For this Snoo review, we spent 30 days with the Snoo Smart Sleeper from Happiest Baby, and meticulously documented the experience – good, bad, and weird. To start, here’s a 3-minute video rundown of unboxing, setting up, and using Snoo with my daughter Ruby:
Just what is a Snoo, and how does it work?
Press that covers Apple love to ask hypothetical questions like, “What if Apple designed a refrigerator?” If you’ve wondered something similar about bassinettes or cribs, the answer is, “Probably something similar to the Snoo bassinet”.
The Snoo is like an ordinary bassinet (a small crib-like structure that allows your baby to sleep next to your bed for the first 6 months of life) only it’s equipped with sound sensors, wifi, speakers that deliver varying types of white noise, and a robotic motor that rocks your baby at different levels of intensity in response to any noise (from the baby) the sensors detect.
The Snoo bassinet is a collaboration between Dr. Harvey Karp (famous to some parents as the guy whose Happiest Baby on the Block DVD recommends the “5 S’s” of calming your baby – these are quite effective by the way – and Yves Behar, a renowned industrial designer whose clients include Sodastream, Jawbone, and Herman Miller office furniture to name a few.
The result of this collaboration is what Happiest Baby (the company that manufactures the Snoo baby bed) calls “the safest baby bed ever made” and “like a night nurse* for around $7 per night”.
The Snoo works like this: you swaddle your baby with a Snoo Sack (comes with the Snoo). The Snoo Sack has “wings” – clips that attach your baby to the sides of the Snoo sleeper so she can’t roll over (nearly all experts believe healthy babies should sleep on their back to reduce the risk of SIDS and SUID.) Once your baby is strapped in, The Snoo gently rocks your baby and plays white noise through its integrated speakers. This gentle motion and white noise continue all night unless your baby gets upset. If this happens, Snoo recognizes it with its sensors and attempts to calm your baby with several levels of greater intensity – both in white noise and rocking. Ideally, your baby is calmed and goes back to sleep without you having to lift a finger – or get out of bed.
Happiest Baby notes that you’ll (of course) still need to feed your baby, and that sometimes your child just needs to be comforted by a human, have a diaper changed, needs a pacifier, etc. But, the Snoo should robotically take care of the rest.
At this point, if you’re a parent who has experienced just how tired you can be taking care of a newborn, you’re thinking “Woah.” or something to that effect. If you’re not, it’s because you’re some lucky bastard whose partner did nearly all the work. I’m not judging, I’m one of them – and I was still tired a lot during this phase. You’re also experiencing some degree of serious skepticism. Perhaps some discomfort, confusion, and other mixed emotions thrown in there too.
In this post, we’ll address these questions and more:
- Does the Snoo really work?
- How, exactly?
- Can I really entrust my newborn child with a robotic night nurse? Does something as simple as a crib really need to be “revolutionized” by the Internet of Things?
- What are the drawbacks?
- How much does it cost?
To answer all of these, my daughter Ruby, my wife, and I spent 30 days and nights with the Snoo baby bed. I meticulously documented all of it and distilled it all down into this installment of 30 Day Trial – a Snoo bassinet review. Let’s get started.
*If you’re not familiar, a night nurse is a caretaker who comes over to your house at night and keeps an eye on your baby all night, calming them when needed, feeding them, etc. Pretty sweet, if you’ve got some serious cash.
The awesome, the ‘wish it were different’ and a verdict.
Because this was such a big-ticket, profoundly-different-than-the-alternative item, I’ve included full notes from our 30 day trial at the end of this post. I’m an information junkie, so I would have found this useful before purchasing. But not everyone is, so if you just want the good, the bad, and the verdict, here you go, in a scannable form:
The magic moments. There were a number of moments during the course of thirty days when I thought, “holy cow if it weren’t for the Snoo, I couldn’t be doing X, because I’d be walking around trying to rock Ruby to sleep in my arms.” For me, “X” was working from home when she was fussy and clearly needed a nap but wouldn’t have gone down without the Snoo and spending time with my wife in the evening.
The safety measures. Happiest Baby markets the Snoo as “the safest baby bed ever made” due to the fact it keeps sleeping babies on their backs, the safest position for most. I felt deeply comforted by this fact.
The Snoo Sack (swaddle). The swaddle is pretty amazing. In fact, I was inspired enough to leave the following Snoo sack review on the company’s website, and it’s not hyperbole: “As a dad who is utterly hopeless attempting to swaddle with a blanket and still struggles to get it right with the other velcro/zipper swaddling solutions I’ve tried, the Snoo Sack makes me feel like a pro! I’m able to get my daughter in it incredibly quickly, she feels secure, looks happy, and doesn’t escape within minutes like she does with other swaddling solutions. Just awesome!”
Integrated white noise. If you believe in using white noise to help babies sleep, and you’ve had a baby, you probably know finding something to deliver consistent, not annoying, white noise for a 12- hour period is actually something of a challenge. So I very much appreciated the Snoo’s built-in speakers.
The customer service. I contacted Happiest Baby a number of times during the 30 days, on questions ranging from, “Isn’t Ruby going to get cold in a swaddle with mesh?” (nope, parents tend to overdress babies, and here’s how to check if you’re worried – touch her ear) to “the app isn’t working, help?” (they offered help, we gave up) to “the rocking at the beginning seems too vigorous” (a new option is now available via software update – how cool is that? I’d like to think we had a hand in changing this). In all cases, customer service was outstanding. Fast, thorough, and went well beyond my expectations for knowledge and general helpfulness of customer service folks.
The cool factor. Snoo has a serious cool factor. Especially since it just came out in October of last year – I felt the same feelings I felt as a relatively early adopter of the first iPhone (only maybe in dad form …)
The 30-day risk-free guarantee. With something this expensive, and this new, there can be a lot of angst about purchase. But, Happiest Baby includes a 30-day “worry free” guarantee, meaning if you don’t love the Snoo within the first 30 days, you can return it for a full refund (they’ll even pay shipping on the way back).
The wish it were different:
Price. The Snoo costs $1,160. Yep, you read that right, $1,160 for a baby bed. This is by far the biggest downside of the Snoo I came up with after 30 days with it. A couple of things on price: 1) walk into a high-end store like Restoration Hardware of Land of Nod and you can absolutely spend this much on an ordinary crib. 2) Your child will only be in Snoo for 6 months vs. maybe a couple of years for a crib (and new parents who don’t have a crib will need to buy a Snoo, then a crib too when the baby hits 6 months). 3) The company uses something very expensive – a night nurse – to compare against, and yeah, if you compare against that, Snoo is a bargain, but most of us can’t afford a night nurse. 4) Sleep for you and your significant other and time (that you would have spent rocking/soothing) are two things it’s very difficult to put a price on, but they’re worth a lot. I am confident for most babies Snoo would get parents more of both time and sleep. 5) Lately, Happiest Baby is discounting Snoo on their site, so it’s worth taking a look. 6) I wouldn’t be surprised if a market for used Snoo Smart Sleepers pops up, meaning you could sell it when done to defray some of your cost.
More information on use. This thing is damn easy to set up and use, *but* given how different/weird it felt at first to be sticking our child in it, I wished there was more info given by the company on using it.
Lack of portability. The Snoo is quite heavy and big. We took a weekend car trip during our 30-day trial and didn’t bother putting the Snoo in the car for this reason. The company’s sleep expert did point out to me that babies using Snoo do fine when away from it for up to a week, especially if you use the same white noise sounds (available on iTunes) and the Snoo swaddle while you travel.
Only one swaddle of each size, one fitted sheet. The Snoo comes with one small, one medium, and one large swaddle (called a Snoo Sack), and one fitted sheet. Extras are available from the website but are $38 each. [Update: the price of additional Snoo sacks has been lowered to $27.95, a small but nice gesture, and fitted sheets are now just $19.95 for an extra] If your child spits up/throws at all and gets the swaddle size they’re using dirty, you’ll need extras/need to do daily laundry. Multiple swaddles are something you’d probably buy without a Snoo, and most aren’t that much cheaper than Snoo Sacks, and, as I mentioned above the Snoo Sack was definitely the best in the many I’ve tried.
The things to note:
Snoo Guilt. I found myself feeling rather guilty sometimes in two scenarios: 1) when I put Ruby in the Snoo when she was fussy and clearly tired, or 2) when the Snoo calmed an upset Ruby. Here I was letting a machine calm my kid. Was that my job as a parent? Was I missing out on critical bonding moments? Based on their sales material, I’m confident Happiest Baby would tell me that the Snoo was helping Ruby get much-needed rest, and helping me and my wife get a much-needed break. I tend to agree with them – get rest and be a better parent during the day – but I still felt guilty on occasion, and I clearly wasn’t alone – other Snoo reviews I read mentioned similar feelings.
The mobile app. We had some challenges with the mobile app – primarily not being able to have two users on the app (my wife’s phone and mine). This was pretty annoying, but, this being a modern mobile app that gets updates, it’s probably fixed by now – we were using a very early version. [Update: as of March 2018, there have been 3 updates to the mobile app since the version we used, and based on the release notes improvements have been made!]
Wifi Shielding and Blue Light Emission. (For those of you who think about weird things, like me.) I am rather paranoid about exposing my kids to radiation from cell phones and wifi, so I worried about the fact the Snoo had wifi built in. But then I read that the Snoo has a built-in metal shield to protect the baby from any potential radiation. This was one of those, “wow, they thought of everything” moments for me that made me feel even more confident about the attention to detail on the product as a whole. Another of those moments came later when I saw Happiest Baby released “shorty legs” for the Snoo – designed to lower the Snoo for parents with platform beds who wanted to be able to see their baby without needing to fully sit up – a small but convenient touch (also capped off by an adorable dachshund in their picture of the legs).
I’m also obsessed with removing light (particularly blue light) from our bedroom to try and achieve the ‘sleep in total darkness’ thing, so the blue LED ring surrounding the power button annoyed me, particularly because it’s kind of bright.
Severe Congestion: Snoo v. Rock ‘n Play. Ruby suffered from severe nasal congestion during our trial and as a result, two things happened: 1) frequent middle-of-the-night clearing of nasal passages – more on that soon – and 2) shifting Ruby from the Snoo to the Rock n’ Play. If you’re not familiar, a Rock ‘n Play elevates a child’s head. NOTE: most experts recommend most babies sleep flat, and we felt guilty using a Rock ‘n Play for extended periods of sleep, though did get the go-ahead from our doctor’s office. Ruby seemed to breathe easier with her head elevated in the Rock ‘n Play vs. flat in the Snoo. This is probably a rare problem – we live in Denver and when traveling to Phoenix for a weekend this problem magically disappeared, we presume with lower altitude. When I spoke with Snoo’s sleep expert about this he noted they were working on an insert for elevating, and in the meantime, we could try putting tuna cans under the two legs near Ruby’s head. Unfortunately, this didn’t seem to dramatically help congestion, though the idea of using tuna cans to elevate a $1,200 bassinet did provide some amusement.[Update] Those inserts the sleep expert mentioned are now here in the form of Snoo Leg Lifters. They elevate two of the Snoo’s legs (the ones closest to your baby’s head) to create a slight angle and relieve congestion.
First of all, if you:
- Can spend $1,160 on something your child will use for 6 months and feel fiscally responsible
- Have a particularly fussy baby or a poor sleeper
- Desperately need more sleep, or, perhaps more importantly, have a partner who badly needs more sleep
Or some combination of the above, you should get a Snoo, hands down. The Snoo will almost without question save you time by helping your baby fall asleep without human intervention, help you get more sleep by helping your baby sleep more, and make you feel like you’ve given your child the safest possible sleeping environment you can, which is a great feeling. [Note: if $1,160 is a lot, keep an eye out for sales Happiest Baby has from time to time – definitely worth a look.]
- Aren’t getting a Snoo for a newborn (your baby will stay in the Snoo only 6 months)
- Have a baby who already sleeps extremely well
- Know that $1,160 will cause financial strain
Or some combination of the above, it’s a bit of a tougher call. Clearly, parents have survived for millennia without a motorized bassinette – you can too.
If your baby is much older than a newborn, your time with the Snoo is going to be shortened, especially by the time it arrives and your baby fully transitions to the point you both enjoy the full benefit.
If your baby is already a pro sleeper, you may not notice the benefits of the Snoo (other than safety benefits) all that often. Happiest Baby does point out that many babies who are at first great sleepers go through a period of “sleep regression”, during which they have a much more difficult time getting to sleep and staying asleep, and that those babies benefit from the Snoo. While we didn’t experience this, I certainly can believe it.
They also point out that most babies sleep better swaddled, but the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend swaddling a baby for sleep once the baby can roll over as it may increase SIDS and SUID risk. Since the Snoo’s wings physically prevent a baby from rolling over while sleeping in the Snoo, it allows babies who are capable of rolling over to remain swaddled for sleep, thus improving sleep.
A final note on price: $1,160 is a lot of money. Some things that might make it more tolerable are 1) if you plan on having multiple kids, you could use Snoo for two kids and mentally amortize the cost across both of them or 2) if you believe there’s enough of a secondary market for the Snoo that you can sell it after 6 months and recoup some of your investment. Based on our research, more people are beginning to search for “used snoo” and the like on Google, suggesting demand for gently-used Snoos. And the fact that you’ll be able to time the date you’ll no longer need the Snoo would give you extra time to figure out how to sell it.
So our overall verdict? This is a badass product. If you can afford it without financial strain, you should buy it – price is the only real downside to this product based on our trial. The Snoo also includes a 30-day money back guaranteed if it’s something you feel like you need to try for yourself before committing to. Lately, Happiest Baby has had some big discounts available on their site – definitely worth checking.
There you have it – detailed thoughts on the Snoo. What follows is additional photos we took, along with detailed notes I took during our 30-day trial.
You also don’t need to take our word for it – there are over 500 reviews from verified buyers on Happiest Baby’s website including a star rating and text reviews, which are interesting to read.
- This post was first published in March 2017 but has been updated with more relevant details and updates to the Snoo over time and republished in March 2018.
- This post uses affiliate links, meaning, at no cost to you, we may earn a commission if you click an affiliate link and make a purchase. This review was written before affiliate links were added to ensure it is unbiased. We view affiliate links as a way to support the creation of free, high-quality content, but if you don’t want us to earn a commission, simply don’t click a link, or make a purchase on a different device. You can read more about our policies here.
- We’ve included some additional photos of the Snoo below, as well as the notes I took as we were testing it out. If you have questions we didn’t cover, feel free to reach out – paul[at]fathercraft.com
Notes from the journey
Below are the notes I took along the way on what we observed, how we felt, etc. I’ve edited them for clarity.
- Sticker shock
- Ordering process very much like interacting with a modern tech company. Mobile ordering worked well, well-designed emails
- Disappointed b/c the website noted if I ordered before noon PST it’d be shipped that day, it didn’t ship until the following day
- Nice series of well-timed emails preparing me for Snoo delivery – setup and use emails came on the day the Snoo arrived
- As someone who likes to read lots about products before I buy them, I found myself wanting more. Snoo has a list of questions from prospective customers and answers in the reviews section, but it wasn’t very robust. A bit more information lived in blog posts, but this wasn’t obviously accessible
- Most of the 3rd party sites I found when searching for Snoo reviews were actually just press the company received when launching
Day 1 (12/30/16)
Unboxing and Setup
- Very easy to put together. Loved the fact no tools were required. Legs snapped in with a very satisfying click and the double hand-tightened bolts made me feel like they were very secure
- The unboxing experience felt much more like unboxing a new iPad or MacBook than a standard piece of baby equipment
- Only trouble was trying to get the power cord to stay in the small channel along a leg
- Really heavy
- Jamee remarked the sack’s straightjacket like effect and the all-white design made it look like Ruby was in some sort of institution when we laid her down in the Snoo
- Actually turning it on was quite easy to do, just the push of a button. Ruby started to cry and the Snoo cycled up through higher levels of rocking and white noise, which sound like rain, a vacuum cleaner, and a washing machine at higher levels
- This was noticeable but didn’t prevent me from falling asleep
- The rocking is quite vigorous. Ruby’s head rocked back and forth in a manner that was close to alarming at higher levels of intensity. Jamee asked if I was certain the Snoo knew how old Ruby was and was rocking an appropriate amount
- The 3rd level of Snoo’s white noise/rocking combo calmed Ruby and stopped her crying and she slept for a while in the Snoo but seemed more restless than she has in her Rock ’n Play, which has been her previous bed. This certainly could be a familiarity thing and since I’d read Snoo’s tips for transitioning to the Snoo (can take a few days for babies to get used to, up to a week for older babies) it made me less anxious the Snoo wasn’t going to work
- After about an hour and a half in the Snoo and another feeding, we decided to resume Snoo training the next day during naps and returned Ruby to her Rock ’n Play due to restlessness in the Snoo
- Put Ruby in the Snoo Sack when she was getting tired after some play, rocked her to sleep in our arms and put her in the Snoo. The transition went well and Ruby slept peacefully for about 45 minutes while the Snoo gently rocked her.
- I realized after the initial “purple” level the Snoo’s rocking slows down and white noise quiets down as it transitions to a “sleep” level marked by a blue light. Rocking and white noise continues at some low level the whole time Snoo is on.
- At 45 minutes, Ruby got hungry and the Snoo cycled through its levels as she started to cry. I decided to pull her out before it went through the full cycle since I knew she was hungry
First full night in the Snoo
- Successfully used Snoo to calm down Ruby when nothing else was working, get ourselves 15 precious minutes to eat dinner
- Pulled Ruby out of the Snoo around midnight when it wasn’t calming her down, but then was able to put her back in. Pretty much a normal night, Jamee was too tired to give her thoughts but I slept well
- Ruby got fussy after being in the Snoo before we went to bed and wasn’t calmed by increased motion and white noise. Pulled her out, which instantly calmed her and tried again.
- Repeated this process several times. She seemed to be having gas pains and seemed to be calmed when her head was elevated, which we accomplished by holding her and putting her in the Rock ’n Play. It was hard to tell whether the Rock ’n Play was actually better at keeping her calm during the gas pains, we alternated between Rock ’n Play and Snoo throughout the night.
- Note here: it’s really hard to tell with kids whether one thing is working better as you can’t try both simultaneously
- Ruby fell asleep in my arms the early evening for a nap and I thought about sticking her in the Snoo, but then thought about the extra few seconds it would take to stick her in the Snoo Sack and then the Snoo, and that she might wake up, and ended up just using the Rock ’n Play
- Peacefully down at night in the Snoo, a few minutes later she vomited all over the Snoo Sack, mattress, and through the mesh onto the floor. Since there were only one small sleep sack and one fitted sheet, we put her back in directly on the mattress and in the medium sleep sack, which seemed to fit fine.
- Really, only one sheet and one sack of each size? Price of extras felt exorbitant
- Down awake in the Snoo
- Jamee read about Snoo winning awards as we lay in bed after the incident
- Put Ruby down in the Snoo. About 15 minutes later I was reading out loud when she got fussy. We decided to get see if the Snoo could calm her. She cried for the first 2 levels (2 minutes). At the 3rd level, she calmed and then went to sleep. Wow. I would have had to get out of bed to rock her in my arms for who knows how long if it hadn’t been for the Snoo.
- Ruby was fussy when we got her ready for bed and in a Snoo Sack for the evening around 10:15. Jamee suggested I put her in the Snoo instead of trying to rock her calm/to sleep. I did. She calmed pretty darn quickly. Woah, that was pretty sweet. Almost made me feel guilty.
- 15 minutes later, fussy again, calmed at orange level.
- Calmed Ruby in my arms before bed and put her in the Snoo. She got fussy upon being put down but calmed as the Snoo went up a few levels
- Snoo app updates. Pretty cool to have a baby bed that gets smarter with software, just like your iPhone or a Tesla
- Had discussions with Jamee about just how useful this thing really was. On the downside, it didn’t work when Ruby had stomach pains. However, at other times when Ruby was tired but just seemed to want to be carried around, we put her in the Snoo and it gently rocked her while she was calm and went to sleep. We started to realize this probably saved us 30 minutes a night of walking her around while she fell asleep
- The Snoo was a huge help today while working from home. It was clear Ruby was getting tired but wouldn’t sleep in the Rock ’n Play and was fussy even when I held her. Put her in the Snoo for two naps and she conked right out both times.
- Experiment day.
- Put Ruby down for a nap in her crib while she was asleep. She woke herself up by vomiting, put her back down after a change of clothes and she went back to sleep in the crib
- We tried again at night. Ruby was fussy in her crib. After about 5 minutes Jamee asked, I wonder what would happen if we put her in the Snoo. Would she calm down right away? I wholeheartedly agreed. We did and she calmed instantly, even though she was still awake. Jamee, “this is how they hook you. What wouldn’t you pay for your child’s happiness?” Me, “and your own” Jamee, “it’s win-win”
- another experiment with putting Ruby down in the crib for the night. She’s fussy and we give up after approximately 5 minutes, put her in the Snoo, and find she’s perfectly calm and goes to sleep
- We begin to wonder if Ruby is addicted to the Snoo. Is this now just her comfortable place?
- Time to make a decision.
- Here are some things we consider: 1) The Snoo absolutely calms Ruby and puts her to sleep in the evening and for naps. 2) We have no way of knowing whether, if we hadn’t gotten a Snoo, whether Ruby would have trained herself to fall asleep in the crib just as she did in the Snoo, 3)The Snoo has absolutely saved us some evenings of walking her around while she falls asleep, 4) Unless you have twins, you can’t really run an experiment on your baby to see how effective something is or isn’t. Even with twins, small sample size, 5) Other than her congestion and stomach pains, Ruby seems to be a good sleeper. There haven’t been any instances where Ruby woke up in the middle of the night (other than to feed) and the Snoo calmed her back to sleep. 6) Ruby’s reflux (we assume it’s that) is causing her to be majorly congested at night. We end up trying to clear her nose 1x per night, and also finds that she seems to breathe easier in the Rock ’n Play so we end up transferring her there with frequency. This makes the Snoo less useful, though we’d both rather have her sleeping flat if possible. 7) There have definitely been some ‘miracle/night-nurse moments in the evening as we were getting ready for bed where Ruby was fussy and only calm when we walked her around, we got exhausted, tried the Snoo, and she calmed right down as if we were holding her and walking 8) our first daughter was an excellent sleeper. Maybe Ruby would be too without the Snoo? (She didn’t start out that way, but maybe she just needed time?)
- We determine the only way to really determine how effective this thing is to put her back into the crib for a period of 7-10 days. This should give her enough time to get used to the crib – it took almost a week for her to adjust from Rock ’n Play —> Snoo
- I email the Snoo people and tell them we need to return the Snoo as our 30-day trial period is almost up, the reflux/transfer bit, and that we’re not fully convinced this thing is “night nurse” level
- They email me back right away with a very nice message saying that they’re very sorry to hear the Snoo hasn’t lived up to expectations, are happy to process my return, but before they do would I want to talk to their Sleep Expert who has 30 years of experience
- after getting back from a long weekend where Ruby was in the rock n play (lack of portability), we put Ruby in the crib. She lets out the occasional annoyed squawk for about 20 minutes while falling asleep, but does go to sleep without interference from us
- Ruby is relatively alert when bedtime rolls around, and we rock her to sleep in our arms for a total of about 15 minutes. While I’m doing my portion of this, I think “I am basically a human Snoo” and ask myself questions like, “is this time when I’m bonding with my daughter, and therefore something I *should* be doing? / as a busy parent, should I not have to feel guilty about doing this rocking for me?”, “What would I rather be doing? What do I have to do?”, “If I spend this amount of time each night for the next 4.5 months, how much time will that be? And what would the Snoo be worth on a per-minute basis to save my time?”
- About half an hour later, Ruby starts to be unsettled and crying a bit. We give it a couple of minutes then I go in there, hold her while walking her around and walking for about 5 minutes. Put her back and she goes down again
- Middle of the night snot clearing. Out Ruby down in the crib after and she got fussy. Had to pick her up and rock her for 5 min. Wanted to attribute not being able to fall asleep after this to rocking, not sure if this is fair – Ruby was fussy again, got fed, was congested, I put her in rock n play