Next to the baby’s name, sex, and birthdate, one of the first questions new parents are asked is “How much sleep are you getting?”
If you are like 90% of new parents, it’s not much. The American Sleep Foundation reports that only 10% get the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night, and many get by on less than 3 hours.
Post-partum sleep deprivation is so common, it’s a cliché. But is it inevitable? Dr. Harvey Karp thinks not.
The pediatrician and renowned infant sleep expert has a solution: the SNOO Smart Sleeper, a high-tech baby bed engineered to quickly rock babies to sleep and keep them asleep for longer.
How much longer? About one or two hours. If that seems like a lofty claim, Karp says it’s because his creation is less like a traditional bassinet and more like “your older sister.”
“For most of human history, families lived under the same roof,” he explains. “If the parent needed to sleep or fix a meal, there was someone right there to care for the baby. That doesn’t exist today.”
Without an auntie down the hall, parents bear the brunt of the baby’s sleep schedule, sacrificing their own. Beyond simple grouchiness and exhaustion, sleep loss can have serious consequences. It contributes to depression, car accidents, and a host of health risks. It also negatively affects job performance, which in the healthcare field can increase the risk of medical errors. When you add it all up – healthcare expenditures, loss of productivity, liability – the annual costs of sleep deprivation run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.
But with SNOO, it’s not just babies who sleep better. Study data from the Happiest Baby Inc, the company behind the bassinet, shows that parents that use this product are 400% more likely to get a full 8 hours’ sleep a night.
“As a new parent, how much would you pay for an extra few hours of sleep?” Karp asks theoretically. Families can rent a SNOO for the price of a daily Starbucks coffee, which they may not even need if their baby responds as expected.
The bassinet was developed in collaboration with Dr. Deb Roy, Director of Social Learning Machines at MIT Media Lab. It employs a human-like algorithm that mimics the sensory environment in the womb. It detects and analyzes the baby’s crying and movements, constantly adjusting its motion, white noise, and light intensity to the exact level needed.
“It responds the way a human would,” says Karp. “If the baby’s asleep, it rocks slowly. When they get upset, it gets more jiggly, or louder, or higher pitched. No other baby bed can do this.”
An advanced drivetrain precisely controls the motion, so the rocking never gets too intense. Babies are secured in a SNOO swaddle sack, which calms them further while ensuring they remain on their back, the safest sleeping position.
The bassinet also has a remarkable safety record: 76 million hours of infant sleep without a single death reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. “I believe we are seeing an exciting and unprecedented advance in infant safety,” Karp said. SNOO has been accepted into the FDA’s Breakthrough Device program, and will get an expedited review as the agency considers it for approval as the world’s first SIDS prevention bed. Karp hopes it will ultimately help prevent many of the 3600 infant sleep deaths that occur in the U.S. each year.
Though the product was designed for home use, it’s becoming part of the care environment at hospitals around the world. Over 20 leading medical institutions are trialing the Smart Sleeper to improve maternal care, reduce unsafe bed sharing, and calm infants withdrawing from drugs, recovering from surgeries, or with other comorbidities. “For about $10 a day, hospitals are essentially getting a 24-hour care assistant,” Karp says.
Debra Banville, Pediatric Clinical Nurse Leader at Boston Children’s Hospital, praises the device, saying, “In SNOO, infants are more settled and parents get more rest. Parents love them. It has reduced the risk of sleep deprived parents falling asleep in the chairs/beds when holding infants.”
Karp tells us of one hospital, UCSF Benioff Children’s in Oakland, which is piloting the bassinet in the neonatal ICU for infants undergoing opiate withdrawal. One of their beds was making a bit of a clicking noise, and when the company offered to replace it, the nurses were hesitant to send it back.
“We will not send you this bed until you send the replacement first, because we don’t want to be one night without it,” they told him. “That’s how much it was helping to support the nurses. And we hear that story over and over and over again because the poor nurses, especially at night, are short staffed and overwhelmed.”
All this technology comes at a price. The Smart Sleeper retails for $1295, but the company’s rental program makes it an affordable option for families and hospitals. Karp says they are working with insurers and employers to bring the out-of-pocket cost down, and to convince healthcare institutions to invest in the technology.
“We believe the SNOO will become a standard postpartum bed,” he says. “We have data to demonstrate its benefits for parents and babies, and these translate into benefits for the hospital.” In addition to easing the workload for nurses, it can also enhance postpartum recovery, improve breastfeeding outcomes, and increase patient satisfaction scores.
Can this product produce happier babies? It’s too early to tell how better sleep in infancy might improve a child’s life, but Karp, a pediatrician for over four decades, says feedback from the Smart Sleeper can help parents form a healthy bond with their child.
“If the baby isn’t calmed within three minutes, the bed sends an alert. Parents learn when their baby really needs them, or whether they just need a little more rocking.”
“When their needs are met quickly and appropriately, babies become much more secure and trusting,” he says. “SNOO can help give these infants the positive experiences required to develop secure attachments, and build a foundation for confidence and intimacy skills that will last for the rest of their lives.”
The SNOO Smart Sleeper is available for sale or rental in all 50 states. For more information, or to find out about getting your own SNOO, visit www.happiestbaby.com.
This article was sponsored by Happiest Baby, Inc.