Of all the techniques used to help babies fall asleep – long neighbourhood strolls, vigorous rocking, running the vacuum cleaner – there’s one that offers a concise and reliable sleep strategy for babies: the sleep sound machine. Just as some baby toys can give you a leg up as a parent so can this device. Using sleep sounds at bedtime can help babies and children get through the night, even if sleep happens only in few-hours increments.
Even before your baby was born, they were accustomed to background sounds. In case you forgot, the womb can be a noisy place. While it offers a great amount of padding, in the womb, your baby was surrounded by ambient sounds for nine months, the reason why they may find a low hum comforting now. This explains why so many newborns and babies need white or pink noise to fall asleep. White or pink noise is a steady, unobtrusive kind of sound that masks other noises, like sirens and barking dogs. While it doesn’t eliminate those disruptive noises, it can help make them less noticeable. Here is what you need to know about using a baby sound machine to soothe your child to sleep.
Is Sleep Sound Okay for Young Children?
Sleep sound is meant to be in the background. So as long as it stays there, it is safe for babies from a health perspective. Experts recommend setting the machine no louder than 50 decibels. This means you’ll want to place the device well away from your baby’s crib, use a low volume setting and stop playing it once the baby falls asleep.
What Is the Best Sound Machine for Sleeping?
You’ll find a wide range of white/pink noise machines on the market. Choose a sleep sound machine with useful features, such as sound selections, a timer, automatic shutoff and portability.
- Price – Most sound machines cost less than $100. High-quality models generally offer a wide selection of noises and sounds.
- Size – Sound machines are often lightweight and compact, but some are exceptionally small and designed for travel.
- Timer – Some models come with programmable timers that will automatically shut off the device after a certain amount of time.
- Looping – Some machines loop their sounds at the end to create a continuous listening experience.
Pink Noise vs White Noise
Some people equate white noise to certain ambient sounds like an air conditioner of a whirring fan, but technically, they are not the same. Although the effect on your ears may be similar, by definition, white noise consists of all audible frequencies played randomly at the same amplitude. Some of the sounds confused with white noise are actually different colours of noise. A common example is pink noise. Pink noise is a blend of more intense low-frequency tones and softer high-frequency tones.
Because the human ear is particularly sensitive to high frequencies, pink noise is considered more pleasant than white noise. Plus, pink noise is known to have other sleep benefits. Studies have suggested that pink noise can actually reduce brain wave activity, which in turn helps decrease sleep onset, extend sleep duration, and improve overall sleep quality.
The Benefits of Sleep Sound
The main benefit of sleep sound for babies is the fact that it can help your child fall asleep. If you notice that your baby tends to fall asleep at noisy times outside of regular nap time or bedtime, he/she might respond positively to white/pink noise. For babies that are accustomed to being surrounded by noise, a completely quiet environment could have the opposite effect when it comes to sleep.
Families who have multiple children of different ages could also benefit from sleep sound devices. For example, if you have a baby who needs a nap and an older child who no longer takes naps, white or pink noise can help block out the noises of siblings to help the baby sleep better.
When Should You Stop Using Sleep Sounds?
It’s true that sleep sounds can be very helpful during the tough stages of your baby’s life, especially in the first few months when he/she is battling sleep. However, you shouldn’t get into the habit of exposing your child to these noises all night, every night, for the same reason you wouldn’t feed him one kind of food his entire childhood.
Babies aren’t born good sleepers – it’s a skill that they learn over time. So, if you get your machine running 24/7, that could impact the way your baby learns to self-soothe and nod off without help. Moreover, as your child’s sleep habits evolve, you will want to create sleep schedules and bedtime routines that teach him to sleep more independently.
A sleep sound device can be a great tool to help your newborn and baby get the quality sleep he/she needs. It’s safe, affordable and if used correctly, it won’t hurt your baby’s hearing. Still, it’s something you shouldn’t use as a crutch forever. It’s very important that your baby learns to fall and stay asleep on his own.