Many parents struggle to get their babies to fall asleep and stay asleep. Newborns usually cannot self soothe and naturally wake every few hours to feed. As a result, newborns may struggle to get to sleep and stay asleep (even if it’s just for a few hours), leaving parents and babies exhausted and cranky. There are several tactics that can help your baby know it’s bedtime, but you’ll also need to create an environment that promotes sleep. The environment should be quiet and peaceful and while it may seem impossible - it should mimic the womb. And here’s where sound machines come in. Sound machines play consistent noises that can lull your baby to sleep. The science behind a sound machine is that the sounds mimic the sounds they remember from the womb.
What You Need to Know When Shopping for Baby Sound Machines
If you’ve been struggling with sleep patterns, help is here. Keep reading to learn how to choose the best sound machine for your baby along with other valuable tips.
Why use a baby sound machine?
Baby sound machines can create a soothing experience for your infant. This is because the noises made by machines mimic the sounds babies grew accustomed to in utero. The womb is not a quiet place with sounds ranging from 70 to 91 decibels. Compare that to a vacuum cleaner that typically lets out noises that are 70 to 80 decibels. As your baby adjusts to life outside the womb, they may crave similarities which are far and few inbetween. A sound machine can help soothe your newborn, since they are unable to self soothe.
What are the different types of baby sound machines?
There are four main different types of baby noise machines:
- All-purpose noise machines: These machines are designed for all age groups to drown out outside sounds during sleep time. Several have multiple sound options, volume settings, and timers, but many do not offer features specifically for babies or kids like a heartbeat sound, projector lights, or a design.
- Baby-specific or toddler-specific sound machines: These sound machines are as they sound - no pun intended. Similar to white noise machines, sound machines targeted for babies or toddlers typically appear more kid-friendly from their packaging to the machine itself. Plus, they may have features such as a nightlight.
- Smart noise machines: Controlling technology from our smartphone has made life so much easier. And, luckily sound machines are no different. Parents can now use smart noise machines with bluetooth capability so they can be controlled from your smartphone.
- Portable noise machines: With babies needing to sleep often, you may find yourself on-the-go trying to juggle naptime. Portable noise machines are ideal for babies that go to daycare or Grandma's house or are cared for by parents on-the-go. They are small and compact so they can be easily taken anywhere.
What should you look for in a baby sound machine?
When choosing a sound machine safety should be a top priority. Purchasing from a reputable long-time brand or finding a sound machine with professional recommendations behind it is a plus. As you shop for the best sound machine for your baby - read about the product and notice some of the key features indicated below. While it’s a simple concept, it can be unsafe if not used properly. Check recommendations for the product of your choice.
Important features that you should look for in a baby sound machine include:
- Sound selection
- Automatic shutoff
- Continuous play
- Night light
- Adjustable volume
- AC adapter/battery power
What dB should the sound machine be for baby?
Sound machines should be kept at or below 50 decibels. You may assume that sound machines would not go louder than as deemed safe for a baby, but think again. The distance between the baby and sound machine can also come into play. Again we encourage you to check recommendations for the specific product. If you have further questions, contact your pediatrician. Sound machines should be played at least 7 feet away from where the baby is sleeping. To monitor the decibels of your machine, take advantage of the free app (NIOSH Sound Level Meter) by the Center for Disease Control.
Do pediatricians recommend sound machines?
Most pediatricians would recommend a sound machine if used properly. Their guidelines will typically include the sound level and placement of the sound machine. Furthermore, they will likely recommend you turn it off once the baby is asleep. If you get a sound machine with a timer, you can set it to turn off. Sound machines are proven to help babies fall asleep and stay asleep. As evidence, check out the 1990 PubMed article that notes 80% of young babies (2-7 days old) fell asleep within 5 minutes as a response to white noise. Compared to babies that did not have a sound machine, 25% fell asleep spontaneously.
So, overall, after a little research it’s clear that consumers should really think first before using sound machines. To safely use white noise machines, parents should:
- Read and familiarize yourself with manufacturer directions and safety warnings
- Keep sound machines out of the direct sleeping space i.e. the crib or cot
- Check sound levels and set appropriately (for comparison it should be no louder than a shower running)
- Set a timer so it does not run all nights - find a sound machine with a built-in timer
- Speak with your Child Health Nurse, GP, or your baby’s pediatrician about using white noise and any potential risks of using it
What color noise is best for baby sleep?
Besides white noise, there are other color noises that can help your baby sleep. The most common color noises for sleeping include pink noise and brown noise, though there is also blue, violet, and gray noise. Basically, pink noise has a lower pitch than white noise. Deeper than pink or white noise, is brown noise which produces a bass-like tone. Although there are limited scientific studies on the matter, if you’re curious about how your baby might react to other noise colors, you can experiment by getting a noise app or finding it on YouTube.
As parents, it’s an important part of our job to make sure our babies are getting a good night’s rest. Newborns need a whopping 14 to 17 hours of sleep. While the amount of sleep will reduce, the importance of sleep remains the same. Controlling the environment your baby is sleeping can help them fall asleep and stay asleep.Once you’ve picked the best sound machine for your baby - order a gently weighted swaddle. Together these two sleep aid items are magical. Watch in disbelief as your baby falls asleep and stays asleep. And always remember, there will be good days and bad. Be consistent as possible with surroundings and reactions and try to help teach your baby to self soothe. Sound machines and weighted sleep sacks are both gateways to help teach babies to self soothe. In the newborn stage they will likely not be able to self soothe but during this time you are preparing them for the rest of their life.