Babies and Sleep
A newborn baby is the best thing that can happen to parents. It’s a wonderful period of their life, and it seems almost magical. Their entire life suddenly revolves around this tiny baby who manages to hold their complete attention, awake and when asleep. While the baby and the parents struggle around a cycle of waking, feeding, playing, and sleeping, nothing is fixed for the parents of the child. It is pretty common for babies to have an abnormal sleep-wake cycle, and they also frequently have trouble falling asleep. Baby white noise is something that can help and below we will discuss how, but first let’s see what makes it difficult for the baby to sleep below.
The baby must go to sleep effortlessly and comfortably, but it is not always the case. This is because the baby can sleep during the day when you are still busy with house chores or watching TV, or the external noise coming from the street or neighbors can disturb the baby’s sleep. Therefore, to help the baby fall asleep faster and sleep comfortably, pediatricians will recommend playing white noise when all other modes fail. Let’s first understand what white noise is.
What is Baby White Noise?
An important study conducted in 1990 found in the Archives of Disease in Childhood details this information which is effective in 80% of the babies. White noise is a special noise or sound that is played while the baby is about to sleep or is already sleeping.
The sound completely relaxes the baby, has a great calming effect, and works amazingly well. The study found that babies slept within just 5 minutes of the white noise being played. It’s a wonderful invention for parents and babies alike. Certain sounds and music are used in white noise to mask external disturbance and block them out completely.
Babies, Noise and Falling a Sleep
Certain babies need complete silence to sleep, while others can be used to noisy environments while sleeping. White noise solves both these problems by playing a repetitive white noise through sound machines. These sounds can replicate various sounds, and it’s up to the parents to check which one will work best for their baby.
The constant comforting sound lull babies to fall asleep and stay asleep comfortably longer while the parents can get about their work. Some of these machines can also come with a white light that projects stars, animals, or just lights on the ceiling to complete the soothing effect.
While there are a lot of advantages to white noise, it can cause the baby to become too used to the noise and may not be able to fall asleep without it. Parents should also be aware of the recommended sound limits for a baby. It is also possible that some babies may not respond to the white noise at all. So it’s different on a case-to-case basis, but parents have to consider these consequences as the exposure may have long-term effects. While the long-term effects can be bad, a baby who has not slept well can become extremely fussy, irritable, hyperactive, and demonstrate extreme behavior. Parents are the best judge of when to use the machine, how frequently and for how long.
Pitch of the White Noise
There’s a popular misconception that all white noise has the same effect on the baby. White noise is categorized into high-pitched and low-pitched white noise, and both have completely different effects. Let me give you an example for you to understand better.
High pitched sounds are like alarms, screams, and beepers, etc., which sound harsh, annoying, and hissy. They can calm a baby by getting their attention but cannot help them sleep.
Low pitched sounds are like constant droning sounds. The perfect examples are the soft rumble sound in an aircraft, train, and car. Such is their soothing effect that even we as adults can fall asleep very easily in such noisy environments. That sound is superb for making babies fall asleep, and if you have observed, babies do sleep very well in a moving car. A somewhat similar sound is audible to the baby inside the womb, and therefore when they hear such a sound, it has an immediate calming effect on the baby.
How to Select the Right Baby Sound Machine?
What the machine plays is equally important as the other features it may have. The baby machine can play a variety of sounds like birds chirping, gentle nature jungle sounds, rainforest, soothing beach sound, heartbeat-like sound to mimic the mother’s heartbeats, etc.
Features of the Sound Machine
There are certain features to understand in a sound machine before purchasing it.
- Volume adjustment
- White light (also known as a night light)
- Selection of sounds (programmable sounds facility)
- Auto shutoff and Timer
- Continuous play mechanism
Since the device will emit sound continuously for a few hours, the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) recommends using a machine that does not output sound larger than 50 decibels. Ideally, parents must use a low-volume setting and place the device at a distance of 7-10 (AAP recommended distance) feet from the baby.
Since we have understood white noise and all the factors involved, let us check some of the white noise machines available and their features.
The Marpac Dohm White Noise Machine
Weighing 1.6 pounds, this product is a classic. Dohm has been around for almost 50 years now. It’s a simple and straightforward device. It has its special white noise that manages to mask out all the external sounds around the baby. It does not feature animal sounds or any fancy lights. It’s available for around $45 and it’s ok for the price, considering it’s a tried and tested product over generations.
Munchkin Sound Asleep Nursery
Unlike the Marpac Dohm, the Munchkin Sound machine plays soothing sounds like heartbeat, ocean, or white noise. Also, it can play some nice classical tunes. You can use the built-in timer to conserve energy, or alternately you can let it play for 8 hours at a time. To add to all these features, the night light gives enough light for activities like a diaper in the middle of the night. Weighing 1.4 pounds, this white noise machine retails for around $35.
HomeMedics MyBaby SoundSpa
This machine has six pre-recorded sounds available for around $30, including ocean waves, heartbeat, and white noise. It can be powered with a battery or power supply. Weighing just 10 ounces and makes it easy to carry on your travels. It sports a programmable timer and adjustable volume in addition to the impressive selection of sounds.
Hatch Baby Rest Sound Machine
This machine’s best feature is the single tap which lets you play the soothing sounds with just a tap on your phone. It also sports a wake-up alarm, so your toddler can have a definite get-out-of-bed time programmed for every morning. This machine comes with a nightlight, is available at around $60, and weighs 1 pound.
Echo Dot Smart Speaker With Alexa
We have a surprising addition to the list here. Yes, you can use any portable device to use as a white noise machine, not just an Alexa Echo Dot Smart Speaker. It is available at $40. It’s only one of the several options parents can use since most households have some of the other smart speakers.
You can download a wide variety of white sounds and use them. The best thing about this is that if you have a wide variety of sounds, the baby will not get used to them. The baby will start to show problems if it gets used to only one sound and may develop sleep issues. We love this product because it’s the best smart home sound machine.
Dream Tones by Conair
This machine is an extremely cheap machine priced at just $17 while still retaining the other models’ sound and light features. It also sports the features like six soothing sounds, night light, and a beautiful starry night projection. It has all bells and whistles of expensive white noise machines at a very low price. You get a volume control, compact design, and extremely lightweight device at just 5 ounces.
Not a Permanent Solution
Overall we have understood white noise and the science behind it. We have also understood the factors that govern it and why it works so well with babies. However, it’s not a permanent solution. Also, having babies get completely accustomed to it will lead to other adjustment issues. It’s best to use the machine at some times and use the natural methods to fall asleep.
However, there is no doubt that it’s a fantastic invention, and if used correctly, it will help parents manage child care effectively. This can really help in the first few months of the baby when things can get tough.