What is white noise
White noise is gentle ambient noise like the whirring sound of a vacuum cleaner, hair dryer or car engine, etc or even the natural sounds of waves, rain, or wind. In fact it can be any steady, constant sound that occupies many frequencies all at the same time.
Why the experts recommend white noise as an effective sleeping aid
Both medical and baby experts believe that white noise can help babies to fall asleep and stay asleep by providing a distraction away from surrounding street or house noises, but also from the ominous silence of the night. The constant repetitive sounds of white noise mimics the ‘swishing’ and ‘whooshing’ heard by baby in the womb such as the mum’s heart beat, blood circulation, breathing, the muffled voice, etc. These familiar sounds can be comforting to newborns, in particular, who have not yet got used to the outside world or indeed the sound of silence.
White noise is recommended by medical and baby experts around the world to promote healthy baby sleep and here are just a few quotes:
Penelope Leach, Your Baby & Child From Birth to Age Five, writes “A baby who cannot relax can be helped to do so by a variety of constant rhythmical stimuli…. it will work if the trouble is some kind of general and diffuse irritability or tenseness which is preventing a tired baby relaxing into sleep. The burring sound of a fan or heater works excellently. So does the sound of a car engine.”
In Eisenberg, Murkoff, and Hathaway’s What to Expect the First Year: “Comforting the Crier. Many babies are calmed, for example, by the hum of a fan or vacuum cleaner, a tape recording of uterine gurglings, or a record that plays soothing nature sounds, such as waves breaking on the beach….”
Here is a quote from Dr. Harvey Karp, M.D. in The Happiest Baby on the Block: “Many Babies Cry because they were born 3 months too soon! As helpful as [womb simulation] is for calm babies, it is essential for fussy ones… Every traditional baby-calming technique around the world imitates the sensations of the womb.”
There is an article on Boots WebMD on ‘Colic in babies: Causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention’ where white noise is one of the treatment suggested to soothe colic: “Many babies with colic are soothed by motion, especially vibration, and by “white noise,” which is any steady background noise. Typical background noises that soothe colicky babies include dishwashers, washing machines, and vacuum cleaners. Many babies are soothed when taken for a drive in a car.”
Here is another one on Boots WebMD entitled ‘How to soothe a crying baby: Soothing sounds’: “Just as loud noises like thunder or a popping balloon can make your baby cry, soothing sounds may be able to calm your infant and stop the crying. During the nine months your baby spent in the womb, he or she became very accustomed to the constant sound of your heartbeat. Because of this, many babies are comforted by monotonous background noise, especially sounds that mimic the sound of the womb.
You may find that your baby is comforted by listening to a white noise machine, a recording of a heartbeat, or even the whirring sounds of household appliances like dishwashers or washing machines. If there is a particular sound that seems to comfort your crying baby, consider making a recording of the sound to play when your baby is upset.” Read the full article here.
Why not try Lullaby Land white noise downloads
If you fancy giving white noise a go as part of your baby bedtime routine, no need to waste time making your own recording, burn out the vacuum cleaner or leave the hair dryer on all night next to the cot. Simply download a Lullaby Land white noise track for 89 pence (pound sterling) and $1 (US dollar) in the worldwide online music stores like iTunes and Amazon. There are three albums called Household Appliances, Relaxing Sounds of Nature and Sounds of Tranquility. Each Lullaby Land white noise download is at least 5 minutes long, fading in smoothly and then fading out slowly at the end, so that there are no jolts when the track is played on repeat.
You may find that some of the sounds work better than others to send your little one to sleep, so be prepared for a little experimentation, after all, every baby is different.