White light is made by mixing together different colors of light. (A rainbow is caused by cracking white light back into all the individual hues). Similarly, white noise is a mix of all different pitches of sounds blended together.

White noise is a great tool to soothe fussing and help your baby sleep. But there are some common misunderstandings about how to use it. Some parents think:

My baby sleeps so well, she does not need white noise.

Even for easy babies, white noise is a must. It makes good sleep even better. And it helps prevent the sleep disasters that may ruin your life between four and twelve months!

It is very common for an infant’s sleep to suddenly fall apart after the fourth trimester. That is because:

  1. The calming reflex fades away
  2. Babies become super social and wake up when they hear little noises in the middle of the night
  3. Weaning from being swaddled
  4. Teething

All four factors lead to a surge in sleep problems . . . just when you thought you had it nailed.

Using the right white noise will help you sidestep these problems. Within weeks your little one will link the sounds with the pleasure of sleep. Oh yeah, I recognize that sound . . . Now I will have a nice little snooze. As she passes through infancy she will be able to sleep despite outside distractions, such as tellies and passing trucks, or inside distractions, such as teething pain, mild colds, slight hunger.

Note: Do not use white noise all day long. Hearing the normal home sounds, for many hours a day, will help your child master the nuances of all the interesting sounds around her, such as speech, music, and so forth.

All white noise sleep sounds—wave, rain, nature sounds—work equally well.

People talk about white noise as if it is just one thing. But there are actually two types of white noise–high pitch and low pitch–and they have totally opposite effects!

High-pitch white noise is harsh, hissy, whiney, and annoying—think sirens, alarms, beepers, screams. These sounds are great for getting your attention (and calming baby crying), but they are terrible for sleep.

On the other hand, low-pitched sound is droning and hypnotic—think the monotonous rumble of cars and planes; rain on the roof; or listening to a boring lecture. That sound is terrible for getting attention, but it is fantastic for lulling us to sleep.

Interestingly, womb sounds start out harsh and hissy, but the velvet walls of the womb and the sea of amniotic fluid around your baby filter out the high-pitched frequencies, leaving just a deep thunderous rumble.

Furthermore, continuous sounds, like hair dryers or rain on the roof, are much more effective than heartbeat, ocean waves, and nature noises.

Note: Parents intuitively use the right pitch to soothe their baby’s cries. They start by making a loud, hissy shhhh sound and then gradually lower the pitch and volume as their little one relaxes into sleep.

White noise sounds for sleeping should be played as quietly as possible.

When your baby cries, you have to: first, turn on the calming reflex, and second, keep it turned on.

To turn it on, use a strong hissy sound that is as loud as the crying. Hoovering comes in at 75 dB and hair dryers roar at 90 dB. But your baby puts them all to shame! Her wails shoot out at 100 dB, or more! That’s like the sound from the Tube blasting just inches from her own ear! No wonder quiet shushing rarely calms screaming; they are so loud they cannot even hear us.

Once the outburst starts to settle, keep the calming reflex turned on by playing a rumbly sound, about the intensity of a gentle shower (65 to 70 dB). I particularly recommend using a smart baby cot that automatically boosts the noise during fussing bouts and lowers it to a deep, rumbly sound as babies calm.

Not using the best white noise machine for babies

Not all white noise machines are created equally, most cannot create that low rumbly noise newborns need and many turn off after a certain period of time. We recommend using SNOO, it automatically plays white noise—continuously—and gradually increases during bouts of fussing. Smart baby cots like SNOO have become helpful for parents and babies sleep.

If you are interested in seeing REAL stories from parents using SNOO, click here for a list of SNOO Reviews.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider. Breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for babies. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, mothers eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast- and bottle-feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of a mother's breastmilk and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. If you do decide to use infant formula, you should follow instructions carefully.