White noise is an important factor in encouraging healthy sleep. Implementing white noise won’t be a quick sleep fix, but it’s a key piece of the puzzle!
There’s conflicting information floating around out there on the web regarding white noise. Some say white noise helps babies and infants fall asleep and sleep more soundly, while others say it is damaging to the child’s hearing. Well folks, let’s get to the nitty-gritty on this one….
1. White noise reduces stress in infants/children. Not the “I have a party tonight and don’t know what to wear” stress, but the “everything is so new to me, and I feel very overstimulated” type of stress. Think about it- literally, everything is new to a baby: faces, places, smells, sounds, etc. Babies become over-stimulated and overtired easily, so anything that we can do to help alleviate stressors in their new world will help. White noise helps block out this stimulation.
2. Studies have shown that the best location for a white noise machine is 6.5 feet from the crib. Please, folks, don’t be placing the white noise machine under your child’s crib, and especially, don’t place it in the crib. The recommended level of sound is 50 decibels. There are tons of apps out there you can download to measure the sound. Some white noise machines are capable of producing a hazardous level of sound. Basically, you want it to be about as loud as a shower when standing in the bathroom. This positioning and level of sound makes white noise both safe and effective. I also suggest placing the white noise against the wall from which you want to block the sound.
3. White noise is super easy to implement. I have experimented with a few different types of white noise machines, and my favourite is this one made by Marpac. You don’t need to go out and spend money on a white noise machine though. A fan will work just as good (if not better as it may double as protection from SIDS). A humidifier does the trick too.
4. White noise helps babies sleep better. Especially if you are living in a busy neighbourhood with lots of traffic, dogs barking, kids playing. Maybe you have older children who don’t understand the concept of being quiet while Baby sleeps. White noise helps block out these external sounds.
5. The white noise needs to be continuous. Most (if not all) white noise machines come with a timer you can set. If you set the timer for 45 minutes, there’s a good chance that Baby will wake up after 45 minutes and wonder where the sound went. Also- I recommend using the plain jane white noise setting- the music or birds chirping may be distracting to your child.
6. And my last but certainly not least point is that white noise is non- habit forming! I always get a chuckle out of people who feel the need to give me their two cents on how my children will become dependant on white noise. This is exactly the same as a dark bedroom. Believe it or not, your child will actually still sleep if they are in a room that isn’t pitch dark and doesn’t have white noise. Craaaaazy, right? (rolling my eyes). Want to get rid of the white noise? Turn it down a notch every day until it’s gone.
Lindsey Hennigar is founder of The Sleep Ranch and a Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant through the Family Sleep Institute. She helps exhausted parents and families get the healthy, restorative sleep they need. Your child can LOVE sleep!