By Camille Dionisio z5113432
Heated debate continues on the controversial self-rocking bassinet device, SNOO, between mothers who believe in traditional parenting and those who embrace technological advances.
The SNOO is a “smart crib” that rose to prominence about a year ago, created by paediatrician Dr Harvey Karp, which senses your baby’s crying and soothes them to sleep through automatic white noise production and rocking.
However, its introduction into the market hasn’t been entirely welcomed, earning very mixed reactions.
Parenting Expert and Creator of the WOTBaby app, Jennifer Hamilton, shared her primary concerns the SNOO’s impact on the baby’s development:
“As the baby grows… their brain is developing very quickly and they’re taking in a lot of the things in their environment…. when a baby is sleeping, they still take in all the stimulation around them. So a SNOO, they’re just being stimulated constantly, constantly moving, it’s ridiculous. It’s creating a problem.”
Arguing that these cribs just “switch off your baby” rather than “helping them to settle” which in turn teaches them to eventually sleep by themselves.
“It takes process… to switch off from the world around us, so as babies are growing and developing, they need to learn how to do that. So if we’re constantly putting them off to sleep… then babies don’t learn how to sleep.”
Conventional mothers have lashed out in social media, especially Facebook, branding this “Robo-Cradle” as neglectful and lazy – An insult to the martyred nature of parenting.
“This seems so detached. Hold your child…” One Facebook user said.
“Pick your baby up your own self this is the time for bonding comfort… this is for lazy parents!” said another.
Despite Hamilton’s opposing views, she rebuffed the assumption, “I may think there may be a percentage of parents that are lazy but… What I think is really going on is… there’s a fear of not knowing what to do. A fear of failing if I put my baby down and it’s unsettled. And they don’t realise it’s normal for babies.”
Mother of three and midwife, Kathy Fray, is NZ’s best selling author on birth, babies & motherhood had a strong stance for the SNOO:
“Any pious-perfect-parenting-ideologist who criticises automatic-rocking cribs as impacting the relationship between adult and developing child, clearly has not had three under four,” she said.
She found herself questioning the criticisms of laziness, “’Who… are you, to be so judgemental?’ Slathering parenting guilt upon guilt atop of our loving caring Mothers today, is one of the absolutely worst things that routinely occurs these days, far far too rampantly. It’s plain bloody awful actually, and it is also enormously responsible for good wonderful mothers, worrying to ridiculous levels of anxiety.”
The SNOO is rather seen as an advantage to avoid fatigue and overwhelm than a technological disruption, making mothers “happier and less-stressed.”
“With the pre-schooler in the middle of cuddling the cat to near-death, and the toddler having the third toilet-training ‘accident’ in two hours, both being parented by an unfed unshowered shattered mother … if that miraculous auto-rocking crib would mean at least one of her three children, the five-month-old babe, is not crying over the next fifteen minutes, then that sanity-saving piece of adored parenting equipment will feel worth its weight in gold!” Fray said.
Its beneficial attributes haven’t gone unacknowledged by Hamilton, “Unless parents are armed with the right information and they’re making decisions to use these things because they want to, not because they feel they need to. And they know how the baby is growing and developing and they know what’s normal and what’s not, then by all means you can use these things…if you have a thousand other things to do.”
The issue, however, is that untaught new parents may use this technology as the easy alternative:
“But for first time parents who have the time and the beginning, they need to make the mistakes to learn how to settle their baby themselves, not the machine,” Hamilton said.
“Instead of spending all this money on machines, we should be spending money on educating new parents.”
Hamilton’s concerns were also based on the long-term consequences of a mother’s fear not letting them soothe babies themselves:
“Parents aren’t learning anything, not bonding with the baby and has fallen into a false sense of security.”
She emphasised the “false sense of security” is caused by “using something else that takes their place” which hinders her philosophy of what parents need to ensure a content baby.
“It takes away from the parent… their confidence. It takes away from their – you know its all trial and error when you first have a baby and you really have to tap into your maternal instincts and you need to make parental decisions,” Hamilton said.
The claimed impact on parental instincts, however, hasn’t proven itself a credible statement:
“…The product critics, are purely hypothesising. It is simply conjecture that a SNOO could disrupt bonding and the development of parenting instincts. At best, it’s a speculative guess,” Fray said.
The scientifically proven consequences of not using the SNOO overshadowed its use, “Should the mother be the one who is rocking a baby to sleep, day in, day out, every night at 11pm, 2am, 4am, week after week, month after month? And my absolutely emphatic answer is NO!” Fray said, “Such ongoing long-term sleep deprivation is a disastrous recipe for Postnatal Depression.”
Dr Karp also wrote himself on US News that in improving infant sleep and parental exhaustion, parents can avoid “marital stress, child abuse, postpartum depression…”
Hamilton rejected the SNOO’s claim to preventing fatigue, reasoning there’s more to lose in the connection between mother and child.
“When are you bonding with the baby, when are you learning about the baby. And who says that babies can’t sleep for long periods of time. For enough period of time for you to get enough rest between feeding, who says that?! Who says that babies are that unsettled that we have to use the SNOO. That’s just stating that your baby’s gonna be super unsettled, you’re baby’s never gonna sleep. Oh my God, Oh really?! So when I have a baby I’m never gonna sleep?! Well I better buy one of those things. It’s just fear. It’s all fear driven and market driven. It’s just a money-making scam.”
Whereby physical contact is recommended instead for a strong relationship as, “the first few weeks is crucial for the mother and baby. So skin-to-skin touch, just the smell from mother or father, the baby is bonding greatly. Just by the smell,” Hamilton said.
The interruption of such bond isn’t entirely dependant on the SNOO but on how it’s used.
“The martyring ideological self-flagellating critics nearly always only see one perfect perspective, and I do get their point… used to the extreme, maybe it could be possible for the occasional mother who owns an auto-rocking crib to feel less bonded. Really? rarely.” Fray said.
“After a decade of home-visiting Mothers of newborns, I have seen it first hand… it’s hideous, and it’s unnecessary – all courtesy of the ‘pious perfect’ SJWs (social justice warriors) espousing their fault-finding fundamental beliefs on what does and does not qualify as ‘Good Parenting’.”
In the face of condemnation, Facebook users and Fray argue the opposite, that buyers of the SNOO isn’t “an uncaring parent. They are very usually parents who are obsessed to provide the absolute best for their child…”
Despite the unremitting controversy, both sides are in the best interests of both parent and child alike. Recognising the underlying idea that to use technology as part of their childcare routine is up to the parent and if they are knowledgeably equipped to use them sensibly.