Dr. Harvey Karp's New Baby Bed Wants To Put Parents To Sleep, Too

The minute your baby is born, you enter a whole new world. Of course, it's hard for first-time parents to navigate this new terrain when they're getting little sleep. Unfortunately, that lack of sleep is a result of parents who stay up till the wee hours trying to decipher and quiet their child's cries. But what if there was a machine that not only knew why your baby was crying, but could do something to silence the tears? That's where Harvey Karp's new baby bed, SNOO comes into play.

The first of its kind, SNOO ($1,160) helps parents and babies by replicating the same motions and sounds babies enjoyed and depended on when they were still in the womb. The idea for the product, which will be available on Oct. 21, came from Karp's research, which found that babies have a certain way of sleeping in the womb. Karp tells me during an in-office demonstration of the product with Romper:

Babies have sleep cues that they've had 24/7 in the womb. So to suddenly rip those away is not fair to a baby. They are addicted to motion and sound, and we need to let them down gradually.

Two of those main sleep cues, according to Karp, are motion and sound. In fact, it's the same motion and sound a parent creates when rocking their child to sleep.


"When the baby is sleeping in your arms, you're rocking slowly and you're going, 'Shhhhh.' When the baby gets a little upset, you'll bounce him a little more and go, 'Shhhhh.' When the baby gets more upset you go, 'Shhhhh! Shhhhh!' And if that doesn't work then you know it needs to eat or something else is going on," Karp says. Essentially, the combination of rocking and shhh-ing either calms the baby or tells the parents someone else is wrong. So Karp, a pediatrician and child developmentalist, who wrote The Happiest Baby On The Block, wondered if there was a way to develop a bed that would take the physical effort and guess work away from parents. And there wasn't... yet.

Families [who] have to go through burials, put their babies in little coffins because they either brought the baby in bed into a dangerous situation or the baby rolled over. We can today, now, do something to prevent that that. And we['ve] never had that capability before.

OK, yes. There are things like bouncers and swings, which can create the same motion and calm a baby, have been around for years, but since it's not safe for babies to sleep in bouncers or swings, Karp and his team wanted to develop something that would calm baby and be a safe sleep space. Almost five years later, the SNOO came along.

The bassinet, which features a breathable mesh frame, is run by a "responsive, robotic system that 'knows' when babies are upset," and can react in a way that will soothe them. Complete with three different levels of rocking, the smart sleeper cycles through until your baby has fallen asleep, or you need to intervene.

Happiest Baby

"The sleeper runs for a few minutes to see if the first level works," Karp tells Romper. "If the crying continues, it goes to the next level. And then, if the crying continues it goes up to the next level... If the crying keeps on going after three minutes, it just shuts off, because if the baby keeps on crying, this is not calming them down." But what happens if the sleeper works on the first level? Will baby be rocking back-and-forth all night? Nope. Karp tells Romper that once baby is sound asleep, the rocking decreases to every six minutes until the sleeper is still. Of course, your baby can't rely on these sleep cues forever, which is why Karp and his team developed an app to give parents control from a distance that also helps wean baby off all-night rocking for easier transition to a real crib.

In addition to the soothing sounds and motion, the sleeper comes with a swaddle that contains special "safety wings" that attach to the bed, which helps keep babies from rolling onto their stomachs. This was an important feature for Karp, as he hopes SNOO will help reduce the number if sleep-related deaths that occur every year. "There are 3,500 hundred sleep deaths a year in the United States," Karp says. "That's 3,500 hundred families [who] have to go through burials, put their babies in little coffins because they either brought the baby in bed into a dangerous situation or the baby rolled over. We can today, now, do something to prevent that that. And we['ve] never had that capability before."

Happiest Baby

But SNOO doesn't only benefit baby. Karp created the innovative baby bed with parents at the forefront of his mind. "Parents are struggling with sleep deprivation, and half of all parents are sleeping six hours or less a night," Karp says. When you think about all the ways sleep deprivation affects your parenting, any type of invention that gives parents some extra shut eye is a welcomed one.

Now, that's not to say the SNOO will turn your child into a sound sleeper the minute they get home from the hospital. Karp notes it will take a few nights for the baby to adjust to the new environment, but the sooner you start using it, the sooner you and your little one can get the shut eye you need to survive this crazy new world. And a good night's sleep sounds pretty promising.