I never knew what sleep deprivation really felt like until I became a new mom. Sleeping in two-to-three-hour stretches for months on end really takes a toll.
In the search for a high-tech solution, I came across the Snoo Smart Sleeper. It's a so-called "smart" crib that can soothe your baby to sleep with the push of a button.
But at $1,160, it doesn't come cheap, which is why I didn't even consider buying it when my daughter was born.
But companies like Activision, Hulu, Qualcomm and Snap have begun to offer the Snoo as a parental benefit. The hope is that well-rested parents will lead to better employee retention.
By the time I got a review unit, my baby was too old, since it's only built for babies up to six months old. So I asked a friend with a newborn to put it to the test to see if it really works.
After a few weeks of trying it out on her son, Hugo, she was hooked.
"He's definitely gotten more sleep in the Snoo," said Liz Curley. "It feels like an extra set of helping hands."
The Snoo is the brainchild of pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp, who's a bit of a celebrity among new parents.
His book "Happiest Baby on the Block" has been a bestseller since 2002 and the corresponding DVD is the top-selling parenting video of all time. He made the swaddle popular and created soothing techniques for colicky babies that actually work. My husband and I were a complete disaster the night we got home from the hospital with our daughter. His video and soothing techniques saved our lives.
After about 40 years as a pediatrician and helping parents sleep, Dr. Karp decided to create a crib that had all of his soothing techniques built into it. He joined forces with Yves Behar, whose industrial design firm worked with companies like Samsung, Jawbone and Soda Stream, to create the Snoo.
The bassinet uses sensors and artificial intelligence to respond to a baby's cries. It rocks and plays white noise, adjusting the levels based on how loud the crying is. Parents can control it with an app that alerts them if the infant is inconsolable.
It also straps the baby in with a specially designed swaddle so it can't roll on to its side or stomach, lowering the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
4,000 babies die in their sleep every year in the U.S. and nearly 70% of those babies die in bed with their parents or while they are in an unsafe location, said Dr. Karp, CEO of Happiest Baby.
"What we see is that 80% of the parents keep the baby in the Snoo and don't bring the baby into their own bed," he said. "That's going to help protect babies and hopefully save some lives."
For Curley, the safety features were the best part.
"I definitely think it helps with postpartum anxiety and all of the anxiety that comes with being a parent," she said. "I know he's safe in there and that he's not going to roll."
As I scoured reviews online of the product, I found that a majority of parents agree.
Sarah Phelps is one of those parents. She works in human resources at Activision and she is one of 80 parents who use the Snoo as a company perk.
She said the Snoo gave her peace of mind and definitely helped her son sleep. "I would definitely recommend it," Phelps said in a phone interview.
But she probably would not have spent the money on it had it not been a company benefit.
"Without Activision buying this for me, I would have settled for something more affordable," Phelps said. "At $1,200 retail, for a baby, I just couldn't rationalize it."
Dr. Karp said Happiest Baby is expanding its benefits program and is also working toward starting a Snoo rental service to make it more accessible to more parents.
In the meantime though, parents like Curley say that it is worth the price.
"After thinking about all of the other money that we've spent on different swaddles or a co-sleeper, I would say it's worth it," Curley said. "Even getting an extra hour of sleep each day as a parent is priceless."