Noise exposure poses a concern for paediatric health due to the vulnerability of developing auditory systems. The anatomy of external ears in young children significantly differs from that of adults, characterised by smaller ear canals that amplify higher frequency sounds.
So with that being said let’s talk about white noise. Is it safe? Why should we use it? When should we stop white noise.
Why Embrace Sound Machines for Baby Sleep?
- Calming Effects: Sound machines have shown effectiveness in soothing a fussy baby, facilitating a quicker transition to sleep.
- Enhanced Sleep Duration: Some studies suggest white noise aids in prolonging the duration of a baby's sleep cycle.
- Comforting White Noise: Silence can feel strange for infants who are accustomed to the rhythmic sounds of the womb. The consistent noise from a sound machine mirrors the comforting environment of the womb, contributing to a sense of security for young babies.
- Masking Environmental Noises: White noise is a great tool to mask external noises, be that environmental, pets etc. It is a great way to reduce the chances of your babe waking from noise disruption.
Safety and Usage Guidelines
Concerns may arise regarding the safety of white noise or sound machines for babies. However, here are the safety guidelines endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- Placement: Position the sound machine at least 2.1m away from the sleeping area.
- Volume Control: Opt for the lowest effective volume, even adjusting it further once your baby is asleep. White noise is best kept at 50 Dcb at a max.
- Awake Time Management: Turn off the sound machine during waking hours and as soon as your little one is up. Ongoing exposure across the day is not recommended.
There are apps you can download to test the volume. Brown and white noise are interchangeable.
When to stop?
There is no set age to stop white noise, some adults use it. However if your little one starts to indicate they no longer want it, it’s important to respect that. I would personally not use white noise much past 2.5-3 years, as little ones should have really great sleep habits set in by then and less impacted by noises here and there.
In essence, when used appropriately and following safety guidelines, sound machines serve as a beneficial aid for infant sleep without posing risks to hearing or speech development.
The white noise I use for Charlie is the Drift away by Ergopouch.