There is lots of conventional wisdom out there that says parents should teach their babies to sleep through noise, from day one. We hear this sometimes from our consultation clients – friends and family members blame them (the parents) for their babies’ short naps and nighttime waking, saying that they (the parents) simply need to teach the baby to sleep through noise. Because then, the baby wouldn’t wake up so much!
Oh, if only it were that simple. 😉
How Noise Affects Baby Sleep
During the newborn stage, your baby will spend lots of time in deep sleep and will likely sleep through just about anything. This is nice for us parents – it makes it much easier to be on the go with our babies! As your baby grows, however, this will change.
Starting around 6 weeks, you may notice that your baby becomes more alert; he will start looking around and noticing his environment more. This can mean that he starts to wake at noises (like the dog barking, or the phone ringing) – it is simply because he is becoming more attuned to his environment.
Around 4 months, your baby’s sleep habits will change permanently, and he will start to cycle through light and deep sleep. During those periods of light sleep, he will be more likely to wake to noise.
Can You Teach Your Baby to Sleep Through Noise?
Here are the facts (at least, in our experience with families): you cannot train a baby to sleep through noise. Some babies are likely hard-wired to be less affected by noise, but others may be more inclined to wake at even small sounds. While there are steps you can take to help minimize the affect that noise has on your baby’s sleep, you cannot teach your baby to sleep through it.
We don’t have any hard evidence to back up our belief (it simply hasn’t been studied enough, yet), but we are pretty convinced that this is largely due to personality and temperament.
How to Help Your Baby Sleep Through Noise
You probably won’t be able to create a “noise-free” environment for your baby. So, how can you help your baby sleep well when things get a little noisy?
One great option is to use white noise to your advantage. White noise is simply static noise (like the sound of a running vacuum cleaner, or a hair dryer) that helps to mask other background noise. White noise machines are excellent tools to use during nap time and at night (I have one in every bedroom in my house!), but you do not have to buy an entire machine. You can download white noise MP3’s, or white noise apps.
For more information about how white noise helps both you and your baby sleep, take a look at this article.