The secret to helping your baby get better sleep: White Noise
I never slept with white noise. Honestly, I never knew it was a thing until adulthood. No one I knew, not my parents, or friends, or roommates, ever slept with white noise. But, now I know how helpful white noise can be in getting a good night sleep, not just for adults but for our babies too. I’ve always been a light sleeper. Unfortunately, this is one quality I passed along to my little one. Early on we got several people commenting, “your baby is the most alert baby I’ve ever met.” Lucky us . . . cue tears! You know those cute sleepy newborn photos you dream of,(see above example) we didn’t get those. Even at just 10 days old, she was awake for the entire photo session.
As I mentioned in my first post here, I was at a complete loss and needed help. Every little sound would wake my sleeping babe. So, sharing a room wasn’t great. After 45 minutes of bouncing and shushing, I would lay a sleeping baby in the bassinet only to accidentally step wrong and cause a creak in the floor. Or trying to get into bed myself, I felt like a ninja, I had to move as slowly and quietly as possible and have a maximum of two pillow fluffs before it would inevitably cause a wake up. There had to be a solution, and I found it with white noise. The Sleep Doctor, Dr. Michael Breus, states that according to research, white noise helps people sleep almost 50% better than those not using white noise.
What is white noise?
White noise is the consistent noise created by combining low, mid and high frequency sounds. It has a flat spectral density, which is to say white noise has the same amplitude, or intensity level, at all points on the audio spectrum (from 20 to 20,000 hertz). – Dr. Michael Breus, Why You Should Use A White Noise Machine This Fourth of July
Confused? Me too. Here’s an example of what that means – think back to a time you were in a crowded restaurant and everyone was having conversations at the same time. Standing back listening you can’t pick out one person’s voice very easily. That’s what white noise does. It creates that sound cover so changes in noise frequency, like the sudden bark of a dog don’t wake you. This is the same reason that when I went out to eat for the first time after having my baby, she slept so well at the noisy restaurant.
That low consistent noise can be a variety of sounds from a fan to rain or the hum of a vacuum. While white noise is important for adults to sleep well, it’s even more critical for our little ones who are more easily startled and have a more difficult time going to sleep. This video from Jilly at Baby Sleep Made Simple explains why white noise is so important to keep your baby sleeping well. And yes I love Baby Sleep Made Simple. After learning so much from Jilly’s free Exhausted Mom’s Survival Guide; I chose to purchase her Naps Program because I was desperate to get my baby napping well and really struggled there. Find out more about the her Naps Program here.
Is white noise safe?
Yes, it’s completely safe if you use it correctly. Don’t have it too close to where your baby is sleeping in their crib or bassinet. And place it near the source of the most noise. White noise is something your baby will associate with sleep making it easier for them to fall asleep and stay asleep without help from you. You can wean your child off white noise at some point, but between age 2 and 4 is often the recommended age. It’s easy to do, just have the white noise at a lower and lower volume each night until it’s off. Read more about white noise safety here.
What to look for in a white noise app or machine
There are so many white noise machines and apps, so I encourage you to do the research and find the one that you feel most comfortable with. Remember it’s best to have one for home and a phone app for on the go. When we first realized how important white noise was we just downloaded an app on an old phone. Make sure the app you choose doesn’t have a time limit or has a way to add enough time to get you through until morning when you shut it off. You don’t want the white noise going off at 3am and everyone waking up! It’s also nice to have a fade out feature, so the noise can stop gradually.
After using the app for several months, I wanted to purchase a sound machine for moving baby into her own room. The biggest challenge was finding a sleep machine with no light on it. More on the importance of darkness in my third article on baby sleep, but let’s just say it’s not good. If you want baby to sleep then it needs to be dark. So, when you’re shopping for a sleep machine make sure it doesn’t have any areas that light up. I bought this one and we have loved it. We’ve even taken it on vacation.
I still use white noise, and it’s been one of the greatest ways to help my little one get good sleep all night long.