This post was written by Devon Bookman, a fellow mom and sleep consultant in training at Happy Sleeping Baby.
I will never forget the reaction of my husband’s parents when they heard our white noise machine for the first time. They looked concerned, yet were respectful, as they asked why we had “jet plane noise” playing while our daughter slept. I still laugh when I think about this moment. They probably thought my parenting techniques were a little strange and maybe a little too American (my husband and his parents are Swedish).
To their defense, I understand why they were skeptical. Most people believe that you must produce a quiet environment for good sleep. Therefore adding-in noise can feel counterintuitive and might go against everything you were once taught.
So, before you form your own opinion, let’s dive into what noise really is. White noise is essentially an ambient sound, such as a whirring fan or air conditioner. Noises can be described in different colors depending on their frequency. White noise is mainly known for camouflaging other sounds that might occur naturally in an environment.
Now speaking of jet plane noise, have you ever been on an airplane and before taking off you started to feel really sleepy? Have you ever caught yourself nodding-off? This happens to me all the time. This is a perfect example of the effect of white noise on our brains. The humming sound calms the mind, which in effect, induces sleep. Studies have shown that white noise can help both babies and adults fall asleep faster. Now I can see why.
What about the other benefits of white noise? Does your baby have a loud, older sibling? Do you live in the city where you hear sirens? Do you unload the dishwasher during baby’s naptime and cringe at the clinking of the plates against each other? Maybe you forgot to turn your phone on silent and the ringer is super loud. Or, what if you like to entertain past your baby’s bedtime? Now, let’s say your baby is sleeping in the next room over. White noise is great for blocking-out these sounds so your little one can sleep longer and better.
So how do I get white noise, you ask? There are many Spotify playlists out there and here's one created by a former client that we recommend for parents. Also, there are a wide variety of white noise machines you can purchase, particularly online. Also, some parents say using an ordinary fan works well too. As for our family, we chose to go “all in” and purchase a white noise machine. We didn't want to rely on turning on Spotify every time. However, this is truly up to personal preference.
As I always say, consistency truly is the secret ingredient here. White noise is a big part of our bedtime routine. (Learn more about a great bedtime routine here!) Every time I turn the white noise machine on, my daughter says “Mama night night” because she knows that the sound means it is time for bed!
This consistency becomes especially handy during the toddler years. Now that our daughter is 2, I have never had to fight her to go to sleep– not once! If you stay consistent with using white noise, your baby will start associating the noise with sleep, too.
There are many white noise options out there to choose from and it really comes down to your family’s choice in regards to budget, size, and what your options are due to where you live. Here are two white noise machines that are easy to find for parents either in Europe or North America. Both are portable and provide good sound:
Yogasleep Hushh portable white noise
(if the links don't work, just search for the names of the devices)
I hope you test out using white noise as a help for your baby's sleep!
Want more information about helping your baby sleep? Use the Happy Sleeping Baby book which has everything you need to know about sleep! Learn more here.
Visit the Parent Resources page for sample schedules and more tips to help your kiddo sleep!