Can You Teach Your Baby to Sleep Through Noise?

Can You Teach Baby To Sleep Through Noise

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.

Does your baby sleep through noise, or does every sound wake him/her up? Ever tried a white noise machine, or a white noise app? Share your experience with us!

You may not be able to train your baby to sleep through noise, but you can help your baby learn how to sleep well. Please be sure to pick up your FREE copy of 5 (tear-free) Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night, our e-Book with tear-free tips to help your baby sleep better. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep (babies) or The 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep (toddlers). Using a unique approach and practical tools for success, our e-books help you and your baby sleep through the night and nap better. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.

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22 thoughts on “Can You Teach Your Baby to Sleep Through Noise?”

  1. Hi to all Mums, good on you for caring enough to write in, search for answers and support one another. As a grandma (without dimentia!) I would like to share my views, insights and thoughts as they are a little different from what is coming through from most others.
    I had 4 children and my experience with them was.pretty much the same with each of them. I had read about the importance of bonding and I saw and still do see todddlers walking around clinging to things they had bonded with from teddys, dolls, to bits of sheepskin and raggy cloths termed ‘their cuddly’. I concluded that it was natures plan that a babies Mum be their first ‘cuddly’ or ‘security blanket’ and do see in nature this is the way it is. When baby lamb, duckling, chicken or whatever crys out then.mother responds reassuringly! Its beautiful and I really do think this is what little babes need, its a survival instinct and necessary for even longer with juman babes who cant fend for themselves for quite a lot longer time then most other creatures.

    Babies used to be born into tribes, clans, extended family groupings etc. Everyone around knew each other and in there was a supportive survival network. Unfortunately the worldly system centered around having to make money to house a family and survive has messed this up,hence daycare centres, hired Nannys, white noise machines , automated rocking basinetts etc as false mum replacements v often in the first tender vulnerable few months of life.
    I decided to be poorer in possessions, thrift shops, garage sales, grow a garden full of veges rather than secumb to the ‘social engineering’ thats ingeniously devised ways of separating mums from babies etc…….the flow on effect of this on instinctual parenting skills is shown in the news headlines as well as being seen and heard all around the neighbourhood and city I live in. Its heartbreaking to see adults that can still instinctually procreate however have little idea how to responsively, lovingly nurture a child in a way that results in happy, secure, contented children.
    Mums if your babies dont sleep its not because they havent understood something and need to be taught, its because the worldly artificial system is completely out of step with nature (and babies needs) and on a collision course with them!!
    When babies are born they come with all the DNA programmed in survival skills…..stay close to mother, listen for her heartbeat, her breathing, sense her smell, her vibe etc and if it disappears cry out to her!!
    Babies dont know they are in the 21st centuary of a 24hr police force, house alarms, baby monitors, modern housing estates, trained childcare staff etc…..they just know Mother is absent, emergency situation so Call Out HELP to her!
    I didnt read Dr Sears or anyone elses books until my kids and I went to the local toddlers play group. I was broughtup on a farm in the country and I imprinted How to mother from my own being mothered by a loving gentle mother and seeing her care for my little nrothers, I also saw the many mothers around me on the farm, how they watched out for and nutured their offspring and i also listened at night to the long sufferring bleating and calling that went on and on when they were separated from one another when lambs bleating plaintively to no avail , where packed into trucks and carted away!
    I hope this helps clearify something to those that get my drift. Did I carry my baby endlessly, no I never needed to, when they were tiny , I breastfed and burped them and cuddled then was able to tuck them into their bassinetts and they slept. And as sokn as I heard their first murmurs abd stirrings I went and greeted them upon wakening so they never needed to scream distressed. As they grew I soothed and reassured and cuddled whenever they wanted me close and they gradually became more and more self sufficient. I accepted the fact I had baby and it was for me to stay in tune with what they needed from me and I gave them what they needed whether it ‘suited’ me or not if at all possible! If I was on the phone then I excused myself and hung up, if I was washing the dishes i left them to later, if i was reading to toddler sister i asked her to wait a minute while I pick up baby etc
    As a result I had little ones that drifted happily off to sleep while I sang or hummed a tune and smoothed their brow. If a noise woke them, I found if I wemt in to them soon enough and reassured them they were soon back asleep.
    I must sound like I think I was the perfect mother, im not meaning to come across in that way, Im just wanting to encourage mums to listen to their jearts and in those early months let your babes listen to it as well. Some of the most positive parenting examples I have been shown are from nature eg the little swallows that attentively fly back and forth tirelessly to be their for their little ones dont end up with over dependent sooks , they are ending up with brave little fledglings that trust the chirping calls of their parents and leap out of the nest and fly!!
    When a sense of secirity and deep trust is present, babies soon come to know hoj are there for them and feel loved and safe and so.long as theres not some physical cause like sore tummy, ears etc then they sleep.
    I agree with Nicole that routine is important,and with the blackout curtains etc Im glad she is doing what she can to help mums acheive tear free sleeping. When you see children sleep with a smile and wake up with a smile its beautiful and worth all the loving dedication 🙂 Sylvia xox

  2. We have used a sound machine with our daughter since the beginning. I was worried that when she started daycare at 6 months that she wouldn’t be able to sleep without the sound machine. After an adjustment period, she learned to sleep there. Now she sleeps at daycare without sound and everywhere else with it. I find, like some others have said, that it really helps when we travel because she’s got that consistency. Sound machine was REALLY HELPFUL!

  3. @ lara — I have a friend who makes her air purifier double as her white noise machine, too; she swears by it!

    Thanks for commenting! 🙂

    @ Kerry – nice endorsement for the Cloud b Sheep! Thanks for sharing a bit about your experiences using it; always nice to have a testimonial from an actual user. 🙂 I think it’s just too adorable, and I love that it’s cuddly.

    Thanks for sharing a bit about your experience, Kerry!

  4. We have used the CloudB Sleep Sheep On-the-Go with our son, also a light sleeper, since his earliest days. It has four settings: babbling brook, rain, ocean and whale sounds. (Ocean is our favorite, but we change it up to keep things interesting.) We got it at Pottery Barn but I have seen it in many other stores. I operates on a timer, and there are three intervals to choose from, the most being about 45 minutes. This can be a bit of a problem since, as most of you know, the 45 minute mark is when many babies begin to transition to deeper sleep. However, our son loves his “Lambie” and has always kept it near him at night and during naps. My husband and I like that it’s portable, has a Velcro strap so that it can be attached to the crib, stroller, etc. (great feature if you lose things like me) and it doubles as a snuggly toy for baby. They are available in other species too, if lambs aren’t your thing. 🙂 Happy napping!

  5. I have an air purifier that we use as a white noise through the night and even during nap times, it is really a life saver cause my daughter is a very light sleeper, the slightest sound wakes her up.

  6. @ andrea — I second that! We’re big fans of white noise in my home – couldn’t sleep without it!!

    Thanks for commenting! 🙂

    @ Alexis – oh, man, can I sympathize. I live in a 100 year old house with the loudest floors I’ve ever heard – there are a few spots upstairs (right near my kids’ bedroom doors, of course!) that are just deafening when you step on them. White noise helps mask a lot of that!

    Thanks for sharing, Alexis 🙂

    @ Debora — love the tips about turning the radio to a static station! Would you believe that’s never occurred to me? Thanks for pointing that out!

    In terms of what white noise will mean for your son as he grows – not sure. I know that I’m ‘hooked’ on white noise, and have trouble sleeping without it. And if I forget to turn on their sound machine, my boys always remind me. However, we’ve occasionally gone for overnights and forgotten their sound machines, and while they don’t always fall asleep quickly, they do end up falling asleep and staying asleep. Maybe kids are a bit more adaptable in this way?

    Thanks for commenting, Debora! 🙂

    @ Laurie – I hear you! My daughter is such a light sleeper; I don’t know how she’d manage without the white noise. I like the rain setting, too; it’s one of my favorites! When I have a long day of typing ahead of me (which, as the Baby Sleep Site staff writer, I often do!), I sometimes open the Simply Noise site and listen to their rain sounds. I love it; makes me feel peaceful while I work. 🙂

    Thanks for commenting, Laurie!

  7. My oldest, who is now three, has always been a light sleeper – waking to any noise. Even as an infant, he always wanted to be in the center of activity, so noises while he was napping or sleeping always meant he was missing something! We bought a white noise CD and turn it on to the “rain” noise for naps and night time sleep. He now sleeps without it at night, when the house is mostly still and quiet, but we still use it at naptime to mask noise going on around the home. It’s been a lifesaver!

  8. My son wakes up really easy when he is going through a light sleep period. He is still sleeping in my room so I decided to try the white noise. I downloaded the sounds and keep it in my iPod. Another very cheap idea is to set your radio on a static station; the perfect idea if you are on vacation and forgot your noise accessory (I actually have been doing that at night so I don’t have to keep recharging my iPod). We both sleep better because we don’t hear each other moving in bed that much. And we don’t hear outside noises as loud either, like my husband cooking breakfast, flushing the toilet or starting his truck outside.
    The only concern I have is that my son won’t be able to sleep on a quiet room as he gets older. Does anybody have an input on that?

  9. My daughter’s room is right next to our kitchen in an old house with creaky floors. We use an iPod with white noise all night to help mask the noise. We also bring it with us and use a small portable speaker when we travel to help her feel more at home in strange places. With all of her sleep struggles this is one tool that we find invaluable!

  10. I have a almost 14m old & she wakes up when it is to quiet LOL we have bought a natural sounds CD that we keep in replay mode if she sleeps to late all I have to do is go into her room turn the CD off & seconds later she is up LOVE THE WHITE NOISE it is a MUST HAVE

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