Calm & Sleepy – Why Do Babies Like White Noise?

dakota corbin 272274 unsplashA little while ago, I had no idea about the connection between white noise and babies, and what amazing and nerve-saving effects for parents it can have. There was only the almost forgotten memory of a physics teacher years and years ago, who explained the term white noise to me and the rest of the school class. And Mr. Williams never mentioned the amazing effects it can have on us humans, or told us anything about ‘why do babies like white noise‘.
Not cool, Mr. Williams!

So, to break it down for you short and simple:

Not only can white noise mask other sounds of the environment, that might be disturbing for a sleeping baby. More importantly, it will remind the infant of sounds that were very similar and surrounded him for 9 months: his mother’s womb.

You can say for a newborn baby that is freshly exposed to our crazy world, the white noise sound will feel familiar and like ‘home’ for him. Including the safeness and security, only a mothers womb can have.

My first encounter with white noise

So like I said at the beginning of this article, I had no idea about that white noise – baby connection.
That was until my sister gave birth to her own little angel and I, as a freshly baked uncle, made my first experiences with what parents have to deal with 24/7. Of course, there was so much joy the new family member brought to us all, but then, there was also the time when he had to go to sleep…

Gladly, our research on ‘how to make a baby sleep fast’ was quickly successful, as we came across the white noise phenomenon.

Here is what you need to know about white noise

In this article, I will tell you what you have to know about white noise and how it to use it to easily make your baby become calm and sleepy.

After my first encounters with the white noise trick, I wanted to know more about it. The first questions I asked myself were ‘why do babies like white noise so much and why does it make them calm & sleepy?’ and ‘what is white noise for babies?’.
So I did some research and will tell you what I found out.

Does white noise really work?

So first of all, does this whole article make sense, haha. Does this white noise thing really work and is it the holy grail of sleeping?
Well, it actually kind of is!
There are numerous interesting studies about white noise and the effects on babies and even adults. And they pretty much agree on each other: white noise has a positive effect on our sleep!

Just to name you one, in this study, scientist were able to record that 80% (!) of the tested babies fell asleep within 5 minutes in a response of the white sound that was played to them.

But also, let me tell you from my first-hand experience, that it really does work. I couldn’t believe how successful this sound was, whenever my sister had to put my nephew to sleep. I tell you, it is worth a try for you if you haven’t tried already. You will be surprised!

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What Is White Noise?

To make it simple first, you can refer to ‘white noise’ as a ‘shh’-sound.
It will remind you of that sound that someone makes, who wants another person to be quiet. For example that old, grumpy lady behind the school’s library desk.

Interestingly, parents also use this sound intuitively to calm down a crying baby. Holding it, move it tenderly from side to side and make a ‘shh’-sound to make the little one feel more comfortable and better overall.

But if you are a fan of definitions, here are the more scientific words for you:

‘White noise is a continuous ‘sh’ sound, caused by many frequencies of
equal intensity. 
It is a sound containing a blend of all the audible frequencies
distributed equally over the range of the frequency band.’
(Collins Dictionary)

Maybe it is best if we put those word in a sound example.

What Does White Noise Sound Like?

If you never heard about it before, you are probably curious how that white noise sound for babies actually sounds like.
Without further ado, here is one example for you, how white noise can sound like:

If you do some research, you can also stumble upon the words ‘blow dryer white noise‘, simply because of the fact, that a blow dryer imitates that sound pretty well. But of course putting a turned on blow dryer next to your baby is not an option for people with brains, but I will give you good solutions at the end of this article.

Other associations to this calming sound are rain that is hitting the roof or ocean waves.
Ahwww…who doesn’t love those sounds…

When And How To Use White Noise For A Baby

Your newborn might has trouble to fall asleep during the day or at night time. Maybe the environment is noisy, maybe there are siblings who don’t sleep at that time. Or maybe your little one has a slight cold or is teething and can’t get a full night of sleep because of some pain.
In these cases, white noise is definitely something that you should consider and try out!

So how to exactly use this ‘shush’ sound for your baby?
Don’t worry. It’s easy actually and requires zero effort!

You do your sleeping routine and when everything is ready for some quality sleeping time, you just play the sound and that’s it! A piece of cake.

White Noise Sound Machines

The easiest and safest way to get the white noise sound into your babies room (or your own, if the baby is sleeping with you), is specifically for that purpose build white noise sound machines.

We show you our favorites at the end of the article if you are interested.
But this here is our personal winner that helped us in our own home.

Are Sound Machines Bad For Babies?

Despite all the positive effects of that little wonder called white noise, there are also some things you should know and take into consideration before you use a sound machine to play the sound. Some might say that sound machines could be bad. But let me explain this to you in more detail.

When To Stop Using White Noise For Your Baby

Some people might be afraid, that using the white noise sound for every sleep time of their infant can make them dependent on the sound so that it would be harder to fall asleep without it.

Firstly, that really depends on the baby itself. If it is tired at night and falls asleep because of a long exhausting day with many new impressions and experiences, you won’t need a sound machine.
It is best to use a white noise sound in situations or times when your baby has problems falling asleep, is not calm and relaxed enough or even when you don’t have the time to read 3 bedtime stories and sing some lullabies when it was a long day for you too.

To tell you from my own experience again, it was not a problem for my nephew to sleep without the sound after some nights and days when my sister used it to help him to fall asleep quickly.
And during my research, I found, that many parents used the white noise every night over a long period of time and especially during the first year. And after that, there was no problem for their little one to just fall asleep without the sound.


How Loud Should White Noise Be For Baby

Another crux of the matter is the volume. But there is no problem with it if you do it right.

It is important to not place the sound source to close to your baby. A study about this recommends at least 7 feet (2m) distance between the sound machine and your baby’s crib. Or, if the machine has the function to regulate the volume, just make sure it won’t be too loud. But of course, don’t place anything in the crib, as any object there can be dangerous.

Some sellers of sound machines tell you to play the sound comparatively loud so that it can drown the babies own scream and the sound can actually work effectively.
But experts found out in tests, that white noise sounds are often played too loud and can actually harm the baby’s hearing.
Some better machines automatically become more and more quiet as the sound continues. So once your baby started to react to the sound, it won’t be necessary to be played loud and just a soft sound, at the lowest volume possible, that goes through the room is enough, to enhance the quality of the sleep.

To tell you from my own experience again, the sound doesn’t have to be loud at all. Maybe if the baby is crying it needs more volume, to get his attention, but once they close their eyes, a soft volume as described above will be enough.

My research showed that 60 dB is a good maximal volume to start some test runs. This is the same volume that a normal shower or conversation has. As said before, if softer works for your little rascal, it’s great. But 60 dB is fine. A rule of thumb of the Children’s Hearing Institute is, that only sound above 80 dB would harm the baby’s hearing.

Common Sense When Not To Use It

As practical and helpful it can be when your newborn has problems to fall asleep, it won’t be the solution if he wakes up in the middle of the night and is crying for you and your attention.
The problems and discomforts can vary from being too cold or hot, thirsty, hungry, feeling pain and other things. Of course in these situations, a sound machine won’t help you to make your baby feel better. In moments like that, it is YOU who has to take some action and not the sound machine.

White Noise Machines

So we talked a lot about white noise and now you know everything you need to know to get started and try it for yourself.
We did a lot of research and checked the best white noise machines that are available on Amazon right now (2018).
We read the reviews and checked which products give you the best features reliability for their money.
Here are the top rated products from Amazon, and also our top 3 picks.



And following, you can see our top pick. It’s the one that we used for our babies and we were nothing but happy with it. So for us, this is the best battery operated white noise machine out there:


Other Sounds To Put Your Baby To Sleep

Besides the white noise, there are also other sounds that are said to have effects on babies and are worth mentioning here.

Heartbeat Sound For Baby

There are some machines out there, that imitate a heartbeat. This also goes back to the mother’s womb, where the fetus is able to hear the mom’s heartbeat. It is said to have similar calming effects on a baby, yet unlike with the white noise, there are no reliable studies to prove this and also on the internet you can not find as many success stories as if you search for the white noise sound.

Music To Make Babies go to sleep

I also came across some articles and posts that talked about music which is played to make babies go to sleep. Some might say classical music is the way to go since it can have positive effects on the brain.

But again, experts are really skeptic if it would help to improve your babies sleep and there is actually no proof to this. Playing classical or any other kind of music won’t make your baby sleepy like white noise does.

Also, some people say it can actually distract the baby from getting his naptime and make the sleep light.
So try your luck if you want, but be careful with the use of music.

Other Soothing Baby Noises

Some parents also got positive results with classic calming sounds like rain, crashing waves or even rainforest sounds.
While some of them, as I mentioned before, have similarities to the white noise, other sounds may have soothing effects on listeners of all ages, too. It can’t hurt to play some of them to your infant and see how he reacts. But the classic white noise is unbeaten so far, that’s for sure.

But if you want to try it out, here is a cute machine that plays lullaby melodies to your baby:

Not Just For Babies

If you ever made the experience to be on a passenger boat and all of a sudden becoming sleepy, even if you were not tired before…you just experienced the magic of white noise sounds! And welcome to the club…it hits me every single time…

In this example, the big engines of the boat making a sound that is pretty similar to the shh-sounds we talked about in this article. So yes, even for us adults the right frequencies can make us instantly sleepy or help us to have a more relaxed sleep.

So what if now, that your baby will have a better sleep, you want the same thing for yourself?

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Best White Noise Machine For Adults

So even though this website is for our little rascals and mainly about friggin cool Onesies, we did some research on an adult version of the best noise machine for sleeping.
After checking the products, comparing the functions and going through the reviews, after all, these two are our top Amazon products. It was close and we had a hard time declaring a winner. But we found him. Because of its price-performance ratio, the #1 we present here to you is the best white noise machine for adults at the moment for us:



Closing Words

We hope you enjoyed this article and learned some things. Now you know about what does white noise do and how does white noise work.
If you decide to get a sound machine after reading this article, we hope you will have good experiences with it and a happy and fully rested little rascal.

Also, check out our shop for funny baby Onesies, other funny products that will make you and your family laugh, or some really useful things that will make it easier to raise your baby.

See you in the next article!

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