The SNOO: is it really worth it?
Alright - as a mama of 5, I feel like its safe to say I have some real experience under my belt. When I had 1-3 kids, I still didn’t fully know what I was doing, because every child was different and humbled me in their own way. I felt more confident with baby 4, but she was a high needs baby so I was still frazzled… and now, by Baby #5, I finally feel like I have a calm confidence. That’s not to say my baby doesn’t fuss, and that’s not to say I’m not overwhelmed and exhausted, but the difference is I truly, truly know this will pass.
I also have experienced the full spectrum of babies, from my little angel who slept perfectly out of the womb, to my babies who made lose my mind and second guess all my life’s choices (lol). With all that I’ve experienced with sleep, I’ve been able to get a genuine assessment of the SNOO and give a verdict that is based on knowing what all kind of different babies are like without the SNOO, and therefore if the SNOO is really worth it.
Spoiler alert: YES, it absolutely 100% worth it.
THE FIRST WEEKS
For a side by side comparison, I’ll share that my best friend had her first baby baby 3 weeks after my son was born, and so I coached her along the way too! It was interesting to see how a first time parent perceived the SNOOs effective versus how my husband and I perceived it.
Here’s what the SNOO will not do: it will not make your baby sleep through the night when they aren’t ready to. When they’re a newborn and they need to nurse every 2 hours (or more), when they’re gassy and in pain, when they’re spitting up and need to be burped better, when they have a dirty diaper, the SNOO will not make that go away because that’s impossible. A newborn needs caregivers around the clock, and they have lots of little needs 24/7.
But the SNOO will help soothe your baby in the tiny window of time when they are fed, dry, burped and just need to be calmed to bed.
For the first 4-8 weeks, it may seem like the SNOO isn’t helpful. But as parents who have seen the full spectrum of easy to difficult babies, we could tell that it WAS working - its just hard to see in those early days.
What the SNOO is doing is giving your baby a strong sleep foundation. Using the SNOO consistently with naps and bedtime, and letting the soothing pattern run its course, is helping teach your baby to self sooth in a gentle way.
This was key for nap time - all I did in addition to using the SNOO was follow the rhythm of sleep, eat, play/awake. That means when baby woke up, I fed him, then burped and changed him and smiled at him, set him under his activity center, etc, and once he started getting fussy, I’d see if he needed another new diaper, change him as needed, and then put him in the SNOO. Doing this consistently, he would go down for a nap in the SNOO and I would be able to care for my other kids, get work done, eat a meal, etc, all while my baby was learning early sleep habits!
This part is different for every baby, but at around 3/4 months, most of my kids were ready transition to arms out - the SNOO sleep sacks can be unbuttoned so baby can keep their arms free! We switched the SNOO to “Transition Mode”, which doesn’t start soothing until baby cries, versus soothing the whole time baby sleeps. We had our SNOO on sleep mode for a few weeks, and at 4 months we started shortening his one 3am feeding. After a few days of that, he was sleeping through the night!
Once he was doing well going down awake for naps and bedtime and sleeping 10 hours a night, we turned the SNOO off all together. We had maybe 3 minutes max of crying, putting the pacifier in once or twice, and then he settled into his new normal! Going down awake, SNOO off - we did it!!
I wouldn’t have been able to survive this season of motherhood without the SNOO, and I wish I had one for my other kids! For my second baby, who I could’ve taught to sleep through the night sooner - or for my third and fourth baby, I could’ve benefited so much from the added support with my fussy babies.
I also truly do not think that sleep training would’ve happened in a matter of days like it did for Miles if he didn’t have the foundation of the SNOO. The SNOO was like a balance bike for sleep, teaching the motions and feelings of self soothing while still giving them the safety and support they needed at different developmental stages.
Photography by the talented Kelly Boitano Madsen
Before we packed up the SNOO and passed it on to our friend for her sweet baby, we took these final pictures! It seems so silly, but it was bittersweet for my mama heart to let go of the bassinet that he spent his first little months in! Just a reminder that babies don't keep!