOO? Each baby is different, so what works for one family may be unnecessary for another. How can you decide if the SNOO is right for you? This article will discuss the pros and cons of using a SNOO. First, though, let’s find out a little more about safe sleep and why SNOO was developed.

A Brief History of Infant Sleep

The guidance regarding sleeping position and environment for infants has changed over the years. Our parents may have been put to bed belly down and surrounded by pillows, blankets, and stuffed toys. However, starting in 1992, The American Academy of Pediatrics began to recommend babies be placed on their back. Over the years, that recommendation has been proven to reduce the risk of SIDS. Prior to 1992, approximately 5000 infants each year died of SIDS. Since the “Back to Sleep” campaigns of the 1990s, that number has dropped significantly.

The AAP has expanded the guidance for a safe sleeping environment in the years since 1992. Currently the recommendation is that babies be put down on their backs in a crib or bassinet with a firm, flat, non-inclined mattress. They should not have any pillows, blankets, or toys in their sleeping area as these can pose a suffocation risk. They also recommend that newborns should sleep in the same room as their parents but discourage sharing the bed.

What is SNOO?

SNOO next to a rocking chair

SNOO was developed by Dr. Harvey Karp and a team of engineers, designers, and scientists. Dr. Karp is a pediatrician with over 20 years of experience, a faculty member at the USC School of Medicine and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He founded Happiest Baby in 2001 and introduced the SNOO Smart Sleeper in 2016. SNOO received De Novo classification from the FDA in 2023.

SNOO is an innovative smart bassinet. It combines the SNOO Sack, a unique style of swaddle that connects to built-in safety clips, with a smart bed that responds to baby’s fussing with gentle swaying and white noise that mimics the sensation of being in the womb.

What are the Pros of Using SNOO?

Many new parents rave about SNOO. The responsiveness coupled with its unique safety features makes them feel like they have a second set of hands around. They can get some extra sleep or take a shower while baby is napping in SNOO without worrying they will roll over or cry unconsolably. One mom reported “The SNOO was like a third parent while we were putting the older two to bed.” Another states, "I knew with everything going on in my life I needed to be able to put baby down to sleep at night for more than 15 minutes on their own. The SNOO lets me accomplish that and I feel I'm able to be a better parent because of it. I do not feel it has impacted breast-feeding in any way, shape or form, and my supply has not changed."

The SNOO Sack has patented wings that connect to SNOO’s built-in safety clips. This safety feature keeps babies on their back. Traditional swaddles cannot be used once the baby starts to roll as the swaddle can become a safety risk. However, a baby can continue to use SNOO even when they begin to roll over because the clips will prevent them from rolling in their sleep.

Infant in a SNOO looking up

The SNOO’s gentle motion also helps a drowsy baby fall asleep faster. Often, when a baby is laid down in a still bassinet after being rocked in arms, they will become upset if they aren’t fully asleep. Because the SNOO mimics that swaying movement, babies will usually fall asleep quickly. SNOO may also help babies to sleep easier through bouts of gas or discomfort whereas they may otherwise wake. SNOO comes with an app. The app allows parents to program SNOO to different sound and motion settings depending on their baby’s needs. It also sends alerts when baby needs attention and has a weaning feature to help transition to a standard crib. The app tracks your baby’s sleep which many parents appreciate. Users also report that although it is a financial investment, it lasts through multiple babies. Some have used theirs for all their children and then either sold it or passed it along to friends or family members. SNOO can also be rented or purchased pre-loved from the company. These options can help alleviate the financial burden, as SNOO purchased new will cost over $1000.

What Are the Cons of Using SNOO?

As much as parents love SNOO, many infant care experts have serious concerns. A gentle sleep coach says, “I often get sleep clients that struggle from having to break up with it.” Because SNOO provides constant motion and noise, some infants have a hard time transitioning to the crib. She also reports that many of her clients experience delays in learning their baby’s cues because they have relied too heavily on machines and apps. An IBCLC expressed concerns regarding feeding schedules for babies in SNOO. Because one of the major selling points of SNOO is getting babies to sleep more soundly through the night at an earlier age, some infants do not get fed as often as they should. “I had a baby in a SNOO fall right off the growth curve. It’s so important to educate parents on feeding! And that babies eat overnight, they have to at the beginning. The SNOO, or swaddle, or the newest coolest sleep aid (there’s a million) that encourages newborns to sleep long periods are downright dangerous,” she reported.

A pediatric PT feels there is a risk to the baby’s body development. Because the individual bones of a newborn’s skull aren’t yet fused together, pressure from resting in the same position can cause an infant’s head to be misshapen. The quick response of SNOO means a newborn may sleep in the same position for much longer than an infant in a traditional bassinet. She also expressed concerns over babies developing general muscle tightness and struggling with self-regulation. The SNOO’s quick response to fussiness may result in baby becoming reliant on external soothers, rather than learning how to soothe themselves.

How to Decide if SNOO is Right for You

So, should you be using SNOO? Only you can determine that. As we have seen, there are many pros and cons to SNOO. Used appropriately, it can be a valuable tool. The first few months of a baby’s life can be very stressful for parents, especially because of sleep deprivation. Getting a few extra hours of sleep can make a huge difference in the mental well being of parents. It is important to remember, however, that there is no substitute for human contact. Although SNOO can soothe baby back to sleep, that may not be what is best for them. Learning your baby’s hunger cues and making time for contact naps during the

day can help ensure the SNOO remains a tool and not a replacement. Whether you use SNOO or not, having extra help during those first few weeks home is priceless. Contact

us to see how our postpartum doulas can come in and be an extra set of hands day or night.

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