White Noise for Baby Sleep

Although most parents swaddle their babies these days, it amazes me how few use white noise. White noise works miracles with fussy babies and is an amazingly powerful cue to boost baby sleep. This special sound is as important as swaddling. It’s a key tool in the Happiest Baby sleep approach…and it’s simple to do!

The sound needed to turn on the calming reflex when a baby is crying is a rough, rumbly whoosh noise that’s as loud as his crying. You can provide this sound simply by putting your mouth close to your baby’s ear and making a strong “Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.”

How to Use White Noise to Get Babies to Sleep

Once your baby is calm, lower the level of your white noise to about the loudness of a shower (65-70 decibels) to keep the calming reflex on.

And, to help your baby doze off easily and sleep soundly, white noise is a must. The best white noise for sleeping mimics the sound babies hear in the womb.

We recommend playing white noise via CD or MP3s, or a white noise machine, like SNOObear! (SNOObear features the white noise babies love in SNOO, plus some extra special sounds designed to help babies and toddlers sleep!). CDs, digital recordings, and SNOObear are great to use during car rides when your baby will fuss, and can easily be used if you leave your child in the care of their grandparents, uncles/aunts, etc.

Two cautions about smartphones for white noise: They release microwave radiation so you should always put yours on airplane mode when you place it near your baby. And telephone and computer speakers do not make the best sound for babies. They make a hissy/tinny noise, not the deep, rumbly sound that best mimics the womb.

How Does White Noise Help Babies Sleep?

White noise helps create a comfortable environment for your baby. White noise mimics sounds that your baby heard in the womb, and encourages them to calm down and sleep better.

Can You Use White Noise All Day for Babies?

As with swaddling, white noise should not be used 24 hours a day. You’ll want to play it to calm crying episodes and during naps and nighttime sleep (start the sound quietly in the background during your sleepy-time routine, to get your sweetie ready to glide into dreamland).

After 3-4 months, the calming reflex will gradually disappear. But by then, your infant will be aware of the connection between white noise and the pleasure of sleep. “Oh yeah, I recognize that sound…now I’ll have nice sleep.” Many parents continue the white noise for years, but it’s simple to wean whenever you want.

How Loud Should White Noise Be for Babies?

A 2014 study suggested that white noise should be played at 50 dB. However, we believe that to be incorrect because white noise does not aid in baby sleep until it reaches 60-65 dBs. Depending on the loudness of your babies cries, you’ll want to increase the volume of white noise to match your child’s crying. Then, you’ll want to slowly turn it down after several minutes, and reduce to 60-65 dB once your baby has fallen asleep.It’s important to allow the white noise to play at 60-65 dB once your child falls asleep for several minutes before turning it off to ensure they are comfortable.

List of Best Baby Sleep Sounds

When using white noise to aid in baby sleep, playing the right sound can make all the difference. Here is a list of some of our favorite baby sleep sounds:

  • Strong Hair Dryer – calms fussy babies
  • Fast & Vigorous White Noise – the best sound for the fussiest babies
  • Moderate White Noise – gradually guides your baby to calm
  • Mellow – womb sounds for a full night’s sleep
  • Hair Dryer – boosts sleep for light sleepers
  • Rain – peaceful and soothing for infants and parents
  • Soft Hair Dryer – unique, ultra-low pitch for sensitive sleepers (most womb-like)
  • Soft Rain – unique, ultra-low pitch for sensitive sleepers (most womb-like)

You can get all of these baby sleep sounds through our digital recordings of white noise here.

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