Is Dr. Harvey Karp’s $1,160 Bassinet the Product of Sleep-Deprived Parents’ Dreams?

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Parents who follow Dr. Harvey Karp’s “5 S’s” sleep-training method, explained in his best seller The Happiest Baby on the Block, don’t just believe in him; they’re so obsessed, they’d offer him their firstborn—if only so Karp could teach that baby to go the eff to sleep. 

Now Dr. Karp has invented a product that could earn him countless new followers—at least among those willing to pay $1,160 for a decent night’s sleep. Called the SNOO, it’s a state-of-the-art “smart” bassinet that rocks and shushes a baby to sleep, mimicking the womb. It then ramps up the vibration and white noise again each time the baby fusses or cries in the night. “Its womb-like sensations add an hour or more to a baby’s sleep,” says Karp on his website. “And when it hears crying, SNOO automatically chooses the best white noise and jiggly motion to soothe the fussing, often in under a minute.” Featuring a built-in sleep sack that offers a secure, swaddle-like hold, SNOO also keeps babies on their backs—a major safety breakthrough—all night. It connects to an app where you can adjust settings for more or less movement, or make the bed more or less sensitive to fussing. It also has a “wean” setting that purports to help you transfer your baby to an old-school crib, usually at around six months.

So does it work? The majority of SNOO reviews are through the roof (though not all customers are satisfied, some even calling it a “sleep crutch”). Karp’s company acknowledges it’s a hefty investment, and owns up to initial technical glitches some families experienced. On the pro side, they will connect any parent with a professional sleep consultant should a baby have trouble adjusting to sleeping in the SNOO. Karp believes so strongly in his invention, he feels it will actually save lives. “I’m not here to promote a product, but I am saying if someone developed penicillin, wouldn’t it be important to tell people about it?” he told The New York Times. Though such a comparison may sound over-the-top, when parents don’t sleep for more than two-hour chunks for months at a time, sleeping even an hour longer can seem life-saving. And SNOO has plenty of famous fans. Gwyneth Paltrow, Zoe Saldana, Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake all invested financially in its development, per The Times.

So is it worth a grand and change? Ask someone whose baby slept through the night at three months, then ask someone whose ten-month-old still cries every hour. You’ll get very different answers. 

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