White noise is non-negotiable in my books. In this blog, I am sharing the three reasons why I believe each child should use white noise, followed by frequently asked questions.
Frequently Asked Questions:
– How loud should white noise be?
– Where is the best place to put the white noise machine?
– My white noise machine has a timer, should I use it?
– When can I begin to use white noise?
– When should my child stop using a white noise machine?
– What white noise machine do you recommend?
Here are 3 reasons why I recommend white noise:
1. Soothing to a Newborn
The sound of white noise is incredibly soothing to a newborn. All those months spent in the womb were filled with very LOUD sounds of digestion, blood whooshing, and all the environmental noise around you. Silence can be quite unfamiliar to a brand-new baby. White noise is one of Dr. Harvey Karp’s 5 S’s for helping soothe a fussy baby. You can learn about the 5 S’s in this post.
2. Blocks Out Environmental Noise
The second reason white noise is non-negotiable is its ability to help block out environmental noise. Adding white noise as a way to buffer out external sound can help decrease the chance your baby wakes from a parent grinding their morning coffee, the furnace starting up, or perhaps an older sibling playing.
3. Clear and Consistent Cue
My preferred reason to include white noise is the clear and consistent cue that it provides. Each time the sound machine turns on, your baby knows that sleep is coming next. This is especially helpful when sleeping away from home (i.e. travelling, grandma’s house, or daycare).
How loud should white noise be?
This is one of my favourite questions about white noise machines! As a sleep consultant safety is my TOP priority. I truly believe that sound machines can become unsafe when played at the wrong decibel.
In the book Happiest Baby on The Block, Dr. Harvey Karp outlines different levels of sounds. You can see the picture below. When testing the level of your child’s sound machine, you will measure the sound in decibel’s. The recommended decibel level is between 50-65 dB.
Image from “The Happiest baby on the Block, written by Dr. Harvey Karp.
The two ways I recommend testing are:
- Download a decibel reader app (I use decibel X) and place your phone where your child’s head will be (in the crib or bed), then turn the white noise on. Allow the white noise to play for a few minutes and then ensure the decibel level is within 50-65.
- If you are in a location where you don’t have access to a decibel reader, aim to play the white noise at the same volume a shower would sound. This is a great guide for testing white noise when you are napping your child on the go.
Where is the best place to put the white noise machine?
Placement of your child’s white noise depends on where the most noise will be coming from. Ideally you should place the white noise in between your child’s crib/bed and where the environmental noise is the loudest. This could be between your child’s crib/bed and their door, between the crib/bed and their window, or even right between two siblings if they are room sharing. Adding an extra layer of white noise can be helpful when the noise in your house is louder than normal (i.e. playdates or family gatherings). When adding this extra later, I recommend using a portable white machine and place it directly outside your child’s door to buffer the extra sound.
My white noise machine has a timer, should I use it?
Nope, white noise should be played constantly through your child’s nap and nighttime. Any variation (i.e. birds chirping or nature sounds) in the white noise has the potential to pull your child out of a sleep cycle, which of course we don’t want! When playing white noise, aim for deep and consistent throughout the whole duration of sleep.
When can my baby begin to use white noise?
White noise can technically be used right from the moment you bring your baby home from the hospital, however, here is why I recommend holding off.
The purpose of the first 6-8 weeks of life is for developing a bond with your baby, for figuring out and establishing feeding, and for YOU to recover from child birth! The importance of blocking out external noise isn’t necessary just yet as newborns can sleep through A LOT, and using white noise as “cue for sleep” can begin around week six. I would like to encourage you to focus on adjusting to newborn life, using white noise to help SOOTHE a fussy baby (as mentioned before), and aim to implement the white noise for BOTH nap and night around the 6-8 week mark, when you begin to see your baby’s social smile.
With all this said, if you want to implement white noise from the very start, you most definitely can! With my own newborns, I played white noise during the night from day one, and introduced white noise for naps around the 6-week mark. The biggest take away is, don’t allow white noise to stress you out in those first 6-8 weeks focus on bonding, feeding, and recovering.
When should my child stop using a white noise machine?
This may surprise you…white noise can be beneficial for ALL ages. There is no “right age” to remove white noise from your child’s room (I sleep with white noise at night!). However, if your child has expressed, they don’t want to use their machine anymore OR you are concerned about dependency, I would wait until your child is between 3-4 years old. The reason why I recommend waiting until this age is because most children have moved through the big sleep regressions. When weaning the white noise I recommend turning down the sound a tiny bit each night until you can no longer hear it. Alternatively, you can pull it away cold turkey, do what works best for your child.
What white noise machine do you recomend?
I LOVE this question as white noise machines are NOT created equally! White noise can be either looping or non-looping. What exactly does this mean? When referring to a “looping” white noise, this means that a recording of white noise is then “looped” together to create a continuous sound. A “non-looping sound machine means that there is no “loop” of break in the sound. My absolute favourite non-looping white noise machine is the Lectro Fan. We have used ours for YEARS without ANY issues. My favourite travel sound machine is the Yogasleep Hushh Portable White Noise Machine. This white noise IS looping, however I am on the hunt for a non-looping portable one.
My goal of this blog is to help you understand:
– Three reasons WHY I believe white noise is non-negotiable when it comes to a child’s sleep (soothing capabilities, blocks out environmental noise, & is a consistent/clear sleep cue)
– White noise CAN be dangerous if you have the decibel level too high.
– When you can begin to use white noise and strategies to wean from it.
– My favourite non-looping sound machine.