Baby Sound Machines. Which Noise is Best for Baby Sleep?
You may have heard that a sound machine making white noise can work wonders to help your baby sleep - and it’s true! The right sound machine can help your baby, and you, fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and block out outside noise.
Pediatric neuropsychologist Dr. Greg Stasi, PhD, tells us: “Studies have shown that children, infants, and adolescents benefit significantly” from the right color noise. “In adults, they can reduce sleep onset – the time it takes to fall asleep – by up to forty percent .”
But did you know that different sound machines deliver different “colors” of noise? There’s pink noise, brown noise, and others - each with their own distinct sound. So, which noise is best to help your baby sleep?
This article helps you understand the different types of noise and which one to choose to help your baby snooze! potential use.
Since you’re researching noise machines, you may have other questions about improving your baby’s sleep. For help establishing healthy sleep habits from day one, consider the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™ app. We worked with the best pediatricians, sleep experts, and other parenting professionals to create a comprehensive guide to a solid night’s sleep!
What Are the Different Colors of Noise?
White Noise: As the name implies, white noise is basically the sound version of the color white. Just as white is all colors balanced together, white noise is all sound frequencies made with the same intensity. A common example is “Static.”
So, does white noise help babies sleep? The answer is “yes”! 80% of newborns fall asleep faster while using a white noise machine, and white noise is proven effective in relieving colicky babies, too.
Maybe it’s because white noise machines neutralize other noises, such as a barking dog, a noise neighbor, or outside traffic, or because it mimics the sound of the womb. Whatever the reason, white noise can help sleep train your baby - but so too can these other “sonic hues.”
You can also create your own white noise by shhhing, using an electric fan or air purifier in your baby’s room, tuning the radio between stations so that it plays static, or running the shower. Even vacuuming in the next room can work in a pinch.
Pink Noise: Deeper in tone than white noise, it’s often compared to the whooshing of wind, the sound of a steady rain, or rustling leaves.
There’s not too much data on pink noise and babies right now, but we do know that pink noise helps adults sleep deeper, improves memory, and can reduce stress… a great thing to keep in mind if you’re missing lots of sleep.
Brown Noise, aka Red Noise: Whatever you want to call it, brown/red noise is deeper in frequency than pink noise. It’s often described as a “roar” or “rumble” like thunder.
So, does brown noise help babies sleep? The answer: We’re not sure.
The whole field of “sonic hues” and psychoacoustics is relatively new, so there aren’t studies on brown noise’s impact on babies’ sleep, however our resident pediatric sleep expert Kylee Money recommends this as her #1 to clients - the low rumbling sounds work well at soothing babies, which suggests this hue may be a good option.
Blue noise is kind of the opposite of brown/red noise, because it has a higher pitch. Some compare blue noise to adult “baby talk” - the way we raise our voice tone when talking to babies.
Since babies are accustomed to this tone, and often make higher pitched noises themselves, some believe blue noise could be great at helping sleep train babies.
Violet Noise/Purple Noise: Now we’re getting further into uncharted territory – Violet Noise, a sonic hue that’s even higher in pitch than blue noise.
A common example of violet noise is an open sink faucet – that higher pitched sound you hear behind the water, that’s violet noise.
It can be kind of grating, which may not be great for sleep training babies, but violet noise can be used to treat tinnitus or ringing ears in adults - just an FYI.
Another lesser-known sonic hue, and also probably not great for our purposes here but worth knowing about, grey noise is a computer-engineered noise similar to white noise except here all frequencies are at the same volume, rather than just the same energy level.
It’s a bit more varied in the ear than white noise but, as with violet or red noise, there’s no conclusive evidence that grey noise helps babies sleep.
Bonus tip: If your baby’s a light sleeper, it may help to post a note on your doorbell asking people to call or text when they arrive/deliver a package to avoid any unnecessary interruptions.
Tips on Sound Machines for Babies:
- Keep the Volume Down: Loud noises can hurt babies ears, so keep your noise machine or music to 50 decibels or lower. Loud enough to drown out unwanted sounds, but not so loud it hurts your baby’s delicate eardrums.
- Choose wisely: The American Academy of Pediatrics found over a dozen baby noise machines that can do more harm than good - so take time to !
- Go the Distance: Place a noise machine at least 7 feet away from the baby for safest use.
Still not sure which noise to choose? Download the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™ app and get guided by our team of experts on everything from setting up the best sleep space to noise machines and helping improve your baby’s sleep.
- “Infant Sleep Machines and Hazardous Sound Pressure Levels,” Pediatrics.
- “Pink noise: effect on complexity synchronization of brain activity and sleep consolidation,” Journal of Theoretical Biology.
- “Acoustic Enhancement of Sleep Slow Oscillations and Concomitant Memory Improvement in Older Adults,” Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
- “White noise and sleep induction,” Archives of Disease in Childhood .
- “Comparison between swinging and playing of white noise among colicky babies: A paired randomised controlled trial,” Journal of Clinical Nursing.