To Snoo or not to Snoo?
Looking back I can’t believe it was even a question. But it was! And my brain was all over the place.
Should we get it? Does that make us lazy parents? Does it even work? If it works will it stunt his development? Will I still get my baby snuggles? Is this a rod in the making? (Spoiler alert..everything is a rod)
In the next 3500 words I’m going to tell you:
- about our experience with the Snoo.
- my favorite features and hacks.
- all about its imperfections.
- how to save some money when you purchase.
- and my recommendations
This post contains Amazon affiliate links. This means that if you click on something and purchase it, at no extra cost to you, I will earn a commission to help keep this blog going. I will only recommend products I have used and approve of. Thank you for your support!
What is the Snoo?
The Snoo is the Happiest Baby’s solution to infant sleep. It aims to give your baby a womb-like environment for their fourth trimester. A snug swaddle, gentle sway and a familiar white noise.
With baby inside the swaddle (arms in or out), it soothes baby with a delicate rock and steady shooshing sound. Then, triggered by your infant making noise, it increases and/or changes up the noise and rocking motion.
It’s hard not to geek out and try and elaborate on the difference between amplitude vs frequency. Yes, these are the things running through my mind. But I do want to point this out. From the gentle baseline, the next level is a slow long sway whereas level two is a quicker jiggle.
The equivalent happens with the white noise. It doesn’t just volume up for four levels, it switches white noise type. For example, it starts with the pitter-patter of rain and at level two swaps to a womb-like shoosh.
If the baby has not settled by the time level four is reached then the Snoo will stop automatically. In case you aren’t watching, it will send you a push notification to say that your baby needs you. Baby +1, Snoo 0.
To be honest we haven’t tested this feature out as I tend to lock the Snoo at the lower levels. I will explain “locking levels” in the features section. Theo loves level 1. Level 2 and above just piss him off. I’ve also figured out when he won’t settle and usually intervene before the Snoo runs its course.
Negative Press on the Snoo
I want to touch on some of the negative attention the Snoo gets with my thoughts on each. It is really important to understand all the reviews and opinions, negative and positive. Unfortunately, I feel that sometimes people make judgments and put a negative statement out there without having trialed to Snoo themselves. It feeds into this whole mom-shaming spiral that I wish would just go away.
Some of the negativity surrounding the Snoo definitely crept into my decision-making process. So much so that it prevented me from having the Snoo ready on day 1.
The correlating responses below are my opinions developed through research, product use and my mom-intuition. Everyone must assess and come to their own conclusion.
The Snoo defiantly gets a bad rap in the “responsive” parenting arena. It puts itself in the “sleep training” category, perhaps unintentionally. The Snoo lists the benefit: “Naturally sleep trains, no need to cry-it-out”.
I like to think the intention of that statement is there will be no need to sleep train. That the Snoo is so responsive it helps keep little one calm and asleep. Which in turn allows moms and or dads to get the rest they need.
I do not plan to sleep train any of my kids, it’s just not for me. But Theo is our second child. I cannot always cuddle him for a nap or be bedside at first cry.
To me, a responsive bassinet is the next best thing to being exclusively present. It shouldn’t replace a responsive parent but it is a huge supplement in times of need!
Why can’t one be fully responsive?
- Perhaps they are dealing with Postpartum Depression or Postpartum Anxiety.
- Maybe they are attached to a pump and can’t get to the baby as quickly as they like.
- Perhaps their toddler is running around naked after taking off his own diaper claiming he needs to poop.
- Maybe they still cosleep with their 2.5 year and need to average out the responsiveness a little.
- Perhaps they just NEED sleep and locking it at level one at 5:30 am will give everyone another hour of peaceful rest.
- Maybe they are exhausted because they had to return to work far too early for what nature intended.
Whatever the reason, when you can’t be there as quickly as you like, the Snoo can help settle.
Another sore topic Snoo critics take issue of is swaddling.
Too tight on the hips can cause hip dysplasia. Too tight on the chest could interfere with breathing.
My observation: The Snoo swaddle was not too tight for us certainly not to restrict breathing or cause hip dysplasia.
Also, swaddling past 8 weeks raises the chance of baby rolling over without the use of their hands. This is one of the greatest fears amongst parents these days, at least those that I run with.
My observation: The clipped in feature is designed to prevent rolling, allowing parents to be more gradual with unswaddling. Hugely helpful while baby still has a strong startle reflex. Some babies lose theirs earlier than others.
More recently there has been some bad press around an implication of a connection with cranial orthosis due to “strapping babies down”.
“Strapping” them down is used as an over-dramatization. There is a single velcro strap within the sleep sack that you secure around babies midsection. Not too different than you find in some swaddles these days. The sleep sack has wings that clip into the side of the Snoo. Together, this prevents babies from rolling over. It does not prevent the baby from moving his head side to side and pivoting his body. My little guy wiggles himself awake often.
I’m not denying that there has been a rise in cases of cranial orthosis with the back to sleep campaign. I just don’t think (nor have been shown) that it’s correlated with the Snoo. Snoo or no Snoo, a majority of babies sleep on their back until at least 6 months. Only the lucky mamas get to stress about baby rolling to their tummy at such an early age.
There is also an implication of correlation to developmental delays due to being “strapped in”. Again, the “strapping in” does not restrict as much motion as the words imply.
The Snoo does restrict rolling over in the bassinet which is one of the main benefits for many parents. A little peace of mind after all the scary messaging out there in regards to infants sleeping on their back.
I hear some people put the Snoo in the “Sleep Positioner” category. According to the FDA, “These products—sometimes also called “nests” or “anti-roll” products—can cause suffocation (a struggle to breathe) that can lead to death”. In my mom opinion (not an expert), the “positioner” in this case is the strap. But the strap prevents rolling. So I just don’t see the connection here.
Our Adventures in Snoo-ing
As I alluded to above, it wasn’t a straight path to the Snoo for us.
My husband (who is very protective of our budget, especially for short-lived baby products) didn’t even put up a fight when I told him that there was a bassinet out there that would rock our bundle of joy all night.
I could physically see the relief roll off of him.
We had already been hit hard by unexpected yet biologically normal infant sleep patterns. Although perhaps to an extreme.
Our first son, Vinnie, needed either rocking or body contact to fall asleep and stay asleep. This is fine until you are so tired you don’t trust yourself anymore. We would need to rock Vinnie’s bassinet for ages when we just couldn’t hold or bounce him any longer.
Even with hubby thoroughly on board, I went back and forth on a weekly basis.
To be honest, the cost wasn’t a factor. I would pay a lot for a chance at improving everyone’s quality of sleep in a gentle manner. Even better is the ability to rent. If it didn’t work for us we could return it quickly for minimal billing cycles.
My biggest worry stemmed from those little voices of motherly self-doubt.
- What if he became dependent on the SNOO?
- What if he wouldn’t nap on me, or sleep in the carrier? I don’t want to lose out on my baby cuddles.
- What if he sleeps amazingly until he grows out of it, what then?
- Am I neglecting my child?
The voices won and I decided against the Snoo for baby number two. We set up the Pack-n-Play right by my bed.
Then Theo was born…
Low and behold, night after night he needed movement or body contact, just like Vinnie did at that age. And just like with Vinnie, I didn’t feel comfortable bed-sharing quite yet. I startle myself awake constantly fearing the worst despite following the Safe 7.
At some point, I thought I had broken the code. I figured out that I could rock the Pack and Play’s hanging bassinet from the bed and he would stay asleep!!!! That is until I fell asleep. He would then wake and we started all over again. First boob, then cuddles, then the extra 20 mins to be positive he was asleep enough to set him down.
On the third night of this, I decided I would invent something that would rock the bassinet while I slept. I fantasized a bit too long about both the sleep I would get and the millions I would make. Then I remembered that there was already such a thing out there. At 4 am on a Wednesday night I put our order in to rent the Snoo.
Normal Infant Sleep
Before I jump into my favorite features of the Snoo, I want to talk about infant sleep realities.
A lot of people have unrealistic expectations when it comes to baby sleep patterns. I mean, I sure did coming into it fresh.
I’m not sure what I expected but I was exhausted and everyone around me kept asking about how he slept. In a way that made me feel like something was wrong with him because he didn’t. There was a mounting fear of “needing to sleep train”, which just didn’t sit with me. Please don’t take this as a judgment if it sits fine with you. Every child/parent combo is unique.
I eventually began to worry. Worry that I was doing something wrong. That I was failing my baby.
Luckily I stumbled across some great resources and communities and no longer felt alone. I realized that if sleep training is not for me and my family I didn’t have to sleep train. Talk about relief. Just being given permission to cuddle my little guy and know that it won’t be forever.
The thing is, some babies are amazing sleepers, and that is awesome. Some babies wake frequently (think hourly). But most babies fall somewhere in-between. Why do they wake? Maybe because they are hungry, thirsty, uncomfortable, too hot, too cold or just need of momma/daddy comfort.
How does the Snoo Help
The SNOO claims to add 1-2 hours more sleep (which I believe). They do not promise to give you 10+ hours of uninterrupted sleep. Some parents get this (as evidenced in the online Snoo community). But far from all. If you buy this product expecting your little one to sleep through the night right away you will be disappointed.
We get an extra hour or two. Solely because I can set him down quickly after feeding. Let me clarify. He’s not the elusive “drowsy but awake”. He’s already lightly asleep but the Snoo helps rock him off to dreamland. Meaning I can set him down and be back to sleep quickly.
At risk of massively jinxing it! From three months on, Theo was sleeping most nights from 7 pm until at least 3 am. Currently, he’s a week short of 4 months and sleeping from 7 pm to 7 am. Come on four-month sleep regression!
Would he sleep that solidly without the SNOO? We’ll find out soon. The large sleep sack is getting tight so we are on our way to the sidecar crib.
When we transition out of the Snoo we may lose some ground. I’m expecting this. I’m grateful for the sleep we have gotten during such a crucial time. It has given me the bandwidth to still give my toddler the attention he needs during this transition.
If you are concerned that your baby is not sleeping through the night, check out this KellyMom article or this Sarah Ockwell-Smith article. They will help re-baseline your expectations and more importantly, realize that YOU are not doing anything wrong. Hang in there.
Favorite Snoo Features and Hacks
There are a couple key features that I didn’t know about until having the Snoo that I want to share.
This for me was key. We still use it to this day. While allowing the white noise to level up, it keeps the rocking to the lower levels.
- Level 1 is a long gentle sway
- Level 2 is more of a quick jiggle
- 3 and 4 are quicker jiggles designed to calm babies down. They didn’t work with Theo. More often than not they just piss him off.
You define the motion level that the Snoo starts on when activated. We kept it on baseline as we really only toggled between baseline and Level 1 due to Theo’s preferences. I have, however, heard that most babies respond well to the upper levels.
You define the white noise volume baseline. We kept it on the lowest because we have a Hatch in the room as well. I frequently turn the Hatch up or down depending on the environment in the house (read: how crazy the toddler is at the time).
You can also baseline response detection. This sets how sensitive you want the Snoo to be at detecting noise. I bumped that right up at the beginning but I find that leveling up manually when he’s just starting to stir is more effective than waiting for noise. If Theo is making enough noise to trigger a level he’s usually up for good.
Lock the Level
This one has been huge. The Snoo levels up when baby makes noise and turns down after a period of calm. Most times this is useful but sometimes I want to keep it at Level 1 – when he’s not settling (typically during leaps). And sometimes I keep it at baseline – when I’m ready for him to wake and feed because my boobs hurt and I’m too lazy to pump!
To lock the level you long tap the stop button. I have accidentally stopped it before which is a sure fire way to wake Theo up so I make sure I’m paying attention while doing this.
Having Theo in a summer infant swaddle, feeding him to sleep and then placing him in the Snoo was super, super easy. This, also, means that the Snoo sack stays clipped in and you can start the Snoo before placing baby inside.
Starting the Snoo before the baby is inside was a game-changer. Usually, I’m putting Theo in the Snoo before he has entered into that deep sleep phase. If I wait to start the Snoo after setting him down, the initial noise would wake him enough to notice that I put him down. To do this you’ll need to leave the Sleep Sack clipped inside. Set baby in, velcro strap, zip-up and slowly back away from the baby.
We never tried it but if your baby does not like having their arms swaddled down then the Love To Dream sleep sack is for you. Their little arms can come out through the Snoo sleep sack armholes. It is not only adorable but from the forum reports it is quite effective.
I’ve dabbled with this feature as I’m always tempted to see how he will do without the motion. In wean mode, when you turn the Snoo on it will emit the white noise but it will stay still and it won’t rock until the baby makes noise or you level it up on the app.
An Imperfect Solution
As with ANY product, there were things that I didn’t like about it. I will elaborate a bit on them for full disclosure.
The Sleep Sack
I wish there more room in sleep sack. Theo is not a tiny baby. He was in the large by 2 months but it just always felt a bit tight on the legs. Not hip dysplasia tight but if he had his way he’d spread out a bit more.
With his hands in, it was very easy to get Theo in the Snoo sleep sack. In fact, when we were double swaddling in the early weeks it felt seamless. I kept the Snoo sack clipped in. Theo would be swaddled and feeding to sleep. When he was done I would burp him quickly, slip him in the Snoo, zip up the sleep sack, hold my breath and slowly back away from the bassinet.
Even when we moved to the Zippadee Zip, it was relatively easy to get his arms secure without waking him.
Arms out was a different beast. Medium and large sleep sacks have buttons to expose armholes. I couldn’t master getting Theo into the Snoo and maneuver his arms to the armhole without waking him.
I had to put him in the Snoo sleep sack prior to feeding and clip him in after laying him down. Clipping the sleep sack in after laying him down is not hard once you know where to place him. Unfortunately, with this method, you can’t start the Snoo before clipping him in.
The Snoo App
Being such a nerd and totally into analytics, I really wish you could add sleep sessions into the Snoo app. Frequently we will have Theo napping on one of us. I’d love to add those sessions to the app. Perhaps even having the Snoo integrate with another baby tracking app would work. Just a thought.
My Own Self Doubts
Last but not least, have I mentioned the constant fear that potentially I’m gonna break my baby? That he’ll forever rely on motion to stay asleep. But, I fear this whatever I do.
Feed to sleep, Chest naps, Co-Sleeping – will they need it forever. No.
In my limited experience. What others call sleep crutches or creating habits, I call surviving in the moment. In my experience, there has always been something that changed and we progressed. Sometimes that change is easy, sometimes it’s painful. But it’s totally okay to do what makes everyone happy now as change is right around the corner. One day they won’t need us to help them sleep, whether it is a constant swaying, a warm chest to lay their head on or a 1+ hour-long goodnight cuddle.
How to Save a Significant Chunk of Money
At the time of writing this, the Snoo at full price is $1,295.00. But it frequently goes on sale around holidays. In fact it is 30% right now for Valentines day bringing it down to $906.50.
They have a military discount of 40% off purchase or 10% of rental. I think this is brilliant.
The option to rent was very appealing to us. We knew that we wouldn’t be in the Snoo very long due to the fact that we make big babies.
Currently, it is $112 a month, with a security deposit of $175 and a one off reconditioning fee of $45. They include the mattress, fitted sheet and a SNOO sack of each size (S, M, L). In the end, we will have had it for 4 months. After the return of our security deposit it will total up to just under $500 (before tax).
There is minimal risk with renting. If the Snoo doesn’t work for you, box it up and send it back to stop payments.
We also purchased another fitted sheet ($19.95) and an extra M and L sleep sack ($27.95 x 2). Additionally, we bought leg lifters ($18.50) which raises the head of the Snoo at a slight, safe incline.
Wrap Up on the Snoo Review
If I’m lucky enough to be granted a third child then I would definitely have the Snoo again. It has been huge for my peace of mind. Knowing that he won’t roll over unexpectedly and that when I can’t respond, it does. I’d do it again.
Go in with eyes wide open though. Study up on realistic infant sleep and know that the Snoo might not work for your baby. Some babies need body contact more than others. Some babies might take to it day one, some might not feel settled in the Snoo for a month or two. And some (like mine) will grow out of it too quick for comfort. It’s all trial and error.
If you have the means to give the Snoo a try, I say go for it. And don’t be afraid to use the Snoo at night and snuggle that baby in the day. Like I said, change is right around the corner and soon enough they will be 2.5 years old saying “go away mommy, I want to sleep with daddy”.
Let me know if you have any questions at all and I will elaborate. If you have used the Snoo yourself, feel free to drop your impressions of it down below.
Keep calm and Snoo on.