Adjusting to sleeping in a new place is seldom easy. For instance, I just moved from the busier environs of one Boston neighborhood to a sleepier suburb, and discovered that with zero traffic on my street or nearby, it was disturbingly silent at night. (If you’re living in a rural area you’re already used to this, but hey, I’m a city girl.) After some unpleasant tossing and turning, I immediately had to turn the lights back on and rummage around my still-packed boxes to find my favorite bedside fan, a reliable source of white noise.
Now, imagine that you’re a newborn baby, accustomed to an environment full of whooshing, thumps, and gurgles. Studies indicate that the noises babies hear in the womb are probably pretty darned loud, too, which means that the sudden silence outside of your body can be pretty startling and unpleasant. This is just another one of the many things they have to adjust to after being born, and we know that recreating the environment of the womb helps to keep babies happier during the “fourth trimester.”
Rachel at My Baby Sleep Guide recommends white noise for babies for the following reasons:
- It’s not expensive!
- It’s calming and de-stressing for babies.
- Studies have proven that it helps babies go to sleep and stay asleep.
- If you’re sleeping in the room with your baby, it’ll help you sleep better too, since babies make all sorts of weird noises in their sleep!
- It helps to block sounds around the house and outside while your baby is napping, so you don’t have to tiptoe around the house while you’re trying to get work done (or just enjoying the latest episode of Game of Thrones).
- Don’t make the room chilly, unlike my trusty fan;
- Are highly portable, making it easy to recreate baby’s preferred sleep environment when you travel;
- Don’t interfere with baby monitors; and
- Are made in the USA!
We’re currently carrying two popular Marpac models:
- The Marpac Dohm for Baby Natural White Noise Machine ($59.99) : This small, compact noise machine makes a rushing air noise that you can adjust from 50-75 dB (60 dB is about the level of normal conversation).
- The Marpac Hushh for Baby Portable White Noise Sound Machine ($34.99): The Hushh is even more portable and adjustable, with three sounds, an amber LED nightlight, a baby-safe clip to fasten it to your stroller or car seat, and USB charging.
Marpac also has some pretty adorable commercials:
…and some rave reviews.
It’s probably best not to use your sound machine at full volume or stick it right in the crib, since they can be quite loud. There are also a few panic-inducing articles that suggest that white noise has negative effects – only, the studies they cite were done on rats, not human children, and studied continual exposure, not the range of sounds your child will hear over the course of a normal day*.
So, use your white noise machine safely and sensibly, and everyone will be fine – and get a better night’s sleep. And families that sleep better are happy families!
*In addition, even the rats in the study recovered from the effects of the white noise: HHMI News writes,
“Additional tests on the maturing noise-reared rats showed that their auditory regions continued to be plastic—they continued to reorganize their neural circuitry in response to exposure to sound stimuli alone, long after the brains of normal rats had ceased rewiring. This suggested that a “critical period” for exposure-based plasticity in the brain had been extended.
“They performed supplementary long-term experiments that showed that although auditory development was delayed in the noise-exposed rats, it did mature to normal adult levels once the animals were removed from the noisy environment.”
I don’t like it when “news” articles freak parents out for no good reason, do you?