How White Noise Can Help You and Your Baby Sleep

Free White Noise MP3sIf you’re as old as I am (which isn’t really all THAT old!), you remember a little bit about what TV was like before cable. When you got to channel 3 (say to start your movie on your VCR before DVR or on-demand), it would get to the static channel and make that annoying sound. Little did I know, before I got older, that the annoying sound is called white noise and it can help your baby sleep. This article is to explain a little bit about how white noise can help you and your baby fall asleep and stay asleep. Be sure to get your free white noise MP3s to download, too.

Merriam Webster defines white noise as a “a heterogeneous mixture of sound waves extending over a wide frequency range.” In other words, it is a mixture of sounds that have high pitches and low pitches and everything in between. The combination of these sounds is what drowns out most of the other sounds, because when you are hearing all different frequency of sounds, your brain has trouble picking out one sound over another.

Some examples of white noise are the TV static as I described above, the vacuum, hair dryer, a fan, or humidifier. Some people also find the sounds of waves, rain, or thunderstorms soothing, too.

How Does White Noise Help You or Your Baby Sleep?

Well, it doesn’t. It actually doesn’t help you or your baby sleep per se, but drowning out other house noises can help you focus less on those other noises. White noise is also very similar to womb sounds such as your heart beating, blood flowing, mommy breathing, the muffling sound of mommy’s voice, etc. These womb-like sounds can be comforting to your baby, particularly newborns who have not yet gotten used to the outside world.

The constant repetitive sounds of white noise can also help you or your baby stay asleep, which can be the most challenging part. The constant whirring of white noise can give you the continuity of sound that soothes your baby to stay asleep or drowns out house noises such as people talking, doing the dishes, etc. This is especially helpful if your baby can’t get used to sleeping with noise, like mine.

Amazingly, I never knew I slept better with white noise until just within the last year! I was shocked as I am, ironically, not the best sleeper (which is why I’m so diligent about helping my boys be good sleepers). I am a light sleeper and I can’t always fall right back to sleep (which made co-sleeping that much harder when my son would nurse back to sleep every 1-2 hours until we taught him to fall asleep on his own). It all started one Winter when it gets so dry in the house from running the heat so much. I started running something like this Holmes humidifier and I realized it helps me sleep! It’s loud, but white noise loud, not so loud that it keeps me up (being the light sleeper that I am). I noticed that on nights that I can’t seem to shut my brain off, it helps me fall asleep faster, too. I have found that it helps me NOT wake up with every little noise the kids make, too. One night, a week or so ago, I had it off and I heard my son making noises in his sleep and before I knew it I was in there half asleep, realized he was still asleep, and I went right back to bed (and turned on my humidifier). My friend swears by the Marpac SleepMate and we have two DEX Products Sound Sleeper machines in our boys’ rooms (once we had the baby, they woke each other up exactly one time before I bought these! LOL).

Will you or your baby get “hooked” on white noise?

I do not believe my parents used white noise when I was a baby and my mom told me they let me cry it out (though she didn’t call it that exactly, but that was the gist). I never used one growing up, yet it helps me sleep, now. My boys don’t NEED it to sleep (we don’t take white noise machines on vacations and occasionally my husband forgets to turn one on or something). I can see how you can get SO used to having it that you “need” it to sleep, though. It sounds so quiet when I don’t use it, now. It’s yet another sleep association and you need to decide for yourself whether it is a positive or negative one for you and/or your baby. I, personally, have decided white noise is fine, since we don’t have to “redo” anything all night to keep sleep going.

White Noise Sources and Downloads

There are many sources of white noise from a fan to vacuum and, yes, there’s an app for that. Please feel free to download free white noise MP3s right here on the site and see if it can help you or your baby sleep.

Do You Use White Noise to Help Your Baby Sleep?


  1. Mel says

    I use a white noise/ocean waves mp3 for my little boy. It hasn’t fixed his sleeping issues, but we recently had 8 weeks of building work going on in our house and it was so effective at drowning out the noise he only woke during one nap.
    For me the only down side is how annoying it is hearing it through the baby monitor!

  2. Shelly says

    I bought a Graco sound machine from Target for my daughter when she was about a month old after fighting with her to go to sleep and stay asleep daily. That thing was amazing! We swaddled her up tight and turned it on top volume and she was out like a light! When we moved her to her own room, it took me awhile to adjust to sleeping without the noise. :-)

    She is 14 months old now and very alert and interested in everything that’s going on. So, we still use that sound machine in her room to drown out all the noise. Otherwise, she would probably wake up at every sound. I don’t care if it’s a “sleep association” if it helps us all sleep through the night. :-)

  3. Stephany says

    We started using white noise when our little girl was about a month old. She was colicky and would cry enlessly at night. One night I decided, out of desperation, to try something that our doctor had suggested (why we didn’t try it sooner I don’t know). I went into her dark room where she was crying in her crib and just plugged in my hairdryer and turned it on. She IMMEDIATELY got quiet and was asleep in about 30 seconds. It didn’t always work like magic, and it definitely didn’t end all of our sleep and/or colic problems, but it was definitely a great tool to have. I found a website that sold all sorts of whtie noise MP3s (including the hair dryer) and that’s what we still use to this day at night (she’s 14 mos now). Sometimes we put it on repeat, and sometimes we don’t. I think by now it’s a sleep association with her, and it helps her fall asleep and it helps to keep her asleep when there is noise in the rest of the house, but she doesn’t need to have it on all night long to sleep.

  4. Angela says

    I too am a very light sleeper, every little noise wakes me up. For years I have slept with a fan running to drown out street noise, the cat running around etc. When my husband’s snoring got worse I tired the Marpac sound machine, and it works GREAT. I got a second one for my babie’s room, and though I don’t use it always it is great for when we have people over while he is sleeping, the noise never wakes him up. I highly recommend it. Marpac also has a smaller sized travel machine, great for noisy hotels where people are stomping up and down the hallways at all hours.

  5. Stephanie says

    Our daughter has slept with white noise since she was born 21 months ago. I did have the concern that she would become overly reliant on it, so a few months ago, I decided to eliminate the white noise at nighttime only. I turned the volume down just a tad every week until it was silent. She has adjusted fine. I still keep the white noise on during naps because I like to be able to move around the house and get things done. I also know that she won’t be napping forever, so I don’t mind having this sleep association at nap time.

  6. Collin says

    We started using white noise when my son was only a few months old (2, I think). It was the first time he slept for more than an hour at a time. He is 17 months now and we just run white noise in his room all the time. It calms him down right away when we go to put him to bed for nap or night.

    We use the TM Soft White Noise App ( on our iPod Touch and my wife’s iPhone. It works great. In his room, we run it on a stereo, but we’ll stick it in his car seat or travel bed if we are not at home. He has and will sleep without it, but he is much more likely to wake up in the middle of the night and we have to be much more quiet after we put him in bed.

  7. says

    I love these things. I can’t get to sleep at night unless I have one.