New technology helps nurses at Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU soothe newborn babies

Posted at 2:49 PM, Mar 20, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-20 17:57:42-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- For more than 20 years, parents have known and used pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp’s manual, "The Happiest Baby on the Block," for help calming and soothing their newborns. Now the author is extending his hand to healthcare workers, including those at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU.

"During the pandemic, we were all trying to do our part and you know, I couldn't go to the hospitals but at least we could do something,” Dr. Karp told CBS 6 of his company’s initiative to put SNOO bassinets in hospitals.

The SNOO is currently the only FDA De Novo-authorized positional sleeper.

The “smart” sleeper is built to mimic the sensation of a mother’s womb with white noise and a rocking motion that increases based on a baby’s crying.

The device costs about $1,700 but many parents rent one for the first few months to get more sleep.

“We've measured now over 600 million hours of infant sleep, and it adds one to two hours to the baby's sleep, more than we ever thought was possible, even more than if you drive them all night in the car,” said Karp.

Seeing utility in the healthcare space, Karp’s company, Happiest Baby, began sending SNOO bassinets to hospitals during the pandemic to free nursing staff for other duties.

Popular volunteer programs for “cuddlers” were curbed during the height of the COVID-19 emergency, leaving babies in their bassinets for longer stretches.

"From the hospital point of view, it reduces nurse labor, makes the mothers happier, makes the babies safer, and reduces the risk of liability,” said Karp.

The SNOO anchors a baby into place to reduce the risk of sudden infant death or a baby rolling over in the night. More than 160 hospitals across the country are now using the device.

Dr. Karp told CBS 6 he loves Richmond and nearly went to medical school at the Medical College of Virginia, now VCU. With multiple employees in the area, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU was among the first to receive the SNOO in support of its nursing staff.

“So many nurses [nationwide] were overworked and there were problems interacting with the babies or the mothers. If they had COVID, they needed to be isolated, and so SNOO was a good bridge to help support the nurses, the moms, and the babies.”

According to Happiest Baby, many companies including Chase Bank, Under Armor, and Dunkin Donuts offer the SNOO to employees for free or at steep discounts as a new parent benefit. Karp hopes the device will become a covered benefit through insurance companies, much like a breast pump.

“We put babies in a crib for 12 or 14 hours every single night kind of hoping that they don't roll into trouble,” said Karp. “I think in a few years we're going to look back and say, ‘why didn't we secure babies so they couldn't roll and get hurt?' And with SNOO we can do that.”

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