My pet peeve is when a mama with a sleepless baby hesitates to put on some white noise, out of fear that baby will become “addicted” to, or “dependent” on the white noise.
If this is you, don’t worry. We can still be friends. But only on condition that you hear me out first.
Why I’m a Proponent Of White Noise for All Babies
- It helps babies sleep better. When we sleep, our brains still hear and process sounds. This is especially true when we wake in between sleep cycles. A knock at the door, a creak of a floorboard or the sound of your husband blowing his nose (please don’t smack him) are all things that can easily rouse your baby as he transitions from one sleep cycle to the next. The magic of white noise is that it keeps the brain focused on the unchanging white noise, effectively tuning out other sounds around the house which would normally wake him. White noise also changes the level of complexity of your baby’s brainwaves as he sleeps, allowing him to fall asleep faster and stay asleep for longer. It blocks out stimulation and provides a soothing haven for him to fall into a peaceful slumber. And stay there. If your baby won’t nap for more then 30 minutes at a stretch, you need white noise!
- White noise is soothing and familiar to your baby. In your womb, this was a day in your baby’s life: loud, loud, LOUD! Roaring, rushing, hissing sounds around the clock for 9 months straight. What made so much noise in there? Your thumping heart, rushing blood, rumblings of your digestive system just to name a few! Do you know how loud it is in the womb? Let me tell you. About as loud as lawnmower. And the lawnmower never turns off. Silence is utterly bizarre for babies! The natural instinct we have to loudly shush a crying baby is there because it works. Loud rushing sounds soothe babies. Silence does not. That’s basically what white noise is: a non-stop shushing sound that soothes your baby and helps her sleep.
- White noise reduces the risk of SIDS. White noise reduces the amount of time your baby spends in active sleep, which is the state of sleep where SIDS is most likely to occur. Keeping white noise playing while your baby sleeps can reduce the risk of SIDS.
Why Fear of “White Noise Addiction” is My Pet Peeve
- Your baby is definitely not sleeping. White noise has been scientifically demonstrated to help babies fall asleep faster and sleep better, for longer periods of time. So you are, effectively, avoiding using something that will definitely help your baby because of a fear of a possibility that may never, in fact, occur.
- Every baby relies on something to fall asleep. Would you rather it be white noise, or would you rather it continue to be you, in the form of rocking/feeding/holding your baby through the night? White noise is a harmless sleep dependency that can only improve your baby’s sleep. It doesn’t involve you and can replace your help.
- Weaning a baby off of white noise is easy! Lower the volume a bit more every other night until it’s gone. Poof. It takes a few short days and can provide months and even years of peaceful sleep before that point. Not that I recommend weaning your baby off of white noise! But it can give you peace of mind knowing that if you do want to, the option is there for you.