When your baby was in the womb, she was exposed to all sorts of sounds all the time. Not only could she hear sounds from outside your body (like people talking, music playing, or ambient noises), she could also hear sounds from inside your body (like your heart beat, blood flow, lungs inflating, and even when you chew).
In fact, babies are so used to hearing constant noise that silence can make them uncomfortable when they are outside the womb. Contrary to what a lot of people think, it’s not necessary to maintain an absolutely silent home in order to keep your baby asleep.
What is white noise?
White noise is simply constant sound that blocks out all other noises. You’ve surely experienced this yourself. When there’s music playing in one room, you can’t hear people talking in the other.
Why do babies like white noise?
Basically, they love it because it’s what they are used to. Anything you can do to recreate the same environment from the womb is a great way to help your baby relax. After all, everything in the womb was relaxing and peaceful.
When your baby is upset by something, a little bit of noise gives them something to focus on. They listen and try to figure out what’s going on. This quells their anxiety.
How does one make white noise?
While there are many ways to make background noise, there are only two methods to create true white noise: 1) a running fan that does not change settings or speeds, or 2) a Dohm white noise machine that is designed specifically to create constant noise. The key is to keep the noise loud enough to block out other sound, but low enough so your baby doesn’t focus on it, and to be consistent, so there are no changes in the volume or rhythm. Anything that loops over or starts and stops regularly can wake up your baby.
Some devices are disguised as stuffed animals and designed to sit inside the crib, but we do not recommend putting anything in the crib while your child sleeps.
Does white noise have any harmful effects on babies?
Not really, unless you are playing the sounds too low and too close to your child. From your child’s sleeping space, the sound should be no higher than 60 decibels, which is about the level of a conversation. Ideally the noise-maker should be across the room so there’s no direct sound on your baby.
Will white noise create a sleep association?
It’s possible, but unlikely. Even if your child does become accustomed to sleeping with a bit of background noise, that isn’t a hard need to maintain. It’s far different than dealing with a two year old who has to cling to you to fall asleep. If your child needs gentle noise, play some music and be happy you have something that puts your kids to sleep.
Written by Karen Barski, BSN, RN, Mother of five, Certified Infant Care Specialist & Instructor, & Inventor of the Woombie Baby Swaddle
Karen has been an RN for 18 years, and has worked in many different nursing roles. As a Certified Infant Care Specialist, Karen counsels thousands of families yearly on a multitude of issues relating to pregnancy and infancy. Also, as a mother of five, she has invaluable experience and tips to share.
Since 2007, Karen’s company, KB Designs, has invented a line of signature baby swaddle products that have helped parents easily transition their new babies from womb to home. There are multiple designs and sizes so that babies can enjoy the comfort and security of the Woombie up until the time they begin to roll.
Each product has been created and designed by Karen because of a need she identified in her life with her five children. With convenience, safety, and fashion in mind, KB Designs has helped over a half million babies and counting!
For more information, visit www.woombie.com.
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