White noise is a type of noise that is produced by combining sounds of all different frequencies together. If you took all the tones that humans can hear and put them together, you would have white noise.
White noise is similar to the sound of a tv, or the static from a radio. Background noises like washing machines, vacuum cleaners or fans can work in the same way.
The gentle, consistent sounds can help calm your baby. You probably instinctively find yourself saying ‘sssh sssh,’ to your little one. It’s a sound that mimics the sound of your heartbeat that your baby is used to from being in the womb. After spending months in the safe environment of the womb, babies can find all the strange sounds, smells and surroundings overstimulating and stressful. The sounds that your baby will have been used to were muffled by amniotic fluid. Playing white noise at bedtime can re-create this.
Babies are also accustomed to the sound of blood whooshing through the placenta (this is said to be louder than a vacuum cleaner!) One particular study showed that white noise helped 80% of babies to fall asleep within 5 minutes!
When your baby hears a consistent (albeit quite boring) sound, he or she can focus on it and relax… It is also fantastic for drowning out creaky floorboards or sudden noises that may cause your baby to startle awake. The postman knocking at the door during naptime, a household pet disturbing baby…. the list goes on.
White noise should be fairly quiet – no louder than the sound of a running shower. If you are unsure, or concerned then always err on the side of caution with volume (neonatal intensive care units are limited to 50 decibels when placed near the crib)… 60 decibels is the equivalent to a conversation (so we feel comfortable recommending this volume!)
White noise should be on continuously through the night or nap. If our babies to stir or wake up in the night, we want them to experience the same conditions that they feel asleep in. This in theory can help them connect their sleep cycles independently.
You can see our recommendations for white noise machines on the Just Chill Mama Amazon storefront.
You can learn more about baby sleep environment and helping your baby to connect their sleep cycles independently with our online courses.