White Noise: A Parents Best Friend at Bedtime

New parents repeat after me: white noise is our friend. White noise is good.

I swear, nothing soothes a savage 6 week old more than a blast of white noise. Our little guy can be in full wail and, with the simple flick of an on switch on our white noise machine, the little guy calms right down. We leave the sucker on in our room all night (he sleeps in a bassinet beside our bed) and, after a quick nurse, he usually goes back to sleep quite quickly when he wakes at night.

The 40 bucks we spent on a white noise machine was $40 very well spent.

Why does white noise work? Dr. Harvey Karp, author of The Happiest Baby on the Block, suggests that babies cry because they miss the comforting sounds of the womb and he highly recommends the use of white noise to calm a baby. White noise simulates the sound of a mother’s body and pulsing blood, which are sounds a baby knows all too well having just come from the warm and cozy confines of Mom’s womb.

Then there is this little piece of research, from Child & Family Behavior Therapy (Volume: 27 Issue: 2 ISSN: 0731-7107 Pub Date: 7/1/2005):

White noise generators were turned on at 75 dB at bedtime and kept on all night to treat resistance going to sleep and night wakings in one-year-old toddlers. In a multiple baseline design four sets of parents recorded duration of resistance going to sleep, number of night wakings, completed surveys of their child’s feeding and sleeping patterns and the Parenting Stress Index (PSI). Three of four toddlers were sleeping better at the end of treatment; however, one child’s night wakings returned at follow-up when white noise was discontinued. All parents were comfortable with the white noise and most would recommend it to others. White noise may be effective for childhood night wakings and resistance going to sleep without being combined with other validated treatments.

White noise. It’s a beautiful thing.

5 responses to “White Noise: A Parents Best Friend at Bedtime

  1. We recently put a sound machine in my son’s room and it’s helped him to fall asleep at night. Time to get one for my daughter too!

  2. i laughed at the idea of a parenting stress index. they can actually quantify parental stress??

  3. Apparently, they can! The American Psychological Association has developed the Parenting Stress Index. According to http://www3.parinc.com/products/product.aspx?Productid=PSI

    “The PSI is designed for the early identification of parenting and family characteristics that fail to promote normal development and functioning in children, children with behavioral and emotional problems, and parents who are at-risk for dysfunctional parenting. It can be used with parents of children as young as one month.”

  4. The danger of leaning too heavily on a White Noise machine is, will The Boy become so used to it he won’t be able to sleep without it on?

  5. That’s a good point, Daddy L. We did use a white noise machine with The Girl when she was younger. She does fall asleep on her own now, but we find that she falls asleep faster if we have the fan outside her bedroom going, so we are considering getting her a noise machine for her own room.

    For us the goal is sleep for everyone with as little resistance as possible.