As you probably already know, having an infant in the household means that there is very little sleep for you as a parent. You will have to wake up every few hours for feedings at the start, but also your little one might have certain troubles falling asleep. This is why pediatricians recommend different relaxing activities for your baby to help it sleep through the night. Effects of the white noise on the brain will be helpful if nothing else seems to work.
However, as with everything, there are some negative effects of white noise that you need to look into to understand it better.
What is White Noise About?
The main reason why people use white noise is to reduce the other environmental sounds too, usually, get more sleep. This is extremely helpful since the effects of white noise on the brain of a baby are decently strong. For example, a white noise machine will block all the traffic noise if you live in a crowded city near a street.
Also, some specific sounds help a lot when it comes to sleep, regardless of the environmental noises. For example, soothing beach or rainforest sounds are great to help us sleep better.
As mentioned above, white noise machines are used for infants too, and there are models designed specifically for them. Some of these machines are made with a sound setting and it may have a variety of melodies installed – it is usually a heartbeat noise or a lullaby.
A study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood Trusted Source in 1990 suggested that the effects of the white noise on the brain are very helpful. The study was done on 40 newborns. About 80% of the children were falling asleep only five minutes after the white noise machine started working.
Good Sides of the White Noise
As already mentioned, the effects of white noise machines on the brain are very helpful for us when it comes to sleep. Also, the machine is very good at blocking other noises in your household, for example, other siblings fighting or playing. Newborns are comforted by their mother’s heartbeat, and this is why some models have the heartbeat setting installed to help babies even more.
The most obvious reason why you would use a white noise machine is to help your baby sleep better through the night. It is even more helpful if you notice that your little one usually falls asleep when there’s some kind of noise – even if this happens outside of the regular bedtime or nap time. This means that your child will respond very well to white noise.
Be aware of the fact that your child might get accustomed to the noise easily. A completely quiet environment won’t be an option for your baby if this happens.
Masking Other Noises
Some white noise machines can be very helpful for large families with a lot of children. For example, you set your newborn for a nap. But, your other, older kids are making a lot of noise in the living room. A white noise machine can be helpful to block these noises while still helping your baby sleep better.
Bad Sides of the White Noise
As with everything, there are certain negative effects of white noise too. However, these risks and troubles are mild and something you probably don’t have to worry about.
In addition to all the benefits white noise offer, there is always some risk. The American Academy of Pediatrics did a test in 2014 on 14 white noise machines specifically designed for newborns. The results were a bit scary since all of these machines’ noise limits were above the normal for infants (50 decibels).
This means that babies who were listening to those machines are at a higher risk of developing hearing problems. The study also suggested that white noise might increase the risks of developing speech and language problems.
The pediatricians started recommending after the study that these machines should be located at least 7 feet away from your baby when they are turned on. Also, you have to make sure that the volume on the machine is never above the limit for babies.
White Noise Dependency
Some babies might get depended to white noise – meaning that these babies might be able to fall asleep only if there’s white noise in the room. This can be problematic, for both your baby and you, since you might not always have the machine.
For example, you go on a vacation and you forget to bring the white noise machine. Be sure that if this happens, you won’t be sleeping too much during that trip. Another scenario is staying at grandma’s house. So, make sure you always carry the machine with you if that’s the only way your child can fall asleep.
Some Babies Don’t Like White Noise
You have to know that there will always be children who won’t like white noise at all. Every infant is different when it comes to sleeping, so offering a white noise machine to your baby might be a trial and error process. However, the negative effects of white noise are very much real, so make sure that you do everything safely if you decide to try white noise.
Why Do Babies Have to Sleep?
When you think of lack of sleep, you will probably envision long, cranky days filled with a lot of caffeine to make it through. This is not so obvious when it comes to children and their sleeping habits. The effects of lack of sleep are usually different.
Some of the most usual behaviors that a child will experience if it hasn’t slept well are:
- Behavioral fluctuations
- Frequent disagreeableness
How Much Sleep is Enough?
The only way you can know if your child’s behavior is due to the lack of sleep is to know how much sleep your baby needs to function properly. Here are the recommended guidelines you should follow:
- Newborns: 18 hours every day, only waking up when you need to feed your baby
- 1 to 2 months of age: 4-5 hours of sleep without waking up
- 3 to 6 months of age: 8-9 hours of sleep, usually through the night. Short daytime naps are a must-have
- 6 to 12 months of age: usually, babies this old will sleep up to 14 hours in total with up to 3 daytime naps
Don’t forget that these numbers are just recommended averages. Your child might have different needs, so pay attention to the behavior of your baby. Some babies don’t need that much sleep, while others need to sleep more to function properly.
Baby Planet Overview
White noise machines are widely accepted as a great solution for babies who can’t fall asleep easily. They have great effects on our brains and might even help you to fall asleep easier. Negative effects of the white noise are very mild and you shouldn’t be too worried about them. Just pay attention to the volume settings and to the model of the machine you’re buying.
- White Noise and Sleep Induction, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov