Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis used a controversial $1,160 crib to get their son to go to sleep

Elise Solé

Parents Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis have nailed their bedtime routine: They used a smart sleeper to rock their youngest baby to sleep.

During the February 14th podcast “Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard,” Kutcher shared how parenting 3-year-old Wyatt and 1-year-old Dimitri with Kunis, has changed their lives, particularly in the area of sleep.

Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher used a smart crib to soothe their baby to sleep. (Photo: Getty Images)
Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher used a smart crib to soothe their baby to sleep. (Photo: Getty Images)

“For kid number two we got one of those Snoos,” said Kutcher. “It’s an oscillating bed…it has a sensor in it so the louder the kid cries, the faster it goes and puts the kid back to sleep.” The actor added that the bed helped their youngest sleep a full six hours on the third day of life.

The Snoo Smart Sleeper — sold for $1,160 — was invented by Santa Monica pediatrician Harvey Karp, M.D., and designed to mimic his famous infant sleep strategy called “The 5 S’s” outlined in his 2002 book, The Happiest Baby on the Block. The method has become a cult classic for sleep-deprived parents and involves five steps to calm babies and lull them to sleep.

Based on the premise that newborns need a “fourth trimester” to acclimate to the world, the method evokes two of the cozy sensations experienced in the womb: Gentle jiggling and white noise.

The Snoo comes with a “5-second swaddle” which clips into the sides of the bed, securing the baby on its back, (the safest position for infants to sleep) and jiggles and emits white noise at the sound of a baby’s cry. If the baby is not calm within one minute, the machine stops, signaling stronger needs like hunger or pain.

Other celebrities such as Molly Sims and Zoe Saldana are fans and Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel are Snoo investors.

Still, the bed has received criticism for its luxury price point and the idea of a machine responding to infant distress. Some on Facebook commented that the rocking sensation interfered with their babies’ ability to self-soothe and that the attached swaddle presents a potential safety issue if the baby needs to be retrieved quickly. Another wrote it was for “lazy parents.”

“Up until 100 years ago, parents had so much support raising their children — but we’ve walked back on that concept and it’s creating havoc,” Karp tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Sleep deprivation for parents is the main trigger for postpartum depression, obesity, stress, lowered breastfeeding rates, and SIDS, in the case of parents falling asleep in bed with their infants.”

Karp maintains that Snoo is not designed to be a “replacement parent” but rather an aid, not unlike a baby swing, a night nurse, or a family member. “Parents use it at night but also during the day when they need to place their baby in a safe environment while showering, for example,” he says.

The Snoo’s draw is both physical and psychological. “Babies transition from sleeping in a noisy, busy womb to a silent still bed and that can feel like sensory deprivation,” says Karp. “But babies whose needs are met in a timely manner develop a sense of attachment and trust, whether that comes from a parent, a swing, or Snoo.”

While he acknowledges the high price tag, Karp reasons, “It factors into about five dollars per day, not unlike the cost of a cup of coffee or a Red Bull.”

According to Andy J. Bernstein, M.D. a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics and a physician at North Suburban Pediatrics in Chicago, while there’s nothing inherently unsafe about Snoo, parents should be cautious toward expensive baby gear marketed as necessities.

“These types of items can provide a false sense of security allowing parents to let their guards down when they otherwise wouldn’t,” he tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “They can also provoke anxiety if the device stops working and parents then have to learn other methods for helping their babies.”

Parents who enjoy the hands-on experience of soothing their children may not opt for the crib, he says, “but for some working parents, especially those with multiple kids to care for, it could be useful.”

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