Heard about white noise for baby sleep? Newborn white noise mimics womb sounds for a gentle slumber. But are there risks as well as benefits?
So, will white noise for baby comfort work for you? Here’s the deal:
If your baby could give your womb a rating, it would be 5 stars for maximum soothe.
And that’s not because it was soundless in there.
The beat of your heart. The whirring of your stomach. The flow of your blood.
It’s not exactly the most silent place on earth.
But not only did they not mind those womb sounds; they loved them.
Then they enter the world, and it’s like they’ve just come back to the big city after an island vacation.
Suddenly, there are hammers hammering and siblings screeching and doors slamming.
They long for the peace of womb sounds, but there’s no going back.
Basically, they’re pretty nostalgic for their previous accommodation ‒ your body.
Enter white noise sounds for baby sleep, a great way to get them to tap into the auditory reassurance that came with life on the inside.
But what exactly is white noise for babies, does it really work, and is it always a good idea?
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In this article: 📝
- What is white noise for babies?
- What does white noise do for babies?
- Is white noise OK for babies?
- How loud should white noise be for newborns?
- Should you keep white noise on all night for baby?
- Best white noise machines for baby
- When should I stop using white noise for baby?
What is white noise for babies?
The technical white noise meaning is “a noise containing many frequencies with equal intensities”, designed to calm and soothe those within earshot.
White noise for babies is the shhh sound you might hear from radio or TV static.
This and other ambient noises can be reproduced by white noise machines babies can use to help them fall asleep.
These baby white noise machines mask the sounds that naturally occur in the surrounding environment.
The goal? Less of the sirens, more of the soothe.
What does white noise do for babies?
The point of newborn white noise is deeper, longer, happier sleep.
Interestingly, we don’t necessarily wake up from the loudness of a sound but because of a volume change.
To stay asleep, we need some consistency, and babies are no different.
Baby white noise masks the erratic sounds of their surroundings.
The result? Disturbances decrease and long periods of napping increase.
Only 25% of the babies who were not listening to newborn white noise fell asleep in the same amount of time.
But, as with most things, white noise for babies comes with a word of caution.
(You know what they say about too much of a good thing.)
There is potential for your baby to become overly reliant on it, making it difficult for them to sleep without their baby white noise machine.
Also, some babies just don’t like them. Simple as that.
Then, there’s the issue of how to use them safely, and the answer appears to lie in volume.
What are the benefits of white noise?
So what are the specific benefits of white noise for baby?
Well, many of the same benefits as white noise for adults:
- Helps develop a bedtime routine.
- Stops us from actively listening to outside noises.
- Can help us relax ‒ instantly.
- Can encourage longer sleep (for some people).
Does white noise help colic?
As it turns, out, playing baby white noise was more effective in calming the colicky babies than swinging.
Does white noise help you sleep?
For some people, yes.
According to this study to see whether white noise can help people living in noisy areas of New York City, white noise “significantly improved sleep” for the majority of them.
But white noise for sleep doesn’t necessarily work for everyone ‒ or every baby, for that matter ‒ some people find that the relaxing effect simply doesn’t work for them.
Is white noise OK for babies?
Yes and no.
It’s all about using a white noise machine for baby safely.
There are a few safe sleep protocols that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends you follow when using white noise for baby:
- Keep the noise levels at less than 50 decibels (around the same as a quiet office or the hum of a refrigerator).
- Put the baby white noise machine at least 7 feet away from where baby is sleeping.
Is white noise harmful?
Most of the time, no, baby white noise isn’t harmful, unless it’s close to baby’s crib or at a volume exceeding 50 decibels.
If either of those rules aren’t followed, there’s a chance that baby’s hearing could be damaged.
Can white noise damage hearing?
Yes, white noise for baby can damage their hearing, if it’s over 50 decibels in volume or closer than 7 feet to where they’re sleeping.
Does white noise hurt baby ears?
Usually, no, newborn white noise doesn’t hurt baby’s ears, but as with any noise, there is the potential for hearing damage if it’s too loud or too close to baby’s ears.
Is white noise keeping baby awake?
It might be ‒ the calming effects of baby white noise doesn’t always work on every baby.
Try using white noise a few times to see how they respond to it ‒ if they fuss more or cry louder, maybe newborn white noise isn’t for them.
How loud should white noise be for newborns?
The reality is, that there may be a link between the sound output of baby white noise machines and your baby’s hearing development.
The recommended sound level for workplaces is less than 85 decibels over an eight-hour workday.
For babies in the NICU, it’s less than 50 decibels over an hour.
Three of the 14 sound machines for babies tested had an output of over 85 decibels.
The study concludes that to be safe, white noise machines should be played at a lower volume for shorter periods, at least 7 feet away from wherever baby is sleeping.
Should you keep white noise on all night for baby?
While the idea of playing white noise for baby at lower volumes appears to be agreed upon by experts, there is some debate about how long you should play it.
Contrary to the recommendation in the Pediatrics review, many experts agree that the danger appears to be volume rather than duration and have no problem with playing white noise for baby for the length of their sleep.
The research is still ongoing, so the best bet for now? Prioritize low volume.
Is it safe to play white noise all night?
Yes, it’s perfectly safe to play white noise for baby all night, as long as it’s less than 50 decibels and at least 7 feet away from baby.
However, playing baby white noise all night can make baby reliant on hearing white noise subconsciously while they sleep.
This can affect their sleep patterns as an adult, too ‒ they might need to hear white noise to sleep throughout the night.
Most baby sleep experts suggest playing baby white noise to help baby get to sleep, but to stop playing it once baby’s in a deep slumber ‒ usually up to about an hour.
Best white noise machines for baby
So now we know the pros, cons, and proper protocols for using a baby white noise machine, what are the best white noise machines for baby?
Here are our 5 top picks for white noise machines for baby, recommended by our mamas of Peanut:
1. FridaBaby 2-in-1 Portable Sound Machine + Nightlight
The FridaBaby white noise machine isn’t just a calming sound machine, it’s also a nightlight ‒ perfect for a dim light so you can do night feedings while keeping baby settled.
While the FridaBaby white noise machine for baby does go up to 80 decibels, it’s best to keep it at a relatively low volume so you don’t damage baby’s hearing.
Sounds: Pink noise, waves, nature sounds, heartbeat, and shushing
Maximum volume: 80 decibels
Other features: 3-level nightlight, handy strap, auto shut-off option
2. VTech Myla the Monkey Baby Sleep Soother
After a baby white noise machine with a cute design?
Then you’ll love the VTech Myla the Monkey Baby Sleep Soother!
Sounds: White noise, stream, crickets, vacuum cleaner, heartbeat, gentle traffic, shushing, washing machine, hairdryer, shower, and lullabies
Maximum volume: Around 105 decibels
Other features: Handy hook, nightlight, auto shut-off, rechargeable battery
3. Yogasleep Dohm Classic White Noise Machine
Great for babies and adults, this white noise machine can be used anywhere.
Sounds: Low fan
Maximum volume: 75 decibels
Other features: 2 volume options, adjustable sound, non-looping sound
4. REACHER R2 White Noise Machine
With a few more bells and whistles, this nightlight and baby white noise machine combo has plenty of options.
Sounds: Low fan, gentle waves, lullaby, summer night, music box, rain, campfire, ocean waves, fetal, pendulum clock ticking, train, forest, stream, thunderstorm, heartbeat, drip-drop, wind, and shush
Maximum volume: Not specified, but the highest volume can get too loud for baby
Other features: Color-changing nightlight, slowly pulsing light, auto shut-off
5. Easysleep White Noise Machine
Small and portable, this simple white noise machine for babies gets the job done!
Sounds: White noise, fans, brook, sea waves, birds, bonfire, train, piano, lullabies, meditation sounds
Maximum volume: Not specified, but the highest volume can get too loud for baby
Other features: Nightlight, auto shut‒off, compact
Where do you put a white noise machine in a baby’s room?
It’s totally up to you where you decide to put your baby white noise machine ‒ as long as it’s at least 7 feet (200cm) away from your sleeping baby, to protect their hearing.
If you choose to get a white noise machine with a nightlight, you’ll also want it to be somewhere visible, to shine a dim light on your sleeping beauty.
When should I stop using white noise for baby?
Now, when to stop using white noise for baby?
After a while, we all need a new playlist.
So when is it time to kick the white noise for baby?
There’s no single answer to this.
Ultimately, you do what’s best for you and your baby.
If you find that white noise works well for you, it might be a good idea to wait until you’ve established a regular sleep pattern before kicking it to the curb.
Also, weaning helps.
And try making the newborn white noise softer, softer each night until it’s no longer a necessary part of their world.
Getting a good night’s sleep is vital for both you and your baby.
Those first few months can be quite something, and it may feel like nothing could have ever prepared you for them.
So sometimes, white noise for baby can ease the pressure.
Sleep tight, mama.
😴 More on baby sleep:
Sleep Training Baby: Methods, Tips & When to Start
How to Get Babies to Nap Longer: The Ultimate Guide
Managing The 4-Month Sleep Regression: Your Expert Guide
Baby Sleep Training 101
How to Dress Baby For Sleep
How Safe Is Co-Sleeping?
When to Stop Using a Sleep Sack for Your Baby
Your Guide to Baby Sleep Regressions
What to Know About the 12 Month Sleep Regression
How to Get Your Baby to Sleep in a Crib
Can Babies Have Nightmares?
How to End Co-Sleeping: Your Quickfire Guide
What Do Babies Dream About?
Newborn Chapped Lips: Why It Happens and What to Do