What is white noise?
White noise is a mixture of sounds that have high pitches and low pitches and everything in between. The combination of these sounds is what drowns out most of the other sounds, because when you are hearing all different frequency of sounds, your brain has trouble picking out one sound over another.
Examples of white noise include a vacuum cleaner, radio on static, hair dryer or fan.
So how can white noise help my baby to sleep?
Contrary to belief, babies settle much quicker and sleep more deeply when exposed to white noise. That’s not surprising when you think the conditions in the womb can reach as much as 80-90 decibels, comparable to the sound of a vacuum cleaner.
White noise helps to mimic the sounds of the womb such as your heart beating, blood flowing and the muffled sounds of voices. These womb-like sounds can be comforting to your baby, particularly new-borns who aren’t yet used to the outside world.
Babies can get stressed and overtired easily, especially when their world is over stimulated with too much excitement, movement and bright lights. Using white noise helps to create a safe space for your baby to sleep and unwind and will help him to interpret the sound as a cue for sleep.
During sleep, babies have what are known as sleep arousals, where they stir briefly every 20 – 45 minutes as they shift between sleep cycles.
White noise helps babies to gently navigate through these arousals to get longer more restorative sleep. It also helps to block out the noises of life, especially if you live near traffic, have noisy neighbours or older siblings in the house.
When should I use white noise?
White noise needs to be played continuously throughout the night and for day sleeps and needs to be played at approx. 50 decibels. This is comparable to the sound of a shower running in an en-suite bathroom with the door open.
Can white noise help to block out external noise?
Yes indeed playing white noise in your baby's room will effectively create a sound barrier, blocking out loud external noises eg: older siblings, noisy traffic or barking dogs.
It also gives you the flexibility to resume normal household activities like vaccuming, gardening or TV sounds and this will not filter through to your baby's room.
What should I use for white noise?
There are many different ways to play white noise, you can buy a special white noise CD, download an app on your device or buy a white noise machine.
Most parents these days opt for more natural sounds like rain, waves, womb sounds or a fan.
When should I wean my baby off White noise?
There is no hard and fast rule about this but most children can successfully be weaned off white noise around 12-18 months, you can do this gradually by turning down the volume further and further each night.
So why not give it a go and see how this simple tool can enhance your baby's sleeping.