Is it safe to put your infant to sleep with white noise?
The most recent research on using sound machines and white noise to soothe your infant may be found here. Pink noise—what the hell is that, too?
I’ve been a proponent of white noise since since we successfully sleep-trained our first child. I even bring our white noise machines for both of the kids when we travel cross-country to see relatives, and I make a last-minute emergency run to Walmart to replace one that breaks on the trip. After understanding that research suggest this more natural sound range can aid children in sleeping better, I’m now considering upgrading to a machine that incorporates pink noise.
At the same hand, other parents—including my in-laws—proclaim that their children developed good sleep habits as a result of the fact that their family never limited noise around them and the infants learnt to sleep through anything.
So who is correct? What you should know is as follows.
The benefits of white noise
Contrary to popular belief, most newborns do not sleep as well in quiet as they do with background noise.
Robyn Stremler, a nurse, sleep researcher, and associate professor at the University of Toronto, believes the baby would have heard a sort of shushing, swishing sound within over those many months in the womb. White noise can assist in simulating it.
One tiny study indicated that infants who sleep in rooms with white noise are more likely to do so within five minutes and that they sleep for longer periods of time when it’s on. The study was published in the BMJ (previously known as the British Medical Journal).
According to Wendy Hall, a sleep expert and professor emerita at the School of Nursing at University of British Columbia, not all babies will require that noise as they develop into toddlers; it appears to depend on the child’s temperament. She claims that some children could be put to sleep in the midst of a boisterous dinner party. Very frequently, the parents I work with tell me that their child is a remarkably light sleeper who wakes up at the slightest sound, even when they are deep sleeping.
White noise can assist hide abrupt bursts of noise that wake children awake, like loud traffic or a sibling yelling, if you live in a tiny space or a noisy neighbourhood.
What makes “pink noise” better than “white noise”?
White noise spans the entire audible spectrum, from very low to very loud noises. White noise can be heard, for instance, while a fan is running or when a radio is changing stations. Pink noise is more prevalent in nature and has less high frequencies; examples include wind, rain, and heartbeat. But, it’s vital to search for constant noises, such as rain, as opposed to recordings that have noisy bursts, such as sporadically whooshing ocean waves, whale sounds, or insect chirping, which could shock a baby awake.
Pink noise is sometimes preferred to white noise by those who find it difficult to fall asleep when it is hissing. There is a lot of proof that pink noise has positive effects. According to studies, pink noise exposure causes people to go to sleep more rapidly and stay in deeper non-REM sleep for longer.
For instance, a 2012 study discovered that when adults slept with pink noise, their brainwaves shifted and they spent more time in deep sleep. The findings was published in the Journal of Theoretical Biology. Another discovered that listening to pink noise as you sleep improved adult memory. Hall highlights some crucial limitations, though: These are more limited studies that focus on adults rather than children. Moreover, they contrast pink noise with silence rather than white noise.
No matter what type of noise you decide to make, if any, there is a chance that it will hurt your ears if it’s too loud. Researchers at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children discovered that many white noise generators reach dangerously high decibel levels, with some of them reaching as loud as a hair drier at 85 dB. Babies are at danger for long-term hearing loss if the equipment is on that loud. The researchers advise parents to keep the noise low, ideally at 50 decibels, and to move the machine as far away from the baby’s bed as they can (about as loud as a regular conversation). And according to Hall, pink noise is probably safer.Because the human ear is less sensitive to low-frequency noises than it is to high-frequency sounds, it has less potential to damage hearing because it is at the lower end of the frequency band.
Although Hall argues that this is unreasonable because babies who fall asleep with noise will need to hear the sound throughout the night, the SickKids researchers also advise setting the white noise generator to turn off once the baby falls asleep. If that sound isn’t there, “your child will wake up looking for it,” she says. Babies develop a sleep association with white or pink noise when you play it before bed, meaning they will always require it to fall asleep. Stremler argues that this is not always a bad thing because it is fairly normal for infants to associate events that occur just before bedtime with sleep.
She argues that several activities, like rocking, breastfeeding, and twirling mom’s hair, might help children associate sleep. White and pink noise aren’t so unpleasant in comparison because they don’t ask much of the parents.