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Should I Use A Sound Machine for My Baby?

October 1, 2021

Sound machines can be an amazing tool to support baby sleep and even parent sleep! Babies are notoriously loud sleepers, between the grunts, gas, and short crying bursts, those little noises will keep you up all night long! There are plenty of reasons to use a sound machine for babies, but we can all agree that the most convincing is to help us get better sleep at night!

Pros & cons of white noise for babies

Pro: Helps your baby go to sleep

A sound machine should be used to help your baby fall asleep during environmental noises, but should not be turned on all night long. A great approach is to have your sound machine turned on when your baby goes to bed but then turning it off on your way to bed when your house is quiet. If you live in a noisy city, apartment building, or your little one is sharing a room with someone else, then sometimes you just can’t avoid leaving it on all night long. In this case, just keep it as low as you possibly can. Sound machines can be vital to a good nap, if you find your little one doesn’t nap well, then use a sound machine for the entire nap.

Con: Not just any sound machine will do

Choosing the correct sound machine, volume, placement, and timing is important for your little one. Constant and loud sounds can be damaging to infant hearing and auditory development, so the American Academy of Pedatrics (AAP) recommends using a sound machine that is no louder than 50 decibels and ideally placed 7 feet away from your baby’s sleep space. Unfortunately, many sound machines for babies are not under this level so turning the machine to the lowest volume and possibly placing it outside the room would be ideal.

What is “white noise?”

The term “white noise” is commonly used to describe a constant sound, such as a sound a noise machine makes. But the term actually describes a set of frequencies that are audible with equal distribution creating a steady humming sound, such as a fan or static. Brown noise is a lower frequency sound but with higher energy. It’s deeper than white noise and includes sounds such as waterfalls, thunder, etc. Pink noise is between white and brown noise, higher than a brown noise but lower than white.

A study performed in 2017 found that there may be a positive correlation to pink noise and sleep. Pink noise was found to improve deep sleep, your restorative sleep. Although more research is needed to determine if pink noise has the most positive effect on sleep, researchers agree that, somewhere between white and pink noise, lies the perfect support for uninterrupted sleep from environmental sounds.

A white noise machine is a helpful tool to soothe your baby as they fall asleep, but remember that the type of machine and how you use it is important. Keep your sound or white noise machine on the lowest level and try to limit its use to a few hours versus all night. Try out a few different types of sound mixes to see which works best for your baby and their sleep.

Author Bio

Michelle Smith

Michelle Smith is a Registered Sleep Specialist and Newborn Care Educator with specialties in Baby Sleep Training, Lactation Support, and Care of Preemies and Multiples. She has over a decade of clinical experience in sleep medicine offering guidance in Behavioral and Sleep Hygiene practices. Michelle is a mom of twin girls and a boy close in age. At one point she had three occupied cribs in her home and quickly realized how important it is to build healthy sleep habits in the newborn to toddler stages and how critical that can be for parents’ survival and sanity. She has chosen to focus her career on proactive sleep solutions for chronically sleep-deprived families.