The wonder cot that soothes crying babies back to sleep

The SNOO cot.
The SNOO cot.  Photo:

In an age where there is an app for everything, we constantly turn to technology to help with life's challenges. And when it comes to parenting, there are plenty of challenges to pick from.

For many of us though, the biggest hurdle of early parenthood is sleep deprivation.

Enter the SNOO smart sleeper. Promising to come to the aid of exhausted parents, the high-tech bassinet can detect when a baby is crying and soothe them back to sleep with womb-inspired white noise and gentle rocking. 

The cot is the creation of paediatrician Dr Harvey Karp, the author of the Happiest Baby, who teamed up with engineers and designer Yves Behar to make the dream cot a reality.

SNOO can tell when a baby is unsettled thanks to three in-built microphones that can tell the difference between background noise and a baby's cry. The cot will then respond with different types of while noise and vibrations that are tailored to the pitch and volume of the crying.

As well as being able to quietly sooth a crying baby back to sleep, the SNOO smart sleeper also claims to solve a much more serious problem. When babies roll into dangerous positions it puts them at greater risk of SIDS, so Dr Kemp's solution is an inbuilt swaddle blanket that prevents the baby from rolling over.

Although the clever cot might sound like a new parents' dream come true, it is worth remembering that it can't solve all your night time woes. It may be able to soothe, but it can't feed a hungry baby, or change her nappy.

The SNOO will set you back $1150 and can be used until your baby is six months old. It may seem like a ridiculous amount to invest, but at $6.30 per night, it might be on par with the extra cups of coffee you're buying to cope with the sleepless nights. And when you are in the throes of chronic sleep deprivation it might seem like a small price to pay.


It sounds great. But is there a potential down side? Lactation consultant Anna Quenault thinks so. She says that we need to be mindful of the different reasons babies wake in the night.

"Research suggests that waking up is important for bonding, attachment and establishing breastfeeding," she says.

Quenault also notes that smart cots such as SNOO could interfere with breastfeeding. "Breastfeeding at night can be important to build milk supply in the early days because a mother produces higher amounts of prolactin during the night, which helps milk production.

"In the early weeks when milk supply is being established we need to be careful of substituting breastfeeds with other things. If a baby is hungry and left unfed they may fall asleep through exhaustion and miss out on the nutrition they need for optimal growth.

Of course, there is no denying that sleep deprivation is tough. But Quenault thinks that rather than spending money on a solution that "fights biology" and encourages the baby to sleep, parents would be better off investing their cash elsewhere.

"Perhaps rather than tools to keep a baby asleep, parents could look at spending the money on services to make their lives easier so they can cope with sleepless nights," she says.

"Spend the money on meal delivery or a cleaner."