If you’re a parent, you’ve no doubt heard this dreaded phrase. Anyone who answers yes to such a question has undoubtedly entered into some unholy arrangement or is just outright lying. Whole product empires have been built on getting your infant the required rest prescribed by pediatricians far and wide.
The marketplace is littered with smart watches, smart refrigerators, smart lamps, and even smart toasters. Capitalizing on this movement, we have entered a smart crib revolution, driven mostly by the Snoo and its copycat competitors. It’s a veritable baby-soothing free-for-all that, if you’ll excuse a bad baby pun, is still in its infancy. There’s a lot of marketing and not a lot of innovative thought—the majority of all smart crib options are the same. But not anymore.
The New Cradle on the Block
The Cradlewise, smart crib is actually, you know, a crib, and not just a shaking bassinet. Rather than copy the trend of most smart cribs, Cradlewise has gone in a different direction, offering a full-size crib that bounces, simulating the actual rocking motion used by most exhausted parents for thousands of years. It boasts an integrated camera built right into the frame (no more endless repositioning and remounting of baby monitors in search of the proper viewing angle). This camera bounces along with the baby, so the view is always the same, whether in motion or not.
But what really sets Cradlewise apart from the rest of the pack is that it’s designed to be suitable for
children up to two years of age. That’s quadruple the life of its competitorschildren up to two years of age. That’s quadruple the life of its competitors—the popular Snoo and its many copycats are only suitable for children up to six months. Because it’s more than just a simple bassinet, it can accommodate children old enough to roll or sleep on their sides or attempt a cribside jailbreak. With a shallower setting for younger infants and a deeper setting for toddlers, Cradlewise is built for sustained use; the constant “sizing up” of products as your baby outgrows them is a common complaint among new parents.
Cradlewise designers opted for a minimalist approach, creating a clean and elegant design of white fabric and curved wooden planks, evoking the style pioneered by designer Dieter Rams for Braun in the 1970s (a style which has inspired countless designers and products over the years, including Jony Ive’s two decades of Apple computers and handheld devices). It’s a striking style that simultaneously blends with nearly any room and stands out as a conversation piece. Thoughtfulness is a theme that you’ll notice throughout — painstaking care was taken to really give consideration to all aspects of the product, not just the sleek design.
If You Build It, He Will Sleep
The Cradlewise smart crib, as with most things of this era, comes with some assembly required. While that’s often a daunting premise (side glance to IKEA), the Cradlewise team has done their very best to make assembly an easy and, dare I say it, enjoyable experience. Given that this product will most often be assembled by exhausted parents or exhausted soon-to-be parents, extra care was taken to streamline the assembly process.
Cradlewise packaging comes neatly organized with a handy diagram showing you everything in the box. Every piece is clearly labeled to help you build without any worry. Further making life easier are the included screwdriver and Allen key, the only tools you’ll need to put your crib together. There’s even a small box of extra hardware, a very handy inclusion to account for lost or imperfect small parts. Small notes and phrases designed to make you smile are peppered throughout the packaging, to keep you in good spirits while building.
The entire process was simple and straightforward, and took about 45 minutes. Pro Tip- It is highly recommended that you assemble your Cradlewise long before you anticipate your little one will need a nap — it becomes a much more difficult process when being watched by a screaming, overtired baby.
We initially started with the shallow mode for our 6-month old, but switching between heights can be done in a matter of minutes, with no tools. While there is no real guidance offered for when to make the switch, when my daughter was able to peek over the edge of the crib, we decided it was time to lower her down.
Is this the Smartest Sleep?
When Cradlewise boasts that their unique bouncing feature is superior to other products, they really
mean it. While it may not exactly mimic the rocking of a real human, it is rhythmic and soothing in a much gentler way than the smart bassinets (Author’s Note: I affectionately referred to the Snoo as the “paint mixer” because of its movement style and speed). The bounce itself is exceptionally quiet, so co-sleepers will not be woken when it starts. Often the only way we knew it was bouncing at all was the soothing sounds that we set to accompany the motion.
We initially had concerns about the lack of a restraint, but I swaddled a doll and was unable to flip it, even on the highest setting. The bounce is so smooth that on the camera, it’s impossible to tell whether your child is bouncing or stationary.
The on-board camera is great, with clear night vision and a wide angle to minimize blind spots and give you a close up view. While the app itself is responsive, it would be nice to see this camera integrate with other devices, to offer display options for without the app installed (I refer to this as “babysitter mode” on our Eufy cameras). This camera also detects movement, which you can use to automatically start soothing, and will even detect whether the crib is empty or occupied.
Cradlewise also includes a heartbeat sound, meant to simulate the mother’s heartbeat in the womb to soothe the child. While this is great for younger infants, those who have been out of the womb for an extended amount of time might see it as more distracting than soothing (and parents who put the Cradlewise in their bedrooms may have recurring dreams of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”). Fortunately, you can turn the heartbeat off and Cradlewise comes with an array of ambient and soothing sounds for you to customize. Since the audio is software-driven, there will no doubt be an expansion of options in the future.
There are bugs, as with any new technology, and Cradlewise freely admits that a lot things are still in their Beta-testing phase. On more than one occasion the app told me that my daughter wasn’t present, but kept bouncing anyway. Push notifications can sometimes come in bunches or not at all. App commands can be slow to register with the crib, which can lead to too many inputs and lag-induced overcorrection.
These issues are, by and large, nitpicks that are easily rectified, and likely will be as the product matures. The Cradlewise team no doubt anticipated such growing pains, and thoughtfully designed it with the ability to easily correct things. The majority of functions are software-driven, allowing for performance updates and added features through regular updates. During my three months of testing, numerous features were added, including a wonderful sleep status update at the top of the screen telling you just how long your little one has been asleep or awake.
The app is intuitive, clean, and comfortable to use. Despite the occasional input lag, I found myself changing settings very rarely during sleep episodes. There’s also a handy chat bot built in to answer any product questions or to offer sleep advice and the Cradlewise customer support team is quick and eager to assist.
Smart tech can sometimes border on gimmicky, relying on the novelty of the item to set it apart from the crowd, regardless of how useful that novelty is. Cradlewise is not one of those innovations. It is abundantly clear that this product was not designed to wow you with bells and whistles or to be a splashy new entrant into the ever-expanding world of baby tech. It was designed to help your child sleep and to remove one of the biggest pain points that parents of young children can experience.
It has become rare to see products designed in this way, placing purpose above all else, and it truly shows. Cradlewise is the perfect example of what can be done when an innovator looks at a problem from all angles and genuinely tries to create a solution that does what it sets out to do. Because let’s be honest, this product isn’t just about helping your child sleep; it’s for your peace of mind, your comfort in the knowledge that your child is restful and happy and that maybe, just maybe, you can get a full night’s rest yourself.