How A White Noise Machine Kept Our Baby Sleeping And Us Happy
When Dylan was just born we were having problems with what seemed like just about everything, from feeding to sleep. We tried everything to soothe him, from the sound of a vacuum, bathroom fan, kitchen fan, and static from the TV. Unfortunately for us, none of these worked. So doing what any parent would do, I went to the Internet looking for other household items that could be used as a white noise generator. The sheer number of different noise machines and different apps and songs available shocked me.
By providing white noise, you are trying to soothe your baby by providing a stimulus they are familiar with. This is one of the reasons many babies are seemingly able to sleep through anything especially at the younger ages.
Why use a sound machine?
In utero, your baby can hear your pulse, as the blood rushes around your body. Depending on where they are situated they might be able to hear other sounds of your body like your stomach or gas. As their hearing develops, they also begin hearing the hustle and bustle of what’s around you. Because many of these noises are a near constant, they get use to them and take comfort in them. When your baby is born, suddenly this constant stimulation is minimized. By providing white noise, you are trying to soothe your baby by providing a stimulus they are familiar with. This is one of the reasons many babies are seemingly able to sleep through anything especially at the younger ages.
How to choose a noise machine
There is no easy answer to this one. In fact we have experimented with several different ones. We tried different apps, and have purchased both a white noise machine and a ‘Baby Shusher’. The interesting thing is that each of our kids preferred something a little different. Which means that it is actually a little bit of trial and error. But you can quickly learn which sound tends to work best.
Think of the level like soft elevator music; loud enough to annoy you, but soft enough to allow for awkward between-floor conversations.
Where to put your white noise generator
I get asked this question a fair bit. The truth is it really doesn’t matter as long as you are safe. Never put it directly in the crib with your child. Cords can get tangled and your baby could suffocate. Place the machine at least a foot away from your baby and the volume should be loud enough to permeate the room, but quiet enough for you to be able to talk to someone over it. Think of the level like soft elevator music; loud enough to annoy you, but soft enough to allow for awkward between-floor conversations. Use it only briefly through sleep periods (not all day and night) and the lowest level you can to be effective.
Once we nailed down which noise worked for each kid we used it until they were more settled and able to self-soothe. The sound machine has come in handy other than just for when the boys were little ones. When Dyl developed his fear of the thunder we would put the sound machine in his room to distract him from the thunder. We have also used it when we travel. For many kids, sleeping in a strange room with different noises can be difficult; this is a great time to use a familiar noise to add a level of comfort. We also use it when we sleep train our babies; it goes in the bigger kids rooms to help minimize the impact any crying may have on them.
Find a noise that works for your child
Don’t make the noise too loud
Find other uses for the white noise
Want other toddler sleep training tips?
How much sleep do kids need anyway?
Dina is a wife, mother of 4, and adrenaline junky. She loves to share children’s health information from her professional and personal experience. More About Dr Dina.