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White Noise Machines- Good for Your Babies or No?

Friday, July 8, 2016 7:48:01 PM Australia/Melbourne

It’s no secret that many babies struggle with sleep. It’s the exception, not the norm, that they sleep through the night, par for the course for any new parents. Anything can wake a sleeping baby up, from music to talking, even conversations that are happening clear across an otherwise silent home. But why is this? It’s due to their high state of arousal, which is a survival mechanism at that age.


Babies begin developing the ability to go into deep sleep mode at three months. Sleep cycles become more and more normal as babies mature. And as the sleep cycles become more and more consistent, parents and those around children probably relax a bit. They talk more, listen to music at low volumes. Incidentally, they’re only helping their cause by doing so.


White Noise Machines- Good for Your Babies or No?After all, think about hospitals. Babies seem to sleep perfectly well there. And hospitals are some of the noisiest places around. The hustle and bustle of doctors and nurses doing their jobs is counterintuitive to the silent nurseries that you see in advertisements on television. The background noise is actually very helpful for newborns and toddlers because it shows them how natural environmental noise is. This is just one of the reasons behind the evolution of white noise as a product.


For a while, everyone thought that white noise machines were the answer to everyone’s prayers. But it wasn’t long before doctors like pediatric surgeon Blake Papsin at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, started to dig a little deeper into the mechanics of how they work and whether or not they are actually as good for young babies as previously thought. Papsin specifically brought a sound pressure meter into a hospital room, after being blasted by white noise and being informed that the baby at hand’s doula thought this white noise would be beneficial. This specific example registered at 85 decibels. In comparison, that’s a similar noise level as a hair dryer in the morning on full blast. Papsin continued this vein of research on 14 different white noise machines that were available in the market.


The results were consistent across the board; machines were capable of reaching levels far too noisy to benefit the babies in the long term. This still remains a tricky topic however, as these machines aren’t regulated. You have the other end of the playing field like author Harvey Karp, who is quoted as saying, “there is absolutely no evidence that more moderate sounds, around 65 to 70 decibels…are harmful.”


While the jury may be out, there are many best practices that can be kept in mind for newborns and young babies. If you’re going to use a white noise machine place it further away from the crib, and on a moderate setting. Try to ween the baby off of it in a timely manner so that he or she is not dependent on a noise that may hurt their delicate ears.

Posted in Industry News By

Hearlink Admin