It goes without saying that I adore white noise! I want you all, the babies, and myself! Different colours of sound (brown, pink, orange, etc.) and sounds like a dishwasher, hoover, fan, or even things like rain, ocean waves, or a rainforest are just a few of the many variations available.
But there are many unanswered questions about white noise in general, as there are with most things in life. In this blog, we’ll discuss the following topics:
-What exactly is baby white noise?
-Are white noise generators beneficial for sleep?
-How white noise helps infant sleep?
-Are white noise generators secure?
-White noise for baby sleep: advantages and disadvantages
-Which white noise tone is most suitable for infants?
-How long should white noise last?
-What exactly is baby white noise?
That is identical to other white noise, after all. A combination of all sound frequencies is known as white noise. White noise can be compared to 20,000 tones playing simultaneously.
Basically, the noise generator will produce a sound that drowns out other noises to prevent you from being startled awake by outside noise.
Are white noise generators beneficial for sleep?
The noise coming out of nowhere, not the noise itself, is what awakens you up—that is the whole point of utilising white noise! It benefits our brain by providing a more stable environment by hiding this.
White noise serves to reduce the patterns or abrupt changes in environmental noises that our brains might pick up on since they continue to analyse sensory data when we sleep.
Can white noise therefore aid in sleep? Of course!
Even marginally bothersome sounds during the day can worsen at night, especially if they are abrupt. Noisy environments can disturb your sleep patterns even if you don’t completely awaken.
Many objects in the home, including as televisions, pets, and other people, as well as outdoor noises like storms, traffic, and city noise are all potential causes of sleep-robbing noises.
Interesting fact: «Our research finds that noise events produce arousals at relatively low exposure levels, independent of the noise source (air, road, and rail traffic, neighbours, church bells), and environment» (home, laboratory, hospital).
The notion that nighttime noise is probably linked to cardiovascular disease and stroke in the elderly is supported by new epidemiological investigations. Together, these findings also imply that exposure to nocturnal noise may be more important for the development of cardiovascular disease than exposure to daytime noise.
How white noise promotes sleep in infants?
While inside of you, your unborn child grows accustomed to all the noises that our bodies make, such as those made by our digestive system or the placenta’s rushing blood. Because it is familiar to them, white noise is soothing to babies.
Because of this, when infants are born into a setting with a range of sounds, the quietness might be unsettling and make it harder for them to settle, not the other way around!
Interesting fact: Your womb typically has a decibel level of 80.
Do you recall the first time you had an ultrasound and heard the whooshing sound as soon as the wand was placed on your belly? Imagine it being amplified; that is what your baby is hearing all the time.
Therefore, when they leave your womb and enter the world of silence, whispers, and tiptoes instead of the extremely loud sound level, you may end up with a fussy, confused baby who would rather fall asleep in the car or at a loud party than in their quiet and still nursery. This is why white noise can help you fall asleep.
The Snoo was developed on the basis of Dr. Harvey Karp’s five S’s.
According to his hypothesis, the five Ss—swaddle, side, shh (loudly), suck (pacifier/breast), and swing (motion)—all help your baby go into a relaxing reaction. Once they begin to settle down, you would use these by matching the intensity of the sobbing with your white noise/shh and movements.
If they are peaceful or asleep, you also gradually reduce your movement and voice.
Are white noise generators secure?
Your white noise machine’s decibel level should be measured; you may do this for free by downloading an app on your phone and using it in the room where you sleep.
(I like to use dB metre or Decibel X as they give consistent measurements).
Infants should not be exposed to noise levels above 50 dBA in hospital nurseries, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
It has nothing to do with safeguarding the hearing of infants and was suggested in 1999 by the National Resource Center.
Its main goal was to «preserve a major chunk of each hour for newborn sleep» in neonatal intensive care units, or NICUs. Sleep is essential for premature newborns, and loud noises shock and annoy NICU infants more than they annoy healthy full-term infants, hence the restriction is largely intended to promote better sleep for premature infants.
That’s ironic because parents utilise white noise generators to aid in improving infant sleep, of course. The 1999 report even addressed the possibility that loud NICU noise could harm premature infants’ ears and came to the «not surprisingly» surprising conclusion that such effects «have not been consistently demonstrated.»
When does white noise become unbearable for a baby? The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the United States has established a safety limit of 85 dB for workers to be exposed to for eight-hour periods.
For comparison, the sound level associated with mild rainfall is 50 decibels; normal conversation is 60 decibels; a hoover cleaner sounds like 70 decibels; and blenders and blow dryers sound like 80 to 90 dB.
This chart has further comparisons that you can view
Dr. Harvey Karp, the originator of Happiest Baby on the Block and the designer of the Snoo, claims that sound doesn’t begin to promote sleep until it reaches 60 to 65 dB.
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises keeping sound machines seven feet or more away from your child’s bed.
This recommendation comes from a study that revealed infant white noise machines that were explicitly marketed for babies measured at decibel levels greater than the «recommended» amount when put within a foot of their sleep zone. Hence, can white noise harm hearing? In any case, refrain from playing your white noise machine nonstop for eight hours directly next to your child’s head. Is white noise ever too loud? That’s why we measure decibels, of course!
While some people are more sensitive than others, the degree and severity of how noise affects sleep varies somewhat from person to person. According to one study, people’s capacity for noise tolerance is influenced by their brain rhythms.
Does white noise hurt you though? only if it is excessively loud or close. If you want to be sure how loud their white noise machine is in their sleeping area, it’s a good idea to check it whenever you move it around the room or go somewhere else. For example, you could put your phone with the app open in your child’s cot or bed, turn on the sound machine, and measure the decibel level at the location where they will be hearing the sound.
Although there have not been many studies on white noise, the following is what is known:
In a 2009 study, it was discovered that when rats were exposed to 80 decibels of white noise for eight hours each day for two weeks during the crucial period for the development of their hearing, their neurons changed the way they responded to stimuli. However, the researchers did not examine other aspects of behaviour or cognition, the inner ear, or other aspects of the rats’ behaviour, so it is unclear what this means.
In a different study, it was discovered that rats’ hearing got compromised when subjected to broadband noise at 100 or 110 decibels for eight hours a day for five days, but not when subjected to 90 decibels. The research mentioned above also touch on the potential for a language delay; according to Chang, «babies learn through absorbing human speech sounds.»
The acquisition of speech sounds may be delayed when they are weakened by computers or TVs. An audiologist at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, New York, named Frederick Ruffen says, «It’s fascinating to note that white noise delays the maturing of the brain. Yet, the critical period is extended once the noise is stopped. Later brain development is possible.»
Although limiting white noise in babies may be crucial, according to Ruffen, parents should likely be more concerned about loud, obtrusive noises like loud music, horns honking, highway noise, and construction equipment.
He claims that these noises harm hearing by causing auditory neurons to overgrow. Furthermore, unlike white noise, the crucial period is not prolonged when the brain is subjected to certain noise forms. These kinds of sounds can cause permanent damage after they have done so, according to Ruffen.
The researchers claim that there are many possible neural effects on the central auditory system, but some of them include a decrease in neural inhibition (the capacity to filter unimportant information), an extension of the processing time for changing signals, and less accurate cortical representations (how information is represented in the brain).
It is crucial to keep in mind that the aforementioned researchers are working on commercial technologies that they claim can have positive effects on cognitive functions in light of the theories they are advancing.
White noise itself does not appear to be associated with worse outcomes, at least not directly, according to any evidence that the authors have cited elsewhere or in the review.
Since using white noise has so many advantages, more study is required in order for parents to make an informed choice about how to safely use it on their babies.
White noise for baby sleep: its benefits and drawbacks
The advantages of employing white noise are endless! Here is a list of advantages:
According to this study, white noise helped 80% of babies fall asleep within 5 minutes.
Memory performance improved when «pink» noise, another type of white noise, was used.
It can block out background noises from the house that might disturb the baby up at night or in the morning (essential if you share a room!).
This study sought to determine whether the brain reacts differently to various stimuli during sleep depending on their importance. This possibility is supported by behavioural and electrophysiological evidence. For instance, certain auditory stimuli, regardless of their intensity, cause more awakenings than others; for instance, young mothers are awakened by their infants’ lightest movements. has been shown to speed up the transition between sleep cycles, speed up restorative sleep, and shorten the time it takes to fall asleep.
favourable outcomes if you have insomnia (decreases the time it takes to fall asleep)
Lights, faces, and excitement all cause tension in babies. When someone needs to sleep, white noise helps by obstructing stimulus and creating a secure environment.
At around 20 to 45 minutes, babies who are napping reach a sleep arousal. The baby can manage these arousals and take longer naps by blocking out stimuli like the doorbell or siblings’ voices using white noise.
White noise helps babies relax because it resembles the womb!
It’s a wonderful sleep association that’s beneficial to incorporate into any sleep pattern while sleep-training.
Since it is a sleep association, it can help you get through your baby’s sleep regressions or, if you share a room, it may help your baby sleep through the night.
You can use a nightlight like the one on the Lectrofan Kinder along with white noise to ease the transition from a cot to a toddler bed.
Contraindications to utilising baby white noise
Probability of accidentally having a noisy machine
Occasionally be required to doze off (dependent)
Some infants don’t react to baby white noise.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing when we talk about something becoming dependant. If your child has other sleep associations or if you use something like a lovey, they should be able to sleep without it.
Without it, they might not sleep as well and might have a harder time falling asleep. Without it, they might even have trouble napping as long or sleeping through the night.
It is acceptable to occasionally go without it if they won’t have to do so on a regular basis; the benefits of better sleep will still apply.
Just adding an extra (positive) sleep connection to a routine will help children recognise that it is time to go to bed.
The ideal white noise for babies is what?
Selecting a white noise machine with non-repeating, dynamically generated white noise and fan sounds is a good idea because they will sound truly random.
While some white noise machines and smartphone apps use looping sound clips to wake up your brain, others use real fans, which are unable to produce noise loud enough to drown out any background noise. So those are not the best for sleeping.
As a result of your brain noticing a pattern and becoming more stimulated, you’ll wake up more frequently rather than get better sleep!
There are a number of options available, but the lectrofan from Sound of Sleep or a dohm from Yoga Sleep will be your best bets.
There are even portable ones that can be used in a car (securely, not as a projectile in your baby’s car seat), which can assist in converting a car seat hater into a car seat lover. You could have the key to a restful snooze if you combine it with a trip along the motorway.
Speaking of travelling and sleeping in strange places, it is useful to have! It recreates their home environment so that they can sleep safely there. Since we can easily go back to sleep after performing our biological safety check when our environment is the same or hasn’t changed, having continuous white noise playing throughout the night can reduce your need to intervene for night wakings!
We would find it more challenging to fall back asleep and your child would signal (likely very loudly, almost in a panic) for you to come aid them instead of falling asleep one way, with sound, and waking up without it. White noise comes in several «colours,» in addition to the obvious sounds of the ocean, rain, storm, jungle, etc. The majority of them will be produced in a method that loops or has a pattern that can make it harder for you to fall asleep.
So you should go with whatever makes you feel the most rested when you wake up and does not hurt your ears!
You may always test out several noises on YouTube until you find the one that seems the most comfortable to you, at which point you can either buy a machine that plays that sound (instead of trying out a lot of different devices) or choose a machine that plays a variety of sounds!
Fun fact: White noise has been demonstrated to lessen tinnitus symptoms (ringing in the ears)
When should white noise be stopped?
If you don’t want to, there’s really no need to cease using white noise for babies. If necessary, you can easily stop using it by turning it off at bedtime and then increasing the amount of time you do so each night.
I would not suggest, however, turning it off suddenly (like after a 30 or 45 minute timer). For better sleep, it’s preferable to either turn it off completely or leave it on entire night. It is advantageous to have a backup white noise machine that runs on batteries if you have a plugged-in one in case the power goes out or they need to sleep somewhere else.
If you have very noisy toddlers or dogs running around the house, you could also use the backup as a «extra» white noise machine outside of a sensitive child’s room. White noise and sleeping with their door closed (for fire safety) can transform a cat napper into a long napper!
CONCLUSIONS RELATED TO CHILDREN’S WHITE NOISE
A fantastic resource for soothing a fussy baby is infant white noise. It functions as a sleep trigger and is a wonderful complement to your nap and bedtime routines.
Sleeping while travelling and in strange settings is made very simple by this!
Always choose wisely and use it safely, of course (measure the decibel levels and keep it far enough away that it is comfortable for you and your baby). You can be sure that incorporating white noise is a great thing for your baby, older child, or even yourself!
Even if your child is a good sleeper, it can improve their quality of sleep, which is always beneficial, especially if they are under four months old.
And here’s a pro tip: if your baby is particularly fussy during the witching hour, don’t be afraid to turn up the white noise for a little while to provide extra calming—completely it’s acceptable and effective!