Skip to the content

Does white noise put babies to sleep?

Noise machine

Hands up if this sounds familiar…

Your fussy baby finally falls asleep for her afternoon nap and you sit down for a much needed moment to yourself only to hear a car with a broken muffler roaring down the street.  Just like that, Sleeping Beauty is wide awake and mad… NOT a good combination.

Or maybe you live in the country and you’re awoken at dawn by a wailing infant who has adorable (but ridiculously loud) birds chirping outside her window.

Environmental noises are a fact of life that you can’t do much about… but there IS something you can do about your baby’s ability to sleep through the noise.  In my experience, white noise machines can be a lifesaver when it comes to helping babies fall asleep — and stay asleep.

There are lots of options out there, but I like to use the Dohmie machines (formerly called the Dohm or the Marpac SleepMate). This is a small, simple-to-use device that creates sound that blocks out a lot of these day-to-day noises that can startle and wake a child.  The sound it makes is similar to rushing air, which can be soothing to a baby.

And although it might seem unnatural to create noise when you want your baby to go to sleep, remember: it wasn’t exactly soundproof in the womb!

Your child is actually quite used to noise by the time he’s born because he’s been listening to you talk, your stomach gurgling, and the sound of the family and the TV and the car radio while in utero.

Believe it or not, complete quiet can actually be more confusing especially to a newborn than background noise.

One of the biggest benefits of the white noise machine is that it helps babies fall back to sleep if they wake up.  This means their nap times will last longer and they will be less likely to fully wake in the night.

The main concern parents have about trying this is usually about their child becoming “addicted” to white noise, and that’s a valid point.

My experience is that there’s absolutely no need to worry about this.  A white noise machine IS NOT being used to put your child to sleep.  It’s there to block out noises that you can’t control that might be waking your child.

When you’re ready to wean your child off the machine, simply turn the volume down a little every night until you’re not using the sound at all.

About the author

Shannon Glenn

Shannon Glenn is the owner and founder of Sleep Well Children Consulting and a Certified Pediatric Sleep Specialist. She is dedicated to helping parents assist their children and babies in developing healthy sleep habits. With a B.A. in Psychology, Shannon has worked extensively with children and their families for over 15 years in a variety of settings.  She has been offering sleep solutions for over six years.  

FREE Tips For Parents

The Five Steps To Getting Your Baby To Sleep Through The Night!

Why didn’t we try this sooner?! As we speak he is sound asleep in his crib – and has been since 7:15 pm.

Karianne Wanggaard

Sleep Well Children Consulting

Contact us for your FREE 15-minute telephone evaluation!

Get Sleep Solutions Today

Don't waste another night not getting sleep. Contact us today and we help guide you to get your family sleeping through the night.