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Why do Babies Like White Noise?

Why Do Babies Like White Noise and Why is White Noise Effective for Babies?

White noise can be very calming and soothing for babies. Many pediatricians suggest that relaxing and calming activities can help your babies sleep better throughout the night, such as reading a book to them, whispering to them, or even something as simple as giving them a warm bath. Even with these suggestions, parents are realizing that white noise is an extremely simple and accessible option that could potentially help their baby sleep in a great way.

Why exactly do babies like white noise so much? Keep reading to find out exactly how it benefits them.

why do babies like white noise

What Are the Benefits of Using White Noise? Why do Babies Like White Noise?

1. Helps Them Sleep Throughout the Night

Every baby can benefit from listening to white noise while they sleep up to at least 12 months old (And potentially later in life too). A baby sleeping device that omits white noise is probably the most affordable, simplest, and yet most effective method for helping babies get to sleep.

2. Reduces Stress

Babies can get stressed extremely easily and for numerous reasons such as: overwhelmed or too excited, bad lighting, environment too loud or unfavorable, or just by being too tired. If you think about it, babies must be overwhelmed quite often, because they’re constantly discovering new things all the time. White noise gives them the chance to focus on something that doesn’t overstimulate them.

3. White Noise Can Help Babies Cry Much Less

One of the best aspects of white noise is that you can play the noise louder than your baby’s crying, which should soothe them. It doesn’t matter if you’re using a dedicated device such as the Sound Plus Sleep SE Machine, your smart phone, or just simply shushing your baby with your voice to calm them down. As long as that noise is louder than their crying, it should have an effect and help them cry less.

4. White Noise Helps Promote Better Sleep

The best part about white noise is that it can be extremely effective, yet affordable. Plus, it can help promote much better sleep in babies. Their sleep is likely to be improved, and it should help them stay asleep for longer periods of time. Even though babies experience interruptions every 20 to 45 minutes called “sleep arousals”, they can still benefit from using white noise. A baby’s nap usually lasts for about 20 minutes because of this sleep arousal. Once babies reach sleep arousal, it might not be that easy for them to achieve a state of deep sleep again. Instead of letting their nap time conclude normally, try to use white noise instead. It can effectively and efficiently soothe them during these breaks in sleep and can hopefully restore lost time due to the sleep arousals. Another great part about white noise that it can mask the annoyances and the loud sounds of everyday life such as cell phones ringing, doorbells, talking, outside disturbances, and even other siblings (if your child has any). All these things can sever their deep sleep and by helping mask these loud and jolting sounds of everyday life, you can increase the quality of their sleep due to less interruptions.

5. White Noise Helps Parents Sleep Better and Longer Too

White noise is not exclusive to helping baby sleep better. White noise can help children and adults at any age sleep better and longer. Babies are especially noisy little beings, and if you’re a light sleeper, you’ll probably wake up to every grunt, cough, or sound that your baby can make. This is especially true if you are sleeping in the same room as them. White noise helps to mask occasional sounds which could otherwise prevent you from waking up. It won’t prevent you from hearing them your baby crying, especially if they’re right near you, so it poses very little to no downsides! If there is some problem with your baby, they’ll do their best to let you know, as babies have a way with being vocal…too vocal more often than not!

6. White Noise Is Simple Enough to Stop Using

Once your baby is around one-year-old, you can start to gradually lower the volume of the white noise to make them not too dependent on it. If your baby ends up still getting restful sleep even with the sound lowered, you have the option to stop using whatever white noise machine you’re using entirely. Although, if background noise and other things are constants in your environment, it might be worth turning back on if your baby continues to experience problems sleeping after discontinuing.

Remember, regardless of how effective or not white noise can be, don’t expect babies under six months old to sleep throughout the night without waking. There are so many other external factors that even white noise simply cannot address such as needing attention, being hungry, needing a diaper change, or something as simple as them wanting your company!

Why Exactly Does White Noise Help Babies Get to Sleep?

White noise blocks out and diminishes noises that can interrupt or disturb their sleep. Most homes and even nurseries aren’t soundproof. Every day noises such as people talking, cars, and even having the television on can impact your baby’s sleep. White noise makes it effortless to not focus on those loud disrupting sounds and essentially masks them.

It’s obvious why babies like white noise! The benefits are simply massive.

It can help keep their brain busy. Another reason why white noise so effective for babies is that it can keep the brain occupied. For example, if a baby hears an unexpected or sudden sound in the middle of the night, it can alert their brain, which will make them excited and could very well likely lead to them eventually waking up. How white noise works is that if a constant low-level sound is heard and played, their brain focuses on that instead, which essentially lowers the chance of them waking up or being bothered by a loud or distracting sound.

From a baby’s point of view, white noise helps to mimic and re-create similar sounds they heard in the womb, such as all the muffled sounds of mom’s voice, blood rushing through and around them, and even hearing their own heart eating.

Babies are actually familiar with loudness in general. When they were in the womb, everything was extremely loud to them, but once they are born, their environment and the millions of unique sounds that come with it are actually much quieter to them, and can be difficult to adjust to. Think about it from their perspective too: if you spent months in a safe, enclosed area, after leaving that environment you’ll probably become overwhelmed and stressed due to new sounds, smells, and sights. It’s really not entirely that different to babies either!

White noise is a very effective solution to help mimic intrauterine sounds that can actually soothe uneasy babies and allow them to get back to sleep and stay asleep. By introducing a low-level, continuous noise to their environment, you can create a calming soundscape that lets them drift into sleep.

why do babies like white noise

How Can I Soothe My Baby with White Noise?

There are several different options available to you which is yet another wonderful aspect about white noise. Something that you can always use regardless if you have a white noise device or not, is something as simple as shushing. It actually helps mimic the constant swooshing sound of blood traveling throughout the arteries while the baby was in the mother’s womb. Combining this with a soft and gentle swinging motion is a popular method to calm any baby who is in distress.

However, shushing constantly is impossible to do forever. Try it, I can only shush for so long before I feel lightheaded! If you want to work smarter and not harder, then you should use an automatic white noise machine. You could even use a dedicated device like the Baby Shusher if you’re willing to eat the cost for this revolutionary device that’s supposed to get your baby back to sleep. Personally, for me, I thought it was well worth it considering how much hours of sleep it allowed me to get again. I was very hesitant but decided to try the trial program. My daughter was sleeping soooo much more than before and I’m so glad I gave it shot. Check out my review here!

White Noise Machines

White noise machines are well worth the money because they allow your baby to be sound asleep for the night. They fill your environment with amazingly clear audio with a variety of sounds that can soothe your baby such as ocean waves, rain, heartbeats, and other white noise sounds. The great part about some of these white noise machines is that they include heartbeat sounds which can mimic the sounds that babies are so familiar with that they heard in the womb. These machines are great because they include just about every sound you could possibly think of that would help your baby get to sleep, plus hundreds of others that you never thought of!

Some cheaper options include white noise videos from YouTube, android or iOS white noise apps, or even something as simple as a fan running are all great alternatives that can help your baby sleep.

If you’re interested in a good white noise sound machine, check out my top four picks in my post right here: What Are the Best Sound Machines for Your Baby In 2019?

How to Effectively and Correctly Use A White Noise Machine

First, start off by ensuring that the volume is at the lowest. Try to figure out the lowest effective possible volume. You don’t to start out with the volume very high when you’re first testing things out. Plus, you don’t want to put it too loud because you could possibly damage your baby’s ears because the capacity of these machines can easily exceed the recommended sound levels that babies should be exposed to.

Position the white noise machine so that is close to the crib, but don’t put it in the crib. Nearby is good enough. You don’t want to put anything in the crib that could be possibly dangerous for babies. The most ideal location for one of these machines is near the crib somewhere such as a shelf or on top of a bedside desk/table.

Start out with simple sounds at first, you don’t want to try anything too dramatic or over-the-top. Keep it as simple as possible. Another thing to be aware of – the sound activated/motion control units can actually wake your baby up if they cry out or toss and turn just for a moment. Music is separate from white noise and won’t give the same effects/results from it.

Make sure you change the sound level and whatever else you think is needs to be adjusted. What works for one baby might not work as well for another. Constant sound, that’s not too loud will most likely give your baby the best results. However, you don’t want to put the volume too low so that the baby can barely hear it. If they are crying, it’s important that the machine is equally as loud as that at the bare minimum. After testing and trying for a few nights, you should be able to find the sweet spot for the volume level that maximizes both you and your baby’s sleep.

Final Thoughts

I hope you understand why white noise is so effective and why babies seem to like it so much. White noise that is implemented effectively will almost always be able to help your baby fall sleep and stay asleep if they are having trouble sleeping throughout the night. There’s a seemingly endless amount of different white noise sounds that could potentially help your baby sleep! Experiment with different sounds and volume levels to find one that works best for your sleepy little listener!

FAQs about White Noise and Babies

Q: Is White Noise Bad for Babies?

A: Other than very few specific studies such as this, there is little to no evidence that white noise has a negative impact on babies. The linked study was also only performed on rats, and involved continuous exposure to white noise. Not only will your baby not be exposed to continuous white noise, but their development and hearing is not equivalent to that of rats. Even though the study is interesting to say the very least, it’s important to remember that if white noise is used with safe levels, only throughout certain parts of the day and not the entire day, then you have very little to worry about.

If white noise is the holy grail at making your baby get some sleep, then it really should be seen as beneficial rather than harmful. What could be worse than possible long term, constant exposure to white noise? Lack of sleep seems like a no-brainer answer to that question. I’d be willing to guess that a sleep deprived baby will have TONS of other issues than some white noise might cause.

Q: How Loud Should White Noise be for My Baby’s Room?

A: White noise should be loud enough to mask any other loud sounds that may occur nearby, but quiet enough to where it does not overpower that sound. It should also be low enough to where the white noise does not prevent your baby from falling asleep. Try to start at a lower level, and test from there. Gradually increase the volume, and test and compare results. Ideally, you should always start with lower levels, rather than starting with something loud and working your way down.

Q: What’s a White Noise Machine for Babies?

A: A white noise machine for babies is a type of device that can offer a wide range of sounds at varying levels which can help your baby fall asleep faster and even stay asleep longer. Some even offer advanced features such as timers, gradual sound increases, hundreds of different sounds, and more. White noise machines are a great and hassle-free way to help your baby sleep. Many are affordable too.

Q: When did White Noise for Babies Become a Thing?

A: Even though there have been studies dating back to 1990 showing the benefits of white noise for babies, it seems to be a relatively beneficial aspect in sleep for both babies and adults alike. Because it’s an effortless way to help babies sleep longer, it’s become very popular over the recent years.

About the Author Elizabeth

Hi everyone, I'm Elizabeth. My beautiful daughter Alice keeps me awake occasionally...but when I'm busy and can't sleep, I post parenting tips and different ways you can get your baby to sleep soundly through the night, and even naps!