We get asked all the time:
“What sounds can I play to help my baby go to sleep?”
“How can I get my baby to sleep through the night?”
“What sounds can I play to help my crying, fussy newborn infant sleep soundly and calmly?”
Chaotic Noise and Baby Sleep
Basically, the best sounds for a baby to sleep by are sounds that closely emulate the “chaotic,” noisy sounds your baby heard while in the womb. As much as we might think that the womb is a soundless bubble of protection for a growing baby, it’s probably as quiet as Grand Central Station at rush hour!
Think about it: duting its 9-month tenure in the womb, baby hears and gets used to a symphony of sounds straight from Mom: the mother’s rhythmic heartbeat and the steady sounds of her blood rushing through veins and arteries, even Mom’s burps, hiccups and other bodily noises. On top of all that commotion, baby may hear voices and sounds emanating from outside the womb!
That’s why it’s been shown that “chaotic” sounds from a machine sounds such as a vacuum cleaner, hair dryer, clothes dryer or dishwasher, or the sound of water running in a sink or raining outside help soothe crying or fussy babies: these sounds are reminiscent of the sheltered, noisy yet comfortable world that the babies enjoyed before they made their world debut.
White Noise: A Kinder, Gentler Sound
What all of these sounds have in common is white noise. White noise, also called white sound, is not a “noise.” Instead, white noise is actually a sound frequency or a signal that one hears as a gentle hiss, similar to the sound of not only a dryer, vacuum cleaner, or running water, it’s also what you hear in wind rustling through trees, a waterfall, radio static or the ocean surf.
How Does White Noise Work?
Unlike playing music in such instances, white noise does not add to the clamor of noise. Instead, white noise contains equal frequencies of all sounds. Research has shown that a steady, monotonous stream of the same peaceful sound, such as white noise, can filter and mask distracting noises. This gentle continuous sound promotes a calm mood to help you relax and/or fall asleep.
Did you ever fall asleep while the TV was on? Do you need to have the radio on to help you relax and sleep? Did you ever fight to keep your eyes open while listening to a droning teacher? Ever try to sleep when it was dead quiet, but all you did was watch the clock all night?
Research has shown that a steady, monotonous stream of the same peaceful sound, such as white noise, can filter and mask distracting, disruptive (non-rhythmic) noises, such as honking car horns, barking dogs, noisy neighbors, annoying snoring and screaming sirens.
That’s why white noise’s ability to offer the combination of steady, droning sound at specific frequencies plus blocking out disruptive noises has been highly recommended as a non-drug way to help calm and soothe fussy babies.