So much marketing is directed to parents when it comes to baby equipment it can be overwhelming. We believe a blanket on the floor is a baby’s best friend for tummy time, for development and building strength. In this blog post, we wanted to talk about two specific pieces of baby equipment that are similar: the Cradlewise and Snoo. 

Cradlewise vs Snoo

The Cradlewise claims to be an all-in-one bassinet, cradle and monitor. We find it is better than the Snoo in that the infant is not attached into the crib. We are proponents of swaddling for some infants but find that to be different than also being attached to the mattress.

The sound decibel level is also of great importance. The Snoo can get up to a decibel level shown to cause hearing loss (see Consumer Reports article).   An exact decibel level did not appear to be listed for the Cradlewise, but this should be considered.

While better than the Snoo, we ultimately still recommend against the Cradlewise. The first reason is the bouncing and sound element that is designed to promote longer sleep times with less caregiver interaction with the baby.  Parents of newborns are understandably eager to get as much sleep as possible, but it is possible that part of why young infants wake frequently in the night is that nature has built in a bonding mechanism.

Use of equipment that limits caregiver-infant interaction may create separation of greater than two to four hours in the early weeks and months of life. This separation may interfere with the physiological aspects of bonding (think pleasant hormones such as oxytocin and dopamine) that would be created by the caregiver picking up the infant and calming him or her. The importance of bonding in the first weeks and months of life on lifelong health and well-being can not be underestimated.

From a developmental standpoint the use of the Cradlewise has the potential for negative implications. The act of a caregiver picking up the infant (going from a horizontal to vertical to horizontal position) with a rocking motion along with the vibration of parent’s voice while shushing or singing constitutes developmentally supportive care.

From a head-shape standpoint, the use of the Cradlewise also has the potential to be detrimental. Approximately 50% of newborns demonstrate a pattern of preference for turning the head more/only in one direction which can lead to or exacerbate torticollis, plagiocephaly, and brachycephaly.   In this scenario, being mechanically rocked by the Cradlewise is far inferior to the movement and vibration and repositioning associated with being picked up and soothed and put back down by a caregiver. That is, the head and trunk are repositioned each time the infant is picked up and placed back down, and this is important.

Both the Snoo and the Cradlewise are firm, flat surfaces which is recommended by the AAP. The Snoo, however, also promotes use of it to impede a baby from rolling.  This is in opposition to the AAP and we are also opposed to impeding rolling, as this is in opposition to typical infant development and can also be detrimental to typical head shape development.

As a side note … We are not aware of the Mamaroo having the same safety concerns as the RocknPlay, but it does have the same developmental and head shape concerns of any device in which a baby is upright and harnessed.  Container Baby Syndrome is very common and can negatively affect infant development and head shape.  Many cranial bands (aka helmets) could be avoided if parents were educated to limit equipment use to a maximum of two hours a day (includes car seat, Momaroo, swing, etc and includes time spent awake and asleep).

We cannot overstate: A blanket on the floor really is a baby’s best friend.  A parent can let their baby watch the dog walk around or stare at the pattern the sunlight makes in the rug.  If able, they can get down on the floor and enjoy their baby at his or her level.  Parents of young infants are highly marketed to and need unbiased information from good sources.

We understand that for many (if not most!) people, taking care of a newborn can be extremely challenging at times, and we have extra compassion for parents of multiples, parents of children with medical issues, and parents who have their own serious medical condition in addition to caring for a baby. We encourage parents to reach out to their extended family, neighbors, friends, or broader communities as needed to provide practical help during these early weeks and months of life.  A loving night nurse or grandparent or extended family member are all encouraged when possible.

We never want a parent to feel shamed or judged for choices that they’ve made regarding use of the Snoo, Cradlewise, or other sleep equipment; we believe that parents are making the best decisions possible for their family with the information they have. Our goal is to equip parents with more information, which allows them to take our professional experience and guidance and apply it to their own situation as they see fit.

Susan Klemm MS, OTR/L

Stacy Conder PT