Sound Machines!

You have questions, and we have answers!

At Nightingale Night Nurses we love sound machines.

We highly recommend them and will bring them with us when we go to a new client’s house in case they don’t have one. In my opinion they are an essential tool for the first three months, and an extremely useful tool throughout infancy, toddlerhood and early childhood. But the concept of a sound machine is relatively new, and we hear concerns from parents often. Here are some of our top concerns and how we respond to them:

I don’t want my baby to become addicted to a sound machine.

My first question to this is, what is your actual concern? Harvery Karp said it best when he said, “Are you addicted to your pillow? Do you only book hotels that have pillows in them?” Sound machines support higher quality sleep. If you travel you are going to plan to bring a pack n play, a sleep sack or blankets, a pacifier etc. Some sound machines are small, portable and can be charged through any USB charger. [We recommend the lectrofan Micro for travel]. You plan for a pillow. You can plan for a sound machine!

If you are ever concerned about forgetting one or it running out of batteries, there are tons of free phone apps available that play a variety of sleep sounds. I recommend “White Noise Deep Sleep Sounds” by Kitemaster. The image is of a starry night with a white crescent moon. My other response is…you don’t have to use a sound machine forever! It’s really helpful for baby and toddler years, but they don’t need to go to college with it. If/when you want to wean your child off, simply lower it a little every night. After a few weeks they won’t need it at all. Easy peasy.

I want my baby to get used to household noises.

You don’t have to use the sound machine on full blast. Some parents like to use the sound machine as a sleep cue. Which would mean that parents would put the sound machine on when they begin naptime/bedtime and it would play as a background noise throughout the time that the baby/child is sleeping. A sound machine on low will still allow for a baby to hear the sounds of dogs barking and parents talking.

My other answer is, why do you want them to hear noise? Babies are light sleepers by nature. The better they nap during the day the better they will sleep at night. Additionally, humans aren’t used to sleeping in an environment with car horns and sirens and drunk people yelling. You may live by a busy street or have loud neighbors. Before electricity darkness meant calm and quiet. It’s okay to have a baby that is a good sleeper. Over time if you want them to get used to more noise, follow the advice from answer one.

I don’t like the sound of it.

You probably are listening to white noise-which is PAINFUL. Think- high pitched static. What you want is a brown, pink or fan noise. Brown noise is like a vacuum cleaner, pink noise is like falling rain or the wind. We recommend the brand Lectrofan. The sound quality is unmatched, and they offer a variety of sound options. I urge parents to go through the sounds until they find something that they enjoy. You’re likely to be sleeping near your baby or listening to their monitor for some time. You absolutely need to be sleeping well also. I have yet to have a parent who doesn’t end up enjoying and even preferring to sleep with a sound machine.

I’m afraid it will damage their hearing.

This is a legitimate fear. Thankfully, they have done research on this. Vacuums put out around 75, babies in the womb are exposed to from 72-88 decibels, and it’s generally recommended that adults are not exposed to prolonged noise above 85 decibels. My recommendation is this: Put your sound machine loud, but on the other side of the room from your baby. If you are having work done on the house or people over, you can put a second sound machine outside your baby’s door. It will stop sound from coming in, without putting a strain on your baby’s sensitive ears.

If you are still concerned…play it lower. It’s okay to have it as a soft background noise. If your baby is crying you can turn it up so they can hear it over their cries, and then turn it back down after.

I don’t understand the hype!

Babies have a constant background whoosh when they are in the womb. And there are so many adjustments that having sound as a constant can be really soothing for them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into a home with parents sitting in a bright room with the Tv on and are overwhelmed that their baby can’t sleep. I take the baby into a dim/dark room, swaddle the baby and put on a sound machine and often they fall asleep immediately on their own without me having to rock or feed them.

The best way to set up positive sleep habits is to create a routine that works for your baby, and to give them the tools they need to fall asleep independently. We know that babies love to have the womb recreated. So swaddle, darkness and brown noise gives them the best quality of sleep possible. As they grow out of this “fourth trimester” you can keep the tools that work and get rid of the ones that don’t. You can unswaddle your baby, but you can still lay them down awake in a dark environment with a sound machine and because they have associated their crib with a calm positive place they will drift off to sleep as older babies and young toddlers.

What you do in infancy is all about setting the stage for what is to come. If you don’t believe us…try it! The next time your newborn is crying, throw on some brown noise on your phone and see how they react. We used to hear stories all the time of parents putting the carseat on the washing machine, running the vacuum cleaner all day or putting their baby to sleep in the bathroom with the shower running. All these parents accidentally had figured out what works for their baby- consistent calm background noise!

Follow our instagram @nightingalenightnurses for a lectrofan giveaway this month! We are not paid to promote their products. We love them all on our own!

About Karina McCarthy

A Rhode Island native who has babies in her blood. A mom to a beautiful daughter and a lover of yoga and long naps.