When you're operating on just a few hours per night of interrupted sleep--as most people are in the first 12 months after having a new baby--the concepts of "leaning in," or "maximizing productivity" can seem wildly out of reach. Right after I had my two daughters, in the early years of launching my content marketing company, just staying upright during a long conference could seem like a huge victory.
Working moms and dads, who are often averaging less 5 hours of shut-eye per day, aren't exactly in the position to excel--for themselves, or on behalf of the companies that they work for. Part of the issues is we lack the help that was so readily available just a generation ago. Now that grandparents, aunties, and cousins live multiple states away, new parents often don't have a badly needed extra set of hands to help soothe their newborns at 2am...and 3:30am....and 5am.
Parenthood may be a blessing, but in the early months, our mental acuity takes a direct hit, along with our ability to give 110 percent to our jobs. To me, it seemed shocking that the age of VR, smart homes, and autonomous driving it took so long for someone to figure out a solution for this fundamental, extremely common problem--but at last, someone finally did.
It was in mid 2016 that Dr. Harvey Karp, author of the mega-bestselling parenting franchise Happiest Baby on the Block, introduced the SNOO Smart Sleeper, a bassinet that serves as an always-on digital caregiver. The concept of the SNOO is straightforward: since parents just can't be awake around the clock to shush, bounce, swaddling, and soothe (sensations that mimic being in the womb) the SNOO does it for them, all while providing a steady stream of feedback through Mom and Dad's smartphones. (And, it's also the only baby bed with a special swaddle that keeps babies safely on the back...all night.)
Parents who used the first iteration of the Snoo--created in partnership with famed industrial designer Yves Béhar--swear it helps even the fussiest of newborns (and by extension, themselves) to get significantly longer stretches of sleep. There are several studies in the works to authenticate those claims, including those that focus on how the SNOO can greatly mitigate the symptoms of postpartum depression in new moms.
SNOO so rapidly developed an intense cult following that it caught the notice of major corporations, such as Hulu, Activision Blizzard, Newscorp, and Qualcomm, who recently began offering to Snoo as a part of their employee benefits packages. Other major brands are doing the same, but they don't want to publicly announce their programs so that they retain a competitive advantage for as long as possible.
While a smart crib could be considered just another newsy perk designed to attract and retain talent, there's another major draw for employers. When your top performers get an almost full night's rest, they're a lot more productive--so the company benefits as much as the employee. In a given year, US companies lose 1.23 million working days due to lack of sleep--a cost that highly competitive business just aren't willing to absorb. If it means their valuable employees are going to show up and perform well at work, renting several SNOOs seems a worthy investment.
But what about the rest of us--people who are running their own businesses or working for brands that aren't listed on a major stock index?
For expecting parents who don't get a SNOO packaged in with their company benefits, Karp and his Happiest Baby team are currently working on a non-employer-based rental program, which will enable people to use the Smart Sleeper at a nightly rate that's a little more accessible to new parents.
Once they officially roll it out, it will help take the cost of the Snoo down from its current $6.30 per night, to something even less expensive than a new parent's essential morning latte or shot of espresso. Which, some new parents may be able to skip entirely, now that they are getting a whole lot more sleep.