Using white noise can lengthen your baby’s naps and help your baby sleep through the night – but how, exactly, should you use white noise? Should you use white noise all night long? How loud is too loud? Are some kinds of white noise better than others? We’re answering those questions – and more! – in this article.
How (And Why) To Use White Noise For Babies
- Choose low-pitched, steady white noise sounds.
- Limit the amount of time your baby is exposed to white noise.
- Consider adjusting the white noise’s volume to match the volume of your baby’s cries.
- When used correctly, white noise can become a positive sleep association that actually helps your baby fall asleep (and stay asleep).
1. Choose low-pitched, steady white noise sounds.
There isn’t a “right” white noise sound for your baby – all of the white noise sounds that come pre-programmed into a machine or an app are low-pitched white noise. That is, they are white noise sounds that are easy to ignore and that create a steady, monotonous, and soothing backdrop of sound. High-pitched white noise sounds are those harsh, high sounds like the beep of an alarm clock or the wail of a fire engine. Obviously, those aren’t exactly soothing, and they’re terrible for sleep! However, you want to watch out for deceptive white noise sounds that might contain high-pitched noises; for instance, some ocean white noise is full of low-pitched sound like crashing waves, but sometimes, it’s also punctuated by high-pitched sounds like seagull cries. You want to select something that is consistently steady and low-pitched for your baby.
2. Limit the amount of time your baby is exposed to white noise.
White noise is great for use at nap time and during the night – but be careful about relying on it too heavily. For one thing, you want your child to gradually become accustomed to all of the customary sounds in your home. For instance, if you live by a busy intersection, your baby will eventually have to get used to traffic noise. Exposure to different kinds of sounds will also be educational for your baby. For instance, over time, she’ll learn that the sound of the doorbell means that someone new is at the door. While you don’t have to teach your baby to sleep through noise, you do want to ensure that your baby has the chance to get comfortable with your home’s normal, daily sounds.
3. Consider adjusting the white noise’s volume to match the volume of your baby’s cries.
When your baby is wailing at top volume, you’ll want to ensure that your white noise is at least as loud as your child; in order for the white noise to be calming, your baby needs to be able to hear it over her cries. As she quiets down and settles in, however, you can lower the volume so that it’s loud enough to mask outside noises while not being overpoweringly loud. Of course, this kind of volume adjusting can be tricky, and it’s certainly not a “must”; you can just set your white noise to a mid-level volume and leave it. But for young babies (newborns in particular), adjusting the volume with their cries can be really soothing.
4. When used correctly, white noise can become a positive sleep association.
Some sleep associations are unhelpful; for instance, if your baby associates being rocked or held or nursed by you with falling asleep, then you’ll have to perform that work each time he wakes well past the point where you’re okay doing this. These are the kind of sleep associations we typically try to eliminate via the process of sleep training. However, some sleep associations can be positive – and white noise is one of them! If your baby associates white noise with falling asleep, the sound of it can be a strong signal that it’s time to go to bed, or that it’s time to fall back to sleep. And what’s great is that using white noise requires virtually no work on your part – simply turn it on at the end of the bedtime or nap time routine, and you’re all set!
White Noise Products We Love
Bubzi Co Baby Sleep Aid
Okay, so it’s not just a white noise machine…it’s a white noise machine, night light, and lovey rolled into one cute little device!
LectroFan High Fidelity White Noise Machine
This is one serious white noise machine. It boasts 10 different fan sounds at varying frequencies, and its volume is incredibly precise, making it easy to adjust your white noise based on what’s happening in your home at any given moment. You can let this machine run all night long, or you can use the built-in timer for automatic shut-off.