Skip to content

Baby Sleep and Sound Machines

New Research on Sound Machines in the Nursery

Infants are experiencing all of their senses at once. This is why their environment can easily become overstimulating and too much sensory input can make it harder to drift off to sleep. There is some evidence that baby sleep and sound machines can be a good combination.

baby-covering-earsWhen parents ask about white noise for their infants and children I recommend the following.

  • It can be helpful if there are environmental noises that can wake a baby. (dog bark, door bell, street noise, etc).
  • Infants and toddlers generally do not become addicted to it as many people fear.
  • It is better if it is a constant shhhhh sound and not fluctuating in pitch or volume such as a wave sound or forest sounds with birds. Many of the choices on infant sound machines I do not like. Therefore, I prefer using pink noise apps or pink noise machines on lower volume for infants.
  • Lower pitch is better than higher pitch sounds.


Pink Noise Is Better Than White Noise

In the world of sound there are classifications of noise much like there are classifications of light in regards to a “spectrum”.

For noise purposes Pink Noise is better than White Noise for sleep.

  • White noise is a sound that contains every frequency within the range of human hearing (generally from 250 hertz to 8,000 kHz) in equal amounts.
  • Pink noise is a variant of white noise. Pink noise is white noise that has been filtered to reduce the volume at each octave.

“Jue Zhang, Ph.D., an associate professor at China’s Peking University conducted a study to see how pink noise would affect human sleepers, Zhang and his team recruited 50 people and exposed them to either pink noise or no noise during nighttime sleep and daytime naps while monitoring their brain activity. The results: An impressive 75% of study participants reported more restful sleep when exposed to pink noise. When it came to brain activity, the amount of “stable sleep”—the most restful kind—increased 23% among the nighttime sleepers exposed to pink noise, and more than 45% among nappers, says Zhang.”

The following is a sample of pink noise.

Pediatrician Harvey Karp supports the use of white noise for infant sleep. His recommendation is as follows, “Low-pitched, rumbly sounds are better for a baby’s sleep, Karp says, as they are “reminiscent of the experience in the womb.” Exposing the infant to very loud sounds in short spurts is fine — a baby’s own cry is 10 times louder than a hair dryer! — but for promoting sleep, he says, aim for softer and lower-pitched.”

New Study On White Noise In The Nursery

New recommendations

  • Keep all white noise machines OUT of the crib.
  • Place the machine as far away from the crib as possible.
  • Keep the volume on low.
  • Don’t leave the sound on all night.

Dr Karp argues that as long as it is not in the crib or too close to the crib, the right sound machine (pink noise or white noise) at the right volume (lower if closer to crib) is fine left on all night and helps infants and young children sleep.

Watch the report below and decide what is best for your nursery.

My new recommendation for baby sleep and sound machines is this, download a decibel measuring app on your phone and check it for yourself.

Back To Top