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Sleep Aid | Sweet Dreams | giggle Blogs

sleep aid

July 11, 2010

The Comfort of White Noise

Noise and sleep aren’t usually an association we make – especially when talking about babies.  However, research shows that babies sleep better with noise.  And, this makes sense.  In utero, babies are bathed in constant white noise — the sound of mom’s heart and other organs hard at work, the outside world, and the muffled sound of loved one’s voices.  These are all comforting sounds to a baby.

Have you ever met someone who swore that the only way their baby would fall asleep is next to a hairdryer or on top of a clothes dryer (safely, of course), or with a vacuum cleaner running?  I know it may sound absurd, but I have worked with countless families who have learned the power of white noise the hard way!  My point is, these things work because they provide constant white noise and babies are conditioned to find comfort in this before they are born.

In addition to soothing babies to sleep, white noise will also help to keep babies sleeping.  A white noise machine will produce noise at every frequency so it is most effective at masking or muting those sharp, unexpected sounds (squeals of a sibling, neighbors dog barking, car honking). I prefer white noise machines that play static white noise, as opposed to mp3s or cds as they are often looped white noise and that can actually disturb sleep.

While the white noise from a fan isn’t as helpful in terms of preventing sleep disturbances from noise (fans don’t create noise at every frequency), they are a terrific sleep aid.  The biggest benefit of a ceiling fan or a box fan is that research has shown that circulating the air in a baby’s room may reduce the risk of SIDS by 73%.  This is a fantastic discovery in the arena of SIDS.

Finally, I find that white noise is helpful when parents are getting siblings used to sharing a room or being in bedrooms near to one another.  When using white noise, be sure to place it between your child and the noise you are hoping to mute or dampen (ie closer to the window if the noise is coming from outside and closer to the door if the sound is coming from inside).