A Guide To White Noise
If you’re wondering why white noise is so crucial to your baby’s sleep (and what my biggest white noise pet peeve is) this will give you some background. Assuming you’re aware of the benefits of white noise and are ready to get started, consider this your how-to guide to white noise.
Which White Noise Machine Should I Buy?
There are endless options out there. From free to fancy, you can take your pick. While deciding, keep two things in mind:
- Make sure that the noise is a true white noise. It should sound like static or running water or a heartbeat. Crickets, chirping birds or musical lullabies will not work to block out the ambient sounds around your home. You’re going for a blow-dryer/vacuum cleaner kind of sound. Get it?
- The noise has to be continuous. Some white noise machines turn off after 40 minutes, or have one prerecorded track that pauses or loops, creating a break in the sound. You don’t want that, unless you’re ok with baby waking up. Monotony is the goal here.
Here are my top recommendations, ranging from free to quite pricey. They’re all fine, honestly.
- This is one of the top selling white noise machines out there ($45)
- This is a great free app – very handy if you’re traveling and don’t want to pack your white noise machine. ($0)
- Here’s one that you can clip onto a pack and play or car seat while away from home ($13)
- This is the one I’ve used with my twins. They love the star projector that it provides, and I like that the volume doesn’t go too loud. It’s more of a heartbeat-hum. And the owl design is just too cute! ($30)
- This is the Ferrari of white noise machines. It’s totally not necessary and is a real splurge for those of us who just love sleep. I may or may not use this machine myself. Ahem. If you do use this one for your baby, be mindful of the volume- it can play VERY loudly. ($80)
If you have a Google Home or Amazon Echo, you can just say “hey! My baby isn’t sleeping- can you play some white noise?!” and she will. Not kidding. There are also videos on youtube that will play hours and hours of white noise and nothing else. So there’s basically no excuse not to have white noise playing in your baby’s room.
How Loud Should the White Noise Be?
Parents may be rightfully concerned about the possible effects of white noise and hearing loss, if the sound is too loud or placed too close to a baby’s ears. As with all parenting, you must use your common sense when choosing the volume that you play the white noise at. If it’s too loud for your ears, it’s probably too loud for your baby. Having said that, a big mistake many parents make is not making the white noise loud enough.
According to Dr. Harvey Karp, renowned pediatrician and author of the Happiest Baby on The Block, a safe decibel level is around 65-70 decibels, which is equivalent to the sound of a shower. (Normal conversation is about 60 decibels, so you may want to play the white noise at a volume slightly louder than your voice in day to day speech.)
You can download a decibel-measuring app on your smartphone and test the volume of your white noise machine yourself!
You can also do what Alexis Dubief calls a “white noise reality check” by listening to the level of the white noise in your baby’s room and asking yourself, does this sound like someone is taking a shower?
Where Should I Put the White Noise Machine?
First let’s talk about where you shouldn’t put it! Don’t ever place the white noise machine (or baby monitor) on the ledge of your baby’s crib, where it can fall in and injure your baby.You also don’t want it to be right next to the crib, even if it’s perched on a safe place, because of the volume factor.
Your best bet is to place the white noise on a dresser or shelf at a distance from your baby’s crib. Just make sure any wires are tucked away safely so that your baby won’t get any bright ideas as he grows. Wires do look like wonderful toys to a baby!
If there’s something I’ve left out that you’d like to know about white noise, let me know in the comments below!