Heard about white noise for baby comfort and want to know if it’ll work for you? Here’s the deal:
If your baby could give your womb a rating, it would be ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ for maximum soothe.
And that’s not because it was soundless in there. The beat of your heart. The whirring of your digestive juices. The flow of your blood.
It’s not exactly the most silent place on earth. But not only did they not mind the noise; they loved it.
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 the womb, 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 it, does it really work, and is it always a good idea? Let’s take a look.
White noise sounds for babies FAQs
What is white noise for babies?
White noise is the shhhh sound you might hear from radio or TV static.
This and other ambient noises can be reproduced by sound machines babies can use to help them fall asleep.
These 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 is deeper, longer, happier sleep.
Interestingly, we don’t necessarily wake up from the loudness of a sound but because of a change in volume.
To stay asleep, we need some consistency—and babies are no different.
White noise masks the erratic sounds of their surroundings.
The result? Disturbances decrease and long periods of napping increase.
And it really seems to work. In this study of 20 newborns, 80% of the babies who were listening to white noise fell asleep within five minutes.
Only 25% of the babies who were not listening to 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 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.
How loud should white noise be for baby?
The reality is, there may be a link between the sound output of these 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 the course of an hour.
As this 2014 review in the journal Pediatrics tells us, many popular sound machines for babies may surpass recommended noise limits, not just for newborns, but for adults.
Three of the 14 sound machines for babies tested had an output of over 85 decibels.
The study concludes that to be safe, sound machines should be played at a lower volume for shorter periods.
But it may not be as simple as that…
Should you play white noise all night for baby?
While the idea of playing white noise at lower volumes appears to be agreed upon by experts, there is some debate about how long you should play it for.
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.
When should you stop white noise for baby?
After a while, we all need a new playlist. So when is it time to kick the white noise?
There’s no one 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 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.
For other tips on getting your little one to sleep, head here.
Good luck, mama.
😴 More on baby sleep:
How to Get Babies to Nap Longer: The Ultimate Guide
Managing The 4-Month Sleep Regression: Your Expert Guide
Colicky Baby: All You Need to Know
How Much Do Newborns Sleep? A Rough Guide
Baby Sleep Training 101
5 Things I Wish I Knew About Baby Sleep as a First-Time Mama
Newborn Sleep Schedule: Rough Patterns and Timings
Baby Sleep Temperature Guidelines to Follow
All About the Baby Sleep Cycle
How to Dress Baby For Sleep
15 Tips for Flying With a Baby