When I started The Grace Tales, I was a new mother. I had no idea what I was doing. I had a premature baby who wouldn’t stop crying and I have so many memories of feeling utterly helpless – I couldn’t see a way out of the sleep deprived state I was in. Everything felt too hard. I remember night after night my husband and I would bounce up and down on a fit ball willing our newborn girl to fall asleep....
I can’t look at a fit ball the same. So needless to say, when I discovered the world’s first smart sleeper SNOO, long after my babies were out of nappies, I wondered why on earth I hadn’t thought of this genius idea before. Seriously. Celebrities such as Gywneth Paltrow and Justin Timberlake obviously all think it’s genius as well – they’ve invested in the company.
Designed to swing and calm babies from crying, it’s the helper we all need. So, who came up with this bloody brilliant idea? Dr. Harvey Karp. If you’ve read his book The Happiest Baby On The Block (or Baby Bliss as it’s called in the UK and Australia), you’ll know what he’s all about. In fact, you have probably used his five ‘S’s’ trying to calm your baby.
He’s one of America’s most trusted pediatricians and child development experts and the clever founder of The Happiest Baby and also the life-changing SNOO.
“Ultimately when you have a baby, there are three jobs you have to be good at,” explains Harvey. They are: feeding your baby, calming your baby, and getting your baby (and yourself) to sleep. The thing is: they’re the hardest jobs you’ll ever do and no degree or amount of work experience can prepare you for them. “Everything else kind of works it’s way along. You’ll learn how to take care of the baby’s belly button, how to bathe your baby, how to change a diaper. Those aren’t the things that really break us when we’re failing at our job as caregivers. What can break us is when you’re not feeding your baby successfully. If your baby is crying and crying and you don’t know how to calm your baby. Or if your baby is only giving you short periods of sleep. And you’re ultimately so sleep deprived that you’re developing postpartum depression, and anger, and irritation, and those things,” he explains.
As Dr. Karp started teaching the five S’s – swaddle, side-stomach position, shush, swing, and suck – he began to realise that while these were incredibly effective during the day, they didn’t help all through the night (unless, that is, no one wanted to get any sleep and a parent fancied rocking all night long). If we took away all the comforts a baby needed to stay calm, they weren’t going to sleep very well. “Babies have cues from nine months in the womb where they have constant sound, constant holding, constant motion, and they’re cuddled up in this little ball. When they’re born, we do this crazy thing, we take everything that the baby is used to away from the baby. We put them on the back, in a still bed, in a quiet room, unswaddled. And then we scratch our heads and go, ‘Why isn’t our baby sleeping better?’”.
The answer? It’s because we take everything away. “Ultimately what babies need is to feel envelop, they need to hear these rumbly sounds that they’re used to, and they need to have rhythms. And that is what everybody has known since the beginning of time. Because when you hold and rock your baby and shush them in your arms, they fall asleep so beautifully and so gently.”
So Dr. Karp came up with the idea of getting someone else – or something else – to do it for us. The SNOO can be used for up to six months (and longer if your baby was born prematurely) and has changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of parents around the world (including parents in our Grace Tales team – we have tried and tested it and can wholeheartedly say it changed the experience of new motherhood for us).
“It’s a smart bed because it rocks and shushes the babies all night long, the way you would if you were sitting in a rocking chair with the baby, or driving them all night in the car. And then the bed also senses when the baby is upset and it rocks and shushes more briskly,” explains Dr. Karp. “It has four different levels of increasing rocking and shushing to imitate when an experienced nurse or caregiver would do if they were holding the baby.” Like I said, genius.
Since Dr. Karp introduced this bed in the US five years ago, the company has now measured over 150 million hours of infant sleep. “We did a study of 10,000 babies and we demonstrated that the bed pretty quickly adds one to two hours to the baby’s sleep. It can calm crying 50% of the time in under a minute. And if it doesn’t calm the crying in under a minute, it means the baby is hungry or needs something from you. So, it’s not a magic bed that is just always going to calm the baby, but it’s a helper. And then it also secures the baby on the back so that the baby can’t roll to an unsafe position. And we actually were just recognised by the American FDA as a breakthrough device, meaning that we have the potential to be life-saving. We hope and we believe that we’ll be able to prevent 90% or more incidents of cot death. We’re doing studies to demonstrate our ability to prevent postnatal depression, reduce obesity, improve breastfeeding outcomes, reduce stress on the parents, reduce even car accidents.”
Given the myriad challenges we all face when it comes to bringing a new baby home, the SNOO is the helper I wish I had when my girls were babies. I’ve watched friends and family use it and asked the question everyone wants to know: “Does it work?”. The answer is yes. It works. For real. Happy sleeping everyone.