You’ve just gotten your fussy baby down for a nap, and your neighbor decides to mow the lawn. Or, the mailman rings the bell for you to sign for a package…just as you had gotten your little to sleep. Better still are the early morning wake-ups, caused by the garbage truck or overzealous birds in the summertime. It could even be as benign as you putting dishes away in the evening, or peeking your head in to check on your baby before heading in for the night. If you have a baby with bionic hearing, or is an extremely light sleeper, read on.
Environmental noise is virtually unavoidable, but you can take control over your baby’s sleep environment and her ability to sleep through the noises that penetrate your home and baby’s nursery. White noise machines are an excellent tool for filtering and drowning out nursery noise pollution, helping your baby fall asleep and stay soundly asleep.
If you’re not familiar with white noise machines, they are devices that emit a steady tone (often the sound of rushing air) in order to blend sounds and filter out excess environmental noise. Many therapists use them for privacy, while other adults use them in their bedrooms in urban areas, in an effort to blend the cacophony of sounds outside their window. For baby and children’s sleep purposes, I recommend adding a white noise machine to the nursery or bedroom, especially if you have creaky floorboards in your home or live in an area with a lot of environmental noise.
If you feel that adding artificial noise to the nursery is counterintuitive to your efforts to help baby sleep, remember that your baby was in your womb for nine months. In that time, your baby heard the soothing sounds of your voice daily, was treated to the soft gurgles of your digestive system, became accustomed to the cadence of your heartbeat, experienced the same music and movies you did, and was generally lulled by an almost constant bevy of noises and sounds. In fact, silence can be more confusing to a newborn than background noise.
One of the benefits of adding a white noise machine to your nursery is sleep. White noise will help your baby fall back asleep if she wakes during the night, which can translate into longer nap times and reduce the likelihood of your baby waking fully during the night.
Why White Noise?
At this point, you’re probably worried about the possibility of a white noise becoming a crutch or your baby becoming ‘addicted’ to white noise. You are not alone in wondering this, but let me allay your concerns. White noise machines are not a sleep prop, such as gently rocking your baby to sleep, or multiple nighttime suckling sessions. The purpose of introducing white noise into your nursery is to block errant noises from disrupting baby’s sound sleep, allowing her to gently slip back into slumber during brief night wakings, instead of straining to hear what mom and dad might be doing outside her door.
Is White Noise Safe?
Recent studies have criticized the use of white noise machines for babies, warning of hearing loss and damaged ear drums. As long as you keep the noise machine across the room from your baby’s crib, at a moderate sound level (do not place on the highest setting!), you’ve no need to worry. When you’re ready to transition or wean your child from the white noise machine, simply reduce the volume in increments, until you’re no longer using the sound.
So, does white noise put babies to sleep? No, but it can definitely help them stay asleep and sleep soundly!