Google “best white noise machine” and get ready for a seemingly infinite scroll! There are so many options out there, it’s hard to know where to begin—or what you really need—in a white noise machine. You may be tempted to simply buy the white noise machine for babies your best friend registered for—or the white noise machine that won the race to be the first on Amazon—but it’s a better idea to figure out which white noise machine features your baby, toddler, or big kid truly needs to help ensure restful night’s sleep. Need help? Keep reading!

White Noise Machine Must: Real White Noise

Surprise: Most white noise machines don’t actually offer the low rumbly white noise babies need for sleep! Instead, many baby sound machines are jam-packed with so-called “sleep sounds” like crashing waves, chirping birds, and the din of a heartbeat that not only aren’t white noise, they don’t work for sleep. White noise needs to be continuous, monotonous, and low-pitch in order to turn on your baby’s natural calming reflex, which is their inborn “off switch” for fussing and “on switch” for sleep. And the best white noise machine for babies mimics the loud rumbly sounds they heard for nine months in the womb. That just-right white noise can be found in Dr. Harvey Karp-designed SNOObear, the responsive on-the-go white noise lovey, and SNOObie, Dr. Karp’s adorable stand-alone white noise machine that’s also a nightlight, sleep-trainer, mediation helper, and more. Both feature award-winning SNOO sounds, plus bonus relaxing tracks.

White Noise Machine Must: Portability

Much like the half-bath next to the kitchen, portability isn’t exactly a white noise machine “must”…but it certainly is a “great to have!” If you think you might like to use your baby’s white noise machine for around-the-house feeds, car rides, or for quick trips, look for a lightweight white noise machine that’s rechargeable and portable. SNOObie, for example, is easy to remove for its base and holds a charge all night long. Another option: SNOObear, which is super for cuddly on-the-go white noise, plus its speaker box is removable and easy to stash in your diaper bag, so sleep-help can always be at hand!

White Noise Machine Must: Volume Control

The volume on your white noise machine should be loud enough to mask outside noises—like a potentially sleep-disturbing passing truck—but not so loud that your baby, toddler, or big kid’s hearing may be jeopardized. That means, even if you crank your white noise machine to top volume, your precious bub’s ears would still be safe. If you’re shopping for a portable white noise machine, it’s a wise move to look for one that automatically lowers the volume once it’s taken off the charging dock, like SNOObie. This further ensures the white noise machine is never too loud for little ears. (Dr. Karp Answers: Is white noise bad for babies’ hearing?)

White Noise Machine Must: Sound Variety

White noise for sound sleep is slightly different from white noise that helps to calm fussing. The ideal white noise machine for babies features both types of white noise. Calm babies who are ready for naptime or night-night respond well to gentle but rumbly white noise that copy-cats womb sounds…but a crying, upset baby requires a more vigorous, rough, and slightly harsh white noise to flip on their calming reflex. SNOObie, for instance, features both must-have white noise sounds: “Rain on the Roof” is perfect for sleep and “Fast and Vigorous” helps calm fussing. Beyond having the right white noise, it’s important to have other sound options for calm play or wind down time. For example, SNOObear features fast and vigorous white noise, rain, hair dryer, rumbly train sounds, and two shushing sounds. Meanwhile, SNOObie plays all of those, plus four lullabies and two meditation tracks, which ensures SNOObie will grow right along with your family. (Learn how lullabies calm little ones.)

White Noise Machine Must: Nightlight Option

Every parent loves a two-in-one baby or toddler gadget to save money and cut down on clutter, so seeking a white noise machine that can double as a nightlight is a smart move. Nightlights allow you to stealthy check on your little one without turning on any sleep-disrupting bright lights. Plus, many toddlers and big kids feel safer if they can see familiar surroundings when they wake at 2am…not just a gulf of scary darkness! (SNOObie features eight nightlight color choices and dims or brightens with a touch.)

White Noise Machine Must: Easy to Use

Parents have enough on their plates during Baby’s bedtime routine. Figuring out a complicated white noise machine should not be one of them! Shop for a white noise machine that’s intuitive and easy to use. With SNOObie, for instance, you can easily adjust volume with the left knob and select your audio track with the right knob. Easy peasy! Want to engage the light option? Simply double tap the top of SNOObie’s cloud. (This turns off the light as well.) Touch and hold to dim or brighten light. And change color with SNOObie’s sliding “tongue.”

White Noise Machine Must: Grow-With-Me Features

A nightlight-white noise machine combo is great…but it’s even better if the noise and light can work together. For instance, some of the best white noise machines for babies and children allow you to use light and sound to create bedtime routines, when-to-wake schedules, and more. With SNOObie—and the free Happiest Baby app—you can schedule, say, a 30-minute, wind-down routine with your kiddo’s favorite lullaby and colored light. Or maybe you’d like to set SNOObie to glow green at 7am when it’s time to rise and shine. SNOObie also features guided breathing exercises. Sound and gently pulsing light helps your child (and you!) master calming, mindful breathing…a key to life-long emotional balance. (Learn how magic breathing can transform tantrums.)

White Noise Machine Must: Aesthetically Pleasing 

A lot of white noise machines look like intercoms from yesteryear or glowing space domes….which is totally fine if that’s the look you’re going for! But the truth is, an effective white noise machine is only effective if you use it. And if your white noise machine is an eyesore, you may not use it like you should. If you think this might be you, select a white noise machine that works with your style—or better yet—select one that speaks directly to your child with a playful design they’ll love looking at. SNOObie, for instance, has a sweet-as-can-be face and glowing cloud perfect for kids’ rooms. And SNOObear is a cuddly teddy, a puppet, and on-the-go white noise machine that littles love to snuggle.

Dr. Harvey Karp explains how and why white noise is an integral part of the 5 S’s for soothing babies.

Happiest Baby White Noise Buyers’ Guide

SNOObie white noise machine from Happiest Baby

SNOObie: Dr. Harvey Karp’s SNOObie nightlight/white noise machine is designed to grow right along with your sound sleeper! SNOObie plays the very same slumber-boosting white noise that babies love about SNOO, plus calming lullabies, gentle shush-ing, and two guided mindful breathing tracks. App-enabled SNOObie also allows parents to preset sleepytime and when-to-wake routines with both light and sound.

SNOObear: It’s an on-the-go white noise machine, a lovey, and a puppet—perfect for babies and toddlers! SNOObear offers Baby the same signature white noise sounds as SNOO, plus it’s responsive. So, after the sound shuts off, SNOObear continues to monitor your baby for three more hours and automatically turns back on if your little one cries. 

SNOO Smart Sleeper: The award-winning SNOO bassinet uses white noise, gentle rocking, and a safe swaddle to boost Baby’s sleep for all naps and nights. Its quick response time often calms upset babies in under a minute…and SNOO can add 1 to 2 hours of sleep a night.

White Noise MP3: This download includes Dr. Harvey Karp’s top eight soothing white noise sleep sounds, such as “Strong Hair Dryer” and “Fast & Vigorous,” both of which calm fussy babies. 

White Noise CD: This CD includes the very same magical sleep sounds that Dr. Harvey Karp recommends—and features in—the white noise MP3 above.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.