3 Safety Tips for White Noise Baby Sleep

SSP8:7:183 Safety Tips for White Noise Baby Sleep

It’s late, and your newborn baby is not showing any signs of being ready to sleep. Finally, he nods off and you tiptoe out of the room. But then his older sibling makes noise or a loud truck drives by and the crying starts all over again. Sound familiar? In this scenario, you may have thought about using a white noise baby sleep machine or smartphone app to help your baby fall or stay asleep. White noise is a consistent, inconspicuous sound used to drown out other sounds, and while it seems ideal for keeping newborn babies asleep, it can be harmful if not done properly.

Advantages to using white noise

There are two primary reasons to use a white noise baby sleep device. Relaxing music or sounds can help baby calm down, making it faster and easier to fall asleep. Many white noise baby sleep machines have settings that play beach waves, rain, or mother’s heartbeat, which can be especially soothing for newborns who were accustomed to hearing this sound in the womb. A white noise machine can also help mask environmental noises, such as traffic or other household members. Who knows? Maybe the white noise will provide enough background sound that you can even sneak a snack from the kitchen.

The dangers of white noise

The advantage of having your baby fall asleep faster sounds wonderful, but did you know that exposing your newborn baby to white noise can be harmful?

  • Exposure to loud noise can have detrimental effects on a baby’s hearing and auditory development. It might not sound loud to you, but babies have smaller ear canals than adults which amplify high-frequency sounds. The type of sounds your newborn baby is exposed to while his auditory system is developing can alter his ability to hear later in life. Also, using a white noise baby sleep machine on a nightly basis could affect your baby’s speech and language development as he grows.
  • Baby becomes dependent on the white noise to fall asleep, which can be disastrous if the white noise is unavailable when baby is ready to sleep. It can be difficult to reproduce these sounds while traveling, for example.
  • White noise can negatively influence the quantity and quality of a newborn baby’s sleep because of the detrimental physiologic effects of the constant noise.

Safe white noise baby sleep recommendations

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has three recommendations for parents interested in using white noise baby sleep devices or apps that should be observed to reduce the dangers for a newborn baby:

  • Use the white noise baby sleep machine or app for a short amount of time. Look for a device that has a timer so it will turn off automatically. One hour is the maximum length of time suggested for safe exposure.
  • Use low volume, less than 50-dBA (A-weighted decibel).
  • Place the machine as far as possible from your baby. Do not set it inside the crib or on crib rails, as many white noise baby sleep machines instruct.

Overall, white noise can be beneficial in helping your newborn baby fall sleep but should not be used as a substitute for establishing good sleep habits. It’s a temporary solution, as you don’t want your baby to require white noise to sleep every night. Sleeping is a skill a baby must learn, just like sitting or eating food by himself. It takes time. It may seem like you’ll never have a good night of rest again, but if you stay consistent and try to be patient, having a good sleeper will pay off in the long run.

What experiences have you and your baby had using white noise?

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Sources:

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/early/2014/02/25/peds.2013-3617.full.pdf

http://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/white-noise-for-babies#4

 

 

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