Did you know that in utero your baby is exposed to a volume of 70-90 decibels, 24 hours a day?! That’s as loud as a vacuum cleaner! This volume in utero is caused by several things including mom’s blood pumping through her veins, her beating heart, and every breath that comes in and out of her body. These things combined create an orchestra of soothing white noise for your baby while they are in the womb. For 9 months your baby has been exposed to this level of sound and then once they are born that soothing music goes away and everyone thinks that being “quiet” is what will comfort the baby.
News flash! They LIKE the noise! It brings them (in a sense) back to the womb where they have found their comfort and rest for the past 9 months. A baby that sleeps in a quiet room is more likely to lack duration and quality during their sleep.
Now that we busted that myth here are two other reasons why a room that is full of noise (at a safe level) is helpful for your baby’s sleep, and what kind of noise is preferred.
It cuts out background noise.
Not only does white noise bring your baby back to the comfort of the womb it also blocks out background noise such as dogs barking, the doorbell ringing, voices, etc. The combination of these sounds is what could prematurely wake your baby up from their sleep. Do you like waking up before your baby in the morning to pour a cup of coffee? White noise is your bestie!
It cues to sleep.
If you use a white noise machine from the beginning, your baby will quickly associate the white noise machine with sleep. This is something that carries along with them into their toddler years and even as they get older. With a click of a button, your child knows it’s “time for bed”. When I turn on Jude’s white noise machine he knows it’s time to sleep. This is a tool that I use when we are in the car for a nap and also away for a trip. It’s a great way to cue sleep no matter where you are!
What kind of noise is preferred?
I like white noise. I know there are a lot of “white noise” choices out there. To help you understand what kind of white noise I prefer, it most resembles the sound of a running shower. Rain is great; I know there are a lot of great sounds out there and I think you should find the one that works for you. My professional advice; do not use lullaby music or any kind of sound machine that has a set timer on it where the sound turns off while your baby sleeps. You want continuous sound and the SAME sound all night and at nap times. Lullaby music is great for the bedtime routine but not great for all night rest.
How loud is too loud?
60 decibels is what is considered safe for your baby’s ear. Although in utero the sound level stays around 85 decibels and peaks at an alarming 95 dbs, this is not a safe level for baby’s ears for long periods of time once born. When baby is extremely fussy and/or overtired sometimes increasing your white noise machine for the moment can help your baby calm down (bringing them back to the womb) , but once baby calms it’s important that you bring the volume back down to a safe level of 60 decibels or lower for the remainder of their sleep. The lower the volume the better as long as your baby doesn’t wake to background noise, but do not exceed 60 dbs for long durations of sleep.
Now you know! Baby’s love to sleep with sound! If you haven’t been using a sound machine, it’s never too late to start! Stay tuned this week as I share my favorite sound machines and also how I have all my clients test their baby’s sound machines to make sure the volume is at a safe level for sleep.