Does this sound familiar to you?
Picture yourself finally getting your grumpy baby down for her afternoon nap and you sit down for a much needed moment to yourself only to hear a loud vehicle (of course it is!) roaring down the street. Just like that, your Sleeping Little is wide awake and mad and your precious "me-time" is gone… NOT a good combination.
Or perhaps you live in the country and you’re finding yourself being woken up at dawn by a wailing infant who has adorable (but ridiculously loud) squirrels chitter-chattering in the tree next to their window.
Environmental noises are a fact of life that you can’t do much about… but there IS something you can do about your baby’s ability to sleep through the noise. In my experience, white noise machines can be a lifesaver when it comes to helping babies fall asleep — and stay asleep.
White noise machines are typically a small, simple-to-use device that creates a steady sound that blocks out a lot of these day-to-day noises that can startle and wake a child. The sound it makes is similar to rushing air, which can be soothing to a baby. Although it might seem odd to create noise when you want your baby to go to sleep, remember: it wasn’t exactly soundproof in the womb!
By the time your baby is born, they are actually quite used to noise because they’ve been listening to you talk, your stomach gurgling, and the sound of the family and the TV and the car radio while in utero.
Believe it or not, complete quiet can actually be more confusing to a newborn than background noise.
One of the biggest benefits of the white noise machine is that it helps babies fall back to sleep if they wake up in between sleep cycles. This can mean that their nap times will last longer and they will be less likely to fully wake in the night and transition more easily into the next sleep cycle.
One concern that I hear from parents about trying white noise is usually the worry that their child could become “addicted” to white noise, and that’s a valid point. My experience is that there’s absolutely no need to worry about this. A white noise machine is different from your typical “sleep prop” – like a paci or being rocked and sung to. White noise is there to block out noises that you can’t control that might be waking your child while they sleep.
An easy way to stay good bye to the white noise when you’re ready to wean your child from sleeping with the sound, simply turn the volume down a little every night until you’re not using the sound at all. In fact, many of my parents transition from using a white noise sound machine to using a room fan to keep the air circulating and the temperature comfortable for their little sleepers.
There are many options out there for white noise, but I highly recommend the Marpac Dohm sound machines. There are many products out there that combine the white noise with a night light, light projector or music, or so on, and it’s been my experience that babies do not care about how fancy or aesthetically pleasing the product is.
In my book, the simpler, the better. There are also numerous apps and YouTube channels that are devoted to parents who want to try the white noise – just make sure that the screen isn’t facing your baby while they sleep!
If you’ve tried white noise and your child is still struggling with falling asleep or nightwakings and you think that there is something else going on, click here to sign up for your free sleep assessment with me and hear what we can do to help your baby sleep better at night.
I am a Pediatric Sleep Consultant who works with families to help them resolve their littles' sleep issues. As a mom of two littles herself, Katie has walked in the shoes of her clients and is passionate about helping them re-discover peaceful sleeps in their own homes.